For most of us, and especially beginners, these basic strength exercises will get the job done and develop strong triceps. However if you're looking for greater muscle hypertrophy (to increase the size of the muscle) then you'll want to do direct triceps work in your weekly routine to gain bigger results.
Remember, triceps do get a lot of indirect work through other exercises. Thus doing five specialized exercises for the triceps may lead to overtraining of the muscle group.
For most of individuals, one specialized tricep exercise is enough, and will get the job done.
Some good choices to consider are:
- Skull crushers (lying on your back triceps extensions)
- Cable pressdowns
- Dumbbell kickbacks
- Overhead dumbbell extensions
Try one tricep exercise at the end of your upper-body day. Do 2 to 4 sets of 8 to 15 reps to get a good training stimulus for the muscles to grow. And since these are assistance exercises, you can use one exercise for a week or two, and then switch to a different tricep move to work the muscles from various angles.
To give you a better idea, here's how an upper-body day could look like:
- Bench press: Work up to one heavy set of 3 to 5 sets, then reduce weight and do another set of 6 to 8 reps.
- Overhead dumbbell press: Do three sets of 8 to 10 reps.
- Dumbbell rows: Do three sets of 8 to 12 reps.
- Dumbbell curls: Do two sets of 10 reps.
- Cable pressdowns: Do two sets of 12 to 15 reps.
What if you just want to tone the triceps? Should you train differently if your goal is to simply sculpt this muscle group? No, not really. The idea with strength training should be to build muscle, and rely on the diet to burn the fat.
Of course, if you are on a restricted diet to lose fat, then you are unlikely to add inches to your arms, and the strength training will instead help get that desired toning effect. But again, you need to train the muscles just the way you would if hypertrophy was the goal.
Stay in shape in a fitness class.