The triceps are one of the most essential sets of muscles we have, and for anyone looking to increase the muscle mass in their arms, it's essential to know the different parts of the tricep and how to work them most effectively.
It's the triceps that make your arms look big and bulky if you train them efficiently and effectively, and it's the triceps that carry the label as the most aesthetic part of the arms. But triceps are there for more than just looking good. They help you to push and pull, lift boxes, and carry that triple armload of grocery bags after shopping at the supermarket. Well trained triceps are not just for bodybuilders, but everyday movements and everyday exercise too.
In this article, we take a look at the muscles that make up the triceps and how you can use hip circle bands, bands for triceps, and other resistance bands to create a targeted exercise routine in your own living room!
What are the different parts of the tricep?
To understand the triceps, you first need to know the different parts of the triceps. The tricep isn't precisely one muscle because the tricep is composed of 3 separate 'heads.' Located on the side and the back of the arms (opposed to the forward-facing bicep), the tricep is the muscle that will be doing most of the hard work when you're repping out pushups!
The three separate 'heads' are given the following names and play different roles when you're lifting weights or working out your triceps:
- Long Head: the largest of the tricep heads, the Long Head makes up the majority of the muscle mass and is located at the back of the arm.
- Lateral Head: the medium-sized Lateral Head extends from the Long Head, around the outer side of the arm.
- Medial Head: the smallest component, the Medial Head, is located below the Long Head at the back of the arm.
All three tricep heads play their part when you are working the muscle, but some exercises specifically target different tricep heads more effectively. For muscle stability, it's essential to train all three parts of the tricep, or you'll end up overextending or overbuilding one part of the muscle. Working the different heads of the tricep should include a wide variety of exercises in your circuits to hit all three parts of the muscle.
There are specific long head tricep exercises, lateral head tricep exercises, and medial head exercises that you can put into one workout routine for the ultimate tricep circuit.
How do I stretch the triceps?
Before starting any strength training circuit, though, it's important to warm-up the muscles with tricep stretches. Several dedicated tricep stretches will help loosen you up. You can perform these stretches before lifting weights or before starting a resistance band tricep workout.
1. Triceps stretch
The tricep stretch is a popular exercise that's easy to practice.
- Stand tall with your feet loosely apart and raise one elbow straight up behind your head with the arm bent.
- Raise your other arm and use your hand to push down gently onto your bent elbow.
- Push gently for about 10 seconds, and you'll start to feel your triceps stretching out.
- Switch over and repeat.
2. Elbow flexion
The elbow flexion is an even simpler stretch than the triceps stretch. This is also a great stretch to loosen up your elbow joints before lifting weights or working out with resistance bands.
- Stand tall and hold both your arms at your side with your palms facing away from your body.
- Bend both elbows so that your forearms touch your upper arms.
- Repeat approximately 5 times for each side.
3. Overhead tricep extension stretch
The overhead tricep extension is a slightly more intense stretch. You'll need a long resistance band tied up firmly to a point above your head.
- Face away from the resistance band and hold both ends with your elbows bent and your arms held at shoulder height.
- Pull the band down slowly and gently until your arms are straight ahead of you.
- Repeat for the desired number of reps.
Use this stretch as part of a tricep workout, too, by using heavier resistance bands and performing more repetitions. The tricep extension is an effective isolation exercise, and it works as an excellent way to build muscles by exclusively targeting the different tricep heads.
The best tricep workout exercises
Once you've warmed up and started flexing and extending those triceps, it's time to put in some more challenging work with more intense exercises. The following exercises will work exceptionally well if used together in one workout session. You'll be targeting the long head, lateral head, and medial head in one circuit.
Including resistance bands in the circuits are a fantastic way to build your tricep muscles while also burning fat and toning the muscles, too.
Enhance the difficulty of the tricep exercises by increasing the strength of the resistance bands you are using in the workouts!
1. Tricep pushups
Tricep pushups are also known as diamond pushups for the diamond grip you make with your hands on the floor. Add a long resistance band to this exercise by looping it around your shoulders and holding it firmly beneath your palms as you push up and come back down.
If the exercise is proving to be too difficult and you are having trouble keeping your back straight through the movement, then drop down onto your knees to lighten the weight.
- Assume the pushup position on the floor or an exercise mat.
- Move your hands inwards and form a diamond-shaped grip on the floor.
- Bend your elbows and come down until your chest reaches the floor.
- Push back up until you reach the starting position.
- Repeat for the max number of reps you can push out.
2. Tricep dips
Tricep dips are a fantastic exercise for targeting the long head, lateral head, and medial head in one movement. For this exercise, you need a reliable support that will hold your weight as you perform the dips. A workout bench is ideal, but you can make do with a sofa or even the stairs if you're at home.
Make this much more difficult using a resistance band. Loop the band around your shoulders and press the ends down into the bench with the palms of your hands as you perform the movement.
- Face away from the bench and sit down on its edge.
- Fix your hands at both sides of your body, firmly gripping the edge of the bench.
- Shift your weight onto your arms as you lower your body away from the bench and towards the floor.
- Lower your body until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle.
- Push back up with your triceps, but don't sit back down onto the bench.
- Lower yourself again and keep repeating the exercise for at least 8 repetitions, or as many reps as your triceps can handle!
3. Tricep kickbacks
Tricep kickbacks are one of the best ways to build up muscle in your arms. This popular exercise is often performed using dumbbells, but you can also incorporate a resistance band into the movements. Place one knee on a workout bench while you perform the exercise to provide more support for your back and to make things a little easier. If you are finding that too easy, stand tall, or increase the weight of your dumbells or resistance bands.
- Select a dumbbell and hold it in your right hand.
- Place your left foot ahead of you or place your forward knee on a bench for support.
- Lean forward and rest your front arm on your front thigh.
- Extend the dumbbell, holding your arm straight behind you.
- Hold your back straight, and bend your elbow to a 90-degree angle to bring the dumbbell forward.
- Extend your arm backward again, and repeat for at least 8 repetitions.
- Change sides and repeat.
4. Skull crushers
You need a bench or a very comfortable floor for this exercise because skull crushers can be brutal! The skull crusher is usually practiced with a barbell and weights, but you can substitute the bar for a resistance band at home. Tie the resistance band to supports, so it rests above your head, and you can grasp it with both hands (like you would hold a barbell).
- Set up your bench and resistance band or barbell.
- Lie flat on your back with the resistance band or bar above your head. Hold with both hands.
- Push up against the weight until your arms are straight.
- Then, lower back to the start position, just above your head.
- Repeat for the desired number of reps.
The final say on different parts of the tricep and how to work them!
Working out your tricep muscle isn't just for bodybuilders and weight lifters. Anyone can benefit from having stronger, bigger triceps - and not just because they make your arms look bigger and better!
With a selection of resistance bands, you can create a detailed tricep workout routine that will help you to build strength, flexibility, and mobility for sports, training, or simple everyday movements.
Why not include our tricep exercises in your next strength training circuits?