Don't get discouraged if you don't have the convenience of weights or a cable machine to train your triceps. By focusing on the basics and getting creative with your workouts at home, you can still achieve the horseshoe shape you desire for the triceps brachii.
You can perform challenging and fun triceps workouts at home without paying for expensive gym memberships or buying expensive equipment. All you need are some basic tools and a little bit of time.
Exercises without weights are often categorized as bodyweight training or calisthenics. But I'm not going to make distinctions or comparisons here. These bodyweight tricep exercises are designed for efficiency and convenience. We always encourage a wide range of different stimuli for the muscles, whether that's in the gym, outdoors, or at home. But you can use these effective triceps workouts exercises to complement your gym strength training.
Why You Should Train The Triceps
Whatever your training level, developing your triceps is vital to preventing injuries and improving your performance in full-body exercises. The tricep muscles play a big role in stabilizing your arms and shoulders.
Your tricep muscles are responsible for the extension of the arm at the elbow. The long head of the triceps in particular is vital for the stable extension of your arm at the shoulder joint too. The triceps take away pressure from your joints, especially your elbows and shoulders when performing exercises. We have to push objects in various ways every day so having strong triceps ensures you are effective and risk-free in your effort.
There's no shame in wanting bigger, better-looking arms. There's a widespread misconception that to improve the state of your arms, you should focus on your biceps. The bicep muscles may be flashy, but they don't contribute much to your arm's size. The triceps are a muscle group that's twice as big as the biceps and make up 2/3 of your arm's length.
To improve the overall aesthetics of your arms, you should train both your biceps and your triceps. The development of both muscles will create a more balanced and proportionate appearance, even if you find the biceps a more appealing muscle to train.
Exercises to avoid
If you search for tricep workouts without weights or bodyweight tricep exercises, you'll find a lot of junk. Even with the best intentions, many of the recommended bodyweight triceps exercises are not effective because they don't provide enough stimulus to the tricep muscles to result in gains (muscle growth response)
Some of the least effective exercises are plank variations – Plank Ups, Plank Rotations, etc. The problem with such exercises is that they require a lot of stability and involve many other large muscle groups. I'm not saying these bodyweight exercises are bad, but if you want to target the arm muscles, your time is better spent with a lazer focus on more effective exercises.
With the bodyweight arms exercises mentioned above, your body will fatigue before your triceps are exhausted, but there's no guarantee that you will be able to target the tricep muscles at all as the movement involves many other large muscle groups that can take over.
Can You Get Results With Arm Home Workouts?
The short answer is yes, you can get great results from arm-focused workouts at home. You can train your triceps with bodyweight almost as effectively as you would with heavy weights or resistance bands. It is the amount of tension that leads to muscle growth, not the equipment that makes training a muscle group more effective.
The amount of stress on the muscle is similar or even higher with some movements, so your muscles will be working just as hard whether you're using weights or not. The body doesn't know the difference.
Stressing your muscles is not enough for them to grow, you need to do it consistently over time. Skipping a workout can feel like no big deal, but it can actually stall your progress over time.
Among the advantages of bodyweight workouts are their low friction and ability to be performed virtually anywhere, including at home. Since bodyweight workouts are convenient, it is easy to stay consistent with them.
The Only Two Exercises Your Triceps Need
The push-up is not only the king of building an aesthetic upper body physique but also the perfect exercise to get growth and definition in your tricep muscles. The push up is performed in the following way:
- Begin the movement in a plank position with a straight back and a tight core by pulling your stomach in. Your arms should be shoulder-width apart or slightly narrower in the starting position. Your elbows should be tucked in and not flaring out too much.
- Lower your body towards the ground. Avoid cheating by maintaining controlled form throughout the range of motion.
- As soon as your chest is near the top, push yourself up and focus on the contraction of your triceps.
The push-up by itself is considered a full-body exercise, but it primarily targets the chest, shoulders, and triceps. Depending on your training level, the regular variation of the push-up can be sufficient to exhaust your triceps. If this is the case, then continue with this pushup version. If not, then you are better off using one of the following two advanced push-up variations:
- Decline push-up – This is a slightly more advanced version of the standard push-up. If you're looking to make your push-ups more challenging, then the decline push-up is for you. The position is similar to a regular push-up, but instead of keeping your toes on the ground, you elevate your feet. You can use a chair, bench, box, step, or anything that is stable and comfortable. By changing the angle and applying pressure to the muscles in your arms, including your triceps, you will be working against gravity and seeing results faster.
- Diamond push-up – the form of diamond push-ups is the same as a regular push-up on the ground, except your hands are closer together. The movement is named after the diamond-shaped shapes you make when your thumbs and index fingers touch. Get into a push-up position (on your hands and toes) and place your hands close together so that your thumbs and index fingers touch to form a diamond shape. From head to heels, your body should be in a straight line. Lower yourself until the middle part of your chest is just above the floor, then push back up explosively, keeping those elbows tucked close to the body throughout the movement and squeezing at the top for one second before beginning the next rep.
Both are effective tricep builders in their way, but you should keep in mind that increasing the height of the object during decline push-ups may lead to the shoulder muscles taking over the movement.
The dip is the second important exercise, often labeled the “upper body squat.” In the absence of any training equipment, especially a dip bar, the following variation of the dip would be easier to perform.
- Find yourself an elevated surface around the height of your knees. It can be your sofa, chair, or other furniture at home.
- Place your arms shoulder-width apart behind you. Your legs should be straight, with the back of your foot firmly pressed against the ground.
- Lower your body until your arms form a 90-degree angle.
- Squeeze your triceps and feel them contract as you extend the arms and return to your original position.
If you are comfortable performing dip exercises at home, there is an even more challenging variation you can try in which your legs do not touch the ground at all, creating even more tension in your muscles.
Classic dips are performed with the same form, except your hands are spread shoulder-width apart between two surfaces. It can be two chairs, a table, or anything of equal height that won't shake as you perform the exercise.
How To Create a Triceps Training Program
An effective triceps workout program is one where you perform high-quality sets of a few chosen exercises multiple times a week. Exercise sets should be performed to near-failure, meaning that you have 1 to 2 reps left before tapping out.
A bodyweight workout should consist of a maximum of three to four exercises done multiple times, usually three to four sets. Dragging the workout too much will result in more fatigue which hinders performance and more than 3-4 sets of an exercise leads to diminishing returns. The rest time between sets depends on how fatigued you are, but you can start with 90 seconds for dips and 2-3 minutes for push-ups.
Finally, an effective program will start with the most challenging exercises and variations of one exercise before turning to easier ones. This will allow you to use your energy on the exercises that will produce the highest level of muscle growth. The following program is based on variations of push-ups and dips for maximum tricep development:
- Exercise 1 – 4 sets of Diamond Push-ups for 12-15 reps.
- Exercise 2- 3 sets of Regular Push-ups for 12-15 reps.
- Exercise 3 – 4 sets of Dips for 15-20 reps.
Once you craft your workout based on those principles and your current training level, you should perform it 3-4 times a week with 1-2 days of rest between workouts, depending on how fatigued you feel. 3-4 times a week is the sweet spot to maximize hypertrophy and avoid overtraining. Your muscles usually take between 24 to 72 hours to fully recover so rest of 1-2 days is the most effective way to schedule your training.
To progress, increase your repetitions in a set, reduce the time you rest between sets, or add a set or an easier variation of an exercise after the main workout.
Frequently Asked Questions
What tricep exercise hits all three heads?
Diamond push-ups effectively hit all three heads of the triceps, especially the lateral and medial heads.
Why won't my triceps grow?
The triceps won't grow if you don't isolate them from larger muscle groups and put enough stress on them to create a growth response.
Can you work your triceps every day?
Yes, as long as you adjust the volume and don’t let the fatigue from one day's workout reduce the effectiveness of the following day's workout.