Triceps exercises: anatomy, benefits, training

If you asked 100 gym rats if they would love to have that horseshoe tricep look, 99 would say yes. The one person who said no to this is obviously lying and didn’t include any triceps exercises in their routine.

The triceps make up more than 2/3 of the upper arm and it takes time and patience to build a great set of pythons. But vanity isn’t the only reason to perform triceps exercises. These three muscles located at the back of your arm also play an important role in your health and performance.

This article will cover the anatomy and function of the triceps, the benefits of triceps exercises, and 4 great triceps exercises. Next, we’ll explain how to do them, the benefits, and set-and-rep suggestions. Ready to put on your flex? So let’s go.

Anatomy and function of the triceps muscles

The triceps, or triceps brachii, is Latin for the three-headed muscle of the arm made up of three distinct muscles – long head, medial and lateral – with different origins, but they all converge in the same place on the elbow.

The long head of the triceps is the largest of the three muscles and originates at the subglenoid tubercle of the scapula. Because the longhead crosses two joints, the shoulder and the elbow, it is involved in certain overhead movements like lat pulldowns and chinups.

The lateral head of the triceps is the horseshoe muscle that gives your triceps the look you want, and it originates on the posterior surface of the humerus (upper arm bone). Finally, the medial head of the triceps originates from the posterior surface of the humerus and, like the long head, it contributes to the overall size of your triceps.

The three heads fit over the olecranon of the ulna and the fascia of the forearm, located just below the elbow. The main job of the triceps is to extend the elbow and is involved in the last third of the most pressing movements. When you perform a bench press variation, the chest muscle is working to push the barbell out of your chest, but once your elbow snaps at 90 degrees, it’s all triceps.

This is why the triceps play a major role in your lockout strength. More on that below.

Benefits of triceps exercises

Besides your arms that look great in a tight-fitting or sleeveless shirtThere are a few health and performance benefits of a pair of strong, well-defined triceps.

  • Improved Elbow Health: The triceps tendons attach in and around the elbow and strengthening the muscle strengthens the tendons and bones around the elbow joint. This goes a long way in keeping your elbow joint happy and healthy.
  • Better shoulder health: The long head of the triceps along all the other muscles attached to your shoulder blade, will help with the strength, movement, stability and health of your shoulder. Strengthening the long head also strengthens your shoulders.
  • Improved locking force: Have you ever struggled with the last part of your bench press or bench press? This is where the locking force comes in. Adding size and strength to the triceps will improve your lockout strength and help you break through pressure plateaus.
  • Best sports performance: No matter what sport you play that requires elbow extension, you will benefit from having strong triceps.

4 Tricep Exercises to Improve Lockout Strength

To add size and strength to the triceps, you need exercises that you can load or reduce or increase the range of motion to feel your triceps working. Here are 4 exercises that do just that.


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Richard V. Johnson