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How to flex your triceps (5 ways)

Learn how to flex your triceps like a bodybuilding pro.
Written By  James Jackson
Last Updated on 2nd May 2022
A bodybuilder demonstrating how to flex your triceps

If you want to learn how to flex your triceps optimally, then this guide is for you. You’ll learn 5 different ways to flex your triceps so that you can show off your hard work in the gym.

So whether you’re a competitive physique athlete looking to place higher in your next show or whether you’re a recreational bodybuilder looking to take a good tricep photo, this tricep flexing guide will give you plenty of posing inspiration.

Related: Best triceps in bodybuilding

How to flex your triceps properly 

A bodybuilder showing how to flex your triceps correctly
  1. Stand up straight with your arms by your sides
  2. Move one of your upper arms back slightly so that it’s just behind your torso.
  3. Move your other arm behind your back and grab the hand of your “flexing arm.”
  4. Fully extend the elbow of your posing arm so that your triceps are maximally contracted.
  5. Flex your lats and push your triceps against them as hard as you can.

5 different ways to flex your triceps

There are at least 5 different ways to flex your triceps. While the side triceps is the most obvious pose, your physique may look better from other angles, which is why I’ve included additional poses here.

1. Side triceps

A muscular man flexing his triceps

The side triceps is the pose that I described above. It’s a great pose for accentuating the long head of your triceps because you can push your triceps against your lats to really spread the muscle out.

The key to maximizing this pose and letting your definition shine through is to fully extend your elbows so that the lateral head really pops. This is crucial because the lateral head is extremely visible from the side, so you want it to look as defined and as imposing as possible.

Paul DeMayo is a good example of a bodybuilder who had a phenomenal side triceps pose. His triceps looked massive even when he was just standing relaxed, which just shows how developed the long head of his triceps was.

2. Single tricep flex

A man doing a side triceps flex

The single tricep flex isn’t really a bodybuilding pose; rather, it’s a flex that you can do to improve your mind-muscle connection. For example, you can flex your triceps between sets to get more blood into the muscle and increase your pump.

Like other isometric tricep exercises, the single triceps flex really improves your ability to hold a tricep peak contraction, which is a crucial skill to have if you’re a competitive bodybuilder.

If you’re struggling to feel your triceps in a particular exercise, then simply flexing your triceps is a great way to strengthen your mind-muscle connection. 

This pose is also easier than the side triceps pose because you’re just putting your arm by your side and flexing. There’s no need to involve your other arm, which means that you can focus purely on flexing your triceps.

3. Front tricep flex

A man showing his flexed tricep muscles

The front tricep flex is a great pose for making your upper body look aesthetic. If you want a good example of a bodybuilder who nails this tricep flex, look no further than Phil Heath.

Essentially, you move your arms slightly in front of your body and then internally rotate your shoulders so that the fronts of your biceps are facing each other. Then, you simply extend your elbows to flex your triceps.

While this triceps flex doesn’t show off the mass of the triceps as much as the side triceps pose, it’s a much more unique pose that will set your physique apart while really making your biceps and forearms pop as well.

4. Back triceps flex

A man doing some tricep flexing

The back triceps flex is a simple pose but one that requires a lot of mass in order to be effective. If you want to see what I mean, then just look at Roelly Winklaar, he has massive horseshoe triceps.

When Roelly flexes his triceps from the back, you can see the long head (which is what gives him that massive tricep hang) in all its glory. 

The catch is that you really need a lot of mass to make this pose look good. If you’ve got good, defined triceps but lack that bodybuilder size, then this pose can really catch you out.

The trade-off is that the back triceps flex is a really simple pose to pull off because all you need to do is put your shoulders into slight extension (i.e., move them slightly behind your torso) and then flex your triceps.

5. Cross body triceps flex

A bodybuilder flexing his triceps

The cross body tricep flex, as I’m calling it, is a pose popularized by Arnold Schwarzenegger (and mastered by Roelly Winklaar) that really shows off the arms as a whole. So again, you need the full package to make it work.

Unlike the other poses, however, you don’t maintain a fully flexed tricep. Instead, you move your arms across your body, flex your triceps, but leave your elbows just shy of lockout.

This enables you to maintain flexed triceps and flexed biceps so that you can really display the overall muscularity of your upper arms.

Conclusion: Why is flexing your triceps so important?

A muscular man flexing his triceps muscles

Flexing your triceps is extremely important because it strengthens your mind-muscle connection. Having a solid mind-muscle connection helps you to put more tension through your triceps during your workouts, and it also helps you to pose better on stage.

Of course, every time that you lock your elbows out in a given exercise, you are flexing your triceps, which is why coaches often recommend holding the peak contraction for a second or two.

James Jackson
James Jackson is a personal trainer who uses his expertise in strength and conditioning to create helpful workout tutorials that show fitness enthusiasts how to build muscle while staying safe in the gym. He draws on the latest sports science data as well as tried and tested training techniques to get the best results for his clients without them having to live in the gym.
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