Tricep supersets are an intense and time-efficient way to improve your triceps development, and they’re a massively underutilized training technique.
Yet, creating the perfect triceps superset isn’t as simple as just pairing two random exercises together; you need to put more thought into your supersets if you want to get the best tricep gains possible.
Luckily for you, I’ve already created what I firmly believe are the 5 best tricep supersets in existence. By performing them, you’ll naturally develop every head of your triceps to its full potential so that you can build bigger, more imposing upper arms.
The 5 best triceps supersets for building muscle mass
These challenging tricep super sets can be performed as an intense tricep finisher, or they can be paired together in a standalone superset-only workout. The choice is yours.
1. Skull crusher to close grip bench press
The skull crusher and the close grip bench press are two of the best triceps superset exercises because they both build slabs of triceps mass when you perform them correctly.
If I could only do one tricep superset, it would definitely be the skull crusher to close grip bench press because it taxes every head of your triceps within the same superset. There is, of course, nothing wrong with doing a separate superset for both the lateral and long head of your triceps. More on that later.
For this particular pairing, you start off by doing lying tricep extensions, which place the long head of your triceps under a tremendous eccentric muscle stretch. In order to get this massive muscle stretch, however, you need to lower the bar behind your head rather than directly to your face.
This is doubly beneficial because bringing the bar behind your head takes the pressure off your elbows.
After that, move straight into close grip bench presses. You can perform full reps, which is my choice seeing as the main role of the triceps is to extend the elbows. Alternatively, you can stop your CGBP reps just shy of lockout to keep the tension on your triceps, which will likely lead to a more potent muscle pump.
2. Tricep kickbacks and overhead extensions
This is a unique triceps superset because it trains the long head of your triceps in its maximally shortened/contracted position with kickbacks and then in its maximally lengthened/stretched position with overhead extensions.
The reason for this is that, unlike the lateral and medial heads, the long head acts on the shoulder joint as well as the elbow. So in order to train it optimally, you need to perform some kind of elbow extension while your shoulders are in either flexion or extension.
This superset does both; it trains your tris first with your shoulders in extension, which is where your triceps are weakest, and then with your shoulder in flexion, where your triceps are stronger.
Because of this strength difference, it’s imperative that you do kickbacks before overhead extensions. In almost every triceps superset, you want to do the exercise that you’re naturally weaker on first.
3. Diamond push-ups and tricep dips
This bodyweight pairing makes an excellent muscle-building addition to any superset tricep workout because it requires absolutely no equipment, and it really challenges your triceps.
While bodyweight exercises have a reputation among bodybuilders as being easy, they’re highly challenging when performed in a superset fashion because your triceps become engorged with metabolites—seeing as they don’t get a chance to rest—which is what actually causes your muscles to burn.
Tricep dips are pretty easy for most weight lifters, so I recommend doing diamond push-ups first because they’re definitely the more challenging exercise.
If you did bench dips to failure, then your triceps probably wouldn’t have enough strength to do any proper diamond push-ups. However, if you trained to failure on diamond push-ups, then you’d likely still have plenty of strength for tricep dips because dips use a lower percentage of your body weight as resistance than push-ups.
4. Cable overhead extensions and tricep pushdowns
While there are many good supersets for triceps development, this cable pairing is one of the best because it trains all three heads of your triceps optimally—all while keeping the pressure on your elbows to a minimum thanks to the smooth cable resistance.
Overhead extensions give the long head of your triceps a growth-stimulating stretch while simultaneously challenging it with pump-inducing constant tension.
Cable pushdowns, which are best performed with a rope attachment so that you can split the ends of the rope to intensify the peak contraction, mainly work the lateral and medial head.
The reason for this is that, in a correctly performed pushdown, your arms are by your sides, which means that your shoulders are in a neutral position, and so the long head of your triceps is neither maximally stretched nor maximally contracted. The end result is that the outer head of your triceps—the lateral head—has to perform more of the work.
As with all of these tricep super sets, perform the exercises in a back-to-back fashion to maximize your pump, which is the whole point of doing a superset (after one superset set, you can rest 30-60 seconds).
5. Barbell overhead extension and dumbbell overhead extension
This is one of the most effective mass-building tricep supersets that you can do because it emphasizes the long head of the triceps, which is by far the biggest head.
I recommend performing low rep barbell overhead extensions because barbells are built for heavy lifting. To temper this, you’ll then want to do higher rep dumbbell overhead extensions so that you can stimulate a wide variety of tricep muscle fibers.
Another spin on this tricep superset is to do standing barbell overhead extensions followed by lying dumbbell extensions, which will be a bit easier on your core muscles and cardiovascular system.
The best tricep superset workouts
Here are the best tricep superset workouts for building muscle. There’s a routine for the long head, the lateral head, and one for overall triceps development.
Do 2-3 rounds of each superset. If this doesn’t seem like a lot, bear in mind that by doing a tricep superset in the first place, you’re basically doing double the number of sets and with added intensity.
Tricep superset workout 1: Long head emphasis
If you want to build the long head of your triceps with an intense superset workout, this is the routine for you.
Perform each exercise back-to-back and then rest for 30 seconds. Here’s how that would look in practice.
Barbell overhead extension > Dumbbell lying extension > 30 seconds rest > repeat
1: Barbell overhead extension + Dumbbell lying extension
2: Tricep kickbacks + Dumbbell overhead extension
3: Cable overhead extension + Tricep pushdown
Tricep superset workout 2: Lateral head focus
If you do plenty of presses and pushdowns already, then your lateral head is probably pretty well-developed. However, in case the outer head of your triceps needs more work, I created this intense, lateral-head focused tricep superset workout.
1: Rope pushdown + Close grip bench press
2: One arm pushdown + One arm overhead extension
3: Diamond push-ups + Tricep dips
Triceps superset workout 3: Overall triceps development
If your triceps just need more mass in general, then this is one of the best tricep supersets that you can follow because it trains all three heads fairly equally.
You can, of course, make your own routine (and your own super sets, for that matter) using exercises that you personally like.
1: Skull crusher + Close grip bench press
2: Barbell overhead extension + Dumbbell overhead extension
3: Diamond push-ups + Tricep pushdowns
What exercise should you superset with a tricep extension?
A tricep extension can mean a lot of things—a kickback, a pushdown, an overhead extension, etc.—because anytime you extend your elbow, you are doing a tricep extension. Elbow extension is another way of saying tricep extension.
But to answer the question, I definitely recommend supersetting a tricep extension with a close grip bench press. This is because you’re obviously much stronger on a close grip bench press than on a tricep extension. Therefore, when you reach failure on tricep extensions, you’ll still have enough strength left to do close grip bench presses because your chest and front delts will be helping out.
Related: Back and triceps on the same day
The verdict: Which tricep superset workout is the most effective?
The best tricep superset workout for you depends on what part of your triceps you need to work on the most.
So, if you need more long head development, do tricep supersets that start with overhead extensions or lying extensions. Kickbacks are another good exercise for the long head.
If you need a bigger lateral head, then do supersets that contain plenty of presses and pushdowns.
You get the idea. Assess your weak points, and then choose the tricep supersets that give your triceps the stimulation that they need.
- Bodybuilding.com. (2019, January 23). Triceps Of The Gods! https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/babyboom45.htm
- Gorman, N. (2021, September 30). Elbow joint. Kenhub. https://www.kenhub.com/en/library/anatomy/elbow-joint