The Critical Body logo

The best at home tricep exercises and workouts

Here are 12 simple at home tricep exercises that will make your workouts more effective.
Written By  James Jackson
Last Updated on 2nd May 2022
A man doing the best tricep workout at home possible

Performing a triceps workout at home instead of the gym doesn't mean that you can't still get a gym-quality workout by training your tris in your living room or bedroom.

With just a few pieces of basic equipment, you can build big triceps at home and dramatically increase the size and strength of your arms.

So, to help you on your way, I created 3 at home tricep workouts that you can follow to build every head of the triceps brachii. That's right; no part of your triceps will be left understimulated if you follow one of my tricep home workouts.

But first, let's take a look at the most effective at home tricep exercises for building muscle.

Related: Chest and tris workout at home

The 12 best at home tricep exercises

If you're performing your tricep exercises at home, then be sure to add some of these muscle-building movements to your workout routine. 

1. Dumbbell lying tricep extension

A man doing a lying dumbbell tricep extension

The DB lying tricep extension is one of the most effective dumbbell tricep exercises for building upper arm mass. The simple reason for this is that, unlike other exercises, the dumbbell lying tricep extension trains the long head of the triceps, which is the biggest muscle in your arms.

Unlike the barbell version of the exercise, the lying dumbbell extension also promotes the development of proportional triceps by ensuring that both of your arms receive more or less equal amounts of work.

To get the most from the dumbbell extension, I recommend performing it on a bench so that you can bring the weights behind your head and get a terrific triceps stretch. 

However, if you don't have access to a weight bench, you can always do the exercise on the floor or off the edge of your bed.

  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells and lie on a bench.
  2. Press the weights up so that they're directly over your face.
  3. Next, move your shoulders back slightly.
  4. Lower the weights behind your head by breaking at your elbows.
  5. Descend until you feel an intense stretch in the long head of your triceps.
  6. Flex your triceps forcefully to lift the dumbbells back up. Keep going until your elbows reach complete extension.
  7. Repeat for 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps.

2. Resistance band overhead extension

A man doing resistance band overhead tricep extensions

You can't do a proper tricep workout at home without performing at least one band exercise. Unlike free weights, bands challenge your triceps with constant tension and typically provide a more potent peak contraction.

The reason for this is that bands become heavier the further that you stretch them. This means that you really have to squeeze your triceps to complete each rep, which results in a powerful muscle pump and an intense tricep workout.

The overhead extension makes a great addition to any resistance band tricep workout because it literally requires a band and nothing else. As such, you can do the exercise irrespective of where you are, which means that there's no excuse for skipping workouts.

  1. Stand in the middle of your band and grab the handles with an overhand grip.
  2. Press the handles over your head so that your elbows are locked out.
  3. Tuck your elbows in and lower the band handles behind your neck.
  4. Descend until you feel a strong stretch in the backs of your arms (in your triceps).
  5. Reverse the motion by flexing your triceps.
  6. Once your elbows reach full extension, squeeze your triceps forcefully.
  7. Perform 3-5 sets of 10-30 reps in total.

3. Dumbbell overhead extension

A man performing a standing dumbbell overhead tricep extension exercise

If you could only do one triceps exercise at home, then you might well choose the dumbbell overhead extension.

The reason being is that, unlike the lying extension, you only need one dumbbell, and you don't need a bench. As such, if you don't have much equipment but still want to add mass to your triceps, the two-arm overhead extension is one of the best exercises that you can do.

For maximum convenience, core activation, and calorie burn, you'll want to do all of your overhead extensions (and most of your tricep exercises, in general, for that matter) standing up. 

However, if you want to enjoy maximum tricep tension and isolation, then you're best off doing the overhead extension while sitting down (preferably on a bench/chair with back support) so that you don't have to put as much effort into stabilizing your abs.

  1. Cup both of your hands around one end of a dumbbell and then press it over your head.
  2. Tuck your elbows in, and then bend your elbows to lower the weight behind your neck.
  3. Keep going until you feel an intense triceps stretch.
  4. Flex your triceps forcefully to lift the weight back up.
  5. Squeeze your triceps at the top of the rep—once your elbows reach full extension—and repeat for 3-5 sets of 10-20 reps.

4. Diamond push-ups

A man doing diamond push ups

If you want to have the best tricep workout at home that you possibly can, make sure to include diamond push-ups in your routine.

Great as both a mass builder and a finishing exercise, the diamond-push up puts a ton of tension through your triceps and increases your core strength. It's easily one of the most effective bodyweight triceps exercises for building muscle.

If you have a weighted vest or a training partner to put some weights on your back, then you could open your at home triceps workout with diamond push-ups and use them as a mass-builder.

On the other hand, if you don't have much equipment, aren't strong enough to do them weighted, or just want to finish off your triceps after a hard and heavy session, then you can also do diamond push-ups at the end of your session to burn out your triceps and stimulate any remaining, stubborn muscle fibers.

  1. Kneel on the floor and then make a diamond shape with your hands by angling your fingers and thumbs toward each other (so that they're touching).
  2. Put your hands on the floor and extend your legs backward.
  3. Ensure that your core is tight and that your back is straight.
  4. Tuck your elbows in slightly and then lower your body toward the ground.
  5. Descend in a controlled manner until your chest touches the floor.
  6. Press your hands into the floor to push your body back up. Keep going until your elbows are completely locked out.
  7. Repeat the movement for 3-5 sets of 8-30 reps.

5. Bodyweight skull crusher

A man doing a bodyweight skull crusher using his desk

If you want to have a really good tricep workout at home, then you need to train the long head because it's the biggest head of the triceps brachii by far.

The bodyweight skull crusher, which you can perform using a barbell, bench, window sill, or kitchen countertop, is one exercise that will put the long head of your triceps through its paces.

Essentially, there are two ways to do a bodyweight skull crusher.

The first is to lower your forehead or face directly to the object that your hands are on (the barbell, window sill, etc.). This option is the easiest and most accessible if you train at home, but it doesn't give the long head of your triceps that absolute maximal muscle stretch that it craves.

Your second choice is to intensify the eccentric muscle stretch by lowering your head under the surface. This is most easily done using a barbell, but you may be able to do it on other stable surfaces that you can find around your house. 

Essentially, if your arms end up behind your head (a bit like in an overhead extension), then you know that you're putting the long head of your triceps under a sufficient growth-stimulating stretch.

  1. Place your hands—shoulder-width apart—on a stable surface like a barbell or window sill.
  2. Extend your legs back and then transfer your weight onto your triceps by pushing your hands into the object/surface.
  3. Tuck your elbows in, and then lower your face toward the surface. Keep going until you feel a strong stretch in your triceps.
  4. Push your hands into the surface to extend your elbows.
  5. Squeeze your triceps once they reach full extension, and repeat for 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps.

6. Bodyweight tricep extension

A man doing bodyweight triceps extensions for calisthenics

If you're doing a triceps workout at home, then the massively underrated bodyweight tricep extension should definitely feature in your routine.

This tricep-taxing bodyweight movement requires no equipment (though a mat would certainly make the exercise more comfortable) and is a great way to add more tricep training volume to your workout.

As you'll soon find out, the bodyweight tricep extension is hard enough with just your body weight as resistance. However, if you want to build truly titanic triceps, then you can add extra weight via a vest or plates on your back.

  1. Kneel on the floor and then place both your hands and forearms on the ground. Your palms should be facing down.
  2. Extend your legs back and tighten your core. Don't let your hips sag.
  3. Move your hands a bit further forward than they would be in a push-up position.
  4. Press your hands into the ground and flex your triceps to lift your forearms off the floor.
  5. Keep pushing until your elbows are locked out.
  6. Squeeze your triceps for a second, and then lower your body back down to the ground.
  7. Repeat for 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps.

7. Towel tricep extension

A man doing a towel tricep extension

Hardcore bodybuilders, look away now. You won't build Mr. Olympia-caliber triceps with this exercise, but it's certainly enough to tone your triceps and maintain your muscle mass (you can also learn how to tone your triceps here).

Essentially, you want to grab one end of the towel with each hand and then put the towel behind your head. From there, you simply extend one elbow—to move the towel up—while actively trying to pull the towel back down with your other arm.

In this sense, the towel tricep extension is almost identical to a single-arm overhead extension. And while it might not build slabs of mass, you can certainly improve your triceps development with this exercise if you're willing to feel the burn and train close to muscular failure.

  1. Grab each end of the towel, and then bring the towel behind your head.
  2. Extend one elbow toward the sky while actively trying to pull the towel back down with your opposite arm.
  3. Do 20-50 reps and then repeat with your other arm.

8. Bench dips

A man doing bench dips

You simply can't do your tricep workouts at home without performing bench dips. Tricep dips are a versatile exercise—you can do them using the edge of a bench, sofa, bed, or chair—and one that really makes your triceps burn.

Bench dips are naturally great as a finishing exercise for fatiguing any stubborn tricep muscle fibers. However, you can also make the exercise more challenging by elevating your feet and putting weight plates on your legs or by wearing a weighted vest.

While tricep dips are pretty safe when you use the proper form, I prefer not to add external resistance because they can hurt your shoulders if you go too deep (which is much less likely to happen if you're doing bodyweight bench dips).

  1. Sit on the floor with your back against a bench, chair, sofa, or the end of your bed.
  2. Place your hands and fingers on the edge of the surface and extend your legs out in front of you.
  3. Push yourself up so that your arms and back are straight.
  4. Bend your elbows to lower your body toward the ground.
  5. Descend in a controlled manner until you feel a good stretch in your triceps.
  6. Press your hands into the surface and flex your triceps to push yourself back up.
  7. Squeeze your triceps as your elbows reach full extension.
  8. Perform 3-5 sets of 10-30 reps (or do as many reps as you can).

9. Tricep kickbacks

A man doing tricep kickbacks

Out of all the exercises for triceps at home that you can do, kickbacks are one of the most accessible because they only require a very light pair of dumbbells. For this reason, kickbacks also make a great addition to any beginner tricep workout.

You can also do kickbacks with bands, but most people choose to use dumbbells.

Although you'll need to lift really light weights during kickbacks to actually feel the exercise working as intended, the movement is deceptively effective for building your triceps.

The simple reason for this is that, unlike virtually any other exercise, kickbacks train the long head of your triceps in its maximally shortened (contracted) position. In this sense, a kickback is the polar opposite of an overhead extension, which trains the long head of your triceps in its fully lengthened (stretched) anatomical position.

  1. Grab a pair of light dumbbells with a neutral grip.
  2. Bend over at your waist, and then bring your shoulders back so that they're in line with your torso.
  3. Flex your triceps forcefully to extend your elbows. Keep going until your elbows are completely locked out.
  4. Squeeze your triceps as hard as you can and hold the peak contraction for a second.
  5. Release the contraction and slowly lower the dumbbells until you begin to lose tension from your triceps, then perform your next rep.
  6. Perform 3-5 sets of 12-30 reps in total.

10. Backpack tricep extension

A man performing a backpack overhead tricep extension

If you're doing a triceps workout at home without equipment, then the backpack tricep extension is a no-brainer. It's definitely an unconventional exercise, but it's one that will really bulk up your triceps if you perform it correctly.

The trick is to load your backpack with heavy objects like books, water bottles, and, yes, even potatoes.

Then, you simply grab the top of your bag (the handle) and lower it behind your head as if you were doing an overhead extension. Sure, a dumbbell might be slightly more convenient, but your triceps certainly can't tell whether you're lifting a dumbbell or a bag—they just respond to tension.

  1. Fill up a backpack with heavy household objects like books, full water bottles, and groceries.
  2. Grab the top handle of the bag, and then press it over your head.
  3. Lower the bag behind your neck by "breaking" at your elbow. Descend until you feel a strong stretch in the long head of your triceps.
  4. Go as low as you comfortably can, then flex your triceps to extend your elbow.
  5. Squeeze your triceps as your elbow reaches lockout.
  6. Perform 3-5 sets of 10-20 reps per arm.

11. Band pushdown

A man doing some band pushdowns

Performing your triceps exercises at home rather than in the gym doesn't mean saying goodbye to your favorite muscle-building movements.

Indeed, with a basic resistance band and a door anchor, you can do tricep pushdowns in your living room or bedroom—no cable machine necessary.

Band pushdowns actually provide your triceps with a stronger peak contraction than cable pushdowns because, unlike cables, bands get heavier the more that they're stretched.

So if you want to build your triceps while improving your lockout stretch (great for your bench press), the band pushdown makes an excellent addition to your at home tricep workout.

  1. Connect your resistance band to a door anchor and then shut your door.
  2. Grab the handles with an overhand grip, and then take a step back from the anchor point.
  3. Tuck your elbows into your sides and then flex your triceps forcefully to push the bands down toward the floor.
  4. Keep pushing until your elbows are completely locked out.
  5. Hold the peak contraction for a second and then release the bands in a controlled manner.
  6. Repeat for 3-5 sets of 10-30 reps.

12. Water bottle tricep extension

A man doing a water bottle overhead extension

Those big bottles or milk jugs that you see at the store aren't just useful for drinking; they're great for doing a triceps workout at home, too.

You can do overhead extensions, lying extensions, close grip bench presses, and even kickbacks with a pair of large, heavy water bottles. They'll be the cheapest pair of weights that you'll ever buy.

  1. Grab the water bottle handles with an overhand grip.
  2. Press the bottles over your head and then lower them deep behind your neck.
  3. Descend slowly until you feel a strong stretch in the backs of your arms.
  4. Reverse the motion by flexing your triceps and extending your elbows.
  5. Perform 3-5 sets of 10-30 reps.

At home tricep workouts for building muscle

Now that you know how to do tricep exercise at home, it's time to get into the actual workout routines that you can follow to make your triceps bigger.

At home tricep workout 1: Strength

A man doing a good tricep workout at home

This is the best at home tricep workout for gaining strength for three reasons.

One, it opens with the close grip bench press, which increases your overall pressing power.

Two, it trains the all-important long head of the triceps with an overhead extension, which will make your triceps bigger and thus give them more strength potential as a muscle group.

Finally, band pushdowns will improve your lockout strength because they become more challenging as the rep goes on. They're also a great, elbow-sparing exercise for getting a pump.

I recommend resting 2 minutes between sets of presses and 1 minute between sets of extensions and pushdowns.

1: Close grip dumbbell press — 3-5 sets of 6-10 reps

2: Dumbbell overhead extension — 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps

3: Band pushdowns — 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps

At home triceps workout 2: Mass gain

A man demonstrating how to work out and build your triceps at home

This is the best home tricep workout for gaining mass because 3 of the exercises directly train the long head of the triceps, which, as mentioned, has the most growth potential of any upper arm muscle.

The volume is also pretty high, so you might want to stick to 3 sets per exercise unless you're already really strong and muscular.

Try to leave 1-2 reps in reverse on each set so that you can stimulate your triceps rather than completely obliterate them. When the volume is this high, you don't need to train to failure, although you can do the final set of each exercise if you wish.

1: Dumbbell lying tricep extension — 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps

2: Diamond push-ups — 3-5 sets (leave 1-2 reps in reserve per set)

3: Band overhead extension — 3-5 sets of 15-30 reps

4: Kickbacks — 2-3 sets of 10-30 reps

At home tricep workout 3: Pump

A man showing how to do various at home tricep exercises

Doing your triceps workouts at home doesn't mean sacrificing your gym pump; you can still get a terrific tricep pump by using bands, performing high reps, and training close to failure.

As you can see, the reps are higher than in the other workout routines. This is so that you can get the biggest tricep pump possible.

But because you're doing double the number of reps per set, the total number of sets needs to come down so that you don't do too much training volume.

The workout ends with a superset so that you can finish off your triceps and fill your arms with blood. Pump complete. 

1: Band pushdowns — 3 sets of 20-40 reps

2: Band overhead extensions — 3 sets of 20-40 reps

3A: Diamond push-ups — 3 sets

3B: Bench dips — 3 sets

How to get bigger triceps at home

If you want to learn how to get big triceps at home, listen up. Building bigger triceps at home is easier than you would think as long as you're willing to make a few crucial adjustments to your workouts.

You can also learn how to build your biceps at home if you want to train both the front and back of your arms together.

Buy some bands

Some resistance bands on the floor

For less than the cost of a one-month gym membership, you can buy a set of resistance bands, which will enable you to train every muscle in your body.

Bands are especially good for working out your triceps at home because you can do overhead extensions, lying extensions, pushdowns, and kickbacks with them, which are some of the best tricep exercises for building mass.

Additionally, bands are typically much easier on the elbows than free-weights. This is key because if you can avoid injury, then you can keep gaining triceps muscle mass consistently without having to take time off from your home triceps workouts.

Try to buy a set of bands that comes with a door anchor so that you can easily suspend your bands in high and low positions, which is essentially like having your very own cable machine.

Perform high reps

A man demonstrating some good at home tricep workouts for building muscle

Although the triceps are a fast-twitch muscle that love explosive, low rep lifting, your triceps also respond well to intense, high rep training. After all, your muscles are just pieces of meat; they don't have an in-built rep counter.

As such, your triceps respond to tension, and you can put a ton of tension and torque through your triceps by challenging them with high rep training.

High reps actually enable you to accumulate training volume faster than low reps. The catch is that in order for high rep sets to be effective, which is to say muscle growth-stimulating, they need to be taken very close to failure so that you can recruit enough muscle fibers to stimulate hypertrophy.

With low rep sets, on the other hand, you're by definition already close to failure after performing a few reps, which means that it's ok to leave a few reps in reserve because your triceps are already fatigued.

Progressively increase the resistance

Two dumbbells on the floor

While you can definitely keep growing your triceps by lifting the same weights, there comes the point when you need to increase the resistance if you want to keep making gains.

Of course, many people are quite happy to just train for the pump and maintain their current level of muscle mass.

However, increasing the weight or using heavier bands is still one of the best ways to stimulate new triceps development. This is something people often ignore when they train their triceps at home, and it can mean maintaining rather than gaining.

The verdict: Should you do your tricep workouts at home or not?

A man demonstrating the best at home tricep workout that you can do to build muscle

Now that you know how to work out your triceps at home, it's time to answer the ultimate question: Should you do tricep workouts at home or in the gym?

Of course, going to the gym to train your triceps means having access to a wider range of equipment. Plus, working out in the weight room as opposed to your living room might make you push yourself harder, which in turn will lead to better triceps development.

On the contrary, some people actually prefer working out in the privacy of their own home, which may actually enable them to train harder. We're all different.

Additionally, you can maximize your triceps development with bands and dumbbells (or even just one of them). There's no need for heavy barbells or fancy machines because, as I've said before, your triceps respond to tension, not weight or a particular type of equipment.

Feel free to follow one of my workout routines, or go ahead and make your own custom program using the at home tricep exercises that I shared with you above.

References

  1. Moore, B. (2022, March 3). The Best Long Head Tricep Exercises for Mass & Hypertrophy. Legion Athletics. https://legionathletics.com/long-head-triceps-exercises/
  2. Smith, J. (2015, February 10). Increase Your Pressing Power. Muscle & Fitness. https://www.muscleandfitness.com/workouts/arm-exercises/increase-your-pressing-power/
  3. Waterbury, C. (2019, August 18). 3 Reasons to Lift Explosively. T NATION. https://www.t-nation.com/training/3-reasons-to-lift-explosively/
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.
chevron-upmenu-circlecross-circle linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram