The Critical Body logo

The best tricep workouts and exercises without weights or equipment for building muscle at home

Here are 8 unusual tricep exercises that you can do without weights or gym equipment.
Written By  James Jackson
Last Updated on 2nd May 2022
A man performing a triceps workout without weights or equipment

Achieving a great triceps workout without weights is completely possible if you know how to train your triceps correctly and are willing to work hard.

Usually, you’d also need to think of some creative exercises to replace dumbbells and barbells, but I’ve already taken care of that part for you by demonstrating that you can do many familiar tricep exercises without equipment.

So whether the gyms are closed, whether you’re traveling, or whether you just don’t want to pay for weights, you’ll get great results from these challenging no weight tricep exercises.

Related No Weight Workouts:

The 8 best triceps exercises without weights for building mass

Performing triceps exercises without weights doesn’t just mean doing close-grip push-ups; there are many other tricep taxing movements that you can add to your workout routine.

So here are the 8 best tricep exercises that you can do without weights or gym equipment of any kind.

1. Water bottle tricep extension

A man doing a water bottle overhead extension

Those big water bottles and milk jugs can keep you hydrated for a long time. But quenching your thirst isn’t their only use; big water bottles are great replacements for dumbbells.

After all, do you think that your triceps can tell whether you’re lifting a dumbbell or a milk jug?

Of course not! Your triceps just respond to tension. You can get a great triceps workout at home without weights by using basic yet heavy household objects, of which water bottles are perhaps the best example.

The water bottle tricep extension is versatile in that you can perform it seated, standing up, and lying down. Doing it standing up will burn the most calories, but you’ll also need to put extra effort into stabilizing your core, which could detract from your tricep workout.

For maximum triceps isolation, you’ll want to perform the bottle extensions—and most of your other no equipment triceps exercises—in a seated or lying position.

  1. Grab a pair of heavy water bottles or milk jugs with an overhand grip.
  2. Press the bottles over your head and then lower them behind your neck.
  3. Keep going until you feel a really deep stretch in your triceps.
  4. Once you’ve gone as low as you comfortably can, reverse the motion by flexing your triceps forcefully until your elbows reach complete extension.
  5. Repeat for 3-5 sets of 10-20 reps.

2. Backpack tricep extension

A man performing a backpack overhead tricep extension

In terms of execution, the backpack tricep extension is virtually identical to the bottle tricep extension. The only difference between the two no weight triceps exercises is that you can customize the resistance level of the backpack extension.

To make the backpack as heavy as possible—to really target the fast-twitch muscle fibers in your triceps—you’ll want to fill it with water bottles, books, cartons of milk, and groceries such as carrots and potatoes.

While hoisting a backpack above your head might seem like worlds away from training your triceps in the gym, it’s important to remember that, as mere pieces of muscle meat, your triceps can’t tell what you’re using as resistance.

So don’t worry about not being able to get a good triceps workout without weights; you can definitely build bigger triceps without any gym equipment whatsoever.

  1. Fill up a backpack with some heavy household objects like books, bottles of water, and yes, even potatoes.
  2. Grab the top handle of the bag and press it over your head.
  3. Lower the bag behind your neck. Keep going until you feel a really intense triceps stretch.
  4. Come back up by flexing your triceps. Keep going until your elbow is locked out.
  5. Perform 10-20 reps, and then repeat the movement with your other arm.

3. Towel tricep extension

A man doing a towel tricep extension

It’s easy to perform a triceps workout at home without equipment if you have a towel handy. All you do is grab the ends of the towel and then bring it behind your head as if you were doing an overhead extension with a dumbbell.

From there, you simply flex one of your triceps—so that the towel travels upward—while trying to pull the towel back down with your opposite arm to create some resistance.

In terms of the movement pattern, this exercise is basically the same as a single-arm overhead extension, and you can customize the resistance level by pulling down on the towel with more or less effort.

  1. Grab both ends of a small towel and hold it over your head.
  2. Move one end of the towel toward the ceiling by extending your elbow.
  3. As you flex your triceps to do this, pull the other end of the towel toward the ground with your opposite arm.
  4. Squeeze your triceps once your elbow reaches full extension, and repeat for 20-50 reps.
  5. Switch arms and do 3-5 sets of 20-50 reps per side.

4. Bodyweight tricep extension

A man doing bodyweight triceps extensions for calisthenics

If you plan on doing tricep workouts without equipment for the foreseeable future, then you definitely need to get acquainted with the bodyweight tricep extension; it’s one of those bodyweight tricep exercises that looks simple but which is actually really tough on your triceps.

Essentially, you get into a push-up position, but this time, your hands and your forearms are in contact with the floor, and they’re further forward than usual. From there, you simply push through your hands until your forearms come off the floor.

You can definitely add weight to this exercise if you want to train it in lower rep ranges. But doing even 10 reps with your body weight is challenging initially, so don’t rush to add external resistance.

Indeed, when you master the bodyweight tricep extension, there’s a good chance that your triceps will already be as developed as you want them to be.

  1. Kneel on the floor and place your hands and forearms on the ground in front of you.
  2. Next, get into a push-up-like position by extending your legs all the way back and tightening your core.
  3. Ensure that your back is straight—don’t let those hips sag—and tuck your elbows in slightly.
  4. Push through your hands and flex your triceps to lift your forearms off the floor.
  5. Keep pushing until your elbows are locked out.
  6. Squeeze your triceps at the top of the rep and then slowly lower your body back down to the ground.
  7. Repeat for 3-5 sets of 10-20 reps.

5. Bodyweight skull crusher

A man doing a bodyweight skull crusher using his desk

The bodyweight skull crusher is a step up from the bodyweight tricep extension in terms of difficulty because the skull crusher challenges your triceps—specifically the long head—over a larger range of motion.

If you’re doing a tricep workout at home without weights, the bodyweight skull crusher is particularly convenient because you can do it against a window sill or kitchen countertop.

If you have access to a barbell-like implement (say a piece of equipment at the park), then you can make the movement even more effective by lowering your head under the bar/object/surface to put the long head of your triceps under a massive eccentric muscle stretch.

Alternatively, you can just lower your forehead directly to the surface that your hands are on. You’ll still get a good tricep workout, but you won’t quite get the same skin-splitting stretch that you would if you went deep by lowering your head under the bar/surface.

  1. Place your hands, shoulder-width apart, on a stable surface.
  2. Extend your legs back and come onto your toes so that most of your weight is going through your hands.
  3. Tuck your elbows in, tighten your core, and keep your spine straight.
  4. Lower your head between your hands by bending your elbows.
  5. Descend until you feel an intense stretch in your triceps.
  6. Press your hands into the surface and flex your triceps to push yourself back up. Keep going until your elbows are locked out.
  7. This is one rep. Perform 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps in total.

6. Diamond push-ups

A man doing diamond push ups

If you’re doing a chest and tricep workout without weights, diamond push-ups are one of the best exercises that you can perform because they work both your chest and tris.

Of course, due to the extremely narrow hand position, diamond push-ups place way more tension on your triceps than on your chest. Still, any kind of push-up, no matter how narrow the hand spacing, will still train your pectorals to an extent.

The key to keeping the tension on your triceps is to tuck your elbows in at a 45-degree angle. In other words, don’t let your elbows flare out too much if you want to make sure that your diamond push-ups remain a triceps-dominant exercise.

  1. Kneel on the ground and make a diamond shape with your hands; angle your fingers and thumbs toward each other so that they’re touching.
  2. Put your hands out in front of you and extend your legs behind you.
  3. Tighten your core and tuck your elbows in.
  4. Lower your body toward the ground by bending your elbows. Keep going until your chest touches the floor.
  5. Reverse the motion by pressing your hands into the ground and flexing your triceps.
  6. Squeeze your triceps at the top of the rep and then lower your body back down again.
  7. Perform 3-5 sets of 10-30 reps in total.

7. Vacuum cleaner tricep extension

A man showing how to work your triceps without weights or equipment

Vacuum cleaners are a moderately heavy household object that gives you more than just a cardio workout when you’re doing chores. Indeed, by lifting the vacuum cleaner over your head and then lowering it behind your neck, you can effectively train your triceps without any weights.

Of course, holding a vacuum cleaner isn’t as easy as grabbing a pair of dumbbells (check out these tricep workouts with dumbbells). But this is the kind of compromise that you have to make if you don’t have access to any weights or traditional gym equipment.

  1. Grab your vacuum cleaner and press it over your head.
  2. Lower the vacuum behind your head until you feel a strong stretch in your triceps.
  3. Flex your triceps to lift the contraption up. Keep going until your elbows reach full extension.
  4. Repeat for 3-5 sets of 10-20 reps.

8. Tricep dips

A man doing bench dips

If you plan on doing your tricep workouts at home without weights, then make sure to include tricep dips in your routine if you want a massive arm pump.

Performing a resistance band tricep workout is another great way to get a pump because bands provide constant tension. However, if you want to go completely equipment-free, then tricep dips are your best bet.

All you need to get those triceps burning is a chair or the edge of a stable surface like your bed or sofa. You can even elevate your legs on another chair to make the movement even more challenging.

  1. Sit on the floor facing away from a chair, and then put your hands on the edge of the seat.
  2. Extend your legs out in front of you, and then push yourself up so that your arms are straight.
  3. Lower your hips down to the floor by bending your elbows.
  4. Keep going until you feel a good stretch in your triceps, but avoid going too deep so that you don’t put too much pressure on your rotator cuffs.
  5. Press your hands into the seat to push yourself back up. Keep going until your elbows are fully locked out.
  6. Squeeze your triceps and repeat for 3-5 sets of 10-40 reps.

Tricep workouts without weights

Here are 3 tricep workouts without weights that will help you to build bigger, stronger arms without the need to go to a gym.

No weight tricep workout 1: Strength

A man doing a tricep workout without equipment of any kind

Doing your tricep exercises without weights or equipment doesn’t mean that you can’t get strong. This tricep-taxing trio will build every head of your triceps and improve your upper arm pressing power, which you’ll find useful if you start bench pressing at a later date.

Since this workout is designed to elicit maximum strength gains, you’ll want to rest 2-4 minutes between sets so that you can completely recover and attack your next set with real intensity.

1: Bodyweight skull crusher — 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps

2: Diamond push-ups — 3-5 sets of 10-20 reps

3: Overhead bottle tricep extension — 3-5 sets of 12-25 reps

No weight triceps workout 2: Muscle growth

A man doing some tricep exercises without equipment

Performing a triceps workout without equipment doesn’t mean giving up proven exercises in exchange for “toning exercises.”

The only difference between a triceps workout without weights and with weights is the choice of equipment. In other words, the movement patterns are exactly the same. It’s just that you’ll be lifting household objects rather than dumbbells or barbells.

This particular routine challenges your triceps from a variety of angles and with different rep ranges so that no muscle fiber is left understimulated.

The workout finishes with a tricep-pumping superset that will make your arms burn and give them the work they need to grow and develop.

1: Bodyweight skull crusher — 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps

2: Water bottle tricep extension — 3-5 sets of 10-20 reps

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

3B: Tricep dips — 3 sets (leave 1-2 reps in reserve per set)

No equipment tricep workout 3: High rep pump

A man demonstrating some good no weight tricep exercises

If you want to do a pump-inducing tricep workout without equipment, this is the routine for you. Don’t be fooled by the simple-sounding exercises; this workout will make your triceps burn and beg for mercy.

Of course, high reps will naturally increase your muscular endurance. But, providing that your high rep sets are taken close enough to failure to stimulate enough muscle fibers, they can also lead to massive amounts of triceps growth too.

1: Backpack tricep extension — 3-5 sets of 10-20 reps

2: Towel tricep extension — 3-5 sets of 20-50 reps

3A: Bodyweight tricep extension — 2-3 sets (leave 1-2 reps in reserve per set)

3B: Tricep dips — 2-3 sets (leave 1-2 reps in reserve per set)

How to work your triceps without weights

Learn how to get bigger triceps without weights. All you need is the will to build muscle and access to a few basic household objects that you can use as weights.

Lift heavy household objects

A man doing a triceps workout at home without equipment

The reason that dumbbells, barbells, and bands exist is that they’re easy and convenient to lift for our hands.

But for our triceps muscles, it makes no difference to them whether they’re getting worked with barbells or water bottles because they just respond to tension.

This means that, in theory, you can get a gym-quality tricep workout without equipment—providing that you train your triceps correctly.

Good form goes a long way to building your arms, so don’t feel that you need to lift as heavy as possible to get those tricep gains. A water bottle that weighs 5-10 lbs can give your triceps a great workout when you perform controlled reps over a full range of motion.

Utilize intensity techniques

A man performing some tricep exercises without weights or equipment

While you can definitely find heavy milk jugs at the store and create bulky backpacks for resistance, there might come a point when you don’t have anything else that you can use for weights.

In this case, intensity techniques are your friend.

Muscle-building tactics such as drop sets, supersets, and slow negatives all increase the amount of tension that your triceps have to handle, which is what counts the most when it comes to muscle growth.

So rather than lifting heavier weights, you can just pair exercises together to push your triceps closer to failure.

Intensity techniques definitely make your workouts more challenging, but they also make your sessions more interesting, which can actually make you look forward to training your triceps.

Focus on the long head

A fitness model showing all three heads of the triceps brachii muscles

Although the lateral and medial heads are important parts of the triceps, it’s the long head that makes up the most mass.

But in order to train the long head of your triceps optimally, you need to do overhead exercises or lying extensions, where your shoulders are in flexion.

Growing the long head of your triceps can transform your arm development and make your upper body look much bigger. And you don’t even need weights to build this crucial upper arm muscle. Doing tricep extensions with anything that applies resistance to your triceps is more than good enough for growing your tris.

Conclusion: Should you do your next triceps workout without weights?

A man doing some tricep workouts without weights

Doing your tricep workouts without weights is a viable way to build your arms without going to the gym or relying on particular pieces of training equipment.

Of course, having access to basic pieces of equipment like dumbbells and bands is beneficial because they’re easier to hold, which can help you to better focus on training your triceps.

Still, you can absolutely get a great triceps workout without weights or equipment, and I hope that this guide has helped you to do just that!

References

  1. Breaking Muscle. (2021, November 22). Triceps Training for Pressing Power. https://breakingmuscle.com/triceps-training-for-pressing-power/
  2. Dugdale, M. (2017, January 6). My Favorite Intensity Techniques. Elite FTS. https://www.elitefts.com/education/training/bodybuilding/my-favorite-intensity-techniques/
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