One of the biggest misconceptions when it comes around-the-arms training is that the biceps are the key to achieving bigger arms. In truth, the triceps are the biggest drivers of arm size. The reason is, a tricep is larger muscle than a bicep and takes up more of the arm’s surface area.
This now raises a question: “How do I work out my triceps in order to maximally increase my arm size?” An option is to try to incorporate more tricep compound exercises. The beauty of this type of movement is that not only does it work the triceps but also targets other body parts at the same time. In addition, compound movements help boost muscle size much quicker than isolating exercises.
Five compound exercises for triceps
Here, I will briefly explain five highly effective compound exercises for working the triceps.
Triceps chair dips
This exercise is great for working out many of the upper body muscles while emphasizing the triceps. In addition, a triceps chair dip can be completed pretty much anywhere there is a chair. This is great for those who are always on the go or do not have a lot of time to go to the gym.
Here’s a look at how you can perform triceps chair dips:
- Stand in front of the standard chair or bench looking away from its seat.
- Carefully sit down on the very edge of the chair’s seat and place your hands next to your hips. Securely grab the edge of the chair.
- Extending your arms and legs, raise your buttock off the seat slowly. Your feet should be placed roughly hip-width and palms shoulder-width apart. This will be your starting position.
- Now, carefully lower your body down towards the floor by bending your elbows to around 90 degrees.
- Using the strength of your triceps, push your torso back into the air to the starting position. During this entire movement, avoid leaning forward; remember to bring up your torso gradually leaning backward. Keep your elbows backward and as close to your side as possible while performing the movement.
In order to increase resistance, place your feet up on a second bench and/or put extra weight (e.g. a dumbbell) on your thighs.
Triangle (Diamond) push-ups
Second on our list comes diamond push-ups. While conventional push-ups are typically thought of as an exercise to work the pecs, they are actually a compound movement also working the triceps. In order to put more emphasis on the triceps, it only takes a small hand adjustment.
Here’s what to do:
- Move into a standard push-up position.
- Place your palms closer together so that they are under your pecs.
- Turn your palms outwards until your thumbs and index fingers form a triangle shape.
- Keeping your back flat, slowly lower your torso down until your pecs almost touch the ground.
- Pause for a moment and push yourself back up to the starting position.
Close-grip bench press
Similar to doing push-ups, most people think that bench-pressing primarily focuses on working the chest muscles. However, a slight grip adjustment can transform this exercise into a tricep-strengthening machine. The key to this movement is to place the hands on the barbell narrower rather than wider like during a typical bench press. While this change will increase the amount of pressure on the triceps, it will work your chest at the same time.
Let’s go step-by-step:
- First, set up as you would do for a typical bench press exercise.
- Laying down on the bench, place your hands on the bar shoulder-width apart or slightly narrower. Don’t bring them too close together, as this can result in an injury. Whatever is comfortable for your wrists is generally the best for you.
- Take the bar from the stand and bring it to the chest level. This is your starting position.
- Keeping your elbows as close to your torso as possible for maximum stability and engagement of the triceps, lower the bar.
- When the bar reaches your chest level, you can pause for a moment and press back to the starting position.
While this is a very well-known triceps compound exercise, it’s also incredibly effective for working the other muscles. Some even say that triceps dips are as a productive exercise for the upper body as a squat is for the lower body.
Here’s a guide to this exercise:
- Grip either hand to the bars on the triceps dip station.
- Keeping your arms straight with nearly locked elbows, raise yourself into the air. This will be your starting position.
- Slowly lower your arms to a 90-degree bend.
- Hold for a moment, and then press your arms back to the starting position. During the entire movement, hold your torso upright and elbows as close to your body as possible.
A seasoned lifter can increase resistance by adding weight to the dipping belt.
Machine tricep dips
This exercise is a great substitute once conventional triceps dips for whatever reason becomes uncomfortable or repetitious. On the dip machine, you can easily adjust the resistance level and grip width to better target the triceps.
Let’s get into the process:
- Choose the weight on a dip machine.
- Sit down firmly and then adjust and grasp the handles.
- Keep your elbows close to your sides and bend them at a 90-degree angle.
- Extend your arms straight as you exhale. Pause at the peak to keep tension in your triceps.
- Slowly move your arms back to 90 degrees (the starting position) as you inhale.
As you can see, there are plenty of compound movements that can be performed in order to effectively strengthen the triceps. These exercises are the key to increasing your arm size quickly!
Triceps workout with focusing on compound movements
Here are two triceps workout ideas with a focus on the compound exercises.
- Close grip bench press: 3 sets of 8–10 reps
- Triceps chair dips: 3 sets of 10–12 reps
- Triceps dips: 3 sets of 6–12 reps
- Diamond push-ups: 4 sets of 8–12 reps