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Strength Workout: The Tricep

Woman standing in front of the mirror during strenght training and looking at her own reflection

The often-neglected understudy to ‘big brother bicep’, the triceps actually do an incredible amount of work for us. As such, strengthening the triceps is something many of us should consider prioritising.

In this article, we cover:

  • The anatomy of the tricep
  • Why you should strengthen your triceps
  • A 6-week tricep strengthening workout progression that’ll supercharge those tris.

Anatomy of the tricep

The triceps are a set of three muscles on the upper, back part of your arm.

They do a lot of work for us, but most of us don’t realise that they’re helping out in some way shape or form. Every time you straighten your arm involves a tricep contraction, which is a lot when you think about it. If they’re weak, you’re going to struggle in countless activities from pushing open a heavy door to putting bags in the overhead lockers – activities which will put your body under strain and risk of injury.

The three tricep muscles are primarily involved in extension (or straightening) at the elbow joint.

Why you should strengthen your triceps

So, why might someone want to work on their triceps? Here are a few reasons:

  1. Stronger triceps will help you perform the numerous activities you perform on a daily basis every time you push or press or hold yourself with straight arms. From pressing in the gym, to holding a baby overhead, to nailing some awesome yoga poses – your triceps are working 24/7.

  2. Stronger triceps help prevent what we like to call ‘gorilla arm syndrome’, which carries symptoms such as hunched shoulders and arms that don’t straighten when walking around. Strengthening the triceps helps combat this syndrome and look, which helps your long-term health. 

  3. Solid triceps are what will give you that full appearance if you’re going for a bigger, more ‘sculpted’ look.

6-week tricep strengthening workout progression

When training the triceps, it’s typically a good idea to target the three tricep muscles with different variations of triceps exercise. This is especially important when building muscle as we’re looking to create symmetry.

As we are going for strength, we’re going to follow a 2-movement workout progression over a series of 6 weeks, as follows:

  • First 3 weeks: a narrow-grip floor press with few reps

  • Next 3 weeks: a full-range narrow-grip press.

The first 3 weeks’ floor press limits your range of motion, so that when your elbows hit the floor you stop. Over the next 3 weeks, we extend the range of motion with the full-range narrow-grip press to increase strength and add progression to the movement.

Workout 1: Narrow-grip floor press

Workout schedule:

For the first three weeks, try doing this workout twice per week.

What equipment you’ll need:

Ideally, use a barbell with plates. If this is not available, you can use dumbbells or kettlebells as your external loading.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Lie face up on the floor.

  2. Take a narrow grip on the barbell (around one ‘handprint’ narrower than your normal grip). 

  3. Lower the weight slowly towards your chest, keeping the elbows tucked as close to your body as possible.

  4. Once your elbows hit the floor, push the barbell away from you as quickly as you can. 

  5. Repeat for 4 sets of 3-5 reps, resting for 90-120s between sets. 

Workout 2: Full-range narrow-grip press

Workout schedule:

For the second three weeks, try this workout twice per week.

What equipment you’ll need:

Same as workout 1 and a bench.

Here’s what to do:

The same as workout 1, but rather than lying on the floor, lie on a bench. This will increase the range of motion in each repetition, thus requiring additional strength for the workout.


After each workout, make sure that even when your triceps are sore that you keep moving your arms.

It can be so tempting to clamp up, not move them, while keeping them slightly bent all day. But this leads to the ‘gorilla arm syndrome’ we mentioned earlier – and nobody wants that.

Help your body retain its mobility by using your arms and keeping them active.

They’ll thank you in the future.

What’s next?

The great thing about strengthening your triceps is that any pressing exercise you do afterwards will get easier.

So, once you’ve gone through 6 weeks of tricep strengthening, try a couple of your old pressing exercises and see how much more weight you can move!

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