The tricep is the most significant muscle of the arm that has three heads – long, medial, and lateral. And to build solid triceps, you’ll need to hit them all.
You can use various equipment to hit the entire triceps, such as dumbbells, cables, and barbells.
The dumbbells help isolate the long, lateral, and medial head specifically; machines allow you to lift the weight more safely, while barbells enable you to lift more weight and generate higher muscle activation.
I’ve already shared the cables and dumbbell exercises in my previous articles. And today, I’ll hand out the best barbell tricep exercises to help forge the back of your upper arms.
6 Best Barbell Tricep Exercises to Build Sturdy Arms
- Close Grip Bench Press
- Barbell Skullcrusher
- Standing Overhead Triceps Extension
- Triceps Kickback
- Barbell Triceps Pushdown
- Close Grip Landmine Press
These barbell exercises isolate the triceps’ long, medial, and lateral head in a safe and effective way and help you build sturdy and toned arms over time.
1. Close Grip Bench Press
The close grip bench press is a super effective exercise that allows you to lift heavy, engages all three heads of the triceps, and helps build burly arms.1 The influence of grip width and forearm pronation/supination on upper-body myoelectric activity during the flat bench press– Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research
Steps to do a narrow grip bench press:
- Lie on a flat bench on your back with your feet flat on the ground.
- Grab a bar with your hands slightly shorter than hip-width apart.
- Bend your arms and hold the bar above your chest with your elbows 15-20 degree diagonal from the shoulders.
- Brace your abdominal muscles, inhale, and press the bar up until your arms are fully straight.
- Pause for a second and then lower the bar to the start. That’s one rep!
2. Barbell Skullcrusher
The barbell skull crusher is an isolation exercise that primarily isolates the triceps heads.
It provides decent stretch and deep contraction to the back of your upper arms that help maximize muscle hypertrophy of the triceps brachii.
Steps to do a skull crusher:
- Holding an EZ bar, lie on a flat bench with your face up. Make sure your hands are shorter than hip-width with your palms facing up.
- Extend your elbows until your arms are straight and the triceps muscles get engaged.
- Hold for a second or two, and then bend your elbows behind your head. Repeat the same movements for the required number of times.
- Don’t flare your elbows out during extension.
3. Standing Overhead Triceps Extension
The overhead tricep extension primarily isolates the tricep’s long head, which gives the upper arms a decent look.
Steps to do an overhead barbell triceps extension:
- Holding an EZ bar with your hands, stand upright with your feet hip-width apart.
- Keep the barbell behind your head by bending your elbow with your palms facing up.
- Extend your elbows until your arms are straight overhead.
- Pause for a second or two; you’ll feel the contraction in your triceps.
- Lower the down by bending your elbows behind your head. That’s your one rep!
- Do two to three sets of eight to ten repetitions each.
You can also do it using a reverse grip (palms down) to hit your three-headed muscles from various angles and build sculpted arms.
4. Barbell Triceps Kickback
The kickback is an excellent way to activate all three heads of the rear upper arms and gives the triceps a toned and horseshoe appearance.2 ACE Study Identifies Best Triceps Exercises – American Council of Exercise (ACE)
Steps to do a tricep kickback:
- Grab a bar with an underhand grip and stand straight with your hands behind your glutes.
- Push your hips backward, bend your knees, and lean your torso forward until your chest is parallel to the ground.
- Brace your abdominal muscles, hips, and glutes so you can focus on your arms only.
- Keep your elbows tucked to your side with your upper arms parallel to the floor.
- Extend your elbows until your arms are straight behind you.
- Pause for a couple of seconds, and then bring the bar back to the start.
5. Barbell Triceps Pushdown
You may haven’t heard about the barbell pushdown workout, but it works efficiently for tricep muscles.
Your triceps activate when you extend your arms downward after completing the reverse curl.
Steps to do a triceps pushdown:
- Pick a loaded bar and hold it with an overhand grip.
- Stand into a shoulder-width stand and bend your elbows to bring the bar toward your body (like reverse biceps curl).
- Hold the bar in a complete curl position, and from that point, extend your arms down, squeezing your triceps until they are straight. That’s one rep!
- Bring the bar to the curl position and repeat the same steps the desired number of times.
6. Close Grip Landmine Press
The landmine press is a compound movement that targets the chest, triceps, and shoulder simultaneously and helps develop a sturdy and toned torso.
It mainly activates the long head of the tricep during the arms’ extension. Incorporating it into your barbell tricep workout will help you build solid upper arms.
Steps to do a close-grip landmine press:
- Place one end of the bar in a corner so it won’t move unnecessarily.
- Put the desired weights into another end.
- Grab the end where you’ve inserted the weight and stand in front of the barbell in the shoulder-width stance.
- Hold the bar at your chest height with your elbows bent and tucked at your sides. That’s the starting position.
- Press the bar toward the ceiling until your elbows are entirely extended. Your triceps will contract at the top of the extension.
- You can hold for a moment at the top and then bring the bar down to the start and repeat as many times as you feel.
How to Integrate Triceps Barbell Exercises in Your Workout Routine
Whether you train your biceps with multiple pieces of equipment or use barbells only, I’ve got a workout routine for each of you.
First, let’s see an example of a 30-minute barbell only triceps workout:
|Close Grip Bench Press||10 x 3||Close Grip Bench Press|
|Barbell Skullcrusher||10 x 3||Standing OH Extension|
|Barbell Triceps Kickback||10 x 3||Triceps Pushdown|
|Close Grip Landmine Press||10 x 3||Triceps Kickback|
And, here is how you can pair barbell, machine, and dumbbell exercises to reinforce triceps and forge arms.
|Narrow Grip Bench Press||10 x 3||Bar Dips|
|Barbell Skullcrusher||10 x 3||Triangle Pushups|
|Bar/Rope Pushdown||10 x 3||1-arm OH DB Extension|
|1-arm OH Cable Extension||10 x 3||Rope/Bar Pushdown|
|Cable/DB Kickback||10 x 3||Cable/DB Kickback|
Whether you train your back, legs, chest, or biceps, your workout will be incomplete without barbell exercises.
Barbell is a great piece of equipment that allows you to lift more weight, engage multiple muscles at once, and stimulate higher muscle activation.
You can include the above barbell exercises to bolster your triceps muscles and build firm and defined arms.
However, you shouldn’t only rely on exercises to grow your strength and mass. You should equally focus on nutrition. Consuming high-protein foods, vegetables, and fruits and supplementing with whey protein and creatine will help you achieve the best results over time.
Related barbell exercises:
- 20 Best Barbell Leg Exercises
- 10 Best Barbell Biceps Exercises
- Top 10 Barbell Shoulder Exercises
- Top 5 Barbell Chest Exercises
- 6 Best Barbell Lat Exercises
- 1The influence of grip width and forearm pronation/supination on upper-body myoelectric activity during the flat bench press– Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research
- 2ACE Study Identifies Best Triceps Exercises – American Council of Exercise (ACE)