The Best Triceps Exercise for Mass (WINNER!)


What’s up, guys? Jeff Cavaliere, ATHLEANX.com. We’ve got to pick one here, today, and this
is going to be tough. Which tricep exercise is the best for adding
mass to the back of your arms? We have to do an Iron Face-Off here, and we’re
going to pit three exercises against each other. I said it’s tough because I actually like
all three of these exercises. But if you’re going to put the science back
in strength like we commit to here on this channel, you’re going to sometimes have
to make some tough decisions. So I’m going to give you the facts about
each of these to help you see why I’m arriving at my choice for the best. Okay, let’s start it with one of the classic
exercises here that seems to make its way into all of our tricep routines. It’s the pushdown. I’m demonstrating with a rope, but the same
could apply here whether you’re using a straight bar, or a rope. The fact is this, guys: I like this exercise,
like I said. What I do like about it is that you can load
it up. You can do progressive overload – which
is a key for building more muscle – because this allows you to do that. you can load the whole damn stack, in some
cases. I also like that it’s easier on your elbows
than some of the other exercises that I might even show in this video later on. That’s because of the cables, and the fact
that this pully machine makes it easy on our joints. But at the same time it’s doing that it’s
also compromising the strength curves throughout the exercise. So if you look at me doing this exercise here,
we know the idea that the line of resistance is through the cable. If it’s perpendicular to my forearm – like
it is in the beginning of the rep – then we’re going to have maximum tension on the
triceps at that point. But if at any point it gets parallel to that
forearm then we know we’re taking some of the tension away. That’s happening with this exercise at the
point that it matters the most; down there in peak contraction. Now I’ve discussed in the past here how
my rocking tricep pushdown will help obliterate that and we can actually get tension both
in the beginning, and at the end. But that was covered in a completely separate
video. I’ll show you how to do that in depth in
that video. I’ll link that for you there. But we also don’t get that all-important
stretch on the long head, here on the tricep. Realizing guys, the longhead of the tricep
is making up the most mass in your tricep. Of the three heads, it’s going to be where
you can bank on getting the most size. We don’t ever have our arms over our head
at any point in this exercise to put a stretch on that longhead. So here again, it’s failing. So for both of those reasons, it’s a great
exercise, but just not my single, sole choice if I can only pick one. Next up is another classic exercise for the
triceps. This one is the close grip bench-press. Now, this one actually offers a versatility
that even the pushdown did not. That is, you can either do this with dumbbells,
or you can do it with the barbell. Whereas, with that pushdown, you’re kind
of limited to either a cable, or maybe a band setup. But we know the band is a little inferior,
even with the strength curves. There’s not enough resistance until the
very end. So I like that this brings this to the table,
but it also allows us to do progressive overlay, because we can really load this one up. That leads immediately into the question of
“What are we loading?” Are we really loading the triceps here? Just because we have a narrower grip we are
definitely hitting them a bit better, but we’re not going to ever take out the shoulders
and chest from this movement. Especially if you’re already dominant there,
they’re going to want to dominate that exercise every, single time you do it. Beyond that, if you do not lock out every,
single rep here, you’re then going to be throwing out the remainder of the benefits
for this exercise because that’s when the triceps become most active. That last quarter of the range of motion to
get to full lockout. I’m not saying ‘Jam your elbows into extension’. That’s never advisable. I’m saying just get to full extension, with
a steady load here, as you pressed up to the top. But make sure you do because if you don’t
you’re missing out on the main benefit of the triceps in this exercise. Not to mention that at no point in this exercise
do my elbows ever go back up, over my head to put that longhead of the triceps on a stretch. Finally, can this be a little bit difficult
for available joints? It can, just because the weight bearing down
straight through the elbow is different than when you were doing the tricep pushdown. So for somebody that has orthopedic issues
in their elbows, this one could be a little bit challenging. So once again, while I like the exercise,
because of the few detriments that there are to it, it can’t be my number one choice. Which brings me to exercise number three. You know I save the winner for last here,
guys. If you’ve watched my channel for any length
of time you probably could have seen this one coming, but once again, it’s for all
the right reasons. That is the dumbbell tricep extension, or
the barbell tricep extension. Right away we have the versatility built right
into the exercise. Both of them are going to effectively work
the same way. We’re going to also be able to overload
this exercise to create that progressive overload that we need to lift those heavier weights,
to help the triceps actually respond to that load with growth. Also, because of the fact that we can use
an easy curl bar when we do it we can not only be kind here, obviously, to the wrists,
but back to what I was saying before; the elbows can actually benefit here as well,
if you make this one important tweak. That is, try to keep your elbows back. Angle backward instead of vertical at the
top of this exercise. Why? Number one, we don’t have that compressive
load coming down through the elbows, underneath that weight at the time of peak contraction. But number two, we actually can keep the tension
on the triceps – because that’s where we want it, right? Instead of on the joints themselves, but just
shifting our arms back a little bit. I’ve demonstrated this before, and why this
is some important, but I will tell you this: it’s the key to the effectiveness of this
entire exercise. You want that tension on the triceps, in that
peak contracted position, and you can only do it by angling your arms back about 20,
or 30 degrees here as you see in the end portion of this exercise. Now, beyond that, why is this going to get
the winner status? Because it gives me that all-important stretch
in the longhead down, in that bottom position. You can see every time I bottom out I can
even raise back a little bit more to get that extra stretch in the longhead, and then come
back out of that position every, single time. So I have the benefit of the stretch reflex. I have the benefit of the peak contraction. I have the benefit of all the strength curves
working in my favor. And of course, I have the benefit of being
a little bit easier on those joints. So guys, for all those reasons – and we
can load it up, too. It’s a mass builder. For all those reason, if I had to choose one,
this would be the choice. But guys, as we always say here, it’s never
all about one exercise. As a matter of fact, exercises themselves
never make the workout program effective. It’s how you do them that makes them effective
and we always pay attention to the details, no matter what it is we’re doing. Not just breaking down these exercises, but
with every, single workout that I prescribe to you guys in all of our programs. If you haven’t already started one of our
programs, head to ATHLEANX.com right now and get our ATHLEANX training system. In the meantime, if you’ve found this video
helpful leave your comments and thumbs up below. If you want to see more Iron Face-Offs let
me know what you want me to over and I’ll do my best to pit them head to head, and tell
you guys what I really think is the best of the best. All right, guys. I’ll see you soon.

100 Replies to “The Best Triceps Exercise for Mass (WINNER!)”

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  2. Great stuff. Learning a lot from this channel and the real science/body mechanics behind each exercise which are all thoroughly and excellently explained.

  3. My triceps are so small that my forearm and elbow are huge compared to my upper arm and it makes my arms look very disproportional

  4. I only use the tri pushdowns to warm up the elbows with either a "V" bar if going heavy or the rope with a wider spread at the bottom and a hold to concentrate on the small outer portion of the horseshoe and somewhat slow movement. What about doing the barbell excercise with your elbows close to you but your hands a little wider and a reverse grip. Only do this on a Smith machine or with a spotter if free weights. Just used occlusion bands for the first time today on my " Fun with Guns" day. Got a pump from hell.

  5. I've always gotten elbow pain with his #1 exercise so can't do it. It's a great exercise though but it just doesn't work for me. I do Close Grip Bench Press, Tricep Kickbacks or Rope pushdowns and Tricep cable extensions with the rope or dumbell Skullcrushers to hit the longhead. I'll change the exercises up occasionally to keep the muscles stimulated and my rest times between 50secs to 1min in between each set. With that routine, I've sculpted and put on plenty of mass.

  6. i agree with you jeff, my triceps look different when i finish with the skull crusher workouts. its not like with power bombs or triceps pull overs.

  7. i like that he actually tries to give tips and help people…. not like some people that just stand there talking for 20 minutes without their shirts off for 1 tip

  8. Only my left tricep and right peck is growing in my incline dB press I really need help it’s so annoying

  9. My chest and Tricep workout looks like this. Hammer strength chest press, bench press, Dumbbell bench press, Tricep Pushdowns, Behind the head Tricep Extension, Skull-crusher, Machine Dips

  10. If you're on the juice then any exercise is great but if you're not then dips is the best one because of muscle activation which is key to building anything. The more muscle activated, the greater the anabolic response and that is just a fact. Second one is close grip benches.

  11. Yesterday was my first day of program after the 3 months of basic
    Yesterday I couldn't do tricep with proper form i was moving my elbows outward and the really made me unmotivated to workout

  12. Wait I’m confused so is doing low reps (high intensity) better or worse than high reps (low intensity)?

  13. Great exercises. I find using weight that is beyond my control: just trying to be macho brings no gains. Working up to heavy weight works great for gains. Over head extensions is a favorite for me for tricep/ long head development.

  14. Damn, my tricep have tremendously grown after this video. I’d like to thank you profusely for your help

    Thank you

  15. I do the tricep push down with a bar, is that any good ? im gonna try the winning one though, see people doing it in the gym all the time !

  16. So I tried feeling the stretch in my triceps like you say and now after 5 days my tricep is in pain and when I lift my arms above my head and bend my elbows it doesn’t feel right. Is this normal? I have been lifting weight for over ten years and I have never had soreness last this long.

    Either I did something really right or really wrong. @athlean x

  17. Hey Jeff! Another good one for tricep. Thanks. Looking for my different routine for tricep and will do do tricep ext.

  18. I wanna know if overhead tricep extensions on a cable machine are viable for that last one. It's an easier version, sure, but I'm not CERTAIN if it's.. doing the same thing.

    Any advice from anyone would be appreciated. 🙂

  19. Weighted tricep dips are good too. If you don't fully lock out when doing these you'll keep constant tension on the tricep without putting so much stress on the elbows.

  20. I do that last exercise with a dumbell because it works just as well and doesn't put as much stress on your shoulders

  21. Hey Jeff…. I'm having a big problem with my right side of the body!! I think it's hijacked and less developed than left side… What u think I should do?! Plz give me some advice…

  22. Once again Jeff comes thru with a great tweak for someone with an elbow issue. I can work my triceps again without pain.

  23. Great informative video jeff !
    However, I do have a question.

    What is the difference between the tricep extension and the skull crusher?

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  25. Wow, thanks for this video. I've been looking for a Tricept exercise that is light on the elbow and your Tricept Extension with an EZ Bar is just what I needed.

  26. haha really jacked myself up doing the barbell triceps extension… my shoulder blade almost ripped out lol. Might have been using a little to much weight.

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