This is a companion piece to the best bicep workout for size post I wrote not too long ago.
Most guys that want big arms–there don’t seem to be many that don’t want this–are focused on the biceps, which is unfortunate. The biceps don’t occupy as much real estate on the arm as the triceps muscles do. So today I want to give you a quick breakdown of the best tricep exercises for mass, just in case you’re reading to let go of the biceps fixation.
The shortest answer to mass-related lift questions is always: “Whatever exercise or movement lets you lift the most weight.” In the case of the triceps, it’s not the dumbbell kickback or the skull crusher, although I have had decent results with the latter.
My absolute favorites for bigger triceps are the close grip bench press and the dip on parallel bars or gymnastic rings. Think about it. My bench press total is not going to blow anyone away, but my close-grip bench press is just a little bit behind it. I can easily put 275 on the barbell and work close grip bench for a long time. It would take a lot of kickbacks with a little dumbbell to equal the volume or the force of the contraction.
Same with dips. A great exercise for triceps that allows for enormous weights. There are men who have worked up to some incredible weights with dips.
Good luck doing much else for your triceps with a 200 lb dumbbell! The dips also give the chest a great contraction, and I’ve yet to find someone who will say that the dip feels worse on their body than the bench press. Not that they’re not out there, but the motion of the dip seems to be easier on many people’s shoulder and pectoral girdles than any sort of flat pressing.
But to each his own. If size is your goal, the most important metrics of training become strength and volume. Nothing comes close to the big movements.