12 Best Bodyweight Tricep Exercises (At Home & No Equipment)

12 best bodyweight tricep exercises (no equipment & at home options)

Whether you are training at home or at a park with no equipment, it should not stop you from being able to train your triceps hard. In fact, there are numerous ways you can do bodyweight tricep exercises with little to no extra equipment. 

The 12 best options for bodyweight tricep exercises you can do without equipment are:

  • Push-Ups
  • Narrow Push-Ups
  • Hand Elevated Narrow Push-Ups
  • Bench Dip
  • Feet Elevated Bench Dip
  • Pike Push Up
  • Handstand Push Up
  • Sphinx Push Up/ Push Up Tricep Extension
  • Tricep Bow/ Dive Bomber
  • Feet Elevated Push Up
  • TRX Tricep Extension
  • TRX Push Up

In this article, I will go through everything you need to know about how to execute these exercises, what you need to know to make the most out of them, and what the pros and cons of each exercise are.

12 Best Bodyweight Tricep Exercises

1) Push-Ups

The push-up is the most well-known bodyweight exercise for the upper body that targets the triceps, chest, and shoulder muscles. Push-ups require no equipment except for your own bodyweight and can easily be performed at home. 

How To

  • Get to the floor on all fours with your feet about hip-width apart and your hands wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Keep your hands placed around chest level with your fingers pointed forward.
  • Keep your back flat by keeping your abs tight, glutes squeezed, and a soft bend in your knees. Keep your chin tucked so that the back of your head, your spine, and hips form a straight line.
  • Take a deep breath in as you lower yourself as close to the floor as possible with your arms and elbows flared about 45 degrees from your torso.
  • Exhale forcefully as you push yourself back up and straighten your elbows.

Pros

  • Push-ups are a good exercise to improve health and mobility around the shoulders as they challenge muscles such as the rotator cuff and serratus anterior (a small muscle that lies deep underneath the pecs close to most of the ribs), which stabilize the shoulder blade and joint.
  • Research done by Yang et al. in 2019 found that there was a relationship between being able to do 40 or more push-ups with lower incidences of cardiovascular disease events.

Cons

  • Not everyone is at a level where they can do a single bodyweight push-up. Therefore, you should consider this to be an intermediate-level exercise.
  • Chest muscles might give out before the triceps, which can limit how many push-ups you can do.

How To Program It

There are several ways that you can program the push-up. If this is part of a home workout, it can be done near the start of training, but if it is done as a part of a gym workout, you can do it near the end of the workout.

Here are some ways to add push-ups to your routine. 

Strategy 1

You can focus on increasing the total repetitions performed in each workout. Here is what it may look like if you’re doing push-ups three times a week:

Workout 1:

  • 20 total repetitions

Workout 2:

  • 22 total repetitions

Workout 3:

  • 24 total repetitions

Strategy 2

You can also prescribe sets to failure with the push-ups and progress the number of sets:

Workout 1:

  • 2 sets of AMRAP (as many reps as possible)

Workout 2

  • 3 sets of AMRAP (as many reps as possible)

Workout 3:

  • 4 sets of AMRAP (as many reps as possible)

If doing a lot of push-ups causes wrist pain, consider doing push-ups with handles.

2) Narrow Push-Ups

The narrow push-up is a variation of the push-up that has a bit more of an emphasis on the triceps than the chest muscles. 

How To

  • Bring yourself to the floor on all fours with your feet about hip-width apart and your hands shoulder-width apart.
  • Keep your hands placed around chest level with your fingers pointed forward and your elbows tucked close to your torso.
  • Keep your back flat by keeping your abs tight, glutes engaged, and a mild bend in your knees. Also keep your chin tucked so that the back of your head, your spine, and hips form a straight line.
  • Take a deep breath in as you bend your elbows to lower yourself as close to the floor as possible with your arms and elbows kept close to your torso.
  • Exhale forcefully as you press yourself back up and extend your elbows while keeping your body as rigid as possible.

Pros

  • Narrow push-ups are a better push variation exercise to focus more on the triceps than the chest. You can increase the emphasis on the tricep muscles by bringing your hands in even closer so that you bend your elbows more.
  • Narrow push-ups are versatile in a way where you can also change the emphasis of the muscle activation by changing how you position your hands without changing the distance. By having your hands a bit narrower and your elbows more tucked, you can activate your triceps more. You can turn your fingers to point towards each other more, which will make you flare your elbows out and activate the chest muscles more. 

Cons

  • If your front deltoid muscles fatigue before your triceps, it will limit your ability to continue training your triceps with more repetitions. Feeling push-ups more in your shoulders is common if you flare your elbows out too much or use too wide of a grip.
  • You can easily cheat this exercise by unconsciously restricting your range of motion after each repetition as you fatigue.

How To Program It

The narrow push-up can be programmed at the middle or end of a home workout or at the end of a gym workout. Just like regular push-ups, you can prescribe total repetitions to be achieved in as many or little sets as you can:

Here is what this may look like if you add push-ups to your workouts three times a week:

Workout 1

  • 20 total repetitions
  • Set 1: 10 repetitions
  • Set 2: 7 repetitions
  • Set 3: 3 repetitions

Workout 2

  • 22 total repetitions
  • Set: 1 10 repetitions
  • Set 2: 7 repetitions
  • Set 3: 5 repetitions

Workout 3

  • 24 total repetitions
  • Set 1: 10 repetitions
  • Set 2: 7 repetitions
  • Set 3: 5 repetitions
  • Set 4: 2 repetitions

The diamond push-up is a variation of the narrow push-up that also works more of the triceps. Learn more in Diamond Push Up: How To, Benefits, Muscles Worked.

3) Hand Elevated Narrow Push-Ups

The hand elevated narrow push-up is a progression from the narrow push-ups. There is a requirement of some sort of object or a pair of objects that can help elevate the hands equally by between 3 to 6 inches.

The goal of this additional equipment to elevate the hands is to increase the overall range of motion of the exercise.

How To

  • Bring yourself to the floor on all fours with your feet about hip-width apart and your hands shoulder-width apart on top of a pair of parallettes or push-up handles. You can even use objects such as a set of books or yoga blocks.
  • Keep your hands placed underneath chest level with your fingers pointed forward (if using books or yoga blocks) or palms facing each other (if using handles or parallettes) and your upper arms tucked close to your ribcage.
  • Keep your back flat, abs tight, glutes engaged, and a mild bend in your knees. Tuck your chin so that the back of your head, your spine, and hips are aligned.
  • Take a deep breath in as you bend your elbows to lower yourself as close to the floor as possible. Keep your arms and elbows close to your torso. If you can, bring your chest to the blocks that your hands are on.
  • Make sure that you allow your shoulder blades to pinch when you are at the bottom of the range.
  • Exhale forcefully as you push yourself back up and away from the floor, and finish by extending your elbows. Make sure that you keep your body as rigid as possible.

Pros

  • The hand elevated narrow push-up has a superior range of motion through the elbows, which can help increase the activation of the triceps and increase stimulus for growing muscle mass.
  • You can use the blocks that are elevating your hands to be something your chest can touch in order to standardize your range of motion. This is beneficial if you are someone who sometimes cheats on the push-up.

Cons

  • Not everyone has the shoulder mobility to do the hand elevated narrow push-up, and they may risk straining their shoulder if they allow their shoulders to roll forward and out of a safe position when trying to reach a good range of motion.

How To Program It

The best way to perform this exercise is through high reps if push-ups are generally a very easy exercise for you. I would recommend leaving 3 to 5 reps in reserve and not training the sets to failure.

Here is an example of how you can prescribe this exercise:

  • 3 to 4 sets of 12 to 20 reps, leaving 3 to 5 reps in reserve
  • 3010 tempo – take 3 seconds to descend and 1 second to ascend

Wondering what the benefits are of slowing down your push-ups? Check out my article Is It Better To Do Push-Ups Fast or Slow?

4) Bench Dip

The bench dip is a simple bodyweight tricep exercise that you can perform at home with a bench or sofa or in the park using a park bench. This exercise targets the triceps but also engages the front deltoid muscle (the front of the shoulders) as well.

How To

  • With straight legs or slightly bent knees, position yourself on the edge of a bench, sofa, or chair and face away from it.
  • Support your body weight with your palms on the edge of the seat with your arms about shoulder-width apart and behind your torso.
  • Make sure that your hips are off the bench, sofa, or chair.
  • Inhale as you bend your elbows and lower your hips towards the floor. Stop when your elbows reach a 90-degree bend.
  • Exhale as you push yourself back up by extending your triceps.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions. 

Pros

  • The bench dip is a great way to target the triceps without targeting the pecs too much. So if you are fatigued from exercises that target your pecs a lot, this would be a useful finisher.
  • This is an exercise that you can progress not only by just doing more reps but also by increasing the load by putting a weighted object on your lap.

Cons

  • This exercise does put your shoulder in an extreme range of motion, meaning that if you generally do not have good mobility, you can risk straining your shoulder if you accidentally go too far down.

How To Program It

You can prescribe the bench dip with higher reps but also implement overload by putting a weight on top of your lap. Increase the weight once you can perform all reps in all of your sets with good form.

Here is an example of how you can prescribe this exercise:

  • 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps, 3 to 5 reps in reserve

5) Feet Elevated Bench Dip

The feet elevated bench dip is a progression from the regular bench dip. Elevating your feet dips your bodyweight back towards your arms. This means that you feel more tension in your arms, which makes it harder.

Just like the bench dip, you can also perform this in the gym and at home.

How To

  • With straight legs, position yourself on the edge of a bench, sofa, or chair and face away from it.
  • Elevate your feet to the desired height that is roughly the same height as the bench, sofa, or chair that your palms are on.
  • Hold onto your bodyweight with your palms on the edge of the seat with your arms about shoulder-width apart and behind your torso.
  • Make sure that your hips are off the edge of the bench, sofa, or chair.
  • If you want to load this exercise, put the load across your lap.
  • Inhale as you bend your elbows and lower your hips towards the floor. Stop once your elbows are at 90-degrees.
  • Exhale as you push yourself back up by extending your triceps.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions. 

Pros

  • This variation is really good for getting a good stretch in the front deltoid muscles as well as the triceps. This will be beneficial for growing muscle mass around those muscle groups.
  • It can be useful as a burnout exercise at the end of a chest, shoulders, or tricep workout.

Cons

  • You may find yourself needing a spotter if you are performing it with added load on the hips. This is not a good exercise to train to failure because you may find yourself dropping down and straining your shoulder joint and muscles.

How To Program It

The feet elevated bench dip should be prescribed with a medium rep range, especially if it has an additional external load on top. You should also steer clear of failure when performing it with load.

Here is an example of how you can prescribe this exercise:

  • 3 to 4 sets of 6 to 12 reps, leaving 4 to 6 reps in reserve

Not sure what the differences are between push-ups and dips and which exercise is better for you? Check out Dips vs Push Ups: Pros, Cons, Which Is Better?

6) Pike Push-Up

The pike push-up is an intermediate- to advanced-level bodyweight tricep exercise that targets the tricep and the deltoid muscles. It requires no equipment and can be done in the gym, at home, or outdoors. 

How To

  • Get on the floor on all fours in a push-up position, with your hands around shoulder-width apart and your feet around hip-width apart.
  • Push your hips up high in the air with your knees and arms straight. Make sure your arms are by both sides of your face and ears.
  • Ensure that you keep your chin tucked so that the back of your head forms a straight line with the rest of your spine and tailbone.
  • Inhale and bend your elbows and lower your head as close to the floor as possible.
  • Exhale as you push away from the floor to extend your arms to the sides of your head.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Pros

  • This is a good precursor exercise if you are someone who is slowly building their way towards performing a handstand.
  • This is a good exercise that challenges the stabilizer muscles around your shoulder blades as well as your core muscles.

Cons

  • The pike push-up requires good shoulder, hamstring, and hip mobility in order to be able to hold yourself in the correct position and posture. If mobility is insufficient, you cannot perform this exercise properly.
  • The pike push-up is somewhat limited to the length of your arm and is a shorter range of motion exercise when compared to the rest of the other tricep exercises.

How To Program It

To program the pike push-up, you need to focus on progressing the total number of repetitions after each week or each session. You should use medium to high repetitions, so anywhere between 6 to 15 repetitions. 

Here is how you might program the pike push-up while increasing the total number of reps each session:

Workout 1

  • 3 sets 10 reps = 30 total reps

Workout 2

  • 3 sets 12 reps = 36 total reps

Workout 3

  • 4 sets 10 reps = 40 total reps

Wondering if you should do push-ups all at once or break them up? Get our expert opinion in Is It Better To Do Push-Ups In Sets Or All At Once?

7) Handstand Push-Up

The handstand push-up is an advanced bodyweight tricep exercise that will also have a high demand on the deltoid muscles as well as challenge your core. You can progress onto a handstand push-up if you master the pike push-up.

How To

  • Face a plain wall and put your hands about 6 inches to 1 foot away from the wall with a wider than shoulder-width distance. 
  • While keeping your arms straight, kick yourself to the wall into a handstand position with your heels against the wall.
  • You should now be upside and facing away from the wall. Ensure that you are actively pushing yourself up and keep your whole body rigid by engaging your abs and squeezing your glutes and quads.
  • With your body straight and extended, inhale and bend your elbows to lower yourself until your head almost touches the floor.
  • Exhale as your press yourself back up until your arms are straight.
  • Once you have finished with the desired number of reps, lower yourself back down to the floor by bringing your feet away from the wall back to the floor.

Pros

  • Handstand push-ups are great for challenging you to engage your whole body in order to stay balanced throughout the exercise execution. This can transfer well to other big compound movements that engage your whole body.
  • The handstand push-up is great for putting high load through your triceps and shoulders in a bodyweight movement, and this is advantageous if you find most other bodyweight exercises easy for your triceps.

Cons

  • This is an advanced exercise. If you are not strong enough, you can risk injury to the head or neck if you fail a repetition and do not know how to escape from a repetition.

How To Program It

With the handstand push-up, you should program it with low to medium repetitions depending on what your own strength capacity is. I would avoid training the sets to failure by leaving 2 to 3 repetitions in reserve.

Here is how you might program the handstand push up:

  • 3 to 4 sets of 3 to 6 repetitions, leaving 2 to 3 repetitions in reserve

8) Sphinx Push Up/ Push Up Tricep Extension

The push-up tricep extension is a beginner- to intermediate-level bodyweight exercise that isolates the triceps muscles. This exercise will recruit your abdominal muscles to keep your posture during execution.

How To

  • Put yourself in a push-up position on the ground on all fours with your hands about shoulder-width apart and underneath your head.
  • Ensure that you keep your abs, glutes, and quads tense to maintain a rigid posture throughout the exercise.
  • Inhale as you bend your elbow and drop your elbow down to the ground. Your forearms should touch the ground at the bottom. Make sure that you keep your elbows tucked close to your torso.
  • Exhale as you push away from the ground and extend your elbows until your arms are straight.

Pros

  • The push-up tricep extension is one of the better exercises at isolating the triceps muscles when compared to other bodyweight tricep exercises. So this is a good exercise to finish off at the end of a training session.
  • It is very difficult to cheat the range of motion on this exercise as the end range of each point is when the elbows are on the floor and when the elbows are fully extended.

Cons

  • There is a very limited range of motion and there is no constant tension on your triceps as they are more relaxed at the bottom of the repetition.

How To Program It

The push-up tricep extension is best prescribed with medium to high repetitions and close to failure. You also want to include some sort of tempo to control the descent of each repetition. Otherwise, you may find yourself hurting your elbows when they hit the floor.

Here is how you might program the tricep extension push-up:

  • 3 to 4 sets of 12 to 20 repetitions
  • 4010 tempo – take 4 seconds to descend and 1 second to ascend

9) Tricep Bow/ Dive Bomber

The tricep bow or dive bomber is an intermediate to advanced tricep bodyweight exercise. It requires the use of some form of fixed anchor for you to hold onto.

This may be a worktop, a sturdy fence, a bench, a sofa, a table, or a park bench. It should ideally be about anywhere between hip height or knee height.

How To

  • Hold onto the edge of the chosen station for the exercise with an overhand grip that is spread about shoulder-width apart.
  • Stand far away enough that your arms are roughly about 120 degrees from your torso when your arms are fully extended.
  • Inhale as you bend your elbows and lower yourself to the ground and the station until your forearms are roughly vertical.
  • Exhale as you extend your triceps and push away from the station back to your starting position with your arms straight.
  • You want to ensure that throughout the exercise, you keep your legs, hips, and core muscles squeezed to keep your body as rigid as possible.

Pros

  • This is another great bodyweight exercise that is good at isolating the triceps as no other joint is moving. This makes it a good exercise to do in the middle or end of the training session.
  • You get a good stretch and good range of motion on this exercise because your tricep muscles are in a long muscle length from having your arms raised high from your torso. This makes it advantageous for growing muscle mass in your tricep muscles.

Cons

  • Your lats are also engaged in this exercise to help keep you stable and stop you from falling down to the ground. If your lats fatigue before your triceps, you may find yourself struggling to add more meaningful repetitions to fatigue your triceps.

How To Program It

The tricep bow or dive bomber is a great exercise to add in the middle or end of the training session because it is an isolation exercise. You should perform medium repetitions with this exercise, and you can push to closer proximity to failure.

Here is an example of how you can program the tricep bow/ dive bomber exercise:

  • 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions, leaving 1 to 3 repetitions in reserve

10) Feet Elevated Push Up

The feet elevated push-up is also known as the decline push-up. The feet elevated push-up is a progression from the regular push-up where the feet are raised until the body is roughly parallel to the ground.

This tips your body weight towards your upper body, thus increasing tension towards your arms, specifically your triceps, and chest muscles. 

How To

  • Elevate your feet onto something that is roughly knee height such as a sofa, a chair, or a park bench.
  • Put your hands on the floor with your hands roughly at or wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Keep your back flat by keeping your abs tight, glutes squeezed, and a soft bend in your knees. Keep your chin tucked so that the back of your head, spine, and hips form a straight line.
  • Take a deep breath in as you lower yourself as close to the floor as possible with your arms and elbows flared about 45 degrees from your torso.
  • Exhale forcefully as you push yourself back up and extend your arms to finish in the start position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Pros

  • The benefit of doing a feet elevated push-up is that you can feel more tension on your triceps when compared to other push-up variations.
  • You can use the feet elevated push-up to progress towards a pike push-up if you are on the journey towards building to a handstand push-up.

Cons

  • There may be less range of motion on a feet elevated push-up than compared to a normal push-up because your head reaches the ground sooner upon descending. This is because your body becomes relatively more declined.

How To Program It

The feet elevated push-up can be programmed with high reps and to failure. You can put this at the start or end of your training routine as it is a compound exercise.

Here is how you could program feet elevated push-ups:

  • 3 to 4 sets AMRAP (as many reps as possible)

11) TRX Tricep Extension

The TRX tricep extension is an exercise that requires the use of a suspension trainer or TRX setup that can be installed at home in a doorway. This is an advanced exercise and is a progression from the regular tricep bow/ dive bomber exercise.

The difference between the tricep bow and the TRX tricep extension is that with the TRX tricep extension, the suspension trainer handles can swing away from vertical so you get more of a stretch when you descend. 

How To

  • Hold onto the TRX suspension trainer handles for the exercise with an overhand grip that is spread about shoulder-width apart.
  • Set your feet away but keep your shoulders vertically above the TRX handles.
  • While keeping your body straight, bend at the elbow and lower your head towards the TRX handle. Inhale as you lower yourself.
  • Exhale as you push and extend your arms back towards the starting position.
  • You want to ensure that throughout the exercise, you keep your legs, hips, and core muscles squeezed to keep your body as rigid as possible.

Pros

  • You train the tricep muscles in a long muscle length and a large range of motion, which makes it a great exercise for really pushing for muscle hypertrophy.
  • As the TRX suspension trainer is an unstable environment, it really challenges you to recruit your stabilizer muscles to control your posture and positioning throughout the repetition.

Cons

  • As much as it challenges the triceps, it challenges the lats as well. If your lats fatigue before your triceps, it might hold you back on how many repetitions you can perform. 

How To Program It

The TRX suspension trainer tricep extension is best done in the middle of the training session and performed with low to medium repetitions with 2 to 4 repetitions shy of failure.

Here is how you can program the TRX tricep extension:

  • 3 to 4 sets of 5 to 10 repetitions, leaving 2 to 4 repetitions in reserve
  • 3020 tempo – take 3 seconds to descend and 2 seconds to ascend

If you’re in the market for a TRX setup but want to save some money, check out my favorite TRX alternatives.

12) TRX Push-Up

The TRX push-up is an advanced tricep exercise that relies on the use of a TRX suspension trainer that you can fit in a doorway. You can also perform this in the gym or park if you can find a place to suspend your TRX.

How To

  • Set up the TRX suspension trainer so that it is between knee and hip height. The harder that you want it to be, the lower it should be.
  • Hold onto the TRX suspension trainer handles for the exercise with an overhand grip that is spread about shoulder-width apart.
  • Stand far away enough that your arms are roughly vertical. Keep your abs, glutes, and quads engaged so that you can maintain rigidity in your body.
  • Inhale as you descend by bending your elbows and lower yourself down as much as you feel comfortable doing.
  • Exhale as you push yourself back up until your arms are fully extended. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Pros

  • The TRX push-up gives your hands more freedom of movement, which can allow you to open your arms out a bit more to sink deeper. This means that you can get more range of motion in this exercise, thus making it superior for training for muscle mass in your chest and triceps.
  • You can progress the exercise without changing the rep range by adjusting the length of the suspension trainer so that you are more parallel when you perform it.

Cons

  • As the TRX causes a lot of instability, it is very difficult to push to failure in order to fatigue the muscles fully. For this reason, it should be kept at the start or middle of a workout session.

How To Program It

The TRX suspension trainer push-up is best done at the start or middle of the training session and performed with low to medium repetitions with 2 to 4 repetitions shy of failure.

Here is how you can program the TRX push up:

  • 3 to 4 sets of 5 to 10 repetitions, leaving 2 to 4 repetitions in reserve
  • 3020 tempo – take 3 seconds to descend and 2 seconds to ascend

Other Tricep Training Resources


About The Author: Norman Cheung ASCC, British Powerlifting Team Coach

Norman Cheung

Norman Cheung is a powerlifting coach and an accredited strength and conditioning coach under the UKSCA. He has been coaching powerlifting since 2012 and has been an IPF Team GB coach since 2016. He has experience with coaching a variety of lifters from novices to international medallists and international university teams. Along side coaching, he takes interest in helping powerlifters take their first step into coaching. He currently runs his coaching services at strongambitionscoaching.com