16 Best Tricep Isolation Exercises (With Demos)

The triceps can be a very stubborn muscle to grow, which is why we should implement tricep isolation exercises to supplement our regular programming.

For the better half of my bodybuilding and powerlifting career, I have had the pleasure of trying out a wide variety of tricep exercises, and I have compiled a list of my favorites.

The 16 best tricep isolation exercises are:

  • Dumbbell skull crushers
  • Single-arm cable press-out
  • Straight-bar pushdowns
  • Rope pushdowns
  • Resistance band pushdowns
  • Cable rope French press
  • Dumbbell kickbacks
  • Incline close-grip bench press
  • Close-grip dips
  • Bench tricep dips
  • Single-arm dumbbell overhead tricep extension
  • Single-arm tricep pushdown
  • Diamond push-ups
  • Machine tricep extension
  • Close-grip bench press
  • TRX skull crushers

This guide will teach you how to do each exercise, the benefits and cons of each one, and how to program them!

The tricep isolation exercises I have listed involve banded, cable, barbell, dumbbell, and bodyweight variations to allow you the flexibility to train anywhere with any available equipment.

Let’s begin!

How Do You Isolate Your Triceps?

The triceps muscle consists of three heads:

  • Triceps brachii long head
  • Triceps medial head
  • Triceps lateral head

To effectively isolate the triceps, we need to isolate elbow movement as much as possible since conventional pressing movements often involve other muscle groups.

Furthermore, all three of the tricep heads are primarily responsible for elbow extension. 

We can further isolate the triceps brachii long head by implementing overhead tricep extension exercises, while we can isolate the lateral and medial heads with close-grip pressing exercises.

Takeaway: A good tricep isolation exercise may target at least one or all of the heads of the triceps.

Learn why compound exercises like the bench press aren’t always ideal for training the triceps in Is Bench Press Good Enough For Triceps? (Expert Opinion).

Tricep Isolation Exercises: 15 Exercises

1. Dumbbell Skull Crushers

Skull crushers isolate the triceps, specifically targeting the medial head, which can help build size, which is important for having big arms.

How To

  • Lay on the bench with a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Start with elbows completely extended with your arms over your chest and palms facing in towards the midline.
  • Bend at the elbows with the dumbbells lowering towards your forehead.
  • Stop when your elbows are at 90 degrees or just short of touching your head.
  • Straighten your arms to return to the starting position and complete the repetition.

Benefits

  • Dumbbell skull crushers are difficult to cheat, which makes them perfect for triceps isolation. To do this exercise effectively, you would need to implement perfect technique. This can build good habits and internal cues in beginners.
  • Dumbbell skull crushers have many different variations to choose from. If you don’t have dumbbells, you can implement an EZ bar, plate, barbell, TRX, or cable variation. 

Cons

  • Dumbbell skull crushers can place a lot of stress on the shoulders. To avoid putting any unnecessary stress on your shoulders, you need perfect execution of this exercise while avoiding overloading.
  • Dumbbell skull crushers can be difficult to load up. Since this exercise requires perfect technique, implementing heavier loads is not always possible. For this reason, you should implement extremely light loads with 5-6 reps left in the tank and slowly increase by 1-2 sets/reps or 0-10 lbs each week.

How To Program

Dumbbell skull crushers should be paired with a pushdown movement or a pressing movement to target all heads of the triceps. Typically, I would implement higher rep ranges from 12-20 for multiple sets while being in close proximity to failure.

Wondering if it’s okay to train your triceps on back-to-back days? Check out Can You Train Triceps 2 Days In A Row? (Pros & Cons).

2. Single-Arm Cable Press-Out

Single-arm cable press-outs are an extremely effective single-arm triceps isolation exercise that is rarely used and is one of my favorites for bodybuilding.

How To

  • Stand facing away from the cable stack.
  • Set the anchor point of the pulley to be in line with the shoulders.
  • Wrap your hands around the base of the clip through the front of the hand.
  • Point your elbow straight out with the upper arm parallel with the ground.
  • Press out until the elbow is at complete extension.
  • Bend the elbow to return to the starting position to complete the repetition.

Benefits

  • Single-arm cable press-outs can isolate the tricep well. Isolating the act of elbow extension can be somewhat difficult sometimes. The single-arm cable press-out is extremely effective at forcing one not to cheat.
  • Single-arm cable press-outs are difficult. It is difficult to do this exercise, which makes it easier to load for a triceps stimulus. Naturally, difficult exercises are beneficial because they don’t require much loading.

Cons

  • Single-arm cable press-outs require a cable stack. If you are on the go or at home, you might be unable to do the single-arm cable press. If this is the case, implement bodyweight exercises such as diamond push-ups or resistance band pushdowns.
  • Single-arm cable press-outs might be too difficult for novices. As I mentioned above, novices might not need to do this exercise as it is difficult. A strong alternative that a beginner can implement is straight-bar pushdowns.

How To Program

Single-arm cable press-outs should be performed starting with the lightest weight at a higher rep range of 10-20 for multiple sets with an emphasis on control. If you feel like you could do more than 4 more reps upon completion of the set, go ahead and increase the weight.

3. Straight-Bar Pushdowns

Straight-bar pushdowns are a safe go-to that almost all seasoned veterans implement into their program to isolate the triceps, more specifically, the long head of the tricep.

How To

  • Wrap your hand around each side of the straight bar attached to a cable machine.
  • Keep your chest up and lean forward prior to initiating this exercise.
  • To load the triceps more, bring your shoulders directly over the handle.
  • Drive the straight bar down until the elbows are straight.
  • Make sure you keep your wrists straight throughout.
  • To complete the rep, guide the bar back until your elbows are bent at a 90-degree angle.

Benefits

  • Straight-bar pushdowns are easy to execute. Straight-bar pushdowns are a common favorite since they are efficient and easily placed after a bench routine. 
  • Straight-bar pushdowns are easy to load. Powerlifters and bodybuilders love implementing these because they simply work and can be loaded to a high degree.

Cons

  • Straight-bar pushdowns are easy to cheat. When our goal is to isolate the triceps, we want to avoid cheating since it can target surrounding musculature. 
  • Straight-bar pushdowns can become boring. Since there are so many tricep exercises to choose from, you might benefit from implementing a variety within your programming. Rope pushdowns, single-arm press-outs, or close-grip dips are strong alternatives to the straight-bar pushdown.

How To Program

Straight bar pushdowns are a very simple and easy-to-execute isolation exercise that requires higher rep ranges from 12-20 for multiple sets to be effective. Typically we would include these towards the beginning of a tricep workout or after a bench workout.

4. Rope Pushdowns

Similar to the straight bar tricep pushdowns, rope pushdowns are a staple accessory for most powerlifters and bodybuilders and target all three heads of the tricep.

How To

  • Wrap your hand around each side of the rope attached to the cable machine.
  • Keep your chest up and lean forward prior to initiating this exercise.
  • To load the triceps more, bring your shoulders directly over the sides of the rope.
  • Drive the rope straight down until the elbows are straight.
  • Make sure you keep your wrists straight throughout.
  • To complete the rep, guide the bar back until your elbows are bent at a 90-degree angle.

Benefits

  • Rope pushdowns allow for greater range of motion. Greater range of motion can result in greater time under tension, which can subsequently lead to building more muscle mass.
  • Rope pushdowns are more difficult than straight-bar pushdowns. If you have been programming straight bar push-downs, a natural progression is to use the rope attachment with a tempo and exaggerated press-out. This can increase the difficulty and effectiveness of the exercise.

Cons

  • Novices might struggle with rope pushdowns because they’re more difficult than the straight-bar variation. If so, they should start with the straight bar before implementing the rope attachment.
  • Rope pushdowns cannot be loaded to the same degree as the straight-bar variation. If your goal is to build tricep strength, the straight bar pushdown might be a better option. However, if your goal is to build size, you should implement the rope pushdowns. Since you can’t use as much weight, you can do more repetitions, which is ideal for building muscle mass.

How To Program

Similar to the straight bar pushdowns, the rope pushdowns should be programmed with lighter intensities from 50-60% for 12-20 reps for multiple sets. Rope pushdowns can be paired with close-grip bench presses and cable kickbacks for a more robust tricep isolation routine.

If you’re looking for cable attachments for your home gym or to take with you to the gym, check out our recommendations for the 10 best cable attachments.

5. Resistance Band Pushdowns

Resistance band pushdowns are a simple and effective tricep isolation exercise that can be set up anywhere, whether it’s on the go or at home, with minimal equipment.

How To

  • Set up a high anchor point for the band just above the head.
  • Grab two sides of the band and lean forward with a big open chest.
  • To load the triceps more, position your shoulders just above the hands.
  • Starting with the elbows bent at 90 degrees, press out until the elbows are completely extended.
  • Bend at the elbows to complete the repetition.

Benefits

  • Resistance band pushdowns are a lighter stimulus than their counterparts. As a lighter stimulus, resistance band pushdowns can be implemented for higher rep counts to increase strength/endurance.
  • Resistance band pushdowns are excellent to do on the road. Resistance bands are extremely cheap and portable options for when you are traveling or working out in a home gym.

Cons

  • Resistance band pushdowns are very easy. Due to the simplicity of the movement, advanced athletes might not benefit from any form of resistance band pushdown. Instead, you can modify these resistance band pushdowns by slowing down the tempo or performing burnout sets (sets that are performed until complete or near complete failure) at the end of a workout.
  • Resistance band pushdowns require higher volume to be effective. Resistance band pushdowns require a lot of volume. If you don’t have much time, you might benefit from doing diamond push-ups instead.

How To Program

Resistance band pushdowns tend to be a lighter stimulus that can be programmed with higher repetitions ranging from 12-30. You can either do ballistic reps that are quick and explosive or slow-tempo reps. If you want to increase the challenge of this exercise, you can aim to achieve failure on your final set.

6. Cable Rope French Press

The cable rope French press is a movement you should implement in your program as a tricep isolation exercise that directly targets the long head of the triceps.

How To

  • Hold the two handles of the rope with arms completely extended above the head. 
  • Lower the rope in a controlled fashion behind your head until your elbows are bent at 90 degrees.
  • Extend your elbows back to the overhead position to complete the repetition.

Benefits

  • The cable rope French press is great for targeting the triceps long head. Straight bar pushdowns and close-grip bench target the entire tricep. However, they don’t isolate the lateral head to the same degree as the cable rope French press.
  • The cable rope French press feels good to do. It doesn’t take too many repetitions of the cable rope French press to pump the triceps with blood and have a good tricep session.

Cons

  • The cable rope French press can place a lot of stress on the shoulders. Since this exercise places the arms overhead, technical proficiency is paramount to maintaining healthy shoulders. 
  • The cable rope French press can be difficult for novices. Novices need to have good internal body awareness and shoulder mobility to effectively get into and maintain proper positioning during this exercise.

How To Program

The cable rope French press can be effective at moderate to high rep ranges from 8-15. Furthermore, this exercise can be paired with a straight bar pushdown and a dumbbell kickback to effectively target all three heads of the tricep.

7. Cable Kickbacks

Cable kickbacks are a great single-arm tricep isolation exercise that works great as a finisher and places constant tension on the triceps.

How To

  • With one hand, grab the base of the cable handle without equipment on it.
  • Bend at the hips until the torso is almost parallel to the ground.
  • Start with the elbow bent at 90 degrees, and drive the hand back into complete elbow extension.
  • To complete the repetition, bend the elbow until it’s back to the starting position.
  • Repeat this with the other hand.

Benefits

  • Cable kickbacks place consistent tension on the triceps. The constant tension placed on the triceps during this movement is great for feeling the movement, building mass, and achieving muscular failure sooner.
  • Cable kickbacks are lower in stimulus compared to other tricep variations. Since this exercise isn’t too taxing on the body, you can implement it at the end of your workout routine even if your muscles are fatigued.

Cons

  • Cable kickbacks are difficult to load. For most of my training career, I have utilized the same lightest load for this exercise. Cable kickbacks aren’t the best tricep strengthening option when compared to close-grip bench presses or tricep pushdowns. 
  • Cable kickbacks require higher rep counts. Due to the lighter absolute load, you need to implement 15-30 reps for this exercise to be effective.

How To Program

Cable kickbacks should be implemented for 12-20 reps and at the lightest or just short of the lightest intensity on the cable stack. Every set should feel as though you are just short of complete muscular failure.

8. Incline Close-Grip Bench Press

The incline close-grip bench press is my favorite for strengthening the triceps while increasing pressing ability.

How To

  • Adjust the seat of an incline bench to allow for the arms to be just short of lockout when unracking the barbell.
  • Place your hands about shoulder-width apart or narrower than your conventional bench press grip.
  • Drive the base of your hand through the bar, and then wrap your thumb around it.
  • Use the bar’s weight to drive your shoulders back into the bench.
  • Create additional tension by pulling your traps down and pushing your chest up.
  • After you unrack the bar, control the lowering of the bar by rowing it down to your lower chest/upper abdomen.
  • At the bottom, drive the bar’s weight away from your torso until your elbows are at complete extension.

Benefits

  • The incline close-grip bench press effectively protects the shoulders. When compared to other close-grip bench press variations, the incline close-grip bench press is great for maintaining shoulder health.
  • The incline close-grip bench press can strengthen and build the triceps. The incline close-grip bench can be programmed for higher reps/low intensity to achieve a tricep building effect or for lower reps/high intensity to strengthen the triceps.

Cons

  • The incline close-grip bench press requires an incline bench. Not all gyms have an incline bench press setup. In this case, a flat bench, floor, or Smith machine close-grip bench press will be equally effective to implement.
  • The incline close-grip bench press doesn’t completely isolate the triceps. The incline close-grip bench press places greater focus on the triceps but involves secondary muscles such as the pecs and shoulders. 

How To Program

Here’s how to program the incline close-grip bench press:

General Hypertrophy:

  • 4 x 8 @ 60%

Strength:

  • 5 x 3 @ 80%

Learn more about how close-grip bench press variations can strengthen your bench press in Is Bench Press Good Enough For Triceps? (Expert Opinion).

9. Close-Grip Dips

Close-grip dips are a great low-intensity movement to implement towards the end of a bench workout to isolate the triceps and increase pressing strength.

How To

  • Set up a pair of parallel bars slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Place the base of your hands onto each bar.
  • Press the weight of your body up into complete extension of the elbows.
  • Slightly leaned forward, and lower your body until your elbows are bent at 90-degree angles.
  • To finish the repetition, push yourself up into complete extension of the elbows.

Benefits

  • Close-grip dips can easily be progressed. To progress the close-grip dips, you can implement a weight belt or dumbbell to increase the loading. Tempos and paused reps can also be effective for increasing the stimulus placed on the triceps.
  • Close-grip dips have direct carry-over to the bench press. Setting weight or rep goals can help increase the fun factor in training while progressing pressing ability and having direct carry-over to bench press performance.

Cons

  • Close-grip dips can be unhealthy on the shoulders. When done improperly, dips are notorious for being unhealthy on the shoulders. Band assistance or reduced range of motion can help combat shoulder pain during this movement.
  • Close-grip dips require a parallel dip bar setup. If you don’t have a dip bar setup, you can utilize a bench to achieve a similar stimulus.

How To Program

Here’s how to program the close-grip dips:

General Hypertrophy:

  • 4 x 10-20 @ body weight

Strength:

  • 5 x 5 @ 70% with weight belt

Check out my favorite dip bars for home gyms in 10 Best Portable Dip Bars For At-Home Workouts.

10. Bench Tricep Dips

Bench tricep dips are an easy-to-implement tricep isolation exercise that can be done in various places, making them a great on-the-road or at-home selection.

How To

  • Place your hands right outside of your hips on a bench with palms facing down.
  • To make this exercise more difficult, elevate your feet. Plant your heels on the ground with your toes pointed up to make it easier.
  • Let your body travel down to the bottom until your arms are parallel to the floor.
  • Press out with your elbows until the elbows are at complete extension to finish the repetition.

Benefits

  • Bench tricep dips require minimal equipment. Even though the name of this exercise is bench tricep dips, they can be done with a chair or sturdy surface such as a plyo box.
  • Bench tricep dips can easily be progressed. You can elevate the legs or place a heavy plate on your hips to make the movement more difficult. All experienced lifters can easily progress this exercise to feel a sense of achievement.

Cons

  • Bench tricep dips aren’t as difficult as regular dips. The greatest stimulus will come from regular dips, but bench tricep dips are a strong alternative.
  • Bench tricep dips need greater repetitions or modifications to be most effective. Higher volume for multiple sets of 3-6 and 10-20 repetitions may be necessary to experience an effective enough stimulus.

How To Program

Tricep bench dips are great for higher repetitions at 12-20 reps for multiple sets and can be loaded with lower rep ranges at 5-12 reps.

11. Single-Arm Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extension

Single-arm overhead tricep extensions should be a priority in your programming if you have one tricep bigger than the other or if you want to work one tricep at a time.

How To

  • Either seated or standing, have a dumbbell in one completely extended arm overhead.
  • With your palm facing forward, lower the dumbbell towards the opposite shoulder until the elbow is bent at 90 degrees.
  • Extend at the elbow to return to the starting position to complete the repetition.

Benefits

  • Single-arm overhead tricep extensions can be great for single tricep isolation. The positioning of the single-arm overhead tricep extension isolates the action of elbow extension without the assistance of other muscle groups.
  • Single-arm overhead tricep extensions are difficult to cheat. The overhead position of this exercise is excellent for preventing cheating and promoting complete tricep isolation.

Cons

  • Single-arm overhead tricep extensions place the shoulders in a compromising position. Any overhead tricep movement can place quite a bit of stress on the shoulder joint and can benefit from reinforcing good technique and slow progression.
  • Single-arm overhead tricep extensions cannot be loaded to a high degree. There isn’t much versatility with this exercise since it can only utilize lighter loads at 40-70% for higher reps at 10-20.

How To Program

Single-arm overhead tricep extensions can be implemented towards the end of a tricep program for higher reps. Ensure that you are starting with your weaker side so you can match the achieved repetition count with the stronger arm.

12. Single-Arm Tricep Pushdown

Single-arm tricep pushdowns target all three heads of the triceps are great for isolating single-sided tricep strength, and allow for greater range of motion. 

How To

  • Set the anchor point for the tricep extension at the top of a cable machine.
  • Lean forward with a big chest to position the shoulders over the hand holding the handle.
  • Press down with the single arm until the elbow reaches complete extension.
  • To complete the repetition, control the weight back towards the starting position.

Benefits

  • Single-arm tricep pushdowns are great for isolating single-arm strength. Two-armed movements often result in a variety of imbalances, which can be corrected with the implementation of single-arm tricep pushdowns.
  • Single-arm tricep pushdowns require less load to build the triceps. The addition of a single-arm tricep pushdown can supplement any existing tricep routine. However, I would recommend that you maintain two-arm exercises such as the close-grip bench to promote strengthening as well. 

Cons

  • Single-arm tricep pushdowns cannot be the sole tricep exercise in a routine. When implementing exercises that target the triceps, you need a range of two-arm and single-arm work to strengthen and build the triceps.
  • Single-arm tricep pushdowns are only effective with higher repetitions. There is very little versatility in the implementation of a single-arm tricep pushdown. The main goal of implementing a single-arm tricep pushdown is hypertrophy.

How To Program

Similar to other tricep movements, the tricep pushdown will be programmed for a higher rep count of 12-20 for multiple sets. Ensure that you start with the weaker side and then subsequently match the rep count with the stronger one. 

13. Diamond Push-Ups

Diamond push-ups are an effective underutilized tricep isolation exercise that can be loaded easily and done anywhere with minimal equipment.

How To

  • Create a diamond with your index finger and thumb on the floor.
  • Start facing down with your toes planted into the ground and elbows completely extended.
  • Lower your upper torso by bending at the elbows until you are just short of touching the ground.
  • To complete the repetition, push the ground away until your elbows are at complete extension
  • During the course of this exercise, make sure your hips don’t drop or shift excessively.

Benefits

  • Diamond push-ups are one of the most effective bodyweight exercises. Diamond push-ups are an extremely reliable choice to implement when there is little availability of equipment.
  • Diamond push-ups are easy to load and increase in difficulty. Implementing a plate-loaded variation or slow-tempo reps can keep this exercise progressing for multiple blocks in a program.

Cons

  • Diamond push-ups are difficult to progress once mastered. Once diamond push-ups are mastered, it can be difficult to progress them in an effective way. You can do only so many reps, and you may be limited with how much weight you can put on your back yourself.
  • Diamond push-ups can become boring. Implementing exercises such as bench presses or weighted dips with higher caps of progression can increase longevity and interest in training.

How To Program

Diamond push-ups are great when performed for greater repetitions or to absolute muscular failure. Typically, I would place these at the end of a tricep routine for lots of volume as a workout finisher. 

14. Machine Tricep Extension

The machine tricep extension is a great tricep isolation exercise for novices as it is fixed in one axis, which creates minimal room for cheating. 

How To

  • Adjust the seat, so the entire upper arm is comfortably on the pad.
  • Extend at the elbows or punch out with the handles until the elbows are at complete extension.
  • Slowly return the handles to the starting position to complete the repetition.

Benefits

  • Machine tricep extensions are a simple variation with a fixed axis. The simplicity of this movement makes it great for beginners in particular, but lifters of any experience level can implement it into their program.
  • Machine tricep extensions can be implemented in a variety of ways. Tempos, partner resistance, higher reps at 6-20, and lower reps at 4-6 can be implemented into your programming to reach multiple goals. 

Cons

  • Machine tricep extensions require the tricep extension machine. Machine tricep extensions are a nice addition to your programming, but their implementation isn’t a huge necessity since there are so many alternatives. 
  • Machine tricep extensions won’t make or break your programming. Close-grip bench presses and tricep pushdowns are much more effective exercises in my experience.

How To Program

Machine tricep extensions can be programmed for tempo reps or higher rep counts. Implementing a 3 count when returning to the starting position can place greater time under tension on the triceps, while higher rep counts of 12-20 can bring you closer to muscle failure. 

15. Close-Grip Bench Press

The close-grip bench press is a tricep isolation exercise with tremendous carryover to your regular bench and should be programmed frequently to strengthen and build the triceps.

How To

  • Place your hands about shoulder-width apart or narrower than your conventional bench press grip.
  • Drive the base of your hand through the bar, and then wrap your thumb around it.
  • Use the weight of the barbell to drive your shoulders back into the bench.
  • Create additional tension by pulling your traps down and pushing your chest up.
  • After you unrack the barbell, control the lowering of the bar by rowing it down to your lower chest/upper abdomen.
  • At the bottom, drive the bar’s weight away from your torso until your elbows are at complete extension.

Benefits

  • The close-grip bench press can be loaded to a high degree. The close-grip bench press is plate loaded and has a higher strength ceiling when compared to other tricep isolation exercises.
  • Close-grip bench presses have a lot of versatility with variations. Implementing paused, banded, block, and tempo reps can be huge for generating novel stimuli in training.

Cons

  • Close-grip bench presses can lead to unhealthy shoulders. A close-grip bench can be detrimental to your shoulder health when done incorrectly. Tempos and paused variations can help slow down the movement and implement less risky absolute loading.
  • Close-grip bench presses have some degree of secondary muscle involvement. The pecs and shoulders are involved to a minor degree during the close-grip bench, so it’s not an ideal choice for total tricep isolation.

How To Program

Here’s how to program the close-grip bench press:

General Hypertrophy:

  • 3 x 12 @ 50%

Strength:

  • 6 x 2 @ 85%

If you don’t feel your triceps working in the close-grip bench press, check out Can’t Feel Triceps In Close Grip Bench? Try These 5 Tips.

16. TRX Skull Crushers

TRX skull crushers are a challenging tricep isolation exercise that can be very effective at building all three heads of the triceps. 

How To

  • Start by holding the TRX handles with your palms facing down in the push-up position.
  • Lower yourself by bending the elbows until they’re at 90 degrees or just short of letting the handles touch your forehead.
  • To complete the repetition, maintain the positioning of the elbows while pressing out with the hands.

Benefits

  • TRX skull crushers are an extremely difficult exercise. Plenty of intermediate to advanced lifters might struggle with this exercise, and that’s not such a bad thing. Implementing lower reps and progressively overloading over time can lead to mastering this exercise.
  • TRX skull crushers place a high stimulus on the triceps. The weight of the upper torso is supported by the triceps, which allows for greater tricep muscle loading and recruitment.

Cons

  • TRX skull crushers require a TRX setup. Not all gyms will have a TRX setup, but you can purchase your own and bring them anywhere you go. You can also buy an affordable TRX alternative if you want to save some money.
  • TRX skull crushers most likely cannot be performed by novices. Strong alternatives to the TRX skull crushers for beginners are the tricep pushdowns or the dumbbell skull crushers.

How To Program

Since this exercise is extremely difficult, I would implement lower rep ranges from 4-6 for multiple reps. Then, you can increase your rep count from 6-12 once you feel confident in your ability to do this exercise.

For powerlifters, arm exercises like the ones in this list can be beneficial for building a well-rounded physique and increasing muscular stability. Learn more in How Do Powerlifters Train Arms? 

Exercises to Avoid for Isolating the Triceps

Wide Bench Press

The bench press alone is a compound movement that doesn’t totally isolate the triceps. Adding a wider grip will emphasize the chest more and take focus away from the triceps.

Diamond push-ups and close-grip bench presses are much better options for targeting the triceps alone. 

Learn more about wide-grip bench presses in Wide Grip Bench Press: Is It Better? (Definitive Guide).

Shoulder Press

Any form of shoulder press will recruit the triceps to some degree, but not enough for it to be a primary option for triceps isolation.

Straight-bar pushdowns or skull crushers are much better options for increasing focus on tricep isolation.

Wide Grip Dips

Similar to the bench press, dips target the pecs and triceps at the same time.

And, while a close-grip dip is great for isolating the triceps, a wide grip takes focus away from the triceps and places greater emphasis on pec recruitment.

Final Thoughts

A good tricep isolation exercise will isolate elbow extension. Implement exercises that target all three heads to build a complete tricep.

Some of my favorite tricep isolation exercises that I believe are most effective are the incline close-grip bench press, tricep pushdowns, and the dumbbell kickback. Implement these exercises together to create a complete tricep program.


About The Author

Javad Bakhshinejad

Javad Bakhshinejad was born and raised in the Washington Area. Currently, he is a student at Seattle University where he’s been pursuing an MS in Kinesiology, and has been a Strength Coach in the athletic department. He was a competitive bodybuilder for 8 years where he later transitioned to competitive powerlifting for 4 years. Currently, He has his own personal coaching business, where he works with powerlifters and bodybuilders.