Whenever a question such as, “What is the best tricep exercise,” is proposed the answer more than likely will vary based on who you ask and what their goals are. Some people like exercises for building mass to the muscle while others are focusing on shape. There is also the consideration of the triceps being a three-headed muscle and you don’t always have an exercise that effectively can work it from all angles.
So how can you decide?
The easiest way to settle any argument involving “the best” such as the best tricep exercise is to consider it as if you could only do one exercise to work that muscle for the next six months, what would it be?
Here are the most common exercises you would expect to find when the discussion of the best tricep exercise is brought up:
- Close Grip Bench Press – An obvious choice. You can use a large amount of weight and the bar position allows you to really hit two heads of the muscle hard. This is one of if not the best strength builder for the triceps.
- Lying Triceps Extension – This is another great choice. Skull crushers have been popular for a long time. They give a bit better stretch than the close grip bench press, especially if you use an incline bench. However when you go really heavy they can put stress on the elbow joint.
- Dips – Bar dips are a bit unique because you can use heavy weight (your body and more) plus you can get a really good stretch along with maximum weight on the lockout. Another more challenging dip exercise is gymnastic ring dips.
Another consideration is wrist position. When working the triceps the position of the wrist is important. You might consider that many times you use two or more exercises to hit the muscle more effectively. Now in the close grip bench press you are stuck with a flat bar which limits positions. Skull crushers can use a flat bar or EZ curl which allows for a hybrid wrist position. Bar dips can typically be done with two wrist positions and if the bars go from narrow to wide you can hit a hybrid position.
The best tricep exercise, if you could only do one, would have to be bar dips. It gives a great stretch, excellent full range of motion, and solid peak contraction all while allowing a lot of weight without putting the elbow in a overly vulnerable position. When you add that to the option of changing hand and wrist positions this has to be considered the ultimate exercise to do for overall triceps development including both size and shape.
Dips have been used for centuries by all of the great bodybuilders and it cannot be denied that they are a fantastic exercise to develop not only the triceps but also the chest and shoulders. It should be a staple of your routine.