Bodyweight tricep exercises are those exercises that can help you build upper body strength with very few or no gym equipment.
It is necessary to train your arms regularly. But, this may not be easy for some of us, especially if you are trying to do that through bodyweight exercises.
Bodyweight training is when you use the weight of your body to exercise your muscles. Most bodyweight exercises are compound movements, and isolation exercises are not popular in calisthenics.
Despite the limitations of calisthenics exercises, you can still build your upper body with just your body weight. You need the correct exercises to help you do that.
I will, in this article, be looking at some of the best bodyweight tricep exercises that can help you build and strengthen your upper body.
Many of the exercises will rely solely on your body weight to help you achieve the results you want. But there are a few others that will require you to use some calisthenics equipment. These calisthenics equipment are not expensive to acquire. They are also easy to store, and many will not take much storage space in your home gym.
Some of you may be thinking, “what’s the point of training my triceps”.
Bigger triceps will give your arms more mass than training your biceps and deltoids. While biceps are more prominent when you flex, your triceps make up two-thirds of your arms. Thus it is necessary to build them. (1)
Best Bodyweight Tricep Exercises for a Stronger Upper Body
If you are looking for ways to build strength and size gains in your arms without making continuous journeys to the gym, then bodyweight tricep exercises must be high on your training regimen. Many of those exercises will not cost you anything, apart from your training time.
Bench Tricep Dips
Bench dips are some of the most effective bodyweight tricep exercises for building upper body strength.
Bench Tricep Dips are easy to perform. You can do the exercises anywhere that has a bench or chair. But they are some of the most potent exercises that can help you build your triceps in your home gym.
The exercises can help strengthen your forearms and shoulders. They can also help improve the mobility and flexibility of your elbows.
Bench dips are also an effective exercise for targeting your triceps brachii. (2)
Steps to follow:
- To perform this exercise, you must find a sturdy bench or low platform.
- Sit on the platform with your legs straight out on the ground.
- Keep your hands at the edge of the bench, gripping the platform with your fingers.
- Move your bottom forward, and let most of your body hang. The only support should be your hands and outstretched feet pointing up.
- Slowly let your elbows bend backward, letting your bottom dip.
- Keep pushing your butts down until you form a 90-degree angle.
- Then, carefully raise yourself back up.
- Repeat for up to 10 to complete a session.
You should feel your triceps being activated and targeted.
I find it very beneficial to stretch out my arms before performing this exercise to avoid injury and increase endurance.
Diamond Push-Ups Bodyweight Tricep Exercises
Diamond Push-Ups are good bodyweight tricep exercises for building your upper body muscle. They can also help strengthen your chest muscles and your deltoids.
Many bodyweight tricep exercises can also help build your chest and your shoulders. The reason is these muscles are all eccentric focused (pushing) muscles. Thus, exercises that target one of these muscles can, in some way, activate all the muscles in that group.
According to a study led by John Porcari, Ph.D., and Brittany Boehler, B.S at the University of Wisconsin, tricep muscle activity was much higher when subjects were performing triangle/diamond push-ups, making the exercise “the gold standard of triceps exercises”(3)
Steps to follow:
Performing this calisthenics exercise is quite a simple process. Your aim is to do a regular push-up with some slight modification.
- Go into a plank-like position with your extended arms holding you up from the ground and your palms flat on the floor.
- Ensure hands are very close to each other, almost touching. Aim to create a diamond shape with your thumbs and index fingers. The only parts of your body that should touch the floor are your hands and feet. Make sure to keep your body as straight as possible straight before starting.
- Now, bend your elbows, bringing your whole body down towards the ground.
- Once your elbows are completely bent at your sides, slowly pull your body back up to bring your entire body back to its starting position.
- Repeat for up to 10 reps, or for as many reps as you can, to complete a cycle.
Bodyweight Tricep Extension/Skull Crushers
The bodyweight tricep extension exercise, aka, bodyweight skull crushers, are some of the best bodyweight tricep exercises that can target your tricep muscles to help you build bigger arms. They can also work the long head triceps and the lateral head triceps.
You will need an EZ bar or a similar gym equipment for traditional skull crushers. But all that you need for bodyweight tricep extensions are your body and some elevated surface or bar. If using a bar, ensure it is between one and four feet off the ground and strong enough to support your body weight. A fixed barbell will be a good choice.
Steps to follow:
- Get into a plank-like position, resting your body on your toes and forearms. Ensure you form a straight line with your body. Do not sag your hips.
- Keep your feet apart by about a hip-width, and your forearms about a shoulder-width away from each other.
- Engage your core, and with your body still in a straight line, lift it while straightening your hands. Continue raising your body until you get to the point where your elbows are fully stretched and your body is resting on your palms and toes.
- Squeeze your triceps as hard as you can, then, gradually bring your body back to your starting position, still keeping it straight.
- Repeat up to 10x or as many times as you can, to complete a set and 3-5 sets for a session
A power tower and/or a set of dip bars are some of the best calisthenics equipment that we recommend you purchase for your home gym if you are very serious about building your upper body muscles and fitness levels in the comfort of your home
Bar dips are some of the bodyweight tricep exercises that can target all of your ‘push’ muscles.
Steps to follow:
- Stand in between the handgrips of the power tower and place your hands firmly on each bar.
- Lift your legs off of the floor, tucking them behind your bottom. Your body should hang from just your stiff arms.
- Next, just like during a bench tricep dip, slowly bend your elbows 90 degrees behind you, lowering your whole body. Do not let your legs touch the ground though, as this will disrupt the movement.
- You should then lift yourself back to the starting position, and repeat this move as many times as you can.
You should feel your triceps and chest being activated and targeted. If not, you may be doing the exercises wrongly or with improper form. It may also be that the exercise is too easy for your muscles, in which case, we suggest you add some weights to make it more challenging.
L sit bodyweight tricep exercises
Most trainers use L-sit exercises to target the ab muscles. But they are also some of the best bodyweight tricep exercises for building your arms and upper body muscles.
L sit can be very challenging. But, aside from your triceps and ab muscles, doing L sit regularly can help you target other muscles like your quads and hip flexors. Thus, it is a very beneficial exercise to incorporate into your training program.
Steps to follow:
- Sit in between the bars with legs stretched in front of you. Keep your legs together.
- Grab the bars firmly.
- Pushing through the bars, raise your body. Ensure your feet are fully stretched and together. Keep your arms stretched, your elbows locked, and your back straight. Keep your spine neutral by looking straight ahead
- With your body lifted, brace your core and squeeze your legs against each other.
- Keep lifting your feet until they form an L shape with your body.
- Hold the pose for a few seconds, keeping your legs as close as possible and your toes pointed.
- Return to your starting position
- Repeat for up to 10 reps to complete a set
The L sit is quite a challenging exercise. It may take a while to master the technique so don’t give up if you find it hard to hold the pose.
Aim to hold the pose for about 10 seconds when you start and increase the duration gradually as your gain more confidence
Exercise ball push-ups
Exercise ball push-ups are also one of the best bodyweight tricep exercises that give results. The exercises involve resting your hands on an exercise or medicine ball, instead of on the floor when doing pushups. Keeping your hands in a more compact position will help activate and work your triceps.
You will need an exercise ball, a medicine ball, or a Swiss ball for this exercise.
Steps to follow
- With a stationary exercise ball on the floor, place your chest on it.
- Place both hands on the ball and fully extend your legs behind you to get into the push-up position
- With your body in a straight line, your toes tucked into the ground and your hands on the ball, brace your core and lift your body till your hands are fully stretched.
- Then, lower your body as far as you can to complete a set
Incline Diamond Push-Ups
The incline diamond push-ups is another set of bodyweight tricep exercises that can help you build strength and bulk in your triceps. The exercise works well for those who struggle to do the basic push-up exercises.
Putting yourself in the incline position reduces the strain on your elbows and wrists. You also have less body weight to lift when you are in the incline position. That makes the exercise less challenging, especially for beginners.
You will need an elevated object like a bench, table, box, or the edge of a bed for the incline diamond push-ups bodyweight tricep exercises
Steps to follow
- Start the exercise by standing in front of the bench, table, box, or the edge of a bed.
- Bring your hands together and form a diamond or triangle shape with your fingers.
- Get into the pushup position by placing your diamond-shaped fingers on top of the box, and your legs fully stretched behind you. Keep your hands straight but do not lock your elbows. Ensure your body from your head to your feet is completely straight.
- Inhale, bend your elbows and gradually lower your chest to the edge of the box. Ensure your body is straight and rigid as you do the movement.
- Exhale and pull your body up till your elbows are fully extended.
- Repeat as many times as you can to complete a session.
Final Words from LiveLife
Building upper body strength could be quite challenging, especially if you are trying to do that in the confines of your home gym. Using some calisthenics equipment can make it easier to achieve that goal. But, other bodyweight tricep exercises don’t require any equipment.
As with many goals we set for ourselves, the amount of work or training we put in, and, how far we are willing to push ourselves can play a big role in the level of success we can achieve.