4 Intense Bodyweight Exercises for TRICEPS (pure isolation!)

June 21, 2017 by VAHVA Fitness

The best exercises to target the triceps with just your bodyweight. These exercises will purely isolate the triceps when you do them right!

It can be confusing to choose the best method: weights, bodyweight, gymnastics, high reps or low reps? 

The reality is that no single method is superior to another. What will ultimately matter the most is HOW you do the exercise. The quality of your training will determine your results way more than any rep scheme or a tool you will use.

Different training styles have many unique benefits though which is why it can be a great idea to mix different styles of training together. 

For example, gymnastic ring training will help to develop shoulder stability amazing well, whereas barbells and weights are very useful for leg training.

Bodyweight training works and bodyweight exercises can produce amazing results, but it can be more difficult to target certain parts of the body.

With weights or machines it's easy to target a specific muscle, but with bodyweight training you need to get creative and focus more on the quality of your repetitions.

For this reason, beginners may get better results with weights and cable machines. In bodyweight training keeping your core and scapula stable while you are isolating the targeted muscle (like the tricep) is not an easy task and the exercises are very easy to do ineffectively.

In this video we are isolating the triceps with many different exercises. If your arms are weak and aren't growing, then these exercises can be helpful.

Focus first on the easier variations such as the bench dip and bodyweight elbow extension. Pay extra attention to your form since your form will affect the results you are going to get.

If you feel like the exercises are too difficult or you are experiencing pain in your elbows, then you need to either work on the basic exercises like the dips and diamond push ups or use small weights to strengthen the triceps.

3 sets per exercise and 5-15 repetitions per set will work well with 2 minutes of rest between the sets.

Bench Dip

bench dip for triceps

Bench dip is an excellent exercise to isolate the triceps but you need to do them right!

The common mistake is to use the hips and spine to move yourself up while pushing with the arms. You should keep your hips and trunk as stationary as possible while you purely focus on the tricep extension.

The position will stretch the anterior deltoids (this is normal in the beginning). Keep your scapulae (shoulder blades) stable to avoid excess strain on the shoulders. 

There are many ways to make the bench dip exercise harder:

  • Normal: hips bent in a 90 degree angle, chest and shoulders still do some of the work.
  • Intermediate: hips slightly straightened, more triceps.
  • Advanced: hips completely straight (table position), pure tricep isolation.

Straight hips will maximize the elbow extension and force you to really push yourself forward with the strength of your triceps. However, the most important thing is to master the beginner version and learn to do it comfortably!

Overhead Triceps Extension

overhead tricep extension

Overhead tricep extension is an intermediate/advanced tricep isolation exercise that will stretch and emphasize the long head of triceps.

Place your feet on a bench and take a pike (about 90 degree angle) position with your body. Your hands are placed around your head and you push yourself up with elbow extension (triceps). 

The challenge is to try to keep your scapula stable so you will maximally activate the triceps. The legendary progression would be to do a full handstand elbow extension!

Bodyweight Triceps Extension

triceps elbow extension bodyweight

Bodyweight tricep extension is a great tricep isolation exercise because the difficulty is very easy to adjust. The exercise can also be done with gymnastic rings.

The difficulty of the bodyweight tricep extension depends on the height of your arms. You can also vary the distance of your legs to adjust the difficulty.

The lower you place your hands, the harder it will be. For example, a beginner version would be to do this on a table and a harder progression would be to do it on a bench.

The width of your arm placement will change the emphasis on the tricep muscles. It's good to try both narrow and wide versions to really work all heads of the triceps.

Your core will also be worked to a great extent (thanks to the plank hold). Try to solely focus on the triceps and pay attention to slow and controlled execution.

Tiger Bend Push Up

tiger bend push up

Tiger bend push up is basically a floor/ground version of the bodyweight tricep extension. 

Keep your hips straight (the common mistake is to do the exercise with bent hips) and pick an arm placement where you can really focus on the tricep extension. Avoid pushing yourself up with your shoulders or any other muscles.

It's important to first master the beginner variation of the bodyweight elbow extension before you try the tiger bend push up. Trying this exercise too soon can be detrimental to your progress and harmful for your elbows!


samuli jyrkinen

About the author 

Samuli Jyrkinen

Samuli is the ninja behind the scenes (photography, videography, websites, program platforms and more). He has been training religiously for over a decade and has a firm grasp of physical and mental fitness. You will find our story here.

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