How to Build Your Triceps – Mind Pump

Check out the Mind Pump Episode Page and Show Notes

Key Takeaways

  • When standing relaxed, the triceps are what make your arms look toned
  • Must-do exercises for building or sculpting the triceps:
    • Skull crushers (with dumbbells or a barbell)
    • Close-grip bench press
  • Tricep training tips:
    • Focus on the lowering of the weight (AKA the eccentric portion of the exercise)
    • With every exercise, take the tricep through the full range of motion
  • The optimal tricep training frequency: 2-3 workouts per week, with 9-18 total sets

Products Mentioned


  • Mind Pump consists of Sal Di Stefano (IG: @mindpumpsal), Adam Schafer (IG: @mindpumpadam) and Justin Andrews (IG:@mindpumpjustin)
    • The trio have 50 years of combined fitness experience as personal trainers

Tricep Anatomy

  • Triceps are the muscles on the backs of your arms – they’re the opposing muscle group to the biceps (they might also be thought of as the quads of the upper arm)
    • They make up two-thirds of the arm’s musculature
  • Triceps are the defining characteristic of the arm – they make your arms look sculpted
  • 3 heads to triceps:
    • Lateral head (located on the outside of arm)
    • Long head (found on the inside – attaches at the scapula)
    • Medial head (located at the lower outside of the tricep)
  • Triceps are part of any pushing, overhead throwing, or punching motion
    • Sports that demand great triceps include boxing, football, and martial arts

Triceps Beyond Function | They make you look awesome!

  • For sculpted arms, it’s all about the triceps
  • When standing relaxed, the triceps are what make your arms look toned
    • Because of this, they are more important than biceps for women who are looking for that sculpted arm appearance
  • Tricep size and shape is dictated by the insertion and origin of the muscle and how long or short the muscle bellies are
    • There’s no difference in terms of strength, but – “If you have short triceps or long triceps, they’re just going to be that way regardless of training”

4 Tips for a More Productive Tricep Workout

  • 1)  Focus on elbow position – different elbow positions mean you’re hitting the tricep muscle in different ways – mix it up!
    • Changing the elbow position gives the body more opportunity to adapt in different ways which leads to faster muscle growth
    • Consider points of tension – lots of exercises are done with cables, but with triceps, free weights are king
    • The different elbow positions:
      • At your sides (this works the outer head of tricep)
      • Overhead
      • In front of your body
  • 2)  Focus on the lowering of the weight (AKA the eccentric portion of the exercise)
    • Tip:  Put your focus/emphasis on the downward or negative part of the movement
      • “Don’t let gravity take over!”
    • If you don’t, you’re missing out on the very important negative resistance
  • 3) “Full range of motion builds more muscle regardless of muscle group”
    • With every tricep exercise, maintain muscular tension throughout the whole movement, while allowing your elbow to become fully extended
      • Keep your tricep flexed, squeezing it at the very bottom of the movement – “The squeeze is extremely important”
      • If you relax your tricep muscle at the end of whatever tricep movement you’re performing, then the joint takes the load and could result in injury
  • 4) Compound exercises are best for putting mass on the triceps:
    • Close-grip bench press
    • Dips – make sure to go all the way to the top, stop, squeeze your triceps, then go back down
      • If you load the dip, do less reps
      • The dip can be considered “squats for the arm” – give it 6-8 weeks and you’re bound to see some tricep gains

Rep Ranges for Optimal Tricep Training

  • 2-3 workouts per week is ideal with 9-18 total sets
    • More is not better! Find the right range for you = the sweet spot
  • Here’s what’s not ideal – doing all your sets in 1 workout
  • Close grip bench press and dips work well with low rep ranges

Must-Do Exercises for Building or Sculpting the Triceps

  • Skull crushers with dumbbells or a barbell
  • Dips
  • Close-grip bench
  • Note:
    • For women, these exercises WON’T give you bulky triceps but will allow them to be better sculpted, shaped, and well-toned
    • “Building muscle is a tough process for anyone – men or women- so you want to use the exercises that are the most effective”
  • Advanced workout: BFR (Blood Flow Restriction)
    • BFR will not replace your regular routine but “the pump you’ll get from it is no comparison”

Sal’s Tricep Workout

  • Start with dips -10-12 reps for 3 sets
  • Skull crushers on a flat bench with dumbbells – 10-12 reps for 3 sets (with elbows at front of body)
  • Overhead tricep extension – hold the dumbbell or barbell over your head (elbows overhead) and bring it behind your head, use a full range of motion

Adam’s Tricep Workout

  • Incline close-grip bench press with elbows close to your side
    • Find a weight you can control – 4-6 reps for 3 sets
  • Skull crushers – 6-8 reps for 3 sets
  • Cable overhead triceps extension – 6-8 reps for 3 sets

Justin’s Tricep Workout

Trigger Sessions – A Light Workout In Between Your Tricep Training Days