Whether you’re working out for aesthetics or for better functional movement, few muscle groups fall into both camps as equally as the triceps. Though sometimes dismissed as showy beach muscles, the three-headed triceps brachii muscle actually plays a key role in sports and the movements of everyday life, working with the lats to bring the arm toward the body and playing a huge role in the extension of the elbow joint.
Just try getting through your day without the tris. You’ll be unable to sign your name, lift a glass, or wash your hair. As for sports, LeBron James could not launch a jumper without his massive tris anchoring the ball. Nor could Michael Phelps glide through the water with a powerful butterfly or freestyle stroke without his long, lean tris supporting his 6-foot-7 wingspan.
Even if you’re just building your triceps to fill out a T-shirt—the triceps account for two-thirds of the mass of your upper arm, after all—you’ll get the benefit of powerful arms for everyday movement. Best of all, the triceps respond well to bodyweight training, making them one of the easier muscle groups to train.
In this 20-minute triceps workout, we’ll provide an eight-exercise, two-set circuit to challenge your triceps with only your body as resistance. We’ll alternate pushing and pulling movements so you keep moving without rest, providing an aerobic component to your training as well.
Pete Williams is a NASM certified personal trainer and the author or co-author of a number of books on performance and training.