The triceps are made up of 3 heads and perform extension and pressing movements and the top 5 tricep exercises on this list will indeed involve extension and pressing movements. The triceps make up two thirds of your upper arm yet is often neglected in favour of the biceps, probably due to it being the showman’s muscle!
1. Close Grip Bench Press
Using a barbell, keep your grip close at around shoulder width and elbows close to the body when performing this movement. Allow the bar to come all the way down to your chest and press up to full extension in order to get a full tricep contraction. I would advise this exercise actually be performed at the end of a tricep workout in order to use less weight and more mind-muscle connection to push the weight up and down.
2. Tricep Pushdowns
Tricep pushdowns can be performed with either both arms or a single arm to concentrate on your weaker side. It can be performed using either a rope or a straight bar which are the most popular choices. Keeping the elbows close to your side, you should only move your forearms in the movement like a door hinge without any swaying movement from the upper arm.
3. Tricep Skullcrushers
This exercise is best performed with dumbbells as it isolates each arm rather than one taking more of a load than the other as in the traditional skullcrusher movement. Lying down on a bench, keep your arm in the air in front of your body keeping your upper arm straight, only moving your forearm through flexion and extension but this time against gravity.
4. Tricep Dips
Tricep dips are a phenomenal pushing exercise for building that coveted horseshoe shape into your arm. To target the triceps you must go to full arm extension to fully contract the tricep and take the tension off your chest. A 90-degree arm angle is optimal on the eccentric part of the repetition in order not to stretch the chest and take the tension off the triceps. This exercise can either be done with your own bodyweight or on its own dedicated machine which is plate loaded. I prefer to use bodyweight as there is an unlimited potential for increased resistance variations unlike the machine which is fixed in its movement arc.
5. Underhand grip tricep pushdown
The medial head of the tricep is the least frequently targeted muscle out of all the 3 heads due to the fact that the main choice of exercises people choose to deploy for triceps usually all have the same hand grips which emphasise the lateral head of the triceps. With a straight bar, using the same methods as for the Tricep pushdowns (see no.2 above) perform this movement to failure ensuring you are feeling your medial tricep work on each rep. Ensure you hold the contraction at the bottom of every rep for best results!
These 5 exercises are my personal favourites for ensuring all-round tricep stimulation and development. Ensure you go to failure on all of these exercises and increase the resistance you use on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis for maximum growth and size!