Build Big Triceps Fast

To make fast progress you must focus on the areas that give you the greatest return. When it comes to building big arms, the triceps are the shareholders with the most power. After all, they make up two-thirds of your upper arm girth. Every guy wants big biceps because he wants big arms, but doing curls all day won’t get the job done as quickly as building up your triceps.

John Cena has absolutely massive arms. Having seen him in person I can say that most pictures, believe it or not, don’t give those guns any justice. One of the reasons his upper arms are so huge is because his triceps’ girth is nothing short of extraordinary.

Not only do impressively large triceps look cool but they’re also essential for physical prowess. Throwing a hard punch in the ring or pushing your opponent away on the field rely heavily on the strength of your triceps. And as any good lifter knows, adding quality meat to your muscles boost their ability to produce more force.

The problem with many triceps exercises is they can be very hard on the elbow joints. This is especially true with isolation exercises that limit movement at the elbows. The triceps, by design, are intended to work with the shoulder joint. Punching, pushing, and throwing work the shoulder and elbow joints together, and in perfect harmony. Don’t get me wrong, exercises such as a lying triceps extension with dumbbells has its place and can be very beneficial.

However, the one of the best triceps exercises I’ve ever used is a close hand position push-up with the feet elevated on a Swiss Ball. I like to call this a “triceps push-up” since it works your triceps harder than just about anything else.

Perform 5 sets of as many reps as possible every three days and your triceps will get bigger and stronger faster than ever before. Keep your abs tight and don’t try to go fast at first. This exercise is tougher than it looks!

Now for other related news…

I posted a cool, full body fat loss workout in my Training Lab on T-nation that you can see by clicking HERE.

Also, I wrote an article for Pavel Tsatsouline and Dragon Door on the importance of lifting speed, to read it click HERE.

Stay Focused,

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22 thoughts on “Build Big Triceps Fast

  1. My triceps are more developed than my biceps but i will try it any way . for strengh

  2. is there an actual scientific reason to why this particular exercise works so well? i read a lot about great tricep exercises such as close grip bench press but rarely anything on diamond push ups. it sounds like it would be a tough exercise so ill give it a shot

    ps. as a hardgainer and being fairly young (20yrs old) its hard finding good info on building quality lean mass. i think you would get a lot of hits if you wrote an article on what you have seen works best for them. its easy finding info on fat-loss but not so much for a hardgainer. if you get time to write one, that would be amazing for me and a lot of others struggling out there.

    Great articles CW, thanks a lot

    CW: The scientific reasons are these. First, this exercise shifts more of your body weight forward so you have to lift a greater percentage of your weight – the tris respond best to higher loads. Second, having your feet elevated allows for a greater range of motion. Third, the instability created by the ball makes the triceps work harder.

  3. It seems to me, Chad, that a lot of coaches are now kinda echoing your thoughts on both lifting speed and frequency.

    With that in mind, I think that body weight exercises could be making a bit of a comeback as they seem to allow both pretty easily. Also most trainees greatly underestimate them whereas coaches dont. Just my thoughts anyway.

    Thanks for the article Chad.

    CW: You’re absolutely right. Dragon Door and the RKC team are putting a big emphasis on lifting speed these days – that’s why Pavel asked me to write that article for them.

  4. Great article Chad!
    Why use a swiss ball and not a flat bench? I would think having a stable bench would allow you to be more explosive and lead to more fast twitch muscle fibers.

    CW: That’s true, but you don’t get close to the level of core activation with a stable bench. Also, research indicates that some instability will make the triceps work harder. A study on chest training showed that performing the push-up from straps increased triceps activation.

    Both exercises have their place, and I’m not a fan of major instability, but the Swiss ball fits nicely in the middle.

  5. Dear Chad,
    Would a weighted strap push-up with close hand position and elevated feet be a good substitute for this excercise?

    All the best,

    CW: Yes, that’s a great exercise, too. But this variation will strengthen the core more and possibly make the tris fire harder. Both or either will work.

  6. hi chad,
    great article, i like to read another one for shoulders.
    thanks, you are the best.

  7. took this exercise and superset it with DB Hammer curls with a towels wrapped around the handles for a wider grip. Did 6 sets of 6-8 reps for the curls and 5 sets of as many reps as possible with this exercise. Arms felt huge after!

    p.s im also doing your 100 fast pushup plan every other day, ill let you know how it works!
    p.p.s so this exercise is to be done every 3 days? so if i worked out monday and did it, i should wait until friday, not do it again on wednesday?

    CW: Glad you like it. Yes, every 3 days: Mon/Thur then Sun/Wed the next time around. Or just stick to Mon/Thur each week.

  8. Will a one arm inclined dumbbell bench press also make the triceps work harder?

    CW: Harder than what? That’s the question. A one-arm bench is a great exercise, and it’s great for the tris so keep it in your program.

  9. Hello Chad,

    Am I the only one who suffered huge tension in wrists while trying this movement?

    CW: That’s not common. Your wrists must be very stiff. Use a different hand position that feels more comfortable while keeping your hands as close together as possible.

  10. Nice post, Chad! Your articles are always high quality.
    I have such question. I don’t have swiss ball and I don’t plan to buy it either. Can I substitute this exercise with push-ups from rings with hands close to each other and with feet elevated on a bench?

    CW: Yes, that will work. Or you could just elevate your feet on a flat bench.

  11. Hi Chad,

    Awesome work on your new T-Nation article!

    I have 2 questions:

    a) Using the Close Grip Pushup w/ feet on a swiss ball on the ‘5 sets every 3 days’ basis (and not as per your new arm article on T-Nation), can these 5 sets be alternated with the Biceps Row that you did outline at T-Nation for complete upper arm development or would you prefer the Biceps Row to be kept to the outline as per your article (twice weekly, 6RM only)?

    b) Would a Supinated Grip Inverted Row, most likely using TRX straps, be a suitable alternative for the Biceps Row for those either travelling a lot or on the bodyweight training bandwagon? And in turn be a good pairing with question a) on the ‘5 sets every 3 days’ basis?

    Thanks for your time CW!


    a) Yes, you can alternate with the biceps row. Every three days is basically twice a week – I use the terms interchangeably.

    b) That’ll work.

  12. Hi,

    So how does it compare against the close-grip bench press? I’m curious because you wrote awhile back on T-Nation that the close-grip bench press is the best triceps builder.

    CW: This is better because it allows more scapular movement, the range of motion is greater, and it’s better for your core.

  13. Hi Chad,
    there is something i dont get about the rep speed.
    today i drove my bike up on a mountain and noticed the huge calves and quads of other people i met.
    they do thisalmost everyday and there movement is slow, the percentage of 1RM is low and the TUT is high.

    are those huge legs build out of type1 endurance fibers?
    it seems so strange….

    CW: There are many ways to grow muscle. Yes, they have big quads and calves but they’ve spent hundreds or thousands of hours of cycling to get them. If you don’t want to wait thousands of hours, lift faster and heavier.

  14. Can the plan you discuss for achieving 100 fast push ups be used to increase reps for pull ups or for pull ups do you prefer the method outlined in your HFT 2.0 article? Thanks.

    CW: Either can work. You’ll need to be able to do 20 or more pullups to make what I mentioned at Dragon Door work, though.

  15. Hi,

    I have been trying your triceps push-ups for the last couple of weeks, so about 4 upper body workouts, and I have to say I really feel them.

    My bench feels way more explosive and my tris may even start to grow again. so this is definately an exercise I will keep in my repetoire…

    One question remains! somehow the triceps push ups really seem to work my upper back as well. Hard! my traps, roids and lat swell up like crazy and remain so for what feels like hours.
    Is this because I do the push-ups wrong (seems hard to imagine) or may that show a weakness in my muscles? what would the implications for regular bench pressing be?

    hopefully you find the time to answer…

    greetings from germany


    CW: Since your upper back muscles are so compressed (tense) during the down portion you’re getting some fatigue. Focus on pressing through your palms as you lift and squeeze your triceps hard at the peak contraction (top portion). That should help.

  16. Hi,

    I know you said to do as many reps as possible, but isn’t there a point where the exercise isn’t challenging enough?


    CW: If the exercise isn’t challenging – if you can do say, 15 reps per set, it’s time to wear a weighted vest or have a partner place a plate on your low back, or use a resistance band stretched across your upper back.

  17. Can you work this in addition to your regular triceps workout. Or do you recommend not doing any extra tricep work.

    CW: This should be your primary triceps exercise. But if you have great recovery, or need more volume, you can add one other triceps exercise each workout.

  18. Hey Chad,

    Just came across your website, would like to give this Exercise a try. Im currently on a Chest/Back then Legs day. Also throwing in Charles Poliquins “Winning the Arms Race” every 5 days. Would you suggest still playing with this every 3 days or maybe waiting till I have worked through my current training split? Triceps would be an area im keen to develop and strenghen. Seeing great results on arms already but this seems interetsing and im always open minded to try new things in the gym 🙂 I will need some convincing on the Warrior diet though 😛

    Thanks for your time

    CW: Wait until you’re finished with your current arm training program before you add this in.

  19. Hi,

    Hey Chad i read your article about doing 100 push ups everyday for a month, can i change it for 50 dips instead and combining with the 50 pull ups reps for a bigger upper body ??

    Thanks for your time and sorry foy my crappy english (i´m latinoamerican)

    CW: Yes, that will work, too.

  20. Hey, thanks for the great workout! Do you think it is a good idea to pair this with the workout outlined in your Big Back, Big Chest, Real Fast article?

    CW: That will work.

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