If you’re looking to take your tricep training to the next level to improve your bench press lockout or to build bigger triceps, then incorporating bands into your workout routine is the way to go.
Some of the best resistance band tricep exercises include standing overhead extensions, banded tricep pushdowns, tricep kickbacks, and concentration pressdowns. Adding these exercises into your training will lead to greater development for all 3 heads of your tricep brachii.
Below, I will discuss the anatomy of your triceps, share 10 of the best exercises, and provide tips on how to properly perform the movements, so that you can maximize your tricep gains.
Anatomy of the Triceps
The triceps, otherwise known as the triceps brachii, is a three-headed muscle of the arm. This group of muscles makes up the back portion of your arm between your elbow and shoulder, and they often look like the shape of a horseshoe.
The triceps are primarily responsible for:
- Extension of the forearm at the elbow joint (straightening the arm)
- Extension and adduction of the arm at the shoulder joint (lowering the arm towards the body)
The triceps consist of a long, medial, and lateral head.
The long head attaches near the back of your shoulder on your scapula (shoulder blade), the lateral head attaches near the back of your humerus (upper arm bone), and the medial head is covered by both the long and lateral head of the tricep and runs the length of the humerus.
The triceps are most actively recruited in pushing movements (pushups, dips, bench press, etc).
While traditional push movements will help train your triceps (things like pushups, cable pushdowns, dips, and close grip bench press), you can hack your tricep training by targeting different tricep heads simply by knowing a bit more about anatomy.
Later on, I’ll share my top 10 banded tricep exercises that work each head of the triceps to maximize your tricep training.
Benefits of Training the Triceps With Bands
Here are six reasons why you should incorporate bands into your tricep training:
- Greater muscle contractions. Bands give your muscles linear variable resistance (LVR), which basically means bands offer more resistance as they stretch out.
Because of the increase in resistance that comes with lengthening the bands, the top portion (closest to lockout) of your reps will be the most challenging. This will then force your triceps to contract harder than they would during cable or free-weight movements.
- Enhanced muscle activation. Bands can be an excellent alternative to free weights for improving muscle activation. Training with resistance bands challenges your stability, which will help you recruit more muscles as your triceps are forced to stabilize the band tension.
Awesome for warming up. A great benefit to resistance bands is their ability to warm up your joints. As you get older, you likely find that your joints take longer to get warmed up for strength workouts.
Bands are a great way to minimize the creaks and aches that you may experience because they place less overall load and stress on your joints and will help you bring blood flow to the stiff areas.
Constant tension. Bands keep your muscles engaged throughout the entire range of motion, which never gives them time to rest. This constant tension can lead to a stronger muscle stimulus, resulting in more growth.
- Great overloading potential. Bands can be used to overload your tricep muscles by incorporating them for drop sets and supersets.
For example, you can hit a set of dumbbell skull crushers, and then immediately drop the weights and do a banded tricep overhead extension to failure. This is a great way to add volume and intensity to your workouts while still minimizing risks of injury and overtraining.
- 5 Best Forearm Exercises & Workouts With Bands
- Best Core Exercises With Bands
- Exercises for Neck Training Using Resistance Band
10 Best Triceps Band Exercises
1. Standing Banded Overhead Extensions
The standing banded overhead extension is a simple and very effective movement that you can incorporate to target all 3 heads of your tricep, but primarily the long head. You can perform this movement with a single arm or with both arms, and you can use a looped or open-ended resistance band.
How To: Single Arm Version
- Step on one end of the band with your right foot and grab the other end with your right hand.
- Pull the band up with your hand behind you. Make sure your elbow is pointing up towards the ceiling and you are standing tall with a neutral spine. This is your starting position.
- Extend from the elbow by bringing your forearm up so your whole arm is shooting straight overhead. Squeeze your tricep muscle when in full extension.
- Lower your forearm back down with control, and extend up again once your forearm is just past parallel with the floor.
- Keep your elbow pinned in place at all times.
- Do 8-15 reps per arm for 3-4 sets.
Pro Tip: You can do this exercise with a single or both arms, but I typically recommend doing the single-arm variation. Start with your weaker side to ensure that you are always able to do the same amount of reps on both sides and make sure to step in the same place on the band with both feet so you are getting the same level of resistance.
Related Article: 9 Best Resistance Band Bicep Exercises (+ Sample Workout)
2. Banded Tricep Pushdowns
This is a great exercise to isolate your triceps and keep constant tension on your muscles. I will often do a set of cable pushdowns, and then immediately super-set with banded ones to get some extra reps in and fully fatigue my triceps.
- For this exercise, you’ll need to locate a stable anchor point that is above your head. Most common anchor points are pull-up bars, a piece of equipment, your door frame, or a piece of heavy furniture. Just make sure that it is sturdy and you can securely attach your band to it.
- Once your band is anchored, grab one side with one or two arms at a position where the band is pulled taut. Your arms should be at a 90-degree angle with your elbows pinned to your sides.
- Breathe in, engage your abs, and brace yourself so that your torso stays in the same position.
- Pull down on the band by extending your elbow until your arm(s) are straight and your tricep is flexed at the bottom. Do this in a controlled manner.
- Pause briefly at the bottom in your contracted position, and then slowly bend your arms back to your start position.
- Don’t let your elbows move. They should be in the same place throughout every rep.
- Do this exercise for another 8-15 reps for 3-4 sets.
Pro Tip: A great way to get a better contraction with this exercise is to turn your wrists so that your palms are facing away from your body when you pause at the bottom.
3. Band Tricep Kickbacks
This exercise mimics the popular dumbbell alternative but is way more effective at recruiting your entire tricep and keeping tension throughout the entire movement. It is a great isolation exercise that I incorporate near the end of my workout.
How To: Single Arm Version
- Stagger your feet so that your left foot is in front of your right foot in a high-lunge position. Place the band under your left foot and stand on it to anchor it in place.
- Grab the band with your right hand. Bend at your waist so that your torso is almost parallel to the ground.
- With your back flat, row your arm up your body so that your elbow is slightly above your torso. Your elbow should be bent at a 90-degree angle and your upper arm should be parallel to the ground.
- Slowly straighten your elbow so that your hand kicks backward.
- Keep your tricep engaged the entire time, and your end position should be when your tricep is flexed and your entire arm is now parallel with the ground.
- Slowly lower your hand back to your start position. Do not swing.
- Switch your feet so your right foot is in front and grab the band with your left hand. Repeat the exercise.
- Do 2 sets of 15-20 per hand.
Pro Tip: grab a pole or something sturdy with your hand that is not working. This will help you keep your balance and reduce any swaying or momentum.
4. Banded Close-Grip Pushups
Banded close-grip pushups are very helpful in improving your lockout strength on normal push-ups or any other pressing movements. Due to increased tension as the band stretches (LVR), banded push-ups will be much harder near the top, where your triceps are most active.
- Grab the band in both hands and have it stretched across your back and over your triceps.
- Get into your regular close-grip pushup position. Start with your hands directly under your shoulders, but move in or out based on what feels most comfortable.
- Do your pushups as you normally would, keeping your body in a plank-like position throughout the entire movement.
- The band should be taut the entire time, so you may need to adjust where you grab it depending on its length and your own arm length.
- To program these, find how many pushups you can do in a row. Then do 20-30% of that number for 3 sets of reps. For example, someone who can do 50 good pushups should do 3 sets of 10-15 banded pushups.
Pro Tip: after your last set, ditch the band and do as many reps as possible of regular pushups. This is a great way to add intensity and develop a higher work capacity.
5. Band-Assisted Dips
Traditional dips are a great way to grow your triceps and develop their strength; however, not everyone can do sets of dips with their body weight. Band-assisted dips are a great way to still reap the benefits of this movement and are a great tool to work your way to doing bodyweight or even weighted dips.
- Wrap one end of a looped resistance band over one side of the dip handles, and then wrap the other end around the other handle.
- You should now have a semi-saddle of band between the dip handles. The thicker the band is, the more it will help you during your dips.
- Place your hands on the handles like normal, and put both of your knees on the band-saddle.
- You should now feel the band supporting you as you are suspended by your hands with your triceps locked. This is your starting position.
- Take a deep breath, retract your shoulders, and start bending your elbows. This will lower your body.
- Once your elbows have bent to 90 degrees, or as far as is comfortable, push yourself back up to your start position.
- Pause at the top, squeeze your triceps, breathe out, and get ready for another rep.
Pro Tip: Make sure you come all the way up and lock out your triceps at the top of each rep. If you’re struggling to lock out, then choose a heavier band that provides more assistance.
6. Banded Bench Press
The banded bench press is a great way to improve your lockout strength on your bench, train rep speed, and develop your triceps. It works similarly to banded push-ups, by increasing tension as the band stretches causing your triceps to work harder to lockout.
- Set up your barbell in your power rack, as normal. Use the same height and bar you normally would.
- Find an anchor point on the ground to secure your band. Most common choices are heavy dumbbells, the bottom of your rack, or pegs if your bench comes equipped with them.
- Loop one end of the band around your anchor point, and then loop the other end around the barbell. This setup will require two bands, one for each side.
- Bench press like you normally would: Unrack, tighten your back, take a deep breath, lower the bar to your chest, and then press back up.
- Do this exercise for 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps.
Pro Tip: Make sure that your bands are set up directly below where the bar will be when you are bench pressing, NOT where the bar is when it is in the rack. This will keep you more stable, as the band will not be pulling you forward or backward.
7. Banded Tricep Pull-Aparts
This exercise only needs a long resistance band, which is why it’s a staple in my routine when I’m traveling. It is a simple, yet very effective movement to target your triceps and develop them nicely.
- Stand tall and hold your resistance band in both hands.
- Keep it parallel to the floor at shoulder height.
- Position each hand near the end, and make sure the band is taut but not stretched out yet. This should be slightly wider than your shoulders.
- Keep your arms parallel to the floor, bend at the elbows, and have your palms facing the floor.
- Keeping your hands steady at shoulder height, pull the ends of the band away from each other by straightening your arms and flexing your triceps.
- Pause and squeeze the muscles, and then return to the start position.
- Do these for 3 sets of 15-20 reps as one of your last exercises.
Pro Tip: don’t confuse these for reverse flys. We are targeting the triceps here, not the rear delts, so be sure to work the band by moving at your elbow joint not your shoulders.
8. Crossbody Pressdowns
Crossbody pressdowns are a great way to work your long head of the tricep since there is shoulder adduction. Your lateral head will also get work. This exercise has great benefits as it gives your triceps interesting resistance from a different angle.
- Anchor the band overhead, similar to how you would for the tricep pushdowns mentioned above.
- Stand to the side of the band’s anchor point by about a foot or two.
- Grab the band with your left hand so it is coming across your body.
- When the band is taut, your left hand should be up near your right shoulder.
- Press down and to your left so that your left arm is fully extended directly down to your side. The band will come across like a seatbelt.
- Slowly bring the band back to your right side below the shoulder.
- Repeat for 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps.
Pro Tip: do not swing your arm when doing this movement. Keep your upper arm and elbow as anchored as you can, so that you can feel the maximum contraction.
9. Concentration Pressdowns
Concentration pressdowns are a great way to isolate the medial and long head of your triceps. They give a great contraction and will provide some great benefits from a different angle, similar to the crossbody pressdowns.
- Anchor the band just as you would for our other exercises. The anchor point should allow the band to shoot straight down.
- Grab the band in your left hand with an underhand grip. Your body should be to the left of the anchor point.
- Get into a kneeling position. Place your left leg forward, and put your foot flat on the floor. Your right leg should be back on its knee with the ball of the foot on the floor.
- Place your left elbow and lower tricep on the inner thigh of your left leg. This will create a leverage point that your elbow should remain glued to throughout the entire exercise (think of a concentration curl).
- When starting, your arm should look like it is at the top of a curl.
- Now, extend your arm at the elbow until your arm is fully extended. Push the elbow into your thigh and fully flex your tricep at full extension.
- Slowly let your forearm come back up until your arm is at a 90-degree angle, and then repeat 8-12 times per arm for 3 sets.
Pro Tip: pretend that your elbow is glued to your knee/inner thigh. This will reduce any swing or momentum that you may have and will give you a much better contraction.
10. Supinated Band Press Downs
This exercise can be done in exactly the same way as the regular tricep pushdowns mentioned above but is instead done with a supinated grip (palms facing up).
This slight variation will give you much better isolation on the long head of your tricep and is a great way to also train some grip strength.
Sample Triceps Workout Routine With Bands
Here is an effective resistance band tricep routine that you can do with some of the above exercises:
Banded Close-Grip Pushups
Burnout set without the band at the end
These should be slow and controlled
Banded Tricep Pushdowns
Band Tricep Kickbacks
Single arm. Don’t use momentum
Note that I did not include all 10 exercises. This is because some of them are very similar and target the triceps in the same manner.
It would be redundant to perform all of them on the same day, and they are better viewed as options that you can swap in and out depending on your training preferences.
Best Bands For Training Your Triceps
When looking to incorporate banded resistance into your tricep training, I highly recommend purchasing multiple bands so that you have different levels of resistance to choose from.
This will be the best way to make sure you are properly equipped as you get stronger, and allow you to perform a variety of movements that require different levels of resistance.
The Gymreapers Military Resistance Band Set is a great full set of resistance bands. The set comes with bands that range in resistance from 20-150 lbs to satisfy every need possible for adding banded training exercises into your program.
If you do not want a full resistance band set, you can buy the bands individually. The Gymreapers Resistance Band will likely be the most helpful, particularly the black (25-65lbs), purple (30-85lbs), or green (50-125 lbs) bands, which are commonly used for tricep training.