Pumping Iron: Kris Gethin's Top 3 Triceps Exercises

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People tend to focus on the biceps and neglect the triceps, but many weightlifters can’t seem to realize that the triceps make up two-thirds of the upper arm, while the biceps are, simply put, just the icing on the cake.

The triceps may be an explosive muscle but they can also succumb to fatigue easily, so performing countless amounts of sets and reps may be counterproductive. I recommend both high and low rep sets to trigger maximum growth and ultimate shape.

Gethin’s Triceps Armageddon

The elbow joints commonly become inflamed and injured if adequate warm-up sets aren’t applied. I recommend at least two warm-up sets before entering your first working set. But use your instinct. If you feel that your muscles or joints need more warm-up sets, then feel free to adapt accordingly.

During your 2-minute rest period, stretch the triceps muscles to encourage full muscular development. Stretching can improve the muscle’s shape by pulling apart the fascia that surrounds muscle fiber bundles. Once the blood is pumped within the fibers of the triceps, the elasticity is improved and already under expansion due to the flood of nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood. The perfect duration to hold each arm stretch is for 30 seconds each.

In this workout, we target the rear muscle of your arm, applying stress to all three heads of the triceps with strict form. Complete the three exercises back to back in a giant set manner with no rest in-between, much like a circuit.

“The triceps may be an explosive muscle but they can also succumb to fatigue easily, so performing countless amounts of sets and reps may be counterproductive.”

Giant Set: Rest 2 minutes between sets


Attach a straight bar to the overhead pulley and grasp with an overhand grip two inches apart. Keep your hands level with your lower chest when starting this exercise; keep your elbows tucked tight against the side of your torso. Your back should be relatively straight with your knees slightly bent. Extend the bar down until your arms are locked straight, while still rigid by your sides. Repeat this movement until failure is reached at approximately 20-25 repetitions.

Standing Cable Push-Down

Tip: The standing cable push-down is an isolation movement that directly targets the outer and medial head of the triceps. Being a cable exercise, you can guarantee constant stress is placed upon the triceps during the whole range of movement when performed correctly.


Select a dumbbell that will allow you to reach failure around 8-12 reps. Sit on a military bench with your back flat against the vertical pad support. Lift the dumbbell overhead with both palms placed flat against the inner plate surface. Both elbows should be tucked tight to your ears. Beginning with the dumbbell behind your head, extend up and stop three inches before locking out to keep constant tension placed upon the triceps muscles. The upper arms and elbows should remain static while only the lower arms extend up and down.

Tip: Constant tension is harder to apply to this free-weight movement, so be sure to shorten the range of movement slightly once tension feels lessened.


Fasten a rope attachment to a high pulley and hold it with palms facing each other. As you bring the rope down, pull each side of the rope outward toward your thighs. Hold and contract this position for one second before returning to the start position. Aim to reach failure at 10 repetitions. Once failure is reached, try leaning slightly forward. Draw both ropes together until your palms almost touch, and after a five-second rest perform the movement again until failure is reached at an additional 20 reps.

Tip: By twisting the wrist in a pronated fashion while pulling each rope outward, the contraction becomes accentuated, with more detailed muscle fiber recruitment coming into play.

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Pumping Iron: Kris Gethin's Top 3 Triceps Exercises