The tricep muscles make up 2/3 of the arm, meaning tricep workouts are a significant player in building bigger upper arms.
Today we’re going to look at the 5 best isometric tricep exercises that use body weight or weight training to develop the triceps’ strength. We will also look at the best tricep workouts tips to get the best from a shoulder, chest, and arm training session.
Table of Contents
- What Are Isometric Exercises?
- Basics of the Triceps Muscles:
- The 5 Best Isometric Triceps Exercises
- Final Thoughts: How to structure isometric triceps workouts?
What Are Isometric Exercises?
Isometric exercises refer to any movement where muscular effort keeps a joint, body, or weight in a static position. For example, a handstand is an isometric exercise because it’s about fighting movement one way or the other.
For most purposes, isometric exercises build strength and stability in the muscles at specific angles. They’re also a great way to load your body more heavily than you could with concentric-eccentric (i.e., regular, complete) movements because isometric exercises require less movement.
Basics of the Triceps Muscles:
Tricep exercises use the role of the triceps – extending the elbows – to build muscle. The triceps are ‘push’ muscles that play a significant role in the bench press, overhead press, and – obviously – the triceps extension.
They’re a trio of muscles on the upper arm – hence the name (indicating the 3 heads of the triceps). Because the long head of the triceps attaches to the shoulder, you also need to account for the position of the upper arm compared to the shoulder.
Remember that the elbow and shoulder are the two joints around the tricep, and one should be stable while the other moves. Letting your elbows flare, for example, reduces the load through the triceps, limiting growth.
The 5 Best Isometric Triceps Exercises
A simple exercise, dip holds, involves going 1/3 of the way down a dip and resisting gravity. You hold the position and keep downward pressure on the parallel bars.
Simple but brutal!
With your elbows close to your body, start with arms extended, and then lower yourself to roughly 3/4 of the final position. Again, keep downward pressure and don’t let yourself lower throughout the hold.
Support position holds (rings)
Just like a dip hold, but worse. Use a pair of gymnastic rings with the ‘lock and twist’ support position to emphasize posture. Lower yourself to around 2/3 or 3/4 total height in the movement and resist gravity, keeping your elbows close and balance stable.
Dumbbell tucked bench press
You can use weights or body weight for isometric hold training. Take a pair of heavy dumbbells (e.g., your max for 6-8 reps) and hold them at 2/3 of your ‘finish’ position, keeping upward pressure on the dumbbells for the whole time.
Seated tricep extension (With Towel)
A perfect tricep isometric exercise, with a stretching component, active stabilizing in the shoulders and core, and great isolation. This is the best choice for almost everyone!
Take a seated position with the dumbbell overhead, then lower it to the end position, feeling the stretch, and actively apply upward pressure by ‘hinging’ the elbow open (without moving it).
When finished, use the other arm to perform a 2-hand tricep extension to finish the exercise safely.
Final Thoughts: How to structure isometric triceps workouts?
A good ‘isometric tricep workout’ is built around a combination of ‘normal’ and isometric exercises. They appreciate that combining the two is how you get the best results.
Here are a few essential tips on how to build isometric tricep workouts that should guide your gains:
Isometric exercises first
Using isometric exercises as your first movement, you can improve the results of other exercises. Studies show that isometric holds improve the eccentric contraction of muscle fibers in later exercises.
Use an isometric tricep exercise first, for at least 1-2 activities, before you move on to ‘normal’ pace exercise.
Stretch with isometric exercises
As with isometric holds, you are stretching impetus on the muscles improves the long-term signaling for muscle strength gains through a workout.
For triceps, use a deep tricep extension hold with cables or resistance bands or the seated overhead tricep extension with a dumbbell.
Use contrast training for deep contraction
Contrast training is about using two different exercise methods in a superset.
Combining an isometric tricep exercise like a stretching hold with lighter high-speed movements (like band punch-downs or cable pushdowns) could be a perfect choice.
One repetition might be enough
You don’t need to worry about reps with an isometric exercise, so focus on getting into position for a single rep.
Longer holds with more weight are great to build towards a better session – and it might be more useful to use multiple exercises with fewer reps and sets to get better results.
Select appropriate weights
Use weights or isometric triceps exercises that suit your goal. Stretching holds should be lighter, while actual training weights should be heavy enough that you struggle to reach the time you’ve set for yourself in an isometric hold.
Think about the torso and shoulder
Focusing on torso and shoulder positions during an isometric triceps workout improves your focus on the tricep muscle itself. This reduces compensation – keeping elbows tucked – to prevent ‘pushing’ the load onto other muscles like the chest or shoulder.
Use cable machines or elastic resistance
Cable machines and elastic resistance are great for stretching and isometric hold training. Cable machines are isotonic – they maintain constant tension on the muscle throughout the exercise.
Elastic resistance is graded by how far you stretch the band. This is perfect for advancing resistance on isometric hold training. You can just stretch the band more to make it harder!
- Bodyweight Tricep Exercises
- Isometric Tricep Exercises
- Lateral Head Tricep Exercises
- Medial Head Tricep Exercises
- Tricep Pushdown Alternatives
- TRX Tricep Exercises
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