Your triceps make up about 70 % of your upper arm mass so it is important you start paying more attention to them when training. The triceps have three heads which are known as lateral, medial and long heads. The long head is on the inside of the arm closest to your torso. Generally anytime the arm is extended behind the head the long head will be recruited. Think about overhead rope extensions and skull crushers with the bar going behind the head. The lateral head is generally recruited best in exercises like pushdowns and presses. Finally there is the medial head which is hard to truly put focus on other than maybe reverse pushdowns which tend to hit it fairly well. The primary function of the tricep is to extend the elbow, which results in straightening the arm.
Here are my top 5 tricep exercises
1. Close grip bench press- Hands down the best tricep exercise! It allows you to stress the muscle without a bunch of weight and therefore hitting more muscle fibers which results in more growth. Keep your grip narrow and keep your elbows in on the whole movement. Lower the bar to the lower chest and then drive up and focus on pushing from your triceps.
2. Dips-Weighted if all possible for maximum results. Make sure to keep your arms in tight and keep your body upright to avoid shifting more focus onto the pecs.
3. Tricep 1/2 press ( kind of like lockouts )- Set up is same as the close grip press except you will just lower the weight half way down from the top and then drive back up. The top part of the press is when your triceps take over the most.
4. Decline tricep extensions ( AKA..french press, skull crushers, etc )- Using the decline will help you potential activate up to 10 % more muscle fibers. You can use numerous types of angles with this exercise. You can lower the bar to your nose, forehead or behind the head.
5. Seated overhead tricep rope extensions- Attach a rope to the bottom of a cable pulley machine. Sit facing away from the pulley and have someone hand you the rope. Keep your elbows tight close to your ears, extend the rope up and twist out at the end.