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9 Best Triceps Stretches

9 Best Triceps Stretches (2021)

Triceps stretches specifically target the large muscles located at the back of the arm. By performing stretches that target the triceps, you will benefit the stability of your shoulders and the elbows extension range. 

Triceps stretches can help to improve the flexibility of the arm, whilst also increasing your upper body strength. It’s essential to incorporate these into your daily workout routine in order to both build up essential strength for daily tasks and prevent injuries that may arise with age.

Within this article we will discuss the following topics in relation to triceps stretches:

Before we begin, if you’re looking to enter the fitness industry, then we’d strongly encourage you to check out our flagship training courses or download our complete prospectus for more information.

What Are Triceps Stretches 

The triceps brachii is located at the back of the upper arm and is the muscle notable for its horseshoe shape in definition. Its main function is the extension of the elbow joint, therefore making it critical for the movement of the arms. 

Interestingly, the word triceps means three heads, with the muscle containing a long head, a lateral head and a medial head. These three heads converge into a single tendon, which attaches itself to the bony prominence of the elbow; triceps stretches strengthen this tendon and allow for further extension and higher levels of flexibility. 

Triceps stretches also work with the biceps to form strong forearm movements. They’re one of the most important muscle groups in our body as they help to develop essential upper-body strength. 

If you’re wondering how to stretch triceps, all of your questions will be answered below, separated into two categories for pre and post workout stretches. 

Pre-Workout Triceps Stretches 

If you’re looking for triceps stretches to incorporate into your pre-workout warm up routine then this section is for you. The movements included here are considered to be dynamic stretches which are classified as such when your joints and muscles go through a full range of motions during active exercises. 

The reason why dynamic stretches are often advised to perform prior to working out is because they prepare your body for performance, doing so by mimicking the function of the activity. For example, swimmers will often practice arm circles before entering the pool, as this movement involves moving your arms in the same motion as they would during swimming.

#1 - Triceps Extension With a Band

Triceps Extensions With a Band can offer multiple benefits in comparison to other dynamic stretches as they also act as a form of resistance training. In addition to gaining the benefits of a triceps stretch, these specific extensions will also work to increase your muscle mass too. 

If you want to learn more about resistance training check out this article from OriGym on the subject.  

Set Up - 

To perform this triceps stretch you will require a resistance band, or an elasticated piece of material that you can comfortably stretch behind your back.Starting Position - 

Starting Position - 

  • Start by standing tall and straight, your feet should be positioned slightly further than a shoulder-width apart.
  • Place the elasticated band behind your back.
  • With your right hand grip the top of the band from between your shoulders.
  • With your left hand grip the band from the bottom, holding it just above the glutes so the band is vertical down your back. 
  • For reference, the right elbow extended over your head should be pointed towards the ceiling, whilst the left elbow should be parallel to the floor. 

Execution -

  • Breathe in and with your right hand slowly pull the band towards the top of your head.
  • As the band rises your right arm should be extending outward, but never fully straighten. 
  • Maintain a tight grip on the bottom of the band in order to create resistance. 
  • Breathe out and slowly pull the resistance band down towards the floor with your left hand.
  • When pulling the band down your left arm should be extended until it’s perfectly straight. 
  • Maintain a tight grip on the top of the band in order to create resistance.
  • Repeat this stretch by switching arms.

What Muscles Does This Stretch Engage? 

  • Triceps 

How Long Should I Hold This Stretch For? 

  • 30 Seconds 

OriGym would recommend holding this standing triceps stretch for 30 seconds at a time, holding the pull up position for 30 and then the pull down for a separate 30 seconds. We would also recommend doing Triceps Extensions for 2-3 sets of reps. 

Mistakes to Avoid - 

  • Safety In Relation To Over-Extension: When extending your arms above and behind your back, you run the risk of over-extending your muscles. Take care when performing triceps stretching exercises with the resistance band as over-extension could result in pulled or strained muscles. 
  • Equipment Safety: Resistance bands have a tendency to become slippery and hard to grip. In order to stop the band from snapping back and hitting your body, ensure that you keep tight hold and you do not try to use a weighted band that is beyond your strength ability. 

#2 - Tricep Pulldowns 

As another example of a dynamic triceps stretch which incorporates a form of resistance training, Tricep Pulldowns are not only beneficial for warming up but will also ease the pain of sore muscles.

If you’re interested in using pulldown machines which exercise your triceps, then we’d strongly recommend reading our listicle on the 9 Best LAT Pulldown Machines readily available for purchase. 

Set Up:

In order to execute Triceps pulldowns correctly you will need a resistance band. 

Starting Position: 

  • Stand tall with your feet placed shoulder-width apart.
  • Wrap one end of the resistance band around your right hand. 
  • Place your right hand on your chest just below your shoulder, holding the resistance band firmly in place. 
  • Wrap the opposing end of the band around your left hand. This hand should be kept on level with your hip. 

Execution:

  • Breathe in and use your right hand to press the resistance band firmly against your chest. 
  • During this inhale pull the band down towards the floor with your left hand, until the left arm is perfectly straight.
  • Extend the band as far as it can go without snapping back and hold this position.  
  • Breathe out and slowly return your left arm to hip level, easing the tension created by the band.
  • Repeat by switching arms.

What Muscles Does This Engage? 

  • Triceps

How Long Should I Hold This Stretch For?

  • 30 Seconds

When initially beginning this standing triceps stretch we’d recommend holding it for 30 seconds. Alternate the amrs used to stretch, conducting as many reps as you feel comfortable with. 

Like with other forms of resistance training, this dynamic triceps stretch actually becomes more beneficial the more you practice it. Once it has been practiced multiple times, your muscles will adapt allowing you to hold it for longer periods of time.

Mistakes to Avoid -

  • Ensure You’re Doing The Right Exercise: If you’re ever asked how to stretch triceps using this method, be sure that you’re practicing the correct exercise. Due to its similar name and use of resistance bands many confuse Tricep Pulldowns with Triceps Extensions.
  • Issues With Over-Extension: As one of the best triceps stretches, Tricep Pulldowns are used to ease pain and not cause it. If your stretching is causing you pain stop immediately, as you’re doing it incorrectly and could potentially subject yourself to injury.
  • Equipment Safety: When using elasticated resistant material use caution, to ensure it doesn’t snap back and hit you in the face. 

#3 -  Towel Triceps Stretch 

Similar to that of the Triceps Extension with Band, Towel Triceps Stretches are a dynamic form of resistance training. However, please be aware that, unlike stretching with resistance bands, towels aren’t elasticated, meaning that your muscles will go through higher intensity workout. 

If you’re looking to buy a new towel then why not read OriGym’s guide on the 13 best yoga towels, where we’ll guide you through the marketplace and recommend some incredible products. 

Set Up -

All you need for this stretch is a towel, but be sure it's large enough to fit around your back.

Starting Position -

  • Stand tall and straight with your legs at a hips-width apart. 
  • Place the towel behind your back.
  • With your right arm, reach over the back of your head and grab hold of the top of the towel. 
  • Keep your left arm straight on level with your hip whilst holding the bottom of the towel. 
  • Much like with Triceps Extensions, one elbow should be pointed up towards the ceiling whilst the other should be parallel with the floor. 

Execution -

  • Breathe in and using your right hand slowly pull the towel above your head.
  • Once the towel is above your head, your right arm should still be slightly bent.
  • Pull down on the towel with your left hand in order to create resistance.
  • Breathe out and pull the towel towards the bottom of your back with your left hand.
  • Your left arm should be perfectly straight after pulling the towel downward.
  • Pull the toward using your right hand in order to create resistance. 
  • Swap hands and repeat this process.

What Muscles Does This Stretch Engage?

  • Triceps 

How Long Should I Hold This Stretch For?

  • 20-30 Seconds

OriGym recommends holding this triceps stretching exercise for 20-30 seconds, and you should hold both the pull up position for 30 seconds, followed by a separate 30 seconds for the pull down. 

Additionally, similar to the previous entry on our list we’d recommend conducting 2-3 sets. When it comes to reps, you’ll likely do less triceps stretches with a towel compared to that of a band. This is due to the fact that towels aren’t elasticated and will create more resistance in your muscles. 

Mistakes to Avoid -

  • Over-Extension: As the towel is not elasticated pulling on it too hard could result in an over extension in the muscles. Never force yourself into an uncomfortable position, if something doesn’t feel right stop immediately. 

#4 - Chair Tricep Stretch 

This dynamic triceps stretch is something that everyone can do, no fancy equipment required all you need is a sturdy chair.

Set Up - 

In order to execute this dynamic triceps stretch you will need a chair. 

Starting Position -

  • Begin by sitting in a sturdy chair, with both feet planted firmly on the floor at a shoulders-width apart.
  • With both hands grab the front of the chair and slowly move your body off the chair's edge.
  • Keep your back upright, and push your legs out so they are straight out in front of you.

Execution -

  • Breathe in and bend your elbows down and lower your body towards the floor, but don’t directly ouch it.
  • Breathe out and push yourself upward, be sure to keep your legs straight.
  • Repeat this process for as many reps as you deem necessary. 

What Muscles Does This Stretch Engage?

  • Main Muscle: Triceps 
  • Secondary Muscles: Delts, Pectorals, Lats 

If you’re questioning how to stretch triceps whilst engaging other muscles, then we’d recommend incorporating Chair Triceps stretches into your pre-workout routine. 

How Long Should I Hold This Stretch?

  • 3 Sets of 10 reps 

This triceps stretching exercise is slightly different from others to appear on our list, as it requires you to focus more on reps and sets, rather than the amount of time it’s held for.

For beginners OriGym would recommend practicing 3 sets of 10 repetitions, increasing or decreasing as you deem necessary based on your current level of fitness. 

Mistakes To Avoid - 

Incorrect Chair:  Whilst this does sound somewhat pedantic, please ensure that you have a sturdy chair that won’t roll or break under the pressure of your weight. 

Slipper Hands: If you’re working with a wooden chair, or a material that can be quite slippery be sure to wash or power your hands thoroughly before practicing. If you begin to sweat this could prompt you to slip off and injure yourself.

If you want to learn more about how powdering your hands can help your fitness practice, then we’d strongly encourage you to read our article dedicated to the 13 Best Weightlifting Chalks on the market today.

#5 - Standing Arm Swings 

This standing triceps stretch also engages your entire upper arm and chest area, and is super beneficial for all the runners out there. 

Starting Position -

  • Engage your core and keep your neck, spine and back perfectly straight. 
  • Proceed to bend your knees and enter a squatting position.

Execution - 

  • For this stretch you’ll want to control your breathing, as if you’re actually running. Make sure they’re strong and steady breaths. 
  • Stand in the same spot and begin to swing your arms back and forth. Mimicking the pattern of running.
  • Try to keep your arms at 90-degree angles, making sure they don’t cross your body.
  • Gradually increase your speed until you are pushing yourself to your limit. 

What Muscles Does This Stretch Engage?

  • Main Muscle - Triceps 
  • Secondary Muscles - Deltoids, Biceps and Pectorals 

Standing Arms Swings are arguably the most beneficial dynamic triceps stretches that you can incorporate into your workout routine, as they benefit your entire arm and upper body.

How Long Should I Practice This Stretch For? 

  • 30-60 Seconds 

For beginners we would recommend practicing this standing triceps stretches for 30-60 seconds. However, if you’re a frequent runner naturally you’ll be able to engage with this stretch for a longer period of time. 

Mistakes to Avoid -

  • Swing Your Arms The Right Way: Make sure you’re swinging your arms backwards rather than outwards when practicing these dynamic triceps stretches. Swinging the arms forward will engage a completely different group of muscles.
  • Chafing: If chafing occurs when engaging with this dynamic triceps stretch you probably haven’t extended your arms far enough. Try to make your arm circles bigger to avoid this issue, by opening your chest and shoulders further. 

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If you’re enjoying OriGym’s article on the 9 best triceps stretches then we think you’d also enjoy the following articles:

Post-Workout Triceps Stretches

Now that we have covered the best triceps stretches for your warm-up routine we now turn our attention to post-workout stretches. 

Where the stretches included in the previous section were considered to be dynamic stretches, this section will focus solely on static triceps stretches. These require you to hold one position for an allotted time, with little to no other forms of movement. 

#6 - Overhead Triceps Stretch

One of the great benefits of this particular static triceps stretch is that you can practice it standing or seated, meaning you can do it whilst relaxing following an intense workout.

If you want to practice more seated exercises, then we’d recommend checking out our list of the 13 best yoga charis of 2020, in order to get a sense of how you can incorporate chairs into your workout. 


When describing this workout we will focus on the standing variation.  

Starting Position - 

  • Start this Overhead Triceps Stretch exercise by standing tall with your feet a shoulders-width apart. 
  • Extend your right arm over your head, ensuring that your forearm rests between your shoulder blades. 
  • Keep your bicep as close to your ear as possible.

Execution - 

  • Breathe in and with your left hand grab your bent right elbow.
  • Push down gently against the right elbow to create a slight resistance, if you feel pain or sensitivity stop immediately, 
  • Hold this pose for the recommended amount of time, maintaining this gentle push. 
  • Breathe out as you let go of your arm, easing your body out of the position. 
  • Swap arms, this time extending your left arm behind your shoulder blades 

What Muscles Does This Engage?

  • Triceps

How Long Should I Hold This Stretch For?

  • 30 Seconds 

OriGym also recommends conducting a total of 4 reps per set stretching each arm twice. Remember to put your comfort and safety first, if you feel as if your arm is uncomfortable or strained stop immediately. 

Mistakes to Avoid -

  • Too Relaxed: Just because you can do these static triceps stretches sitting down does not mean you should put in half the effort. Give it your all, just as you would with any other stretch.
  • Don’t Force Your Arm Down: When previously discussing the issue of over-extension in relation to triceps stretching exercises we have discussed the importance of not forcing things. Don’t push down too heavily on your elbow, as this could seriously injure your shoulder.

#7 - Leaning Tricep Stretch

Leaning Tricep Stretches are highly beneficial if you’re looking to engage with resistance training but don’t have any equipment on hand. 

Starting Position: 

  • Face a wall standing an arms-width away, your line of sight should be directly facing the wall. 
  • Raise your right elbow above your head.
  • Bring your right forearm to the side of your head, positioned just above your ear and rest your hand on the back of the neck.

Execution: 

  • Breathe in and place your right elbow against the wall. 
  • Adjust your posture so you are leaning forward with your chest, but never allow it to touch the wall. 
  • With gentle force push your arm against the wall, you should feel this stretch in your upper arm. 
  • Breathe out and slowly push your body away from the wall, correcting your posture and lowering your right arm to your side. 
  • Repeat this exercise with the left arm.

What Muscles Does This Engage? 

  • Triceps 

How Long Should I Hold This Stretch For?

  • 20-30 Seconds

OriGym recommends holding this pose for 20-30 seconds at a time for beginners, adapting it to your personal fitness level, extending or shortening the length accordingly.

Arguably the best triceps stretches are the ones which incorporate resistance based training, as they are a great way to relax your muscles post-workout. For a detailed analysis on bodyweight resistance training click here for OriGym’s article on calisthenics vs weights

Mistakes to Avoid:

  • Don’t Get Too Close to The Wall: Whether you’re standing too close or leaning your chest against it, relying on the wall for support will not allow you to feel the full benefit of this triceps stretching exercise. 
  • Don’t Apply Too Much Pressure: When discussing how to stretch triceps in both a safe and efficient manner we have stressed the importance of not applying too much pressure. This will only result in strained muscles, so if these triceps stretches are causing discomfort stop and readjust your position accordingly.

#8 - Standing Bench Triceps Stretches

As another example of a static triceps stretch that incorporates bodyweight training, Standing Bench Stretches are sure to relax your muscles following an intense bout of exercise.

Set Up -

For this stretch you will need an incline bench or another chest high, sturdy structure. 

Starting Position -

  • Stand tall with your feet apart, your right leg should be straight and placed behind your bent left leg.
  • Place your left elbow on top of the bench.

If you’re looking to purchase your own incline bench we can provide some recommendations in our list of the 19 best weight benches for all workouts

Execution -

  • Breathe in as you lean towards the bench.
  • When leaning, apply gentle pressure to your resting elbow and bent left leg.
  • Hold this position for the recommended time.
  • Breathe out as you push away from the bench, correcting your posture and returning your left arm to its side. 
  • Repeat this process by switching arms.
  • When switching arms be sure to switch legs too, e.g. when resting your right arm on the bench your right leg should be the one that is bent and in front of you. 

What Muscles Does This Stretch Engage?

  • Triceps 

How Long Should I Hold This Stretch For?

  • 30 Seconds 

When searching ‘how to stretch triceps’ this method is arguably the simplest stretches that you can practice. Whereas in previous entries we have recommended altering stretch lengths to accommodate fitness level at OriGym we feel this stretch should be accessible to all, and won’t require any alterations. 

Mistakes to Avoid -

  • Applying too Much Pressure: Leaning too far in and applying too much pressure to your arm could severely damage your elbow. Take care when doing this stretch, remember it should never feel painful.
  • Equipment Safety: When using any kind of equipment caution should be adhered to. Even though you’re only leaning against it, be careful with the incline bench, as you could slip and fall face first into it. 

#9 - Horizontal Arm Stretches

When looking to stretch triceps the chances are that everyone immediately goes to this specific stretch. But whilst it is incredibly popular, do you know the full benefits of this triceps stretch?

Starting Position -

  • Stand tall with your head, neck and spine in a perfectly straight line. 
  • Your feet should be positioned shoulder-width apart. 
  • Raise your right arm across your chest, ensuring that it remains straight. 

Execution -

  • Breathe in and raise your left arm upward.
  • Bend your left arm in order to cradle the right. 
  • With your left arm begin to push the extended right arm towards your chest.
  • Hold this stretch ensuring to keep the same amount of pressure throughout.
  • Breathe out and lower both arms.
  • Repeat this process alternating arms. 

What Muscles Does This Stretch Benefit? 

  • Primary Muscles: Triceps 
  • Secondary Muscles: Deltoids and Pectorals 

If you’re searching for good triceps stretches that also engage other muscles we would highly recommend incorporating Horizontal Arm Stretches into your warm-down routine. If engaging your arm muscles interest you, then the 15 best arm stretches listicles from OriGym may further interest you.

How Long Should I Hold This Stretch For?

  • 30-40 Seconds

Horizontal arm stretches are a great example of good triceps stretches for beginners. As an easily accessible stretch, OriGym recommends holding this for 30-40 seconds naturally adapting to your personal fitness level.

Mistakes to Avoid - 

Amount of Pressure: When practicing these static triceps stretches avoid putting too much pressure on your arms. If you push down too hard you could dislocate or seriously injure your shoulder. Stretching fixes the shortening that occurs when muscles aren’t used by opening them their full length. 

 

FAQs

Why Is Stretching So Important? 

Stretching keeps our muscles flexible, healthy, and strong, all of which we need to ensure a range of motion in our joints. Without stretching our muscles would become short and tight, resulting in far more injuries as the joints won’t be able to extend properly. 

These tight muscles can occur without us even knowing, for example if you work a desk job the chances are that your hamstring muscles will be tight from sitting down all day. As a result this could cause nagging pains to occur when standing up or walking. 

Whatsmore, when strenuous exercise is involved these tight muscles can cause serious injuries. This is due to the fact that the muscles that were previously inactive are now being forced to stretch. 

Injured muscles won’t be able to support your joints movements, so be sure to stretch regularly both before and after your workout. The more you stretch your muscles the stronger and more flexible they will become. 

This will benefit your body even further by improving your posture, increasing your range of motions and easing any nagging pains gained from exercising. 

Is it More Beneficial to Stretch Before or After a Workout? 

Within this article we suggested triceps stretches for both before and after workouts, but which method of stretching is best?

Here at OriGym we know that stretching before or after a workout is a hot button topic, one that everyone has an opinion of. But the fact of the matter is, both practices are incredibly beneficial to athletes. 

By engaging with dynamic stretching before you exercise you’ll brace your body for the incoming workout. Without adequate preparation, your muscles can become strained when they are suddenly forced to perform a movement they’re not ready for. 

For example, runners out there will want to perform Leg Lunges and Standing Arm Swings, in order to brace both your upper and lower body for said exercise. 

Whereas engaging with static stretches during the cool down process, will help blood flow through to your limbs and joints. This blood delivers oxygen and nutrients to the muscles that have just undergone a strenuous workout, helping to aid in recovery and rejuvenation. 

Therefore, we can say that stretching both before and after a workout will benefit your body, neither one practice is better than the other, as they are both equally as important.

How Often Should I Practice Triceps Stretches?

As with other muscle groups, you will need to stick to a strict schedule in order to avoid overtraining your triceps. Most athletes make the mistake of training their triceps harder simply because they’re larger than your biceps. 

By training your triceps you’re also training your chest and shoulder muscles, so ensuring you have a decent recovery time is vital. OriGym recommends training and engaging with triceps stretches at least two times per week on non-consecutive days.

When it comes to reps, we’d also recommend doing no more than 12 reps per set. If you plan on exercising other upper-body muscles that day, you should lower this recommendation even further, as this could result in overtraining and exhaustion. 

Before You Go! 

After reading this article you now have 9 triceps stretches to incorporate into your pre and post-workout routine. 

At OriGym we hope that you have benefited from this article and from the videos we have shared. Remember to take care when stretching, always put yourself and your safety first. 

Before you go, if you’re a fitness enthusiast who is looking to start their career in personal training then head over to our website and sign up for our Level 2 Gym/Fitness Instructor or you can download our course perspective to discover further courses that may interest you.

Written by James Bickerstaff

Content Writer & Fitness Enthusiast

James holds a BA (Hons) in Creative Writing and Film Studies and has recently gained a MA degree in Film, both of which he attained from Liverpool John Moores University. After taking up the couch to 5K challenge on a whim, James found a new passion for running, which he combines with his love for healthy cooking and writing. All of this led him to becoming a copywriter for OriGym.  

When he is not writing content for the site, James can be found researching new recipes, writing music reviews, reading and watching latest film releases.   

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