The triceps muscles, which are located opposite to the bicep, are in charge of extending the elbow. A benefit of TRX triceps exercises is that they eliminate the need for gym and weights while being efficient for hypertrophy and strength.
The triceps muscle is an essential muscle for many upper body movements. While traditional gym exercises like push-ups, dips, and triceps extensions can be effective, the TRX system offers a unique way to challenge and strengthen the triceps using bodyweight resistance. TRX triceps exercises can be performed in various forms, allowing for greater flexibility in targeting different areas of the triceps.
In this tutorial, we go over all fundamental stages of TRX triceps exercises for beginners and advanced athletes. Making use of different techniques, we can always adjust the amount of tension on the triceps muscles for different fitness levels and strength. Whether you want to build strength, increase muscle definition, or improve athletic performance, TRX triceps exercises can be a valuable addition to your training regimen.
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9 Variations of TRX Triceps Exercises
TRX tricep extension, also called TRX tricep press, is the most commonly known TRX tricep workout. Apart from that, there are various other ways to work triceps using the TRX system. Here we introduce different methods of TRX tricep workout.
1. TRX Tricep Press
TRX tricep press or TRX triceps extension is the main TRX tricep exercise. Perform TRX triceps extension in 3 sets, 8–12 reps. Here is the step-by-step instruction:
- Hold TRX handles with overhand grip and face away from anchor point.
- Adjust angle of body and body positioning.
- Lean forward slowly until your head goes between handles and elbows are flexed.
- Start extending your arms to their full length.
Adjust the length of TRX straps so that at full extension of arms, there is enough tension on your triceps before you start the flexion phase. Also, tension should be manageable at the low end of the movement so that you can start the extension phase. The more you lean forward, the more challenging it becomes.
Position of the body in relation to the strap should be suitable to maintain tension on triceps muscles. A common mistake is when the angle between strap and arms is too much, which shifts the tension away from the triceps and engages other muscle groups. Flaring elbows is another common mistake that shifts the weight away from the triceps.
Pro tip: triceps experience different levels of tension at different body angles during one repetition. There are ways to adjust this level of pressure without changing body position. We commonly name them “intelligent weight techniques”, such as:
- Putting one leg forward or backward.
- Bending upper body that lays more weight on the triceps
For different variations of TRX triceps extension, we can try the following:
- Supinated grip, which is also called TRX tricep press reverse grip. We use underhand grip for his exercise.
- Pronated grip, which is the standard overhand grip in TRX tricep extension
- Neutral (hammer) grip, instead of handles, we can hold TRX straps from above the handle or foot cradles.
TRX tricep extension has different alternatives that add variety to TRX tricep exercise and can help to prevent plateau. We can also do single-arm TRX tricep press.
2. TRX Skull Crusher
TRX skull crusher is a variation of the traditional skull crusher that targets triceps muscles. Body positioning is the same as TRX tricep press. In TRX skull crusher, hands pass the head at both sides to their full flexion state. Elbows and hands are shoulder-width apart.
Try to maintain the position of elbows during the exercise to avoid taking tension off the triceps and to other parts.
Different grip types are possible for TRX skull crusher: overhand grip, underhand grip, and neutral grip, but overhand grip is the main form of this exercise. We can perform this TRX tricep exercise both in standing or kneeling positions.
3. TRX Overhead Tricep Extension
TRX overhead tricep extension is also called TRX French press. In this TRX tricep exercise, hands pass over the head towards the back of the head. The elbow should be high enough to allow hands to pass over the head.
Another variation of TRX overhead tricep extension involves rotation of hands while hands are reaching the back of the head. At this position, hands take a neutral grip position and again return to underhand grip during the extension phase.
Different grip types are possible, including overhand, underhand, and neutral. We can also perform TRX French press with one arm. So, it is single arm—TRX French press.
4. TRX Tricep Press Down
TRX tricep press down, also known as TRX tricep pushdown, is another TRX tricep exercise with a slightly different body position.
- Hold TRX handles while facing the anchor point.
- Step away from the anchor point until you are in a suitable position.
- Initially, elbows are bent and body is inclined backward.
- By extending the elbows, the body moves forward to the straight position.
TRX Tricep Kickback
In TRX tricep press down, we use overhand (pronated) grip. By changing grip type, we can perform other variations of TRX tricep pushdown. If we use underhand grip, it is called TRX tricep kickback.
- Underhand grip: TRX tricep kickback is similar to TRX tricep press down, except we use a supinated grip this time.
- Twisting grip: While elbows are bent, your grip position is neutral (hammer) type. Gradually by extending arms, grip position changes to overhand or underhand grip, depending on the exercise plan.
Note 1: Rotating arm in TRX exercises has some limits compared to dumbbells. Dumbbells are free weights and do not restrict the rotation of hands, but TRX straps are connected to an anchor point. You cannot twist TRX handles as freely as dumbbells. This twisting movement is limited, particularly when forearms aren't aligned with straps. So, in twisting grip in this exercise, we have to rotate the grip position at an early stage before the extension phase is complete.
Note 2: Experienced athletes can benefit from intelligent weight technique by putting one foot forward and/ or bending the upper body. This gives more control over the amount of weight on the triceps.
5. TRX Stagger Tricep Press
In TRX stagger tricep press, one arm is higher than the other. Everything else is similar to TRX tricep extension. Alternatively, we can change the position of arms after each repetition.
6. TRX Kneeling Tricep Press
For TRX kneeling triceps press, kneel on the floor and lean forward while holding the TRX handles. At the initial stage, you can push down your feet a little to create initial resistance before bodyweight takes the lead. The more you lean forward, the harder it becomes.
In TRX kneeling tricep press, you can try all three grip positions: underhand, overhand, and hammer grip.
7. TRX Single Arm Tricep Extension
Body positioning in TRX single arm tricep extension is similar to TRX tricep press, except using one hand instead of two. Make sure the angle of body and the amount of bodyweight is suitable for one hand to handle. You can step one foot forward to control your body weight.
TRX Single Arm Tricep Extension—One Arm at a Time
In this variation of TRX single-arm tricep extension, perform one rep with one arm and then another rep with another arm. Have both handles in hands, and alternatively change arms to complete a set.
TRX Side Tricep Extension
In TRX side tricep extension, hold one handle and lean toward one side of the body. After completing one set, change sides and practice with the opposite hand.
8. TRX Triceps Dips
TRX triceps dip allows full rotation of hands, which allows us to try different grip positions. We can try a neutral grip at both sides of the body or overhand grip like in bench dip. Putting your feet on the ground can make the exercise easier and help with movement. Contrarily, the maximum body weight on the target muscles is when feet do not touch the ground.
- Hold handles at both sides of the body with hands no wider than shoulder-length. Wider grip will transfer the force to the chest muscles.
- The body is in upright position, and legs are below the body
- Slowly bend your arms, descend, and ensure your elbows are tucked in.
- Push your body upward, but do not lock your elbows. Keeping 1–2 seconds at this position can increase the challenge.
The difference between TRX chest dip and TRX triceps dip
Technically, both TRX chest dip and tricep dip work both triceps and chest muscles, but the primary target muscle makes the difference between the two. A slight shift in the position of the body can transfer resistance between these two muscle groups.
In TRX chest dip, the body is leaned forward, elbows are flared out, and subsequently feet are behind the body.
In TRX tricep dip, body position is rather upright, and elbows are tucked. Feet can be under the body or even in front of the body on the floor.
9. TRX Eccentric Tricep Press
Eccentric exercises emphasize the negative phase of the movement. Sometimes the eccentric phase is separated, in which case we perform only the eccentric part and not the concentric part. Other times, both eccentric and concentric phases exist, but we only emphasize the eccentric phase.
Body positioning in TRX eccentric tricep extension is the same as TRX tricep press. The only difference is that in TRX eccentric tricep press, we overload the triceps during the descending part and use the intelligent weight technique to ascend to the initial position. The instruction goes as follows:
- Find your starting position with handles in your hands and straight arms.
- Increase the steepness of your body, so you can adequately overload your triceps.
- Slowly descend until your elbows are completely flexed.
- Step one foot forward and, with the help of it, return to the initial position.
- Repeat the descending phase.
Similarly, Eccentric training can be applied to other variations of TRX triceps exercises. Moreover, there are numerous other eccentric techniques we can apply to this exercise. For more information, read eccentric bodyweight exercises.
TRX Tricep Press Strap Length
We would rather adjust the strap length based on the practical needs of the exercise, instead of giving predetermined measures. There is a major difference between bodyweight exercises and weight training, which is not having exact numbers and weights in calisthenics. Instead, we rely on the feeling of the muscle under tension to adjust exercise variables. Adjusting the strap length is subject to the difficulty of the exercise and the angle of body during the TRX triceps exercises.
Biomechanics of Triceps Muscle
The triceps is most effective at producing force when it is at a moderate length, neither too stretched nor too shortened. Therefore, exercises like triceps extensions are typically performed with the elbow bent to around 90 degrees to optimize the length-tension relationship.
Muscles that Work in TRX Tricep Extension
Another important factor in triceps biomechanics is the role of other muscles in elbow extension. The triceps works in concert with other muscles like biceps and brachialis to produce and control movement. The relative strength and activation of these muscles can affect the mechanics of the triceps and can be essential considerations in exercise selection and training.
The triceps muscle has a complex architecture that allows it to produce force in different directions. The long head of the triceps, which originates on the scapula, is particularly important for movements that require shoulder extension as well as elbow extension, such as push-ups or dips. The medial and lateral heads of the triceps, which originate on the humerus, are more involved in pure elbow extension. This signifies the role of multi-joint movements, such as dip in the development of triceps muscles.
Related: TRX forearm workouts.