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October 03, 2022 9 min read

What Are Triceps Stretches?

Triceps muscle stretches are an arm-stretch method that targets the triceps brachii muscles on the backs of your arms. If done with proper form, dynamic pre-workout triceps stretches can prepare the upper arm muscles for weightlifting and cardio exercises and static post-workout stretches can aid in muscle recovery after exercise sessions.

Because the triceps are at the back of the arms, many don’t realize that the triceps make up almost two-thirds of the upper arm. Therefore, to build impressive arms, triceps training is crucial.


Strong triceps – Image from Shutterstock


Whenever you perform pulls, pushes, and other bodyweight exercises, your body’s kinetic chain utilizes your entire upper body’s muscles, including your shoulders and upper back. Therefore, maintaining a full range of motion is crucial. But if you don’t stretch tight triceps, you’ll compromise flexibility and mobility.

The triceps are primary movers in every upper-body workout and strength training session. Think about it—they power push-ups, bench presses, dips, overhead presses, and dips. Moreover, many people use isolation exercises to work on the strength and size of their triceps to enhance head-turning upper-body strength.

Flexible triceps are not only necessary during your workout routines but also during your daily activities.

The anatomy and functions of the Triceps

We have already mentioned that the triceps brachii is a muscle located at the backside of your upper arm. The primary function of the triceps is elbow extension, and it serves as an antagonist to the biceps.


Triceps muscle – Image from Shutterstock


The name triceps indicates that this is a three-headed muscle comprising a lateral, medial, and long head. So, let’s look at each individual muscle head, and its individual nuances, which could help you understand how to best target them during triceps workouts and also pre-and post-workout stretching.

  1. Long Head: The long head comprises the majority of the triceps’ size and originates at the infraglenoid tubercle of the scapula. It crosses the shoulder joint, which means it is involved in some shoulder movements. In particular, movements that involve overhead pulling and shoulder adduction like chin-ups and lat pulldowns. Any shoulder flexion movements, like elbows-up positions, also activate the long head of the triceps. 

  2. Lateral Head: The lateral head of the triceps gives the muscle its horseshoe appearance evident on the side of the arm. It originates from the upper arm bone’s posterior surface. When the elbow is up against resistance, the big and strong lateral head of the triceps powers elbow extension. 

  3. Medial Head: With its origin slightly lower than the lateral head on the humerus, the medial head is right at the center of the triceps muscle group. It activates every time you extend your elbow. In fact, it is the only one of the three heads that work when the elbow extends without any resistance present.

In a nutshell, the triceps are the muscles to thank every time you extend or press your elbow. It is the lockout muscle that takes over about halfway through any pushes and presses you might include in your workouts.

The 10 best triceps stretches for before and after workouts

Muscle soreness is often the result of exercise-induced tissue damage and temporary metabolic disruptions in the muscles you train. However, muscle injuries can also occur if you rush into your workouts without warming up your muscles. Here we’ll list five dynamic pre-workout stretches, followed by five static post-workout stretches.

Pre-workout triceps stretches

With our rushed lifestyles, warming up before gym sessions is often regarded as unnecessary or too time-consuming, but even a few dynamic stretches can protect you against muscle injuries.

1. Triceps Extensions with a Resistance Band

This triceps stretch requires a resistance band.

Resistance band triceps stretch – Image from Shutterstock

Starting position: Stand tall and straight with your feet slightly wider apart than shoulder width. Hold a resistance band with your right hand between your shoulder blades, with your right elbow pointing to the ceiling. Grab the bottom end of the band with your left hand just above your glutes, holding the band vertically down your back.

  1. Inhale and slowly pull your right hand up toward the top of your head while maintaining a tight hold with your left hand to create resistance.

  2. Pull your right hand up but stop before your arm is fully extended.

  3. Exhale and slowly pull the band down toward the floor with your left hand until your left arm is straight—all the time maintaining a tight grip with the right hand to create resistance.

  4. Repeat that movement for about 30 seconds, and then switch arms.

  5. You can make the stretch more intense if you hold the stretch for 10 to 15 seconds at the top, and again at the bottom.

NOTE: You can use this as a post-workout stretch hold the position at the top and bottom for 30 seconds each time.

2. Bench Leaning Triceps Stretch

The leaning triceps stretch is slightly more advanced because of its greater range of motion. Not only will you stretch the long triceps head but also the latissimus dorsi, the largest muscle in your upper back.

You will need a flat gym bench, a chair, or another sturdy, flat, hard-surfaced object.

Starting position: Kneel in front of the bench, and place your elbows shoulder-width apart just over the edge of the bench. Your knees and feet should also be about shoulder-width apart.

  1. Tuck your chin in to keep your neck and spine aligned, and keep your gaze on the floor.

  2. Inhale and sink your hips down to where your glutes are on your calves, moving your head as low as possible down between your arms, without straining your back. By now, only your elbows should be in contact with the bench.

  3. Hold that position for a few seconds before you exhale and lift your hips to put you back in the starting position.

  4. Repeat the movement 10 or 12 times, making sure you feel your triceps stretch every time you hold the position at the bottom end of the movement.

NOTE: You can use this stretch as a static cool-down stretch after your workout by holding the stretch for 30 seconds at a time.

3. Triceps Foam Roll Side-Lying

You’ll need a foam roller to do this stretch exercise.


Foam roller triceps stretch – Image from Shutterstock


Starting position: Lie on your left side with your left arm stretched overhead. Bend your right knee and place your right foot behind your left knee on the floor.

  1. Place the foam roller under your upper-left arm, just above the elbow.

  2. Use your right foot to push your body back and forth, making the foam roller manipulate the triceps of your left arm from your elbow to your armpit.

  3. Perform 10-15 up and down rolls before switching sides to manipulate your right triceps.

4. Dynamic Triceps Warm up Stretches

No equipment required for this exercise.


Dynamic triceps stretch – Image from Shutterstock


Starting position: Stand up straight with your arms stretched sideways, parallel to the floor at shoulder height with your palms facing down.

  1. Make clockwise circles with your arms, starting with small circles, increasing to medium circles, and also increasing speed as you go. Continue for 30 seconds.

  2. Switch to making the same circles going counterclockwise.

  3. You can target different parts of your shoulder and your triceps by repeating the circling with your palms facing up, forward, or backward.

5. Triceps Dip Stretch

The triceps dip stretch uses your torso as resistance and will stretch your triceps, shoulder, and chest muscles.


Triceps dips


Starting position: Sit on the floor with your knees bent, and your heels firmly planted on the floor. Place your hands, palms down, behind you with your fingers toward your glutes, but slightly outward.

  1. Keep your chest up, shoulders down, and back in neutral while leaning back onto your hands.

  2. Dip your elbows deep enough for you to feel your triceps stretching.

  3. Hold the position for 10 to 15 seconds before returning to the starting position.

  4. Repeat the dips several times, holding the position at the bottom of the move every time.

NOTE: You can do this dip as a static post-workout stretch by holding the bottom position for 30 seconds at a time.

Post-workout triceps stretches

Post-workout stretching, aka maintenance stretching, is equally important. They assist in removing lactic acid from the triceps muscles, reducing soreness. Lactic acid is created when the body turns glucose into energy.

1. Overhead Triceps Stretch

You can do this static stretch in a standing or seated position. We’ll discuss the standing position here.


Triceps overhead stretch – Image from Shutterstock


Starting position: Start the overhead triceps stretch exercise by standing up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.

  1. Extend your right arm over your head, bending it at the elbow so that your forearm, or hand if your triceps are too tight, rest between your shoulder blades.

  2. While keeping your right bicep as close to your ear as possible, inhale and use your left hand to grab your right elbow.

  3. Push down gently with your left hand against your right elbow, creating a slight resistance. Stop pushing immediately if you feel sensitivity or pain.

  4. Hold this pose for 20 to 30 seconds, maintaining the gentle push.

  5. Exhale as you let go of your arm, and return to the starting position.

  6. Repeat the stretch, but extend your left arm over your head to your shoulder blades this time.

2. Horizontal Arm Stretches

Starting position: Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart and your head, neck, and spine perfectly aligned.


Horizontal Stretch – Image from Shutterstock
  1. Bring your right arm, with the elbow slightly bent, so it’s not hyperextended, horizontally across your chest toward your upper-left arm.

  1. Lift your left arm and place its palm on your right elbow. You will now use the left arm to produce tension.

  2. Use the strength of your left forearm to pull your right arm further horizontally across your body.

  3. Hold this stretch for about 30 seconds, maintaining the same amount of pressure throughout.

  4. Exhale and lower both arms.

  5. Repeat this process with your right arm pushing your left arm, and continue alternating arms several times.

3. Wall Leaning Triceps Stretch

Starting position: Stand directly facing a wall arm’s length away.

  1. Raise your left arm above your head and bend it at the elbow.

  2. Lower your bent left forearm to just above your left ear, and rest your left hand on the back of the neck.

  3. Inhale and place your left elbow against the wall.

  4. Lean forward with your chest toward the wall, but never allow it to touch the wall.

  5. Use gentle force to push your arm against the wall until you feel the stretch of your triceps in your upper arm. Hold the position for 30 seconds.

  6. Exhale and slowly push your body away from the wall, returning to the starting position.

  7. Inhale and put your right elbow against the wall, repeating the stretch to stretch your right biceps.

4. Standing Bench Triceps Stretches

You will need an incline bench or another chest-high, sturdy object.

Starting Position: Stand up straight with your right foot in front of your left, facing the bench.

  1. Place your right elbow on top of the bench. and start to lower your body, hinging at your hips, until you feel a stretch in your right armpit area.

  1. You should feel your triceps and your lats stretching, if you don’t, use your right arm’s strength to press onto the bench and hold the tension as you hinge and lower your body further.

  2. Hold the position for 30 seconds before switching your legs and placing your left elbow on the bench.

5. Overhead Towel Stretch

This stretch is similar to the resistance band stretch at the top of this list. However, this is a static stretch that will stretch your triceps deeper, regardless of whether you do it standing or seated.


Triceps Towel Stretch


Starting position: Grab a rolled-up towel with your right hand, extend that arm overhead, bend it at the elbow, and let the towel hang vertically down your back.

  1. Bring your left arm behind your back and grab the opposite end of the towel.

  2. While holding the top end tight in your right hand, gently pull the towel down with your left hand until you can feel a deep triceps stretch.

  3. Hold the position for about 30 seconds and release.

  4. Return to the starting position and repeat the movement with your left hand holding the top of the towel and your right hand pulling the bottom of the towel.

  5. Grab the top of the towel with your left hand, bring your right arm behind your body, hold the opposite end of the towel, slowly pull, and hold the same triceps stretch.

Benefits of Doing Triceps Stretches

1. Quicker muscle recovery: Static stretches after workouts allow you to train this relatively small muscle group more often, making it grow and strengthen faster.

2. Increased Range of Motion: Frequent performance of triceps stretches can improve the range of motion in your upper body, specifically around your elbow and shoulder joints. When your triceps are tight, particularly the long head, you may experience difficulties with many exercises. So, stretching them is vital for keeping them flexible and useful.

2. Enhance your blood flow: When you stretch your triceps, you encourage blood flow throughout the muscles in your upper arms, alleviating soreness. Stretching your triceps improves the blood flow to them, which allows for more oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to travel there.

3. Improve arm and shoulder health: Triceps stretches work all three heads of the triceps brachii muscle—the medial, lateral, and long heads, the latter of which attaches to your scapula and extends through your shoulder joint. By stretching your triceps before performing upper-body exercises, you can help prevent a rotator cuff injury.


For beginners, it might be a good idea to start off with the guidance of a personal trainer because proper exercise technique is essential to ensure the safety and effectiveness of an exercise program, but you may need to modify some exercises to attain optimal results based on your individual needs.

When performing any exercise, pay close attention to your body, and stop immediately if you experience pain or discomfort. Strong muscles mean nothing if you neglect nutrition, wellness, and your overall health.

To see continual progress and build body strength, incorporate proper warm-ups, rest, and nutrition into your exercise program.

Your results will ultimately be based on your ability to adequately recover from your workouts.

If you want to further optimize your performance you might want to consider ADABOLIC, a Pre, Intra & Post-workout formulation. It is a must-have recovery aid for any fitness enthusiast seeking increased performance and recovery to blast through plateaus and transform their body.

You can get ADABOLIC here.