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Best Tricep Routine and Workout: Swimming

Updated on February 7, 2015

So you want to build some big ticeps, look good, and feel great? It can be difficult to decide on a tricep routine especially when you normally don't work your triceps. Although many sports exercise the triceps, few rely as heavily on them as swimming. Did you know the tricep is roughly twice the size of your bicep? Yea so guess which muscle should be worked just as hard if not harder...the triceps!

As a swimmer I am constantly working my triceps as I move through the water pushing all of that resistance behind me...sort of like constantly doing tricep dumbbell kickbacks. Through my swimming career as well as self-research, I have come to know what it takes to have a great tricep routine. It takes some determination but if you're reading this then you've already taken that first step.

The Actual Tricep Routine

Okay so let's stop wasting time and get down to the tricep routine. Rather then give you one tricep workout to follow, I'm going to give you a list of tricep exercises that you can put into a tricep routine and review each exercise so you have a better idea as to which ones are actually worth doing. For most of these tricep exercises I would suggest at least 3 sets with 10 repetitions. This is a solid starting repetition range especially if you're looking to gain functional strength.

Review of Tricep Exercises:


Tricep Dips


Dips are probably the most fundamental tricep exercise you can do. You can do them practically anywhere and are really great at isolating the tricep. You can add weight to the exercise to make it hard HOWEVER make sure you can handle the weight and use good form or else you might hurt your shoulders or chest. I know a guy who popped something out of place in his chest from doing these, so use proper form. When done right these will burn and feel great. See the video for proper form.

Tricep Extension (seated)


The tricep extension can be good, but only if your form is good. I've had bad form in the past and let me tell you that it makes doing this exercise feel more like a shoulder workout. Use the correct amount of weight so that you can bring your elbows close to your head, this makes it a tricep exercise and not something else. Try to get some back support like in this video or else you might also be using your back to lift the weight instead of just your triceps.

Tricep Kickbacks

This exercise to me isn't worth putting in your tricep routine. Why? It depends too much on your technique and even when done right doesn't feel like it's working the tricep that much. You may certainly try this one for yourself, but if you're combining tricep day with another muscle group then I would leave this one alone.

Tricep Pushdowns

The tricep pushdown can be fantastic for your tricep. Make sure you are NOT involving your back since with this exercise that is very easy to do. I usually use a pushdown machine with back support just to be sure, but otherwise leaning forward slightly will eliminate the tendency to use your back. This exercise does a wonderful job isolating your triceps and will only lead to bigger arms. Just make sure to focus on your triceps while doing this exercise and it'll feel good...afterwards.

Close-Grip Bench

The close-grip bench is an exercise I like to superset while doing benching because you don't have to leave the bench. This exercise works more than just your triceps so if you're in a sport and looking for a multi-muscle exercise with a focus on triceps then this is a good one. As with any exercise just follow technique and you'll be fine. This exercise can be a little hard on the wrists due to the position of the hands so watch out for that.

Isolateral Tricep Side Pushup

This tricep exercise is more unconventional but I would definitely include it in your routine, especially if you don't have access to lots of weights. This is a bodyweight exercise that really really sucks ... but in a good way! I recently started doing these and if done right they burn a lot. For this exercise, as opposed to the others, try to do around 20 repetitions for each arm if you can do more then do more. This is a great exercise to add into a circuit workout as there will be no weight changing involved.

Final Words for Building Tricep Routines

While there are many other tricep exercise, this should get you a few great routines. Again I would suggest you combine your tricep routine with another one or two muscle groups just so that you can give you triceps a break between exercises which enables you to perform better when you do use them. Triceps can be tricky to workout especially if you're a swimmer with already fantastic triceps. If you're struggling to find a tricep routine that is intense enough for you then try adding more weight, try bringing a friend to push you, keep changing your routine so that your body doesn't adapt.

Just remember that few muscles look as good as triceps, so sift through these exercises and start working on them today!

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