Tricep strength is one of the most important, but often forgotten about, components of pressing strength. All upper body pressing movements, either body weight or resistance, require elbow extension. Triceps are the muscles responsible for elbow extension so obviously, as a result, the stronger the triceps the more ability we have to press away heavy stimulus.
Both our Strength & Core and CrossFit programs do not put heavy emphasis on isolation exercises. As a result the only real stimulus our triceps get is through being an accessory muscle in the below mentioned pressing movements. The best way to improve tricep strength, and any specific area for that matter, is by focusing directly on it. For triceps this means the inclusion of movements into your current routine that make triceps the prime mover in the exercise.
Below are three such movements. Although they are not all isolation exercises they do put heavy emphasis on the triceps and greatly improve strength in that elbow extension. If you find movements such as push ups, overhead pressing, bench press and even muscle ups are particularly weak for you, you should look at including the following exercises into your routine on a more regular basis.
Pushdowns are an isolation exercise that focus solely on elbow extension and work to increase strength and endurance in the triceps. They are performed as shown in the images, starting with the elbows by the sides in a flexed position and finishing with the arm at full extension, again, with the elbows remaining in the same position throughout.
Dips can be performed a number of different ways. The images show the most scaled option starting with the hands positioned at the hips on a box while the feet remain on the floor. The hips are lowered towards the floor by flexing at the elbow joint while keeping the hips close to the box. The movement finishes with a push back to the top position through the triceps, and using extension at the elbow joint.
The final movement, the floor press, is very useful in that not only are we getting a pushing momentum, we are also getting a considerable amount of shoulder stability throughout. The movement starts with the upper arm on the floor with a kettlebell held at 90 degrees on each arm. The movement is initiated by pushing through the triceps and bringing the kettlebell to the top position with the arms at full extension. The movement finishes on the floor with the kettlebells returning to the start position.