Back and Tricep Workouts for Maximum Upper Body Potential

Table of Contents

Key takeaways

    1. Back and tricep workouts can improve posture, upper body strength, and reduce the risk of injury.
    2. You can train your back and triceps on the same day by structuring your workout properly and giving each muscle group enough rest between sets
    3. To build mass in your back and triceps, you’ll need to focus on muscle protein synthesis and time under tension.
    4. Muscle protein synthesis is the process of building and repairing muscle tissue and is triggered by resistance training and the right nutrition.
    5. Compound exercises that involve multiple muscle groups and joints are the best for building mass in your back and triceps.
    6. You can build a strong and defined upper body with bodyweight exercises or by using machines and free weights in the gym.
    7. To maximize muscle growth, make sure you’re fueling your body with enough protein before and after your workouts.
    8. Be consistent with your workouts and give yourself time to see progress.

Introduction

  1. Are you ready to build some serious upper body strength and definition?

  2. Training your back and triceps can help you improve your posture, lift heavier weights, and feel more confident in tank tops. Plus, a strong back and set of triceps just look pretty darn impressive.

    But before we dive into the best back and triceps exercises, let’s talk about why these muscle groups are so important and how you can set yourself up for success in your back and triceps workout.

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What are back muscles?

  1. Your back is made up of several muscle groups that work together to support and stabilize your upper body.

  2. These include:

    1. Latissimus dorsi (lats): These are the large, wing-like muscles that run down the sides of your back. They help you pull things towards your body and are activated during exercises like pull-ups and rows.
    2. Trapezius (traps): These muscles run from the back of your neck to the middle of your upper back. They help you shrug your shoulders and stabilize your upper body during certain exercises.
    3. Rhomboids: These muscles are located between your shoulder blades and help you bring your shoulder blades together.
    4. Erector spinae: These muscles run along your spine and help you maintain proper posture and stability.

In addition to these major muscle groups, your back also includes smaller muscles like the infraspinatus, teres major, and levator scapulae.

anatomy of back muscles

Where are the triceps and what do they do?

The triceps muscle is located on the back of your upper arm, opposite the bicep. 

It’s made up of three heads – the long head, the lateral head, and the medial head – which work together to extend your elbow and push things away from your body.

Strong triceps are important for a number of pressing movements, like the bench press, dips, and push-ups.

They can also help you improve your overall upper body strength and make everyday tasks, like carrying heavy objects, feel easier.

anatomy of triceps

The importance of back and triceps workouts

Your back muscles play a crucial role in supporting and stabilizing your upper body. A strong back helps you lift heavy objects more easily, improve your posture, and reduce your risk of injury.

Your triceps, on the other hand, are responsible for extending your elbow and helping you push things away from your body.

Strong triceps  – as a part of your upper arm muscle group – can make pressing movements, like the bench press, feel a lot easier.

Combining a back workout and a triceps workout routine in your training can have a number of benefits beyond just aesthetics.

Improved upper body strength makes everyday activities, like carrying groceries or lifting your kids, feel less strenuous.

And let’s be real, who doesn’t want to feel confident and proud of their arms?

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Can you train back and triceps on the same day?

You might be wondering if it’s okay to train your back and triceps on the same day. The short answer is: yes, you can!

In fact, combining your back and triceps workout routine can be a great way to save time in the gym and keep your workouts efficient.

Just make sure you structure your workout routine properly and give all muscle groups enough rest between sets.

Here’s one way you can structure a back and triceps workout routine:

    1. Warm up with 5-10 minutes of light cardio and dynamic stretches.
    2. Start with back exercises, focusing on pulling movements like pull-ups, lat pulldowns, and seated rows.
    3. Take a short break (60-90 seconds) before moving on to tricep exercises, such as close grip bench press, the tricep dip, and cable pushdowns.
    4. Take another short break before repeating the circuit one or two more times.
    5. Finish with a cool down and static stretches.

Remember to listen to your body and adjust the intensity and volume of your workout routine based on how you feel.

If you’re feeling particularly sore or tired on a particular day, you may want to skip the triceps routine or reduce the number of sets.

athlete with very well built back

Back and triceps workout at home

Don’t have access to a gym or a full set of weights? No problem!

There are plenty of effective back and triceps exercises you can do at home using just your bodyweight.

Some simple equipment like dumbells, resistance bands, or a pull-up bar make a big difference though.

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Here's a sample bodyweight back and tricep workout you can try at home:

    1. Warm up with 5-10 minutes of light cardio and dynamic stretches.
    2. Start with back exercises, focusing on pulling movements like inverted rows, bent over rows, and supermans.
    3. Take a short break (60-90 seconds) before moving on to tricep exercises, such as tricep dips, push-ups, and diamond push-ups.
    4. Take another short break before repeating the circuit one or two more times.
    5. Finish with a cool down and static stretches.

Remember to challenge yourself by increasing the number of repetitions or sets as you get stronger.

You can also add intensity by using a resistance band or by elevating your feet during tricep dips.

man doing triceps dips

Back and triceps workout for mass

If you’re looking to build mass in your back and triceps, you’ll need to focus on two key things: muscle protein synthesis and time under tension.

Muscle protein synthesis is the process of building and repairing muscle tissue. It’s triggered by resistance training and is fueled by the right combination of protein and other nutrients.

To maximize muscle protein synthesis, make sure you’re fueling your body with enough protein before and after your workouts.

In addition to fueling your muscles with the right nutrients, you’ll also need to create enough time under tension to stimulate muscle growth. Time under tension refers to the amount of time your muscles are working during a set.

To build muscle mass, you’ll want to keep your time under tension high AND train for muscle failure.

an athlete with a very muscular upper arm

How to train back and triceps for mass

When it comes to building mass in your back and triceps, compound exercises are your best bet.

These are exercises that involve multiple muscle groups and joints, allowing you to lift heavier weights and stimulate more muscle growth.

Some of the best back and tricep exercises for building mass include:

    • Pull-ups
    • Lat pulldowns
    • Seated rows
    • Close grip bench press
    • Tricep dips
    • Cable pushdowns

Make sure you’re using proper form and gradually increasing the weight and intensity of your workouts as you get stronger.

Don’t be afraid to push yourself and train for failure (the point at which you can’t complete another repetition with good form). This is an effective way to stimulate muscle growth.

Back and Tricep workout routine with machines and weights

If you have access to a gym or a full set of weights, you can use machines and free weights to add variety to your back and triceps workouts. Here’s a sample workout you can try:

    1. Warm up with 5-10 minutes of light cardio and dynamic stretches.
    2. Start with exercises for your back, focusing on pulling movements like pull-ups, lat pulldowns, and seated rows. Use a combination of machines and free weights to add variety. 
    3. Take a short break (60-90 seconds) before moving on to tricep exercises, such as close grip bench press, tricep dips, and cable pushdowns. Again, mix in both machines and free weights to challenge your muscles in different ways.
    4. Take another short break before repeating the circuit one or two more times.
    5. Finish with a cool down and static stretches.

Remember to listen to your body and adjust the intensity and volume of your workouts based on how you feel.
If you’re feeling particularly sore or tired on a particular day, you may want to skip the tricep exercises or reduce the number of sets.

athlete doing lat pull downs

Back exercises

Here are some examples of exercises for your back that you can include in your workouts:

    • Pull-ups: This classic back exercise targets your lats and upper back. To do pull-ups, grab the bar with an overhand grip and pull your body up until your chin is over the bar. Lower yourself back down slowly and repeat.
    • Lat pulldowns: This back exercise works your lats and upper back muscles. To do a lat pulldown, sit at a lat pulldown machine and grab the bar with an overhand grip. Pull the bar down towards your chest, keeping your elbows close to your body. Slowly release the bar back to the starting position and repeat.
    • Seated rows: This back exercise targets your upper and middle back muscles. To do a seated row, sit at a seated row machine and grab the handle with an overhand grip. Pull the handle towards your chest, keeping your elbows close to your body. Slowly release the handle back to the starting position and repeat.
    • Single-arm dumbbell rows: This exercise works your upper and middle back muscles. To do a single-arm dumbbell row, stand with your left leg forward and your right leg back. Place your right hand and right knee on a bench and hold a dumbbell in your left hand. Pull the dumbbell up towards your hip, keeping your elbow close to your body. Slowly lower the dumbbell back down and repeat. Switch sides and repeat on the other side.
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Tricep exercises

Here are some examples of triceps exercises you can include in your workouts:

    • Close grip bench presses: This effective exercise works your triceps and chest muscles. To do a close grip bench press, lie on a bench with your feet flat on the ground. Hold a barbell with an overhand grip, about shoulder-width apart. Lower the bar towards your chest, keeping your elbows close to your body. Push the bar back up to the starting position and repeat.
    • Tricep dips: This exercise targets your triceps and shoulders. To do a tricep dip, place your hands on a dip bar or bench and extend your legs out in front of you. Lower your body down until your arms form a 90-degree angle, then push yourself back up to the starting position.
    • Cable pushdowns: This exercise works your triceps muscles. To do a cable pushdown, stand in front of a cable machine and grab the handle with an overhand grip. Push the handle down towards your thighs, keeping your elbows close to your body. Slowly release the handle back to the starting position and repeat.
    • Overhead tricep extensions: This exercise targets your triceps muscles. To do an overhead tricep extension, hold a dumbbell or barbell with both hands and extend it overhead. Lower the weight behind your head, keeping your elbows close to your ears. Push the weight back up to the starting position and repeat.

Back and Tricep workout using bodyweight only

If you don’t have access to a gym, a pull-up bar or any weights, you can still get a great back and tricep workout using just your bodyweight.

Here’s a sample bodyweight workout you can try:

    1. Warm up with 5-10 minutes of light cardio and dynamic stretches.
    2. Start with exercises for your back, focusing on pulling movements like inverted rows, bent over rows, and supermans.
    3. Take a short break (60-90 seconds) before moving on to tricep exercises, such as tricep dips, push-ups, and diamond push-ups.
    4. Take another short break before repeating the circuit one or two more times.
    5. Finish with a cool down and static stretches.

Remember to challenge yourself by increasing the number of repetitions or sets as you get stronger. You can also add intensity by using a resistance band or by elevating your feet during tricep dips.

athlete doing pushups outdoors

Back exercises

Here are some examples of back exercises you can do using just your bodyweight:

Inverted Rows

This exercise targets your upper and middle back muscles. To do an inverted row, set a bar or TRX straps at about waist height.

Grab the bar or straps with an overhand grip and walk your feet forward so your body is at an incline.

Pull your body up towards the bar, keeping your elbows close to your body. Slowly lower yourself back down and repeat.

how to do inverted rows picture

Bent over rows

This exercise works your upper and middle back muscles.

To do a bent over row, stand with your feet hip-width apart and hinge forward at the hips. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and let your arms hang straight down.

Pull the dumbbells up towards your chest, keeping your elbows close to your body.

Slowly lower the dumbbells back down and repeat.

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Supermen

This exercise targets your lower back muscles.

To do a superman, lie on your stomach with your arms and legs extended.

Lift your arms, chest, and legs off the ground, keeping them straight.

Hold for a few seconds before lowering back down and repeating.

how to do supermen

Triceps exercises

Here are some examples of tricep exercises you can do using just your bodyweight:

Tricep dips

This exercise targets your triceps and shoulders.

To do a tricep dip, place your hands on a dip bar or bench and extend your legs out in front of you.

Lower your body down until your arms form a 90-degree angle, then push yourself back up to the starting position.

how to do triceps dips

Push-ups

This exercise works your triceps, chest, and shoulders.

To do a push-up, start in a plank position with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.

Lower your body down until your chest touches the ground, then push yourself back up to the starting position.

Standard Push-Up

Diamond push-ups

This exercise targets your triceps muscles.

To do a diamond push-up, start in a plank position with your hands close together, forming a diamond shape.

Lower your body down until your chest touches the ground, then push yourself back up to the starting position.

Diamond Push-Up

Conclusion

Combining a back workout and a triceps workout in your fitness routine can have a number of benefits beyond just aesthetics.

Improved upper body strength can make everyday activities feel easier, and let’s be real, who doesn’t want to feel confident and proud of their arms?

Whether you’re training at home or in the gym, there are plenty of effective exercises you can do to build strength and definition in your back and triceps.

Remember to focus on muscle protein synthesis and time under tension plus training for failure to maximize muscle growth.

And don’t forget to fuel your body with the right nutrients before and after your workouts.

By incorporating a variety of compound exercises and challenging yourself with increasing weights and intensity, you can build a strong and defined back and set of triceps.

Be consistent with your workouts and give yourself time to see progress. With dedication and the right approach, you can achieve the strong and muscular upper body you’ve always wanted.

So, keep up the hard work, and don’t give up.

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