The triceps, or triceps brachii, is the muscle located on the back of the arm. Brachii is a latin word meaning “of the arm” and triceps means “three-headed.” All of this gets us a literal translation of “three headed [muscle] of the arm.” Man, those three years of High School Latin really paid off.
Because of this literal translation we would expect there to be three different muscles that make up the triceps. Those three muscles are: Triceps Brachii Lateral Head, Medial Head, and Long Head.
There is some pretty interesting research out there as to which head of the triceps is more dominant during which movements, and their individual muscle fiber compositions, but for our purposes just know that three muscles work together to extend the forearm at the elbow – think straightening your arm. And since these muscles are opposite the biceps (foreshadowing) they are said to be antagonistic, and will help stabilize and slow down fast curling motions so that you don’t smack yourself in the face when doing bicep curls. I also want to point out that the long head is the only tricep muscle that acts on the shoulder joint and is one of the 17 muscles that connects to the shoulder blades that I mentioned way back in February.
To train the triceps you will want to use movements that work to extend the elbow joint, whether they be compound movements or isolation movements. Classic compound movements that we use frequently are the bench press, dips, overhead pressing, and push ups (both the regular and the handstand type). Isolation exercises are great for specifically targeting the triceps, and these movements are generally reserved for accessory work: tricep extensions (banded or with cables), skull crushers, DB kickbacks, and to a lesser extent, DB pullovers.