12 Minute Killer Tricep Workout

My brief but extremely productive body part workouts (such as my 3-minute calf routine) and are always popular with those of us who are short on time. This tricep workout is very intense and will leave you crippled with extreme pumps and DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) for days!

doing tricep pushdowns in the gym

Firstly, warm up the triceps with two or three light tricep pushdowns on the pushdown station. Then it’s on to giant sets. The first part of the giant set is pushdowns pyramid-style: put a light weight on the stack and do 12 reps, increase the weight by 5kg and immediately do 12 reps, increase it again by 5kg and immediately 12 again, drop it by 5kg and 12 reps, and a final drop of 5kg and 12 more reps: that’s a 60 rep pyramid set. Immediately, move onto a dipping machine and do a weight sufficient to perform 12 reps, drop it sufficiently to perform another 12 reps and lastly drop it to perform 12 final reps. The whole giant set will consist of 96 reps!

Repeat the giant set just two times with the rest period being about three minutes between each giant set.

It’s important that you perform the pushdowns correctly: stand up almost straight, with a very slight bend at the waste, hold the bar, press all the way down but only move your elbows: the shoulder joint should remain still. Come back up to slightly above 90°. At the bottom you could even move the wrists a few degrees towards the body more to get a little bit extra contraction on the triceps.

Most gyms have a pushdown station; however, not all will have a dipping machine. If this is the case for the second exercise in the giant set try standing or seated overhead tricep press using the EZ bar, stripping the bar each time (load the bar with three plates each side to make it quicker to strip).

After the giant set perform three sets on close grip bench press – preferably on a Smith machine, using enough weight to perform 10-12 reps for three normal sets.

And that’s it; your triceps will be burning beyond belief! In summary the workout will look like this:


2 light sets of pushdowns

Giant sets – 2 x 96 reps:


  • light weight – 12 reps
  • +5kg – 12 reps
  • +5kg – 12 reps
  • -5kg – 12 reps
  • -5kg – 12 reps

Dip machine / EZ overhead tricep press

  • medium weight – 12 reps
  • -5-10kg – 12 reps
  • -5-10kg – 12 reps

Close grip bench press

  • 3 x 10-12 reps


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James Collier

James first started bodybuilding as a teenager back in the 1980s and obtained his degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Surrey back in 1995. After qualifying he worked as a clinical Dietitian for the NHS in various UK hospitals.

Having competed several times during the 1990s, his passion now lies in helping other bodybuilders, strength and fitness trainees reach their goals.

He is a Registered Nutritionist and a full member of The Nutrition Society in the UK. James is also co-founder and developer of Huel, nutritionally complete food.

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