To be successful in the world of bodybuilding you are going to need a big set of guns. Large biceps and triceps are the standard for which everything else is compared. If you think of the mandatory poses that you must do on stage, the arms are involved in every single one of them with three poses bearing the name of a muscle group located on the upper arm (front double biceps, rear double biceps, side triceps). It is for this reason so much focus is often given to that region of the body with much of that emphasis put on building the biceps muscle. Here’s the problem though; roughly two thirds of the total size of your upper arm comes from your triceps and not the biceps. Perhaps we would be better off then addressing any upper arm size dilemmas by attending to the triceps first in our workouts or on a day of its own.
If you are currently at a loss for which triceps exercises to do or you are simply looking for alternatives to your go to exercises, the following triceps exercises should fix any and all of your problems.
The elbow joint is involved in so many exercises (not just arm movements) that it is of paramount importance you sufficiently warm up that joint and coinciding muscles. Rather than getting right into a heavy, free weight compound movement for the triceps I believe it’s best to start with an exercise that will drive a ton of blood into the region preparing you for what’s to come next in the workout. Many people out there probably start out with some sort of cable movement for the triceps and most likely it’s your standard triceps pushdowns. I do like that exercise but find it doesn’t pump up my triceps like the overhead version does. Using a rope attachment for more freedom of movement during the contraction phase of the rep, either set it up at a height just above eye level or all the way at the bottom depending on if you plan on doing these standing or seated. Then grip the rope, spin away from the stack so that you are facing away and lean over allowing for your elbows to be roughly in line with your ears and keeping them tucked in tight (this would be for the standing version). Fully extend at the elbow, spread the rope out by moving your thumbs laterally and squeeze the triceps. Do the same for the seated version but finish with your hands pointing towards the ceiling. Now, here’s why I like the overhead version; the exaggerated stretch that you can employ. At the bottom of the eccentric phase of the rep, if you push your elbows towards the ceiling while relaxing the triceps you will get a tremendous stretch in the triceps which will push more blood into the region.
This is an old school triceps exercise and one that has been forgotten by many. The pullover press was a common sight in the golden era of bodybuilding but gave way to the more commonly known skull crusher. While I do enjoy pumping out some heavy ass weight on skull crushers, either with a cambered bar or straight bar, and it does closely resemble the pullover press, I just believe the latter adds one more component to your training.What you want to do here is grab a bar (your preference) and set yourself up on either a flat bench or bench that is slightly inclined. Situate yourself so that your head is hanging off the end of the bench just a little or right at the end of the bench. This is going to allow for the bar to travel well past your head. Start by holding the bar at arm’s length just above your head, tilt your elbows in close together and keep them in that position , then bending only at the elbows lower the bar towards your forehead. Then just before you put a dent in your forehead, allow for the bar to pass by the top of your head and past the bench. Let your elbows move backwards so that they are also past the top of your head and then push them in the direction they are now pointing in (this will again be that exaggerated stretch I was talking about). From there begin pulling the bar back to a position just above your forehead by leading with your elbows and once there extend your arms and fully contract the triceps. Repeat this movement until your set is complete. You can think of this exercise as a combination of a triceps barbell extension and close grip bench press. You get the benefit of isolation during the stretch and a power movement during the press.
Be careful how you approach this final exercise. There are many triceps dipping stations calling your name at the gym but none will be equal to or better for you than the free hanging version which you perform on a set of parallel bars. Why is this better you ask? Anytime you have to fight gravity pulling at your body with the option of adding more resistance via a dipping belt or chains draped over your neck, is best in my opinion. The tendency during this exercise when it starts to become difficult to perform the rep is to lean over and into the rep to fully complete it. This is a bad idea if you’re training triceps as this will shift the focus to the pecs and off the triceps. Stay as straight up as possible, keep your elbows tucked in tight and drive hard through the rep squeezing as hard as you can during the contraction. Performing this exercise at the end of your workout is going to be trying, to say the least, so if need be make your way over to the assisted dipping station if your own bodyweight proves to be too hard for you. Oh and the idea of hanging chains around your neck during this exercise just looks hardcore as hell too!
I have only ever met a couple people in my life who were actually happy with the size of their arms and saw no reason to give them any more attention. If you do not fall into this category, rest assured you are not the only one. Try putting more emphasis into your triceps training to really get your arms to a size you are happy with. In the hang (the position referred to when your arms are hanging by your sides at rest) a huge triceps looks awesome and is what will make your arms look huge.
So unless you are prepared to walk around guns blazing, more size added to the backs of your upper arms is what will really fill out those sleeves and push you over and into the ever coveted 20 inch arm club.
Author: Dana Bushell
AST Sports Science sponsored athlete/writer, ENDEVR Brand Ambassador, SKECHERS Brand Ambassador, Sponsored by Schiek Sports Inc.
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