For those who want to build strong arms, training only biceps is not the solution. In fact, triceps make up 67% of your arms.
So it is the time you train them separately or in conjunction with supporting muscle group to show off your guns in public.
Development of well-toned horseshoe shaped triceps muscles certainly is impressive. Not only appearance wise, but it is also crucial strength wise as well.
Triceps muscles work when you perform bench presses, and a good set of triceps implies that you have more power to carry out the repetitions. Most trainers workout the triceps with the chest muscle and incorporate triceps exercise towards the end, thus not hitting them with high intensity.
The three main muscle groups in triceps: tricep brachial, brachialis and pronator teres.
Here, we cover some good triceps exercises that are sure to add mass to your arms if done on a regular basis:
Tricep Exercise #1: Triceps weighted dips
- Position two flat benches exactly parallel to each other and position them 3-4 feet away.
- Grip the end of one bench by keeping a close grip width and palms facing down. Throughout the exercise, you will support the weight with your arms.
- Lift the feet and put them on the other bench so that your remaining part of the body is freely suspended in the middle. You can cross one leg over the other for better balance.
- Bend your elbows and go down till your forearms and the upper arm are almost perpendicular to each other. More importantly, squeeze your triceps and feel the contraction in your muscles. Come back to the initial position by pushing the bench with your arms.
Once you have sufficient experience with body weight dips, you can put weighted plates on your torso for more difficulty and resistance. Remember that muscles grow under stress and they get gradually used to the weight you work with. Increase the resistance on a regular basis, keeping in mind that the form has to be perfect too.
You can perform this variation using a dip machine too. The only difference between weighted chest dips and weighted triceps dips is the close grip you use in the latter. Tricep dips are at the top of the list because they train all the three heads of the triceps simultaneously.
Tricep Exercise #2: Close grip barbell bench press
- Use a flat bench to perform this variation of the bench press. Lying on the flat bench, get hold of a loaded barbell and position your arms about 8-12 inches apart from each other.
- Keeping this close grip width, start lowering the barbell till it almost touches the chest and feel the contraction in your triceps.
- Exhale and return the barbell to the initial position. Repeat for 8-12 reps and gradually increase the weight with each set.
Make sure that you do not stick out your elbows to the sides. Keep them close to your body throughout the movement. Doing this exercise regularly will strengthen your triceps muscles and your strength level will soar to new higher levels. Try holding the barbell for two to three seconds when it is half way down; this will accentuate the burn your muscles feel, the blood pumping and provide good muscle gains.
Tricep Exercise #3: Skull Crushers
There are two variations of this exercise. You can perform the flat bench skull crushers or keep a slight incline in the bench to hit the triceps with a different angle of approach.
- Position your body on a flat bench and grab on to an EZ curl bar. Use an overhand grip to hold the bar. Lie in a way that the top of your head is right at the end of the bench.
- Keep the bar directly above your head, extending your arms and gripping the bar firmly in the initial position.
- Lower the bar slowly, making sure there is no undue motion in your overall body and the only movement throughout the repetition comes from the lower arms. The elbows and upper arms have to be stable. Lower the bar till it almost touches your head. Feel the burn in your triceps as you hold the bar static in the lowermost position.
Shoot off from the lowest point and perform 8-12 repetitions.
Tip: Lowering the barbell behind the head is better for the elbows, transferring the pressure to triceps. Squeeze the triceps muscles at the top and hold the position for two seconds. The long head of triceps is worked out hard, providing more height for the arms.
Tricep Exercise #4: Reverse cable triceps extensions
- Use a cable machine, placing the handle high on the rack.
- Put your arms and elbows close to your body. They should be stable in this position throughout the exercise. Make sure that there is no undue motion in the upper arm.
- Using a reverse grip, with downward facing palms, push the weight down with your triceps. Keep a bend at the elbows throughout the movement. Squeeze the triceps hard down and hold the contraction at the bottom for a second or two. Repeat for the recommended number of reps. You can perform this exercise with one arm too.
It is a good idea to incorporate drop sets into this exercise. Drop sets mean you lower the load immediately after you are done with one set. They create micro tears in the muscle tissue, thereby taking muscle development to a whole new higher level. Tricep push downs, with not more than one drop set, is ideal to build mass in your arms.
Do 6-8 reps in each drop set, doing more will put undue pressure on the elbow joints. 6-8 reps are just enough to fatigue your muscles. Your triceps will almost start to scream, which is the best for muscle growth. The legendary Arnold Schwarzenegger used drop sets to great effect.
Tricep Exercise #5: Overhead lateral extensions
- Use a good weight dumbbell and hold it vertically overhead. With a slight bend in your arm at the elbow, start lowering the weight sideways behind till the forearm is perpendicular to the upper arm.
- The upper arm has to be stable and locked in its place. At the lowermost position, hold the position for a second or two and feel the burn in your triceps.
- Squeeze your triceps at the top. Do it one arm at a time.
Lateral Triceps extensions work the lateral head of the triceps, giving you dense horseshoe shaped muscles.
Tricep Exercise #6: Double-arm overhead extensions
- Sit down on a bench, using a high degree angle incline to support your back.
- You can use a heavy dumbbell, grabbing the dumbbell with both the hands, crossed over each other to ensure a firm grip.
- Lower the dumbbell behind your head, keeping a bend at the elbow throughout and extending right below. Shoot off from that position, squeezing the muscles at the top.
- Lock your lower arm close to your body, keeping it stable throughout. Repeat for 8-12 reps and increase the load set by set.
Drop sets can be included in this exercise too. Example: One set of 40lbs double arm overhead extensions (8 reps) immediately followed by 35 lbs (8 reps). Do another set, this time starting with 45lbs followed by 40lbs.
Tricep Exercise #7: Overhead triceps cable extensions
- On a cable machine, Stand with shoulder width apart, facing away from the machine.
- Hold the rope attached to the pulley and grasp the ends with your arms.
- Bend ahead with your torso, and start pushing the rope ahead with your forearms, fully extending your arms ahead.
- Make sure your upper arm is stable, though. Your elbows must be locked close to your torso.
Tip: Squeeze the ends of the rope away from each other, trying to form a “V” at the end of the movement. Incorporate drop sets to accentuate the growth.
Tricep Exercise #8: Lying dumbbell triceps extensions
- Lie down on a flat bench, and grasp a dumbbell in each hand, pointing each elbow towards the top. (the way you grip the dumbbells while performing dumbbell pectoral flyes)
- Keep the dumbbells touched to each other, at one constant level. From this initial position, lower the dumbbells together behind your head.
- Squeeze at the top and repeat for 8-12 repetitions.
Tricep Exercise #9: Triceps kickbacks
- You can do this exercise either with a dumbbell or using a cable-pulley machine. With your left hand and left knee on the bench, hold a good weight dumbbell with the left arm.
- Position the upper arm of your left hand parallel to the floor and bend at the elbows so that the lower and upper arm are perpendicular to each other.
- Extend the forearm in the backward direction, bringing it in line with the upper arm and squeezing the triceps. Return to the initial position from that point.
Repeat the same for the other arm. Do three sets of 8-12 reps for each.
Tricep Exercise #10: Body-ups
Here’s an innovative triceps builder, using just your body weight.
- You start off at a plank position. The entire weight has to be supported on your forearms and toes.
- From the initial position, press your palms on the floor and extend your arms through your elbows, lifting yourself off from the ground. Do not use any other body part to assist the upward movement.
- Come back to the initial position and repeat till failure for best results.
Tricep Exercise #11: Kneeling cable triceps extension
- Position a flat bench beside the cable pulley machine.
- Kneel down away from the machine, and start pushing the bar away and bring it in a neutral position.
- With the palms facing down, push the bar further ahead till your arms are fully extended. Bring it to the initial position and squeeze your triceps. Repeat 8-12 times.
This exercise yields significant results as far as lengthening and expanding the triceps heads is concerned.
Make sure you include these exercises in your triceps workout regime, and you will surely build a physique to turn some heads in the gym.