Training Triceps 

Training triceps

Training triceps commonly loses out to men focusing the majority of the effort on the biceps, thinking that this will result in a more massive upper arm. Biceps training has its place, but… sheer upper arm size does not come from bicep training alone.

If you want thick powerful looking upper arms it's crucial to build the triceps to exemplify total upper arm mass and separation.

One of the reasons triceps development can lose out is: this muscle is only visually noticed from the side or extreme rear. Even intermediate to advanced level lifters can miss this fact in the early years and total arm development can suffer as a result.


The triceps are one of the most uniquely misunderstood body parts like so many muscles that face more directly to the rear of the physique, are simply: not noticed or focused on as deeply, but...

It is these muscle groups that face the rear of our body’s, more often than not give the appearance of both size and strength as you develop them. The triceps makeup an enormous 2/3rd's of your upper arm! Thick, evenly developed triceps, essentially: separate the men from the boys!

I’ve witnessed it so many times were intermediates even advanced bodybuilders simply neglect the time and effort of training triceps. If you do happen to fall into this category, then this article is for you.

Training Triceps Building Mass and Size

Triceps development

When I get asked questions on how to add size to the triceps? One common mistake I see from intermediate to advanced level lifters is: the range of motion guys are training with, simply is not enough.

The triceps are a resistant muscle group, somewhat like the “calves” and can commonly be tough to develop, simply because there located to the rear of the physique; There not noticed like the biceps... until you develop them!

Three components need to come in to play to build larger muscle bellies in the three triceps heads.

Ø  Increase your range of motion: go into the concentric portion of the exercise as deeply as you can (stretching the inside, and upper heads). This upper triceps development is what gives the appearance of raw arm size and development.

Ø   Squeeze Don't Heave the resistance! Instead move the weight, using control not momentum, in all weighted or body-weight triceps movements.

Ø  At the top of each contracted repetition, pause and squeeze like hell, this ups fiber recruitment, intensity and blood-flow into the area of the triceps you’re focusing on.

To see substantial growth from the triceps is not as easy or as fulfilling as biceps training, but they will respond if you’re persistent.

Maintaining a full range of motion, pausing and contracting on each repetition is not easy this takes a lot of mental focus, especially; as you begin to increase resistance but...

This is the difference from average looking athletic arms, to ones that people stop and stare at. 

Always warm-up all of the component, joints and muscles related to training triceps specifically; the shoulders and elbows assist heavily and take the brunt of the force in many of the exercises, (especially when you perform dipping movements), a good warm-up to keep you injury free is a great insurance policy.

Ø Triceps Cable push downs: (10 to 15 reps 50-60% regular working weight)

Ø Close grip push-ups: (hands 5 to 6 inches apart) 15 to 20 reps.

Ø Bench press close to medium grip: (40 to 50% of regular working weight, it’s just a warm-up) 15 to 20 reps.


Strength and Mass Training Triceps Exercises

Compound movements build the majority of triceps thickness, compound meaning: other muscles assisting with the (chest, shoulders, etc.) on each movement.

Smith Machine-Narrow grip Bench Press:

Narrow grip bench press

Keeping thumbs (6 - 8 inches apart). Sets - (4) Starting with reps in the (10 - 12 range), Pyramid up with resistance while striving for (6 - 8 on the final set. (* making final set a single drop meaning: strip some weight off and perform one more set.

Seated weighted dips: 

Seated Dips

Using solid surface such-as a bench or chair across from each other. If you’re not strong enough to add weight in this exercise, use bodyweight until you are. (lower yourself with lower back 1 or more inches away from the bench and lower as deeply as you can, drive back up to start pausing and squeezing at the top of each rep). Sets – (4), reps – (10 to 12) (*pyramid up each set to finish on your final set with (6 to 8 reps), again, make the final one a single drop set).

Seated overhead barbell extension: 

Training Triceps

Building size and thickness in your triceps: by raising your arms overhead, you stretch and strengthen the long head, located along the inside of the arm. The triceps will be forced to contract a lot harder than if your arms are fixed at your sides, mostly due to the hands and elbows being above the head, (gravity prevails more heavily in this exercise). Sets -  (4)     Reps - (8 to 10 *single drop set on last two sets).

Lying triceps extensions a.k.a. skull crushers:

Skull Crushers

Using the  E-Z-bar. (Keep the elbows in line with the shoulders, avoid elbow movement in the exercise. Lower the bar for a good stretch just past the forehead, stay back from eye level eye level 5 - 10% with the bar while keep constant tension on the triceps. Sets – (4)    Reps – (10 to 12. *again Pyramid up with the weight with each new set, finishing with 6 to 8 reps on the last set).

Triceps Dips: 

Training Triceps

Keep your body as perpendicular or straight as you can, lower deep into the exercise, feel a full stretch in the shoulders, and triceps, push back out and squeeze the triceps at the top momentarily). Sets – (4)    Reps (10 to 12. (If you’re strong enough, increase the resistance on your dips with each set, while decreasing repetitions ending at 5 to 7 reps on the final set).

The little Known Secret to Training Triceps and Upper Arm Development

The type of exercises, the angle, wrist position, resistance, energy expended and direction - has the final say on how your triceps are going to look.

75 to 80% of the exercises for triceps that are most commonly shown are geared more specifically to the longer thicker inside head of the triceps; this overall development is a must do! But...

If the outside head is underdeveloped on your triceps; you may simply be doing too many of the big exercises, change some of this quantity training to isolation based movements to help develop the horseshoe look on your triceps.

Big triceps development doesn’t all come from big movements. The inner head of the triceps will develop with big movements like dips, narrow grip bench press and skull crushers, etc.

Overall refinement and polish of the triceps comes from specific triceps training exercises. The coveted well-defined thick looking horse-shoe shaped triceps are a result of focused effort.

You need to prioritize the training of the lateral or outside head of the triceps. A little more instability and chaos needs to be recruited to force your Neurotransmitters to work a little more over-time and earn their pay with more specific movements to include the outer head of the triceps.

A change of focus on prioritizing with different exercises and wrist positions will remedy this: to break this down into a time-frame; if you spend 30 minutes training your biceps, you should spend 45 to 50 minutes training the triceps, (if you’re pouring the intensity to them)!

Prioritize the lateral head with the exercises and rep ranges shown here in training triceps, put them through their paces force them to submit to the point where they have no choice but to grow.

Leaving the gym with unfinished business and not enough stress forced into this muscle group usually results in underdevelopment of the triceps.



Isolating to Build the Coveted Horseshoe of the Triceps

Again: warm-up the triceps, elbows and shoulders before starting any triceps isolation work.

Triceps cable push downs: 

Triceps cable push downs

Preferably chose an attachment that makes your knuckles face each other, palms facing the floor. Sets – (4)   Reps - (10 to 12.) *On the final two sets perform one drop set. Note: squeeze and contract at the bottom end of each rep.

Lying French press

Triceps, French press

The French press bar allows hand and wrist position to be like that of holding a hammer; this position is commonly used to stimulate the outside or lateral head of the triceps. Sets – (4)  Reps - (10 to 12) . *Pyramid-up on the weight each set… At the end of final set rep range should in (6 to 8 range). Note: if you don’t have access to a French press bar. You can use dumbbells in its stead

Lying and seated Dumbbell Extensions:

Dumbbell Triceps Extensions

You can perform these exercises alternating or simultaneously, hammer style position, palms facing each other, lock the elbows, so they don’t move throughout the exercise. Sets – (3 of each exercise).   Reps – (8 to 10). * Pyramid up with the resistance each set, decreasing your reps slightly on each successive set.

Triceps Reverse Grip Cable Pull downs:

Training Triceps

Line up the shoulder with the pulley, lock the elbows and shoulders into a position that’s comfortable for this movement, perform alternately. Sets – (4)    Reps – (10 to 12). *Pyramid up with resistance each set, or (perform one drop in weight with each set). This is a great exercise, work hard at it, pause and squeeze the triceps on every rep as you fully extended.

Triceps Dumbbell Kickbacks:

Training Triceps Dumbbell Kick backs

Performed alternately on a bench resting hand and knee are used to stabilize. Sets – (4)  Reps (10 to 12). *note: this is a tough exercise to increase the resistance on: so… to increase blood flow to the outside of the triceps, make a point of not lowering the elbow to 90%, (keeping Triceps under tension) and contracting momentarily at the top of the exercise.

Note: The outside or lateral head needs to be isolated when your training triceps; focus your attention on keeping a motion with the wrist and hands like that of holding a hammer and going through a full range of motion, not heaving the weight, but pushing, and squeezing at the top of each repetition is what builds big muscle bellies in the triceps!

The summary of triceps training:

When it comes to building mass on any body part, specifically the triceps; they do have multiple attachments where they make their connections near the shoulders, while lower attachments are closer together just below the elbow, to extend the lower limbs.

Where ever connective tissue makes close attachments to one and other exercise separation does become more challenging as the triceps contract...

building sheer size and bulk into the muscle bellies of your triceps training you should consider triceps components and exercises chosen to keep the focus where you want it.

  1. One of the most important components in training triceps is: make an effort to step out of the comfort zone, change it up. Specifically; wrist, hand and angle position, adding extra intensity to the triceps is imperative with these positions, including your rest intervals, Set and Rep ranges.

  2. For size: try to perform compound movements where two or more muscles are assisting the triceps as mentioned, (add resistance where you can and perform these closer to the start of the workout, as your energy levels are at their highest at this point).

  3. Keep form and elbows held strict, don’t allow training sloppiness.

  4. Don’t always perform the exercises that you love, pick some that are difficult to preform, this forces the central nervous system and neurotransmitters to work harder at newer fiber recruitment, this = new size and strength gains

  5. Pause at the top where you’re extending the limbs and consciously contract the tricepadds intensity to any muscle group.

  6. The biggest thing of all is: do not fall into a routine! Continually pick new exercises and practice to perfection. Remember when you’re trying to build quality raw muscle mass in the triceps; you don’t swing or heave the weights; lift under control.

Training triceps is unique; full development of this muscle group does not happen overnight.

I personally found the triceps to be stubborn; like most body parts that face the rear. If your goal is to have bigger, clearly separated triceps hanging off the back of your arms; follow the steps I’ve laid out above, and be just as stubborn back and they will grow!

Every time you feel you’re just not getting anywhere with your triceps training, have a look across the gym, at the guy that has those meaty-horse-shoes you’re trying to build and ask yourself this question...

How do you think he got there? He never gave up, and don't you either. 

I hope this article has helped

DWT.

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