The most common show muscles are located on the arms. When asked to flex your muscles, the first thing a proud owner of some nice looking "GUNS" will do is fire up a double biceps pose. This may be the reason that you will see so many young gym aficionados killing their Biceps on a daily basis in search of 21 inch powerhouse arms. What many don't know, and what most bodybuilding and fitness competitors should know, is that it is the triceps that make up the majority of your arm size and can add impressive shape to any pose that involves displaying your arms.
Training the triceps muscles are very important not just for competition, but for functional exercises as well for nearly all upper body movements. Any exercise involving your chest, shoulders, and any pressing movement in general utilizes the triceps muscles. A tip to getting a stronger bench and shoulder press is to strengthen your triceps.
Triceps Brachia are broken down to three different sections or "heads"; the long, lateral, and medial heads which are the most visible sections of the back of the arms. Any time you extend your elbows you will activate these heads. Depending on the exercise and your grip (palms up or down, or flaring palms outward with a rope or pulley) you will focus a little more on each individual head. Lets breakdown each exercise to effectively target all heads of the triceps:
EXERCISES THAT HIT THE TRICEPS
Close Grip Bench Press:
This exercise I consider to be a very effective mass builder due to the amount of weight which you can use to stress the triceps to the maximum. Careful with your wrists...if your wrists are still not capable of handling heavy weight, slowly build up to it, use wrists straps, or use the Smith Machine/Rack when performing this exercise. Your hand placement should be narrower than shoulder width apart, and the bar should be lowered to a position that should come down to right below the chest and above the sternum to take as much tension off of the wrists and keep the focus on the lateral head of the triceps, not your chest. This is an exercise that should be used early into your triceps training routine after a good warm-up.
Close Grip Reverse Bench Press (Palms up):
Same concept as above, however, your palms will face away from you and the bar should come down even lower on your body...approximately two inches below the sternum. This will take the focus from the lateral head and place it more on the medial head using heavy weight for thicker triceps!
French Press/Skull Crushers:
Using a cambered (curved) curl bar or a straight bar lie flat on a bench and bring the bar up into a bench press position. Bend the elbows with the weight slowly moving straight down to a position right about hairline level...ensuring not to bounce the bar off of your skull (hence the name). Keep your elbows inward as much as possible to focus on each head of the triceps effectively and then explode the bar back up to the extended position and flexing your triceps at the top position (elbows in the locked position at the top without hyper-extending them).
Seated Overhead Triceps Extension:
Sitting in a shoulder press machine type seat, grab a dumbbell and grip it with both hands directly overhead. In the same manner as the Skull Crushers, keep your elbows inward and slowly lower the weight from the overhead position down to a 90 degree angle where the bottom of the dumbbell touches approximately to the back of the neck. This is a great alternative to Skull Crushers if your shoulders can handle a little stress and you want to put mass on all heads of the triceps.
Effective dumbbell workout. Find a bench or seat where you can place one hand on for support and with the other hand hold a dumbbell. Bend at the waist and keeping your back straight and head up bring your elbow up and fixated to your side and extend your elbow fully to the rear with out swinging your arms. Hold it in the rear top position and then bring it back to the bent position and switch arms after burning out the first arm. For a variation, use two dumbbells and keep them both at your sides in a bent over position and extend back both dumbbells at the same time.
This is an exercise that you can do in the beginning to warm up the triceps or at the end if you have the muscle endurance and strength to finish off your triceps routine. To ensure that you do not involve too much chest in this exercise, do not go down past parallel on the dips bar...stop at or slightly above a position where you elbows are at a 90 degree angle. Also, keep the elbows in close to your body throughout the movement.
Triceps Extension (palms up or down):
This is another movement to use as a warm up or finisher to an intense workout. Using a triceps cable machine that can be found in any gym, grab a rope, straight bar or V-bar and extend it until your elbows are in the locked position at the bottom, hold it for a second to get the squeeze in the triceps, and bring the bar up almost to the top, keeping your elbows in a fixed position against your body. Keep your body in a standing position...trying not to lean over to much to use extra leverage...let the triceps do the work! The rope will focus on the long head and brachialis if done correctly, while palms up will hit the medial head, palms down the lateral head.
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SAMPLE TRICEP WORKOUT ROUTINE
Here is a sample Philip Ricard Jr. tricep workout:
- Dips - 3 sets of 20 repetitions
- Close Grip Bench on Smith Machine - 3 sets: 185 for 12 reps, 225 for 8 reps, 255 for 5 reps
- Skull Crushers: 3 sets of 10 repetitions
- Triceps kickbacks: 3 sets: 45lbs for 10 repetitions
An effective triceps routine can not only make your arms appear larger and more impressive, they can add more power to the rest of your training routines. This can only lead to a more imposing physique, and one that you will be proud to display if someone asks YOU to flex your muscles for them!
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