Want Bigger Triceps? Flip Your Grip!

Want Bigger Triceps? Flip Your Grip!
If you've been training triceps the same way for months on end, it might be time to switch things up. Ramp up your gains with this reverse grip workout!

Fellas, how many of you started lifting with the goal of having huge arms? Many of you, right? That’s what I thought.

Unless you just started training recently, you know getting big arms is more than banging out curls.

You have to make sure you hit those triceps and hit them hard since they take up two thirds of your upper arm. If you want to flex that big bicep, it needs to sit on some big tris.

Ladies, how many of you consider the back of your arms a trouble spot? I’m guessing several of you fall in this category.

Like the guys, if you want toned and well developed arms then you need to commit time to training your triceps. That is what it will take to complete that physique you work so hard to develop.

Now whether you’re male or female, young or old, you’ve become familiar with some of the most popular exercises in the iron game.

You’ve done close grip bench presses, lying tricep extensions, pressdowns, and kickbacks for a long time now. Although they served you well in the beginning, perhaps progress has stalled and you need something to give you a boost.

How long have you been looking for something to breathe new life so you can get back to making gains? Maybe it would be new movements, rep schemes, or any other twist.

Well I have that twist you need. It’s a twist of your wrist.

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“What? Twist of your wrist? What are you talking about, dude?”

Here’s what I’m talking about. You could be doing the same movements you’ve been doing and still making great progress with your triceps. You just have to do them a little…different. Give those same exercises a try but do them with a different grip…a reverse grip.

Reverse Grip Movements

When you perform most of your classic triceps exercises you do them while using an overhand grip. This is normal protocol. Although these are effective, the overhand grip doesn’t isolate the triceps as well as using an underhand grip. Taking an underhand grip can minimize the involvement of the forearms and help place less stress on the elbows.

Related: Tricep Trifecta: 3 Power Exercises For Tricep & Bench Strength

What this means for you is maximum recruitment of the triceps and eventually it will lead to better results that you should see when you flex them. So what’s not to like?

For those of you that might not be familiar with these exercises, we’re going to cover how to do each of them. Then we’re going to give you a couple of new workouts for you to break these new movements in with. Before we do that, you need to read these tips and take them to heart. They will help you get the most of the lifts which is what you need to succeed.

Girl performingTricep Pushdowns

1. Use Less Weight – You can’t expect to use the same poundage for these movements with a reverse grip that you would use for their traditional counterpart. Go ahead and accept this now. It ain’t gonna happen. There will be no competition to see who can do the most weight with any of these exercises.

The goal here is to develop the triceps, not lift the most. Leave that ego at home and make sure you focus on properly executing the movements and getting quality reps.

2. Get A Spot – This can be a partner, trainer at your gym, or someone who has experience in the game. You need a spotter for two reasons.

First, you won’t be used to these movements so you need someone there to assist when necessary. Second, your spotter can analyze your execution of the lift and can tell you if you need work or if you have it down. Yes you could use a mirror but a spotter would be better.

3. Take Your Time – Eventually you’ll get familiar with how the exercises feel and start adding weight and speeding up the reps. Don’t do this. Seriously, take your time with each rep and set.

Related: 5 Killer Arm Workouts for Tank Top Season

Your body isn’t used to doing these lifts so you need to commit to becoming a master of these moves before you start packing on plates and trying to do them with your own personal tweaks. Your triceps will thank you by improving and not getting hurt.

The Exercises

Reverse Grip Bench Press – Lie back on your bench and prepare for the lift like you normally would. Place your feet in the same spot, get tight, bring in your shoulder blades, and stick out your chest. Take a grip of the bar with a reverse grip. You will have to feel around the bar to find places that you can comfortably take a grip. It might be wider or closer than your traditional bench press grip.

Once you have your grip, have the spotter help you lift the bar out of the rack. Squeeze that bar with as tight of a grip as you can. If you feel uncomfortable at any point, rack it. When you are comfortable with your grip, keep your elbows in as you lower the bar down to your chest. Once you make contact, use force in your triceps to press the weight back up to a lockout position.

Make sure that spotter is paying attention and ready to assist. Repeat for the desired number of reps and rack the bar upon completion of your set.

Reverse Lying Tricep Extension – Lie flat on a bench with feet firmly planted on the floor and your shoulder blades pinched together and pushed into the bench. Have a spotter hand you a barbell or EZ curl bar. Take an underhand grip that is at least shoulder width and hold it at arms’ length over your head.

Man performing Skullcrushers

If at any point you feel uncomfortable, have the spotter take the bar away from you. Otherwise, while keeping your upper arms stationary, bend at the elbows and lower the bar until it reaches your forehead. Once you feel a stretch in your triceps, use force to lift the bar back to the starting position.

Repeat for the desired number of reps and have the spotter take the weight when you finish.

Reverse Grip Pressdown – This is one movement that you’ve likely done before but we’ll cover it anyway. Stand facing a cable machine with a high pulley that should have a straight bar attachment on it. Take an underhand grip of that attachment and bring it in.

Your upper arms should be locked into your sides and the weight pinned should be away from the stack. You should be standing straight and tall. Squeeze that attachment as tight as you can. Using force from your triceps, pull that bar down until your arms are straight.

Related: Boyce's Choices - Top 3 Exercises for Arm Muscle Development

Flex your triceps for a second and slowly allow the weight to go back down until you return to the starting position. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Reverse Grip Single Cable Kickback – Stand in front of a cable station with a low pulley that has a single hand attachment to it. Take an underhand grip of that handle with either hand. Bend over at the waist slightly and brace yourself against a solid object. Bring the arm holding the attachment in and lock in the upper arm tightly against your body. Your arm should be making a 90 degree angle.

While maintaining an underhand grip and keeping your upper arm stationary, straighten your arm and pull the handle behind you until your tricep is flexed and your arm is straight. Hold this position for a second before lowering the weight to the starting position. Repeat for the desired number of reps and then do the same for the other arm.

Beginner Plan
Exercise Warm up Sets Work Sets Rest
1. Reverse Grip Bench Press 2 x 10-12 2-3 x 10 reps 2 min
2. Reverse Grip Lying Tricep Extension 2 x 10-12 2-3 x 10 reps 2 min
3. Reverse Grip Pressdown - 2-3 x 12 reps 2 min
4. Reverse Grip Single Cable Kickback - 2 x 12 each arm 2 min
Intermediate/Advanced Plan
Exercise Warm up Sets Work Sets Rest
1. Reverse Grip Single Cable Kickback 2 x 20 2-3 x 12 reps 2 min
2a. Reverse Grip Bench Press - 2-3 x 10-12 reps 2 min
2b. Reverse Grip Lying Tricep Extension - 2-3 x 10-12 reps 2 min
4. Reverse Grip Pressdown - 2 x 20 reps 2 min

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