Triceps, like the other muscles in the back of the body, are frequently overlooked. Lifters who want to create enormous guns, whether for competitive bodybuilding or merely to impress members of the opposite sex, have a major difficulty. The terms biceps and triceps, as you can see, teach you everything you need to know about arm training.
Many people nowadays want large, strong arms, but because they don't take the time to learn how to achieve them, they typically end up doing countless curls and a few bench press workouts here and there. We've all seen it: guys in the gym who believe that training their biceps is all they need to do for their arms because that's the part they see the most.
When you think about it, the bicep is just a mass on the upper arm, and the triceps is virtually everything below it. The triceps account for 66% of the arm. That is why you must work out your triceps properly, since if you do not, you will appear to have little arms. Plus, with a large bicep and a flat tiny triceps muscle in the rear, your arms would appear disproportional.
The prefix bi- signifies two, as in two muscle heads, but tri- means three, as in three muscle heads. You can see right away that if you want to create sleeve busting firearms, the triceps must command at least as much respect as the biceps. Working all five heads, rather than just two, makes getting your arms to 20 inches a lot simpler!
And if you're into bodybuilding, you'll never be able to avoid exercising your triceps because so many stances require them to be visible. This muscle is required not only in bodybuilding, but in almost every sport.
Triceps Anatomy & Function
Knowing how to work out the triceps for optimum size and strength requires understanding their anatomy. Upper, lower, inner, and outer pectorals are similar. If only the lower pectorals are worked, the upper part will appear flat and the entire pectoral will appear disproportional.
Although the effect will be less dramatic if one of the triceps heads is undeveloped rather than your upper pectorals or upper abs, it's still not a good idea to leave any section of the triceps underdeveloped.
As previously mentioned, the triceps has three muscle heads. They are:
- The lateral head - This is the head responsible for the horseshoe shape of the triceps.
- The medial head.
- The long head - the largest of all three.
Different workouts will target a different head, or possibly all three. Knowing which workouts target which head is crucial for triceps development. One thing to keep in mind is that when I say an exercise only works two of the three heads, it doesn't mean the other head doesn't get any work; it just doesn't get as much effort.
Most gym members are aware of the triceps' primary function, which is to extend the elbow or straighten the arm. When you execute a set of pushups, this is what happens. Adduction is the second less well-known function. That is, the arm is brought down towards the body. This function is shared by the lats and only the long head is responsible for it.
Close Grip & Close Reverse Grip Bench Press
Close Grip and Close Reverse Grip are two different types of grip (Palms Facing Away) Bench Press Exercises
Close grip and close reverse grip bench press are two of the best workouts for exhausting the triceps; it's certainly one of the top three. When doing a close grip bench press, make sure you don't pick a grip with your hands too close together.
Lowering the bar will place your hands in an unnatural position, and your body will compensate by bending your wrists outward. This puts a lot of strain on the wrists, and you can develop forearm problems as a result.
Basically, you want to adopt a close grip where your wrists aren't as bent outward and you're not in an awkward position.
My hands on the bar should be exactly in line with my shoulders, according to one rule of thumb I follow. You can also use an EZ bar, which has a diagonal grip that allows you to hold it very close to your body without placing strain on your wrists. Remember that you may hit the triceps with practically every version of the bench press.
Bench pressing exercises target two of the triceps' three heads. That's why it's crucial to pair this with an activity that targets the other or all of the heads.
Cable Push Downs & Extensions
This is yet another massive triceps workout with so many variations that listing them all would be worthless. People have been practicing cable extensions and pushdowns for years with tremendous results, and practically every exercise program incorporates them or a version of them.
Ropes, single-handed pulleys, and various grips (palms grasped down, palms gripped up) can all be used for cable pushdowns and extensions. However, the most frequent method is to grab a straight short bar with your palms facing down and push down (Pushdowns are probably more popular than extensions).
Remember not to move your elbows because this will cause other body parts to assist in pressing the weight down. One arm reverse push downs are another bizarre workout that targets the triceps even more. This is where you reverse the grip on a single-handled pulley (your palm faces up).
Move your hand off the line with your arm so it's closer to your chest and easier to press down, with your arm directly against the side of your body. All you have to do now is press down with that grip. It's incredible, and I'd say that it focuses your triceps even more because you're not leaning in as much.
Extensions are similar to pushups in that you stretch your arm straight up, lower your forearm, and then push yourself back up using your triceps. This also puts extra strain on the stabilizer muscles.
It hits two of the three heads of the arm for the one-arm reverse pushdowns. I'm not sure if cable pushdowns with both arms and a straight bar are two heads, but I'm quite sure it is. Basically, you want to do this exercise with something that hits all three triceps heads or something that strikes the opposite head.
Skull Crushers/ Free Weight Extensions (and It's Numerous Variations)
Taking dumbbells or a barbell, stretch your arms straight up, lower your forearms, then extend the bar back up is the basic movement of skull crushers. This is also one of the top three exercises for triceps development.
The EZ bar is preferred by many people since the grip makes it much easier to hold and lower. Using a large barbell is also inconvenient. Make sure your arms don't move around during this exercise otherwise you won't be concentrating on your triceps as much.
Another version, which falls into the category of skull crushers, exists. I've heard it called a variety of things, but I'll just call it seated triceps press. Take one dumbbell, grab it with two arms, and lower it behind your head, extending it up to just above your head (don't drop it or you'll be done).
This is a popular exercise that a lot of people swear by. This activity is okay in my opinion, but it's an excellent one to remember.
It can be done while standing, sitting on a bench, or lying down. Barbells, EZ bars, and dumbbells can all be used.
Another reason these workouts are so effective is because they target all three triceps heads, so doing a variety of them will ensure that your triceps develop properly.
This is essentially the same as a dip, however instead of pushing your upper body forward to focus on the lower pectorals, you should lower yourself until your body is perpendicular to the floor or almost so. When you do this triceps variant, you should feel very little stress in your pectorals and almost all of it in your arms.
Stretching is one thing you should do with this. If you go into this workout with rigid muscles, you risk injuring yourself. Weight can also be used to add resistance.
This is another fantastic exercise because it targets all three triceps. I don't see many people practicing this exercise, which is a problem because it's a fantastic triceps exercise.
Some individuals swear by it and say it's one of the best exercises they've ever done. Triceps kickbacks can be done in a variety of ways, including in various positions and with one or two arms at a time. I'm not going to explain how to do them because they're straightforward, and if you don't know how to do them, you need some help.
I don't like doing this exercise since it hurts my triceps, but if it doesn't bother you, it could be a nice approach to focus on your triceps. The most important thing to keep an eye out for is cheating. When I watch folks performing this in the gym, I always see them not fully extending their arms or swinging or even jerking the weight up.
I don't know how many heads this exercise touches because I don't practice it, but I imagine it hits all three triceps.
Again, there are a variety of names for this, but the basic idea is that you take one arm and grasp the dumbbell such that the sides of the dumbbells face your sides.
Raise the dumbbells straight up and bend the forearm such that the dumbbell descends towards your head, then extend the forearm back up. Although I believe that this does not provide a good workout for my triceps, some claim that it is an excellent exercise for them. It also puts more strain on the stabilizer muscles.
It's time to include and put in some strategies to fatigue your triceps and take them to the next level now that we've got some great triceps exercises.
The triceps can be built using a variety of approaches that have been tried and true. Then there are the variants on these exercises, but when you look at them all together, they're all fundamentally the same thing done in different postures, with other equipment, or with a different grip.
So, if I listed all of the techniques, the list would be limitless. That's why I broke everything down into a few basic techniques that lead to subsequent workouts. These workouts may appear to be completely different, but they all work the triceps muscle in the same way.
The triceps is a strange muscle group for me to train. This is because, in addition to being involved in the work of other muscle groups (such as the chest and deltoids), I find it difficult to isolate them. I've discovered that shocking them with the tactics mentioned below is often necessary because straight sets of 6-12 reps aren't enough.
Another thing to keep in mind is that compound exercises should focus on the triceps muscle. Not mental focus on the task at hand but maximizing the utilization of the triceps muscle during an exercise. Since this is about triceps training, attempt to get your triceps to do as much of the effort as possible and less of your pectorals when bench pressing.
It's important to remember that not all shock treatments are effective on the triceps. For the triceps, eccentrics (also known as negatives by bodybuilders) are extremely difficult to complete.
It's difficult to isolate the triceps while doing eccentrics, and this style of exercise is also bad for your elbows. As a result, I urge that anyone who wants to 'shock' their triceps stick to the strategies I outline here.
I'd like to say something right now. Let's assume you can bench press 200 pounds 12 times, and you're not really a person who focuses on their triceps, but just does the workout. I'm sure you'd feel just as tired with the same number of reps if you dropped 20 or even 30 pounds and were able to focus on your triceps. It's something I've seen done before. Someone I know benches less for his workouts than I do, yet he's still much bigger and stronger than me, just because he can focus on his specific body areas so well.
Rest and pause training is an excellent strategy to bulk up your triceps. Rest pause training is also a wonderful strategy to increase the weight on certain exercises in less time than if you didn't do it.
Rest pause training is based on the premise of training with more weight than you can usually bear for the desired number of reps, thereby exhausting your muscles and acclimating them to heavier weight. So, if you normally lift 200 pounds for 10 reps on the bench press.
You could increase the weight to a point where you can only do 6-7 reps with it. After that, you should rest for around 10-15 seconds. Then you might do two more reps, rest, and repeat for another 1-2 reps. However, you may only want to undertake rest pause training for a few sets rather than all of them.
The reason for this is that it would take more time to complete. Second, if you did it for every set, you might be overtraining because you're putting a lot of strain on your muscles and recovery systems. So go easy on this technique and don't overdo it. It's the same with forced reps; if you did them every set, you'd be overtraining.
Another wonderful approach to bulk up your triceps is to do supersets. Essentially, you'll want to superset two triceps movements. Skull crushers/free weight extensions with close grip bench press is the finest exercise.
Simply use an EZ bar and after you've completed the Skull Crushers or whatever activity you've chosen, move straight to bench press because you can bench more than you can skull smash. As a result, you'll be able to do a few more reps, exhausting your muscle even more and giving it a better workout. You might want to speed up the reps on the second set, so let's say. Up for 5 seconds and then down for the same amount of time.
Another wonderful way to fatiguing the muscle for additional strength and size is to do drop sets. This works well on machines when you can simply remove the pin and replace it with a lighter weight. However, doing it on an EZ bar or bench press would be more difficult.
If you want to remove the weight rapidly, you might want to enlist the help of two persons. However, I would prefer to do it with dumbbells or machines because the idea of drop sets is to maintain the muscle under constant tension, not to take a break in between because dropping the weight for 30 seconds negates the purpose.
As a result, if you're working on your triceps, rest pause training might be a better option. However, if you want to practice drop sets, the first step is to select a weight that is only capable of performing fewer reps than your intended rep range. So, if you're doing 10 reps, choose a weight that you can do six times. Then drop the weight for another 2 reps, then lower the weight once more to complete the set.
You don't want to choose a weight that will require you to lose weight more than four times. It's probably too heavy for you if you find yourself doing that. You don't want to do drop sets for every single set, just like you don't want to perform rest pause training, because the key worry is overtraining.
Because you're utilizing heavier weights and placing consistent tension on the muscles, drop sets put a lot of strain on the muscles. It also puts a larger strain on the recovery system, similar to rest stop training. So, again, use sparingly and only when necessary. They're usually reserved for the final few sets of a workout.
Cheating, Forced Reps, and Partials:
These are tactics you can use if you're too exhausted to do another full rep. For a quick recap, forced reps are when someone assists you in completing the rep (for example, on the bench press, someone assists you up), and cheating is when you recruit other body parts or move the weight in such a way that you are able to complete the rep where you otherwise would not be able to.
When you're unable to complete another full rep, you do partials. These strategies, like the ones stated above, are wonderful for pushing your muscles farther into fatigue, but don't use them on every session, especially forced reps and cheating. Because partials do not place as much stress on the muscles and recovery systems as the others, they can be used more frequently.
Triceps Workout: The Ultimate Triceps Workout
As I constantly say, there is no such thing as a perfect workout for any body part, despite what many magazines would have you believe. But, ultimately, the ideal workout is one that you enjoy, which is why I can only provide a solid routine that I believe is good, but you will have to modify it to suit your needs.
If you don't like one of the exercises I've included, you may swap it out, or if you prefer moving or performing fewer sets, the choice is yours. Simply follow a few principles, instructions, and recommendations.
For your triceps, don't do more than 9-12 sets (I'd even say 12 sets is pushing it), because you risk overtraining. Second, after a certain point, there is something known as diminishing returns for each set for a body component. That means you won't get as much benefit from that set as you did from the other ones beyond a certain point.
At 9+ sets, I'd think you're basically getting diminishing benefits, so stay somewhere around there. I always see workout regimens with 12 or more sets, sometimes even 15, which is ridiculous because you're doing all those exercises for very little benefit. You also run the risk of overtraining because going +15 would probably be 1 hour on the triceps.
It's pointless to spend an hour on the triceps. One of the guys I know goes to extremes and spends two hours on pecs and triceps. That's about an hour on triceps, which simply goes to illustrate how ineffective it is.
- To enhance hypertrophy, rest between sets should be 30 to 90 seconds. To avoid muscle gain, powerlifters take a 3-5 minute break.
- For every three sets, choose one exercise. So, if you're like me, you have nine sets of triceps, so you choose three workouts. This guarantees that it reaches all of my heads and that my triceps develop appropriately. Choosing a variety of workouts also guarantees that your muscles do not become accustomed to one type of training.
• If you're trying for muscular size, choose a rep range of 6-12. I'm sure most of you are.
• Use other techniques, such as the ones indicated above, to further weary your muscle. However, don't use them for every set and don't use them more than necessary.
• If you're weary and need to get more reps in, try forced reps, partial reps, or cheating.
Now it's time to work out. I rarely go over or below nine sets. My triceps are usually always exercised in nine sets whenever I develop a program. Don't worry about that; it'll be plenty to tire your triceps if you choose the right poundage.
I also stick to 6-12 reps since if I go below 6 reps, I'm focusing on strength and my muscles won't have as much oxygen capacity, causing them to burn out faster (which is what a low rep range does).
Also, I'm not a big fan of going for endurance because it's not one of my goals. In general, I find that 6-12 reps is a nice rep range for me. Drop sets are another technique I prefer to utilize to further fatigue my muscles, but you are not required to use them.
Parallel Dips - 3 Sets Of 6-12 Reps
Keep your torso perpendicular to the floor throughout this exercise to focus more on the triceps.
Skull Crushers With EZ Bar Lying Down
This puts less stress on lower back for those guys who have back problems.
Depending on how you're feeling, perform a superset/burn on this exercise for all or just the last two sets. After you've completed one set of this exercise, grab the bar and do a bench press as many times as you can. You'll be able to squeeze out a good number of repetitions because you can bench more than you can skull crush.
This has the effect of exhausting the muscle even more, putting it under more stress. When it is subjected to more stress, it adjusts by repairing itself in a larger and more powerful manner.
Remember, if you don't like it, you don't have to do it. Also, when doing the superset/burn, go quicker than usual, but not so fast that your arms are just flying up and down. It should be similar to. Up 5-1 second and down the same length of time.
One Arm Reverse Pushdowns - 3 Sets Of 6-12 Reps
Drop sets on the last two sets, or only the last one, depending on how you're feeling, to further tire your muscles. Choose a weight that you can only complete a specific number of times, which is less than your desired rep range, to accomplish this. The weight is then gradually reduced till you reach your target rep range.
So, if you have to complete 10 reps, choose a weight that you can only do 5 times. After you've completed five reps and can't go any further, remove the pin and reduce the weight to something you can only do three times, then choose a weight you can only do twice for a total of 10 reps. The maximum number of times I would drop the weight would be three, because any more would be excessive.
My Favorite Exercise
Reverse one arm pushdowns, such as the one I mentioned above in the category of cable pushdowns, are hands down my personal favorite exercise. For starters, it focuses on the triceps more effectively for me and most people because there isn't as much of an inclination to lean into the exercise as there is with two-handed cable pushdowns.
Very, because it's on a machine, I can practice things like drop sets with ease because all I have to do is shift the pin, and rest pause training and other strategies are also simple to use with this exercise.
Drop sets with a tight grip If you're doing bench press by yourself, it's inconvenient because you have to get up and change the weight, and it's more like rest pause training because you're supposed to lower the weight and start immediately. The finest part about it, in my opinion, is that you can be your own spotter.
Because you're only using one hand, your other hand can easily aid you, which you can't do with bench presses or two-armed cabled pushdowns. However, as you're pushing down, make sure you're only using enough pressure to finish the rep. If you just push down with your other hand, you're defeating the purpose.
Also, because I'm performing the exercise with both hands, I only need to rest for about 10-20 seconds before doing it again, because my other arm has already rested for approximately 30 seconds while my other arm was completing the workout. This is good because it keeps my blood flowing constantly rather than if I just keep resting for a minute at a time.