Summer is just around the corner and your shirt sleeves are baggier than you’d prefer. The first reaction is to hop into curling every single day and commanding your arms to grow! But this is all a waste if your triceps aren’t the main focus in making your overall arm size greater.
With the triceps making up about 2/3 of your total upper arm, hitting them hard and efficiently will be beneficial to get yourself a set of big arms – they might not grow into the size of melons overnight, but you can definitely build a solid base of muscle to continuously grow over time… Start now!
Anatomy of Triceps
The triceps is made up of 3 muscle heads within the back of the upper arm.
✓ The long head
The long head of the triceps makes up the largest part of the muscle and is found running down the back of the arm right up next to the torso.
✓ The lateral head
The lateral head of the triceps sits on the outer most portion of the upper arm and is responsible for the “horse shoe” that most bodybuilders strive for.
✓ The medial head
The medial head sits in between the long head and lateral head. The primary function of the triceps muscle is the extension of the elbow as well as assisting with pressing movements. By changing the angle of your arm, you will be able to hit every head of the muscle with great intensity and precision.
EZ-Bar Overhead Extension
The first part of the triceps head we want to hit is the long head. The long head can only be fully stretched and fully contracted from an overhead position. Just remember, the greater the stretch, the greater the opportunity for better contraction.
a) Start this lift by placing EZ-bar with both hands directly overhead – either standing, lying flat or incline.
b) Then, bend at the elbows behind the head maintaining constant tension until cannot be further stretched.
c) Press the weight directly back overhead but do not lock out elbows at the top of the move.
d) Flex your triceps for a one count at top, and then repeat.
Sets and Reps: 4 x 8-12
Moving on to a compound movement that will hit all of the heads of the triceps, but focusing mainly on the lateral head.
a) Begin this movement by stepping on to the platforms at the dip bar station and hoist your self up with an upright torso – your arms should be locked above the bars
b) With your elbows close to your body, slowly begin to breathe in and lower yourself down to form a 90 degree angle between forearm and upper arm – by doing this, you will keep constant tension on triceps alone instead of letting the chest come in to play.
c) Begin to exhale as you push yourself back towards the starting position – ensure full power is within the triceps
d) As you reach the top, squeeze the triceps for a good 1-2 count focusing on the contraction at the peak of the movement.
Sets and Reps: 3 x 8-12
TOP TIP: Keeping your elbows tight against your core throughout the entirety of the movement will help engage the triceps and avoid shoulder damage.
Fuel Your Ambition
One key supplement I find very useful in overall strength and size of bringing up lagging body parts is Creatine Monohydrate.
By taking 5g pre workout and post workout, this will help with strength, power and endurance when pushing it hard in the gym!
Exercise #3 Reverse-grip, Close-grip Bench Press
The medial-head is worked in all triceps movements, but this particular can be accentuated by reversing your grip on any of the triceps movements.
With all parts of the triceps muscles already being pre-fatigued from isolation and compound movements, we are able to hop in to another compound movement for maximum muscle worked.
a) Set up a flat bench in squat rack and position yourself as in beginning the bench press
b) Narrow your grip so that your hands are closer than shoulder width apart – the knuckling on the bar is a great guide.
c) Begin to inhale whilst slowly lowering the bar down to your lower chest – keep the elbows tight throughout this entire movement
d) Exhale whilst slowly pushing the bar up and squeeze for 1-2 seconds at the top.
Sets and Reps: 3 x 8-12
TOP TIP: When lowering the weight, don’t actually let the bar touch your chest- stop about 2-3 inches above it keeping constant tension on the triceps and off of the shoulder/chest capsule.
4) Rope triceps pushdown
Triceps pushdowns are great for targeting the lateral and medial heads of the triceps, specifically using a cable pulley! They are considered a key exercise in giving the muscle that desired ‘horse shoe’ look.
A rope attachment helps to increasingly isolate the muscle for it to receive a much better contraction in comparison to using a straight or v-bar attachment.
Note: Pick a moderate weight for this exercise – you needn’t go too heavy!
Prepare by clipping a rope attachment to the high pulley on a cable machine.
a) Standing upright, bend the top of your torso slightly forward and hold. Grab either side of the rope handles with a normal grip, so that your palms are facing each other – be prepared to exhale during the following movement.
b) Holding concentration in the triceps throughout the entire move, pull the rope down so that it splits, bringing the handle of each side down to your thighs.
c) Tuck your arms right into your side and remain like this at the end of every rep to eliminate any momentum or help from your back and ensure the triceps are doing all the work. The forearm should be completing the movement.
d) After holding the position for 2 seconds, slowly raise the rope back to the beginning, inhaling as you move your arms back up.
Sets and Reps: 5 x 12-15 reps
At full extension of the arms, by turning the wrist away from the body and pulling the ropes apart you can get a great contraction in the triceps!
Take home message
With a triceps routine laid out for you, all you have to do is put it to use! Get in the gym, get to work and get those triceps and biceps growing!