As you all may know, having big arms is a standard in the bodybuilding community. If your arms are small, you look small, period. So in effort to overcome and bypass this pitfall in your muscle-building journey, most will succumb to more intensive bicep work; Which, more often than not, will lead to some sort of overtraining, or lopsided-looking arms. What most young lifters fail to understand is that the bicep only makes up one-third of your arm mass; the other two-thirds belong to the triceps! So you may now see the importance of focusing more of your attention on this muscle.
The tricep brachii is a three-head muscle (hence the prefix “tri”). The heads consist of the Long, Medial, and Lateral head. An effective, mass-building tricep workout will always target each of these three at some point or another. The tricep is also a very easy muscle to isolate, so hard work and exercise selection will be the two main factors to assess.
So what exercises are the best for tricep development? It is very easy to fall into this confusion of what exercises may do the trick, and which may not. An already written up arm workout from a bodybuilding magazine may work for the person who wrote it, but what if it just doesn’t seem to work for you? Then again, most magazine workouts are BS anyway to begin with. If you’ve run into this problem then don’t worry, many of us have been in the same boat. From experience with my clients and my own workouts, I’ve come to the conclusion that each arm must do the work at some point by itself. The brain will always send more nerve impulses to the dominant side of your body regardless of the muscle being trained. I’m not saying that barbell tricep movements are ineffective, but as far as full and exact stimulation to BOTH triceps go, dumbbells will work hands down.
An array of different exercise types will give your arms the size or muscle tone you’re looking for, not JUST one type individually. Cables, machines, and body weight exercises will also do the trick when used at the right times. I could go on all day about the numerous variations of tricep work, however there is no need. I’ll keep it plain and simple…
Steps to maximum tricep development:
Getting the maximum blood flow to your muscle is extremely important to how much effort it’ll give you. This can be done by warming up the tricep with lighter weight, and with slow and controlled movements.
Once the pump is established, it’s time to hit em’ hard! Heavy compound exercises like the close-grip bench press, skull crushers, or behind the head tricep extension will work the best here.
A stimulated muscle will always respond to new exercises given that the triceps have grown and already adapted to the current exercises first. Switch up your routine every few weeks to keep your arms growing!
Never sacrifice form for adding additional weight. Perfect form provides perfect results. The stress on the muscle must also gradually increase with time in order for the muscle to grow.
Focus on feeling the muscle, not just the weight. Creating a mind/muscle connection is extremely important for maximum muscle stimulation.
Once you’ve established a pump, and have completed your compound movements, move on to isolation exercises. The compound sets recruit more muscle-fibers than that of isolation sets, so it is important to isolate the triceps after. The long head is usually neglected here, so the “palms facing up approach” or kickbacks will get the job done.
Below are the best recommended tricep exercises for compound, and isolation…
– Close grip bench press
– Skull Crushers
-Behind the head tricep extension
-Reverse close grip bench press
– Cable pushdowns
– Tate press
– DB kickbacks
– Elbow drops (Bodyweight)
– Single arm lying DB extension
-Single arm cable extension
Hope this clears up some things on tricep development! I will be posting exercise picture examples and videos in the Exercise tap if you are unsure on the form of any of these. Keep me posted on your experiences! Catch ya’ll later.
Summary with credit to: Permanent Muscle by Reuben Bajada. The Poliquin Principles by Charles Poliquin. ACEFitness.org