If you want to truly develop thicker, stronger arms you need to remember one of the most important rules regarding arm training: Focus on your triceps. Too often in the pursuit of bigger arms we get caught up in this notion that thousands of bicep curls will produce large, full arms. While bicep work is important in developing your arms, it’s only half of the equation. Developing a set of strong, shredded triceps is key when it comes to producing bigger, fuller arms.
When it comes to triceps training, the rope pushdown seems to have a stronghold on the triceps market. This is one of the most common movements individuals use to train their triceps, from beginner lifters to pros. But, for many people it tends to become the ONLY exercise they use to train their triceps.
Don’t get me wrong, the pushdown should be a staple exercise in everyone’s workout routine. It’s an extremely effective movement in helping to develop the long and medial head of your triceps. But, if you really want to blow your triceps up it’s time to step out of the box and takes your triceps training to the next level.
The key to developing bigger, fuller triceps is to train them from all angles. With these 5 triceps movements in your exercise arsenal you can revamp your arm training and blow up your triceps.
Close Grip Bench Press
Your triceps are engaged when performing a medium or wide grip bench press. However, with the wider grips, your triceps become more of a secondary muscle group; the chest being the primary muscle group engaged.
Moving your hands closer together takes the focus from your chest and places more of it upon your triceps. Your hands should be about a foot apart from each other, bringing the weight down to the lower part of your sternum and pushing up, as you would with a normal bench press.
This exercise helps add strength and thickness to your triceps. Perform these at the beginning of your triceps exercises when they are the least fatigued so you can hit these hard and heavy to develop that savage triceps strength.
Reverse Grip Pushdowns
Reverse grip pushdowns will help you develop ‘horseshoe-like’ triceps as this movement targets the lateral head of your triceps.
Similar to a regular straight bar pushdown, attach the bar to a cable machine. Instead of gripping the bar with your palms facing down, grab the bar from underneath with your palms facing up. Pull the bar down until your arm is almost completely straight while feeling the squeeze on the back part of your triceps with every repetition.
You can also perform this exercise as a single arm exercise by attaching a D-handle attachment to the cable machine. Grab the handle the same way, with your palm facing up, and pushdown while turning your hand out towards the outside of your thigh. If your triceps are stronger or more defined on one arm compared to the other this exercise allows you to focus on isolating a single arm at a time so you can perform more reps or add more weight for your weaker arm.
Single-Arm Cable Extension
This movement is similar to a single-arm dumbbell extension, but performed on a cable machine. By performing this movement on a cable machine you can alleviate any tension or pressure on your elbows, while allowing yourself to focus on both the concentric and eccentric portion of the movement.
Set up the cable machine so that the cable is approximately eye-level without any type of handle attachment. Grip the end of the cable, placing your arm behind your head, and raise your hand up above your head. Thinking about this movement in terms of angles you will be moving your arm from 0 degrees to 90 degree then back down to 0 degrees for one repetition. The key to this movement is focusing on your form and keeping the tension on the long head of your triceps throughout the exercise (See video below for full demonstration).
Incline Bench Tate Press
Set up a bench with a moderate incline. The idea here is to fully extend your arms at the top of the movement and exercise through a full range of motion through the elbow joint.
Hold two dumbbells above you as if you were going to do a dumbbell press. Instead of pressing, bend at your elbow, bringing the weight down towards the top of your chest. As you bring the dumbbells down to your chest, actually let the weights touch just briefly on your chest before starting the next rep. This forces you to start each rep from a dead stop while allowing you to train through the longest range of motion possible. Be sure to keep your upper arms locked in place as you perform each repetition.
Body Weight Triceps Extensions
This body weight movement is great because as long as you can find any sort of bar or handle, you can perform this movement. I’d recommend performing this exercise on a Smith machine bar if possible. You can easily change the resistance and difficulty of this movement by adjusting your feet, making it a great choice for supersets and drop sets.
Make sure you start close to the bar and position it fairly high to get comfortable with the movement. Keep your head neutral and your elbows tight throughout the movement. You should move back and lower the bar only when you’re able to complete a set of 8-10 repetitions without breaking form.