When most guys think big arms, the first thing that comes into mind for many is big biceps. Biceps (or what so many call ‘guns’) are associated with a ‘manly man strong man,’ but did you know that your biceps only compromise 1/3 of your entire arm? As the name itself implies, ‘bi-ceps’ are only two muscles, but it’s brother muscle behind it, the ‘Tri-ceps,’ is larger in muscle anatomy and structure. The triceps, as the name implies, actually is compromised by three heads; the lateral, the long and medial. When fully developed, these three can create what many call the horseshoe muscle, as the lateral and long head create actually the shape of an inverted V. However, many don’t put as much emphasis on them as they should or don’t fully understand how to completely train them. So let’s do this! Let’s go through a triceps training that will create arms that will push your sleeves bursting out of your t-shirts.
As with any other muscle, you want to start your triceps training with an exercise that’s more specifically designed for size/mass. As you keep heading towards your training, you will start isolating a bit more your muscle structure with different exercises. Personally, I know that putting a heavy load on the elbows can cause injuries over time, so I always start my trainings with a single joint exercise like the triceps high pulley rope press down. I start with a lighter load and higher reps to draw in blood into my arms and elbows. As I warm up, I increase the workload on this specific exercise and try and hit a rep range of 10-12. Immediately following this exercise, I choose two out of the four next exercises, which ensure I work all three heads of the triceps with a heavier load of weight.
Choose 2 out of the 4 exercises:
1. Close Grip Presses on Smith Machine – Focus on the squeeze of the triceps.
2. Machine or Weighted Dips – Avoid tilting forwards as this puts more focus on the chest and delts, taking away the load on the triceps themselves.
3. EZ Bar Skull Crushers – Change the incline of the bench to a decline to get a better stretch on the bottom.
4. EZ Bar Overhand Triceps Extensions – Get a full extension on the elbows.
After choosing two out of the four above, pick two more exercises that will help you add some three-dimensionality and shape to your triceps. My favorite has always been triceps cable kickbacks. What’s crucial with any triceps training is that on all exercises you fully allow a stretch of the muscle and full contraction. On several cases I have seen many perform cable exercises where they use heavier loads than they should and do not finish the exercises with a full extension and squeeze of the muscle. This is a must to-do for all exercises if you want to develop strong big triceps. Below you can find the full routine I used on this video as I prepped for the 2013 Mr. Physique Olympia.
• Rope Press Downs (2 Sets Warm up) 4 sets 12Reps
• Incline Bench EZ Bar Skull Crushers 4Sets 10Reps
• Machine Dips 3S 12Reps
• 21’s on High Pulley Cable 2 Sets
• Triceps Bench Dips 2Sets Failure
• Stretching in between all sets.
If you start feeling your shoulders or chest doing the work on any of the exercises, make sure you are using a workload which allows you to focus on the triceps and not using bodyweight to press or push down on any of the exercises.