Loading Your Guns part two: Optimizing Your Tricep workouts
Hopefully many of you have put into practise the sage training gems offered in Part one of this series. But big biceps with little triceps is second to tank top bodybuilders - massive upper bodies and nice size medium jeans... genes? The triceps actually make up 2/3 typically of the upper arm mass. So if you are a slave to the tape measure like many men are, this muscle group merits even more volume than the biceps. Done right- with all three heads developed, there's an unmistakable horseshoe of muscle as the arms hang at the side. "Traps'n'Triceps" lend the look of power and make a physique rugged in appearance. Indeed they're the hallmark of most strongmen. Even if your lifts don't label you as such, you can have the look- and that's not a bad thing. As alluded to in the first blog, remember- especially with arms, it's all about feeling the muscle from stretch to contraction. Strength athletes hoist the weight whereas physique building requires feeling the mind/muscle connection. Slow eccentrics or pauses at the stretch or contraction safely develop this muscle. Bouncing out of the bottom of a dip, close bench or worse French press guarantees tricep tendonitis (think golfer's elbow or tennis elbow). I've had both and neither are fun... but we learn. The only other caution is overuse. Too much volume before you're ready means the supportive musculature loses it's ability to buffer load in the joints. In my youth, I tried Arnold's advanced arm routine that helped him break the 20" arm barrier . .at that time I was fighting the elusive 16" barrier (sigh). Following Arnold's advanced routine- it made him huge . .it made my physio much money that summer. So without further ado- here are the reminders to making your triceps head turning horse shoes: 1. Train your triceps with the arms overhead: In this position, the long inner head of the tricep receives maximal stimulation. This head tend to lend the greatest mass to the back of the arm and is good to focus on. French presses with DB or EZ bar work well as does overhead rope extensions attached to a cable. For those that have difficulty working in this position, supinated tricep pressdowns and straight arm pressdowns can also activate this head. 2. Train your triceps with arms at 90' to your torso: Think skull crushers with DB or EZ bar, or machine tricep extensions with the pad around chest height. This works the medial head of the tricep- in the middle at the top. Developed fully it splits the tricep from the delts making for a very muscular looking arm from the back. On a side note dips also are very good for working this head. 3. Train triceps with arms at your side: This works the very showy outer head of the tricep which truly lends that horse shoe shape as the arms hang at the side. All variations of tricep pressdowns as well as top 1/2 shoulder presses and close grip bench but letting the elbows flare out, will also work this much. 4. Train your triceps after biceps: Padding anyone ? When the elbow flexors are pumped up, they inevitably form a pad for the forearm as you come into stretch of your tricep exercises. This prevents too much articulation at the joint, saving the tendons from excessive stretch. 5. Pause in the compound movements: Exercises like dips, close bench or even partial delt presses can work all three heads very hard. The temptation to keep the set going, is to bounce out of the bottom, which of course is all tendon and ligament. My physio was saying she needs a new car for those of you wanting to use wraps, ice and advil instead of slowing down. Ever had A.R.T. on the tricep/ coracobrachialis tie in? Martial artists use it as a submission point... pause at the bottom. 6. Work the contraction isometrics: Exercises where there is tension at the lockout- like tricep pressdowns, straight arm pressdowns or tricep machines are ideal for this. On your last rep, in lieu of a 2020 tempo, try 2-0-2-10... have I lead you astray yet? Finally - (and I am sorry for those that read part one- ia had to re-offer this bit) to give it to Arnold, arms clearly respond to the pump. Train with shorter rests without breaking form- endure the burn of the lactate while doing slow lowering and fierce flexing of each rep. Add to the pump with various vasodilaters that up NO levels like ATP's E-Nos or Citrulline Malate. You won't go wrong... Sample routines ? OK... Beginner: A1. Assisted dips 6x6 4110 B2. 60' Incline DB tricep extensions 3x12 2020 Intermediate: A1. 10' Incline Close Bench- elbows flare 4x8 3210 B1. Lunge position rope extensions 4x8-12 1013 C1. EZ bar skull crushers to nose 4x8 3010 Advanced: A1. Unilateral supinated tricep pressdowns 3x6 1015 B1. Top 1/2 Smith deltoid press 3x8 4110 C1. 30' Incline DB tricep extensions 3x12 2020 D1. Machine tricep extensions- pad at chest height 3x8 2022 E1. Fat Grip Eccentric Dip 3 sets of 1 30-0-0-0 rest 90s between singles Hope that loads the other side of your guns! All the best "Coach Mike"