Jeff Rodriguez Interview: 'Tri' And Match These Triceps!

You think you have better tri's? Jeff shares training tips to build and maintain the sickest triceps on the planet and his successes as a bodybuilder. Learn more.
Article Summary:
  • Jeff Rodriguez is a Species Nutrition sponsored bodybuilder.
  • His preferred exercise for working his triceps is the lying triceps extension.
  • Jeff's current long-term goal is to win the overall title at the Team Universe.
  • Who doesn't want a physique to show off to the world? Each muscle accenting the other. When it comes to the upper body most people are looking for the sickest pair of guns out there since that is the most visual part of the upper body (due to t-shirts showing off the upper arms).

    This guy has been praised as having the best triceps on the planet, hands down. You think you have better tri's? Go ahead and test him—be warned. But at least finish reading this interview until you feel like you're up for a challenge...

    First off, I want to thank you, Jeff, for taking time out of your busy schedule for this interview. You have a pair of the sickest triceps on the planet. I'm sure everyone wants to know what they need to do to get some horseshoes like that—so let's dig in!

    Jeff Rodriguez At The 2009 Team Universe. Jeff Rodriguez At The 2009 Team Universe.
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    Jeff Rodriguez At The 2009 Team Universe.
    View More Pics Of Jeff Rodriguez At The 2009 Team Universe.

    [ Matt Weik ] Can you give us a little background on yourself and how you got into this industry?

      [ Jeff Rodriguez ] I started lifting weights 8 years ago, when I was 17, in order to rehab my wrist/arm after suffering a compound fracture of my wrist in a rollerblading accident. After my injury healed 100%, I continued working out, simply because I had a lot of fun with it. So from the beginning, it was never about looking better, doing it for health purposes, or even bodybuilding; I simply loved going to the gym and training.

      About 3.5 years later, in 2005, while attending college at UC Davis, I met my friend Joe Rogers. Joe was getting ready for a local bodybuilding show called The Chico Show and had suggested I compete in the show. I had always thought that one day I'd like to try doing a bodybuilding show, so I dieted for about 2.5 weeks for the show and to my surprise won the overall.

      Since then I've done the NPC Contra Costa twice, and the Team Universe three times. Most notably, I won the middleweight class at the 2008 Team Universe.

      Finally, I also trained for the 2009 Team Universe (2nd place, middleweight).

    Jeff Rodriguez At The 2009 Team Universe. Jeff Rodriguez At The 2009 Team Universe.
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    Jeff Rodriguez At The 2009 Team Universe.
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    [ MW ] I was checking out your blog/profile and noticed Species Nutrition. What do you have going on with Species?

      [ JR ] After the 2007 Team Universe, Dave Palumbo, the owner of Species Nutrition, offered me a sponsorship and I've been a Species athlete since then.

    [ MW ] What does your workout protocol look like?

      [ JR ] In short it can be summed up as low volume high intensity. I generally use a 4-8 rep range on most body parts and favor compound over isolation exercises. However, I also try to listen to my body and if something doesn't feel right, or it doesn't seem like a good day to go heavy, I adjust accordingly. Furthermore, I usually train 2 days on (sometimes 3), 1 day off and set up most workout days in a way such that I train a large and small body part (for example, chest and triceps).

    [ MW ] Let's get this out of the way because I know everyone is looking for this information in this interview—so what exercises do you do for your triceps and can you give us your set/rep ranges?

      [ JR ] First of all, it may be worth noting that I always train triceps after chest. I've tried training them on different days of the week, but my triceps just get too much from training chest, so I've just always kept it like this.

      My rep range for triceps is 4-8. Here are my favorite triceps exercises, in order of which I like best, and a brief description of how I perform them.

      1. Lying Triceps Extensions: These are hands down my favorite triceps exercise. I do these in a way such that the bar travels behind my head at the bottom of the rep, not to my forehead. This allows me to handle a bit more weight and takes some stress off my elbows.

    Lying Triceps Extension
    Lying Triceps Extension
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    Lying Triceps Extension
    Click Here For A Video Demonstration Of Lying Triceps Extension.

      2. Dips: The key to emphasizing triceps is staying upright (as opposed to leaning forward) during the movement. Don't get me wrong, I believe either way is great for triceps, but keeping upright will shift more of the work to your triceps.

      If I'm doing dips with free weights (using a dip belt and attaching weight), I usually do them at the end of my chest workout/start of my triceps workout. However, another variation of dips I really like is the hammer strength plate loaded dip machine (the one where you face the machine).

    Bench Dips
    Bench Dips
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    Bench Dips
    Click Here For A Video Demonstration Of Bench Dips.

      3. Close Grip Bench Press: (I could have listed this as 2nd as I believe they're as effective as dips). I do these on either a flat or decline bench. I use a narrow enough grip that I'm emphasize my triceps, but make sure not to use too narrow of a grip that it puts too much stress on my wrists (everyone has to find where this grip is, but I think most people take too narrow of a grip).

      I then focus on keeping my elbows slightly in/tucked throughout the movement. Finally, I think its fine not to go all the way down when doing these as I've found that it's most comfortable if I stop a few inches short of my chest.

    Close-Grip Barbell Bench Press
    Close-Grip Barbell Bench Press
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    Close-Grip Barbell Bench Press
    Click Here For A Video Demonstration Of Close-Grip Barbell Bench Press.

      4. Cable Triceps Push-Downs: I like to use the angled bar for these (sometimes the straight bar, but never the rope). I like to do these with one leg forward one leg back (lunge position) as I get better leverage and can handle more weight.

      As I do this exercise, I let the bar travel to either my forehead or just above my head and lean into the bar as I push down. I never keep upright against a wall like I see many people doing. I think this exercises is most effective when turned into a more compound movement than an isolation movement.

    Triceps Pushdown
    Triceps Pushdown
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    Triceps Pushdown
    Click Here For A Video Demonstration Of Triceps Pushdown.

      Finally, the tempo I use with these exercises (and for most any other exercises for other body parts) can be described as a controlled, emphasized eccentric/negative followed by an explosive concentric/positive.

    [ MW ] Would you say that your triceps adapt very well to training or do you feel that you really need to hit them hard to get them to "pop"?

      [ JR ] Both, I suppose. I'm probably a bit luckier than most in my response, but in the end, it doesn't matter: it's about doing the best with what you have. With that said, I think getting them to "pop" is determined by two factors: size and conditioning.

      In my opinion, size is something to be worked on in the off season, while conditioning is to be worked on when dieting/preparing for a show. If you've got one part of this equation down, then your triceps will probably look ok. But, the best your triceps can look are when you've got them well developed (size) and your body fat is low (conditioning).

    The Best Your Triceps Can Look Is When You've Got Them Well Developed And Your Body Fat Is Low.
    + Click To Enlarge.
    The Best Your Triceps Can Look Is When You've
    Got Them Well Developed And Your Body Fat Is Low.

    [ MW ] Is there 1 exercise that you would recommend everyone utilize in their training program?

      [ JR ] First and foremost, I believe that its important to work with (not against) what you've got. For example, if a certain exercise is generally considered the best for a certain body part, but its uncomfortable for you, doesn't work well with how you're built, or whatever reason, then this exercise might not be the best thing for you.

      So, it's important to find out what works best for you. With that said, I would say the king of all triceps exercises is lying triceps extensions, and what I would suggest one utilizes in their training program (given they work well for you). Following lying triceps extensions in a close second would be dips keeping upright and close grip bench presses. Push-downs are a good exercise as well, but nothing beats lying triceps extensions for me.

      On the other end of the spectrum, I do not like doing kickbacks, isolation triceps machines, and generally triceps exercises that are more of an isolation/single-joint motion. I save these exercises for when I have to back off the above list of favorite exercises due to either trying to avoid injury (resting) or being injured.

    RELATED VIDEO: Brandon Curry Unleashed, Presented By BSN
    Brandon Curry: Unleashed, Episode #7: Triceps, Presented By BSN!

    IFBB Pro Bodybuilder and Team BSN athlete Brandon Curry continues the series with tips on hitting all three heads of the triceps for maximum pump, and warming up properly to prevent injuries to the area. Check out another one of his unique moves, the Tricep Ladder.
    Watch More From This Series Here.

    [ MW ] Do you have a stubborn body part that doesn't want to grow?

      [ JR ] I really try not to focus on this question. As I mentioned, its about doing the best with what you've got. If you're training something 100% to your best effort and as best as you know how, and this part simply does not respond like other body parts do, then you're doing your best and there is nothing you can do about it (assuming you've tried different ways of getting this part to grow).

      So my answer to the above question is, take a look at my physique and whatever you see that you think is not up to par with everything else is stubborn, because I do my best training every body part as hard and well as I know.

    [ MW ] What does your diet look like?

      [ JR ] I post my diet, contest and offseason, on

      To give you an idea, here is what I was eating at 20 weeks out of this year's NPC Team Universe (this is very similar to an offseason diet, except I do not measure everything out perfectly in the offseason, I just ballpark it, and have the occasional cheat meal):

      Check Out Jeff's 20 Week Contest Prep Diet Here.

      And here is what my diet looked like last week, at 3 weeks out:

      Check Out Jeff's 3 Week Contest Prep Diet Here.

    Jeff Rodriguez At The 2009 Team Universe. Jeff Rodriguez At The 2009 Team Universe.
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    Jeff Rodriguez At The 2009 Team Universe.
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    [ MW ] Obviously you are a fan of Species products. What, if any, other supplements do you take and/or recommend to people?

    [ MW ] What are you long term goals in this industry? Where do you see yourself in 10 years or so?

      [ JR ] I've always thought of bodybuilding as my hobby and something I do because I enjoy it. So, in ten years I see myself training and competing, just as I am now, simply because I love it. I have no idea what shows I'll be doing at that time, but hopefully by then I will have accomplished my long-term goal of winning the overall title at the Team Universe.

    My Long-Term Goal Is To Win The Overall Title At The Team Universe.
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    My Long-Term Goal Is To Win The
    Overall Title At The Team Universe.

    [ MW ] If you could offer just one bit of advice to the readers on anything fitness or life related, what would it be?

      [ JR ] Enjoy the process of putting on muscle/training, be patient, and understand that its about doing the best you can do with what you have. I think people often focus too much on achieving a specific number (EG I need to put on 20 pounds of muscle in a year) and lose sight of the fact that the process of getting there is enjoyable.

      Furthermore, I think because of what people see online and magazines, their idea of what they need/want to accomplish to be happy becomes skewed. It's important to understand that all you can do is the best with what you're given. You may not end up looking like Ronnie Coleman (or whoever), but that doesn't mean you cannot improve your physique and look great. If you are getting 100% out of your self and your body, then that is all you can ask for and should be proud of yourself.

    [ MW ] Is there anyone you would like to thank for helping you get to where you are today?

      [ JR ] There are many people I could thank for helping me along the way, but I'd like to take this opportunity to say thank you to my girlfriend Loren for her helping me get ready for the Team Universe this year. From getting up with me (at 5am!) to train in the mornings, helping keep me motivated and lifting my spirits when I need it, to even dieting with me, I am so thankful for your help, Loren; I love you!

      Check Out Loren's BodySpace Profile Here.

    I'd Like To Thank My Girlfriend Loren For Helping Me Get Ready For The Team Universe This Year. I'd Like To Thank My Girlfriend Loren For Helping Me Get Ready For The Team Universe This Year.
    + Click To Enlarge.
    I'd Like To Thank My Girlfriend Loren For Helping
    Me Get Ready For The Team Universe This Year.

    [ MW ] Is there anything you would like to add to this interview that we haven't touched on?

      [ JR ] I believed you've covered all the bases, Matt. However, if anyone has any other question they would like to ask me, I have a question and answer thread on (forums > natural bodybuilder), where they could post their questions. Here's a link to the section of the forums where my thread is located:

      Check Out Jeff's Q&A Thread Here.

    [ MW ] Thank you again, Jeff, for doing this interview with us. I wish you all the best and continued success in everything you do!

      [ JR ] Thanks, and no problem, Matt!

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