Tried And True!

Ok this is no ordinary article on how to build dense muscular triceps. After these sets you will refer to your triceps as triceratops!

OK this is no ordinary article on how to build dense muscular triceps-- after this little plan you will refer to your triceps as triceretops!

The plan is relatively simple but it is not easy. Basically triceps are one of the most important muscle groups. The are partly responsible for all your pressing motions involved with pecs and delts and play a role in back training when you pull your elbows back to squeeze the shoulder blades together.

Additionally, the tris are crucial to many poses from side triceps, side chest, to front double bis to rear shots. They also represent roughly two thirds of your upper arm measurement--so if ya want big guns ya gotta trash the tris in addition to blasting the bis.

The Workout

The Long & Lateral Heads

Standing Overhead Barbell Triceps Extension

After sufficient stretching and a warm-up of two press downs you select a power movement which will allow you to work the long head and lateral head of the triceps.

This segment of the muscle is closest to your ribs and represents the bulk of the muscle belly and attaches near the rear delts (hence the name "long").

In order to activate this area, you need to do movements which allow to extend your arms when they are over your head-- examples are overhead extensions using a dumbbell (and two hands) or an e-z bar (which I recommend since it is less stressful to the elbows and wrist).

The idea here is to lift with good form but always near the brink of cheating. After a warm-up of 15 reps hit your triceps with 3-4sets pyramiding the weight from 10 reps down to 6 or so. For variety you can perform the movement on a incline or decline bench ---I like the incline my self because I get a good combination of a stretch and contraction.

All Three Heads

Triceps Pushdown

Next up is a movement to hit all three areas of the triceps. Good options here are Lying Extensions a.k.a skull crushers or triceps pressdowns. I personally don't like the idea of doing skull crushers since the angle is similar to the first movement and because so much more attention goes to technique.

On the pressdowns jam you elbows into your sides and avoid moving them during the set so that you don't cheat. Remember we are doing triceps pressdowns, not an exercise for chest & shoulders. I prefer moderate to high reps here, generally pyramiding the weight from 15 reps to 8 reps. Here again there is a lot of potential for variety: you can use a straight bar, a rope, a shaped attachment, or a cambered bar, all of which hit the tris in a certain way.


Next up is a super set which will leave you triceps screaming: Overhead cable extensions (to stretch the triceps and work all heads through constant tension that the cable provides) along with either close grip bench presses or dips off a bench with close hand spacing (which calls on the pecs and delts to assist the tris).

The pairing of these movements helps reinforce the pump in the already exhausted tris. You will seriously be in pain with this superset; you have already busted your @ss on the previous movements and now with the superset you will bringing the pain barrier a notch higher.

On the superset you keep your reps high: 12-15 reps on the extensions and 25reps on the second movement. Believe me the size and striations are more than worth the pain!!

Afterwords your pump will feel nore like a searing cramp!