What Is The Most Effective Mass-Building Triceps Workout?
Many people think that in order to build huge arms, you must focus exclusively on biceps... how wrong they are. Did you know that your triceps make up roughly 66% of your arms?
What are some time-proven techniques to shock the triceps?
What is the most effective mass building triceps workout? (include sets, reps, etc)
What are your personal favorite triceps exercises? Why?
Who has the largest and most defined triceps on the current IFBB circuit?
Show off your knowledge to the world!
1st Place - N10CT
Like all muscles on the back of the body, triceps are often just an afterthought. This is a massive problem for lifters who almost all wish to build massive guns whether it is for competitive bodybuilding or simply to impress members of the opposite sex. You see the very names biceps and triceps tell you everything you need to know about arm training.
The prefix bi- means 2, as in 2 muscle heads, tri- on the other hand means 3, as in 3 muscle heads. Right there you can see that if you want to build sleeve busting guns, the triceps need to command as much if not more respect than the biceps. Getting your arms to 20 inches is a lot easier if you work all 5 heads, not just 2!
Triceps Anatomy & Function
As I mentioned before, the triceps has three muscle heads. They are:
- The lateral head - This is the head responsible for the horseshoe shape of the triceps.
- The medial head.
- The long head - the largest of all three.
Most gym goers would have a fair idea of the main function of the triceps which is to extend the elbow, or straighten the arm. This is what is occurring when you perform a set of pushdowns. The second lesser know function is adduction. That is bringing the arm down towards the body. Only the long head is responsible for this function and it is shared with the lats.
5 Of The Best:The Best Triceps Exercises.
One can think of an almost endless supply of top exercises for the triceps. Between the basic movements and minor variations on each, you could almost go a year without using the same triceps exercise twice. However, some exercises are simply better than others. Here are 5 of the best exercises to get your guns growing.
Dips are simply to perform and don't require much equipment. All you need is a dipping bar or two flat benches. Simply set yourself up on the dipping bar or in between two benches, lower yourself until your arms are at 90 degrees and drive back to lockout.
To add weight simply use a belt or place it in your lap. It is important to remain as upright as possible during dips. Leaning forward takes the focus off the triceps and hits the chest muscles more.
2. Close Grip Bench Presses:
This movement is identical to a bench press however; you place your hands closer together so your index fingers are just off the smooth part of the bar. You can vary this movement by performing just the top 1/3 lockout to really hit the tris.
The number one triceps exercise in the world. Almost every trainee in every gym performs this movement. Grab a rope, bar or handle and extent your arms straight down until lockout. It's simple and effective. The variations for this movement are almost limitless. Different bars, hand positions, 1 hand etc the list goes on.
4. French Presses Or Lying Triceps Extensions Or Skull Crushers:
No one movement in weight training has so many names. Whatever you want to call it, it is great for the triceps. Simply lie on a flat bench with arms fully extended to the sky. Now while keeping your upper arm perpendicular to the ground, lower a barbell or dumbbells towards you head (hence skull crusher). Once you reach you head, extend your arms back you to the starting position.
5. Overhead Extensions:
Overhead extensions are about the only true stretch position movement for the triceps. You can perform this movement one arm or two arms at a time. For the one arm variation, start with a dumbbell in the finish position for a dumbbell press (i.e. arm straight up in the air). Then lower the weight down behind your head without moving the upper arm (so it remains vertical). Once you feel a good stretch in the triceps, reverse the movement to lockout.
For more info and videos on these triceps exercises and many more check out Bodybuilding.com's body part database.
Shock Techniques: What are some time-proven techniques to shock the triceps?
Personally, I find the triceps an odd muscle group to train. This is because on top of being involved in the working of other muscle groups (i.e. chest and delts) I find them hard to really isolate. I have often found I need to shock them, using the methods described below, because straight sets of 6-12 reps won't cut it.
It is worth considering that not all shock methods can be effectively applied to the triceps. For example eccentric (often called negatives by bodybuilders) are very hard to perform for the triceps.
Not only is it hard to isolate the triceps while performing eccentrics, but this type of training can really mess with your elbows. Therefore, I recommend anyone wishing to 'shock' their triceps, I recommend sticking to the methods I discuss here.
1. Drop Sets:
Drop sets are a personal favorite of mine when training the triceps. The whole purpose of this exercise is to increase the time under tension of the muscle. They are also very simple to perform.
Take an exercise to concentric (positive) failure within the desired rep range, then immediately reduce the weight and perform another set, again to concentric failure. You can perform a third set if you wish, but often feel the weight reduction is too much to be effective.
Say you get 8 reps with about 77-80% of your 1RM then drop to 70-73% and rep out, your next drop will take you below 70% which is simply to light for hypertrophy purposes. Drop sets are suited best to exercises on machines and with dumbbells, although can be done on barbells if you have a few capable spotters.
The reduction is weight needs to occur immediately this is why barbells are hard to use. My favorite exercise for drop sets is the triceps pushdown. Simply perform the reps, move the pin and go again, it's simple.
Include drop sets on the last set of an exercise, in a shock routine as discussed below or if you performing only one triceps movement on an upper body day to really hit the muscle group.
Cluster training is my favorite way to increase the mechanical load while lifting. Using cluster training is traditionally for strength purposes, but can also be used for growth. Besides a bigger muscle has greater potential to get large than a weaker one.
Let's say you've been using a 5x5 routine for close grip benches or dips, with 85% of your 1RM. To make this a cluster program you simply up the weight to 90% but take a 10 second pause between reps. Make sure you rack the weight between reps.
You do 5x5 in this fashion. e.g. 1 rep, rest 10s, 1 rep, rest 10s, 1 rep, rest 10s, 1 rep, rest 10s, 1 rep, rest 3 mins. Repeat.
Therefore at the end of your 5 sets, you have completed 25 reps with 90% of your 1RM as opposed to 85%.
Clusters are best performed with pushing movements such as close grip benches and dips as they may increase the chance of injuring an elbow on an extension exercise.
A favorite of the HITers, rest pause training allows you to take a set beyond failure. I often use this method on pushdowns if I don't reach my target reps. To use the rest-pause principle, simple take a set of an exercise to failure.
Then rest about 10 seconds and try to squeeze out another rep or two, then rest again for another 10 and try to get another rep. The reps after the pauses should be extremely hard and if you can get more than 2 reps, you didn't work hard enough before having a pause.
Supersets can take three forms: performing for opposite muscle groups, the same muscle group or completely unrelated muscle groups. For the purpose of specifically training the triceps we are going to focus on a triceps exercise + a triceps exercise. Mike Mentzer had arguably the best triceps of all time.
His routine was based on supersets and very simple. Mentzer's supersets consisted of dips and either machine extensions or cable pushdowns.
I think if you are going to superset any exercises for the same group it is vital to mix the type of exercises. For example: compound + isolation, or stretch + isolation. NOT compound + compound.
5. Partial Movements:
Partials are a great way to overload any muscle group, but in particular the triceps. The nature of triceps movements means that there is a large involvement from the chest and delts. By simply limiting the range of motion we can hit the triceps much more effectively.
A common example of this is people performing bench press rack lockouts to hit the tris. Close grip rack lockouts are an even better option. When doing benches or bench variations (such as close grip) the triceps are not worked as the prime movers until the top 1/3 of the movement. Using a power rack or boards can isolate this region of the stroke.
6. X-Reps, Power Partials, Burns:
These are all basically the same thing. At the end of a regular set continue with partial movements at the strongest point to extend the load/time. For example perform a set of pushdowns to failure than continue with just the bottom 1/3 of the movement for as many reps as you can.
It is important to remember with all these techniques that they are high intensity and should be used sparingly, not ever set or even every session.
What is the most effective mass building triceps workout?
Recommending one routine for the masses as a sure-fire winner is one of my pet peeves. Nowadays strength coaches who write online articles are beginning to avoid 'one size fits all' programs and instead discuss the tools required to build great programs. This is especially vital for bodybuilding purposes.
For example, take two bodybuilders and put them on the same program, with the assumption everything else such as diet, rest etc, is perfect for most, and monitor the results. After 5 weeks you might find one has gained 10lbs, while the other has gained 2lbs. This is because the first athlete's routine suited him exceptionally well while athlete 2's didn't.
People are always perplexed as to why some guys gain 2lbs a week regularly while they can't gain anything even though they stuff their faces and eat perfectly. It all comes down to the individual and whether the routine they are on is right for them.
So now that I've got my spiel out of the way, I am going to recommend my 2 most effective triceps routines. These may or may not work for you.
All exercises and techniques in these routines are discussed above.
This routine is my favorite and most effective mass building routine. I didn't create it; it's out of an old Ironman Magazine from an article by Steve Holman. Whenever I feel my arms are lagging a bit, this is the routine I turn to. It works great for me every time and includes some of the shock techniques mentioned above.
The exercise selection is based on the Positions of Flexion philosophy. One movement for each position: compound, stretch and contracted. Since it is part of an arm specialization routine I will also include the bicep routine and how to schedule your week to include the program.
* Numbers in parenthesis indicate a drop set. For example 6(5) means to perform a set of 6 to concentric failure, then lighten the weight and perform another 5 reps.
- Dips or Decline Close-grip Bench Press 3x 9, 7, 6 (5)
- One-arm Pushdowns (max contraction isometric) 1x20-30 seconds
- One-arm Pushdowns (drop set) 1-2x8(6)
- Overhead Extension (drop set) 1x8(6)
- Underhand Chin-ups 3x 9, 7, 6 (5)
- One-arm Spider curl (max contraction isometric) 1x20-30 seconds
- One-arm Spider Curl (drop set) 1-2x8(6)
- Incline Curls (drop set) 1x8(6)
With the program three options were provided as a guide. You basically should plan all your training with your own capabilities in mind (such as recovery).
Monday: Arms, abs.
Wednesday: Chest, back, delts
Friday: Arms, abs (maybe deadlifts)
Monday: Chest, delts, triceps
Wednesday: Back, biceps, abs
Thursday: Chest, delts, triceps
Saturday: Back, biceps, abs
Monday: Back, biceps, hams, calves, abs
Tuesday: Quads, chest, delts and triceps
Thursday: Back, biceps, hams, calves, abs
Friday: Quads, chest, delts and triceps
It is important to consider that if you do option 2 or 3, you will probably have to reduce the work done before you get to you triceps as this routine is designed to be done by itself, performing after chest and delt training may lead to over training.
There it is; the routine which I find most effective for adding some size to my triceps. This routine may be just what you are looking for to take your guns to the next level. I suggest you give it a try. Personally, I thought it looked a bit odd at first, but after just a few weeks I was pleasantly surprised. I imagine you will be too.
Routine 2: 10x3.
For those who want something a little more general for their triceps I have included this routine. It I don't want to focus on one body part then this is the type of routine I use. Despite its recent rise in popularity, the 10x3 method is far from being anything new.
Many old timers used this method for years and built some impressive bodies. I myself gained almost 10kg in my last rugby off season, while maintaining my body fat levels, on a purely 10x3 routine. Here is the routine, it's very simple:
Dips or Close-grip bench press (preferably decline) - 10 sets of 3 reps with 5 RM. 90 seconds between sets.
The early sets seem easy but they will become harder towards the end. Once you can manage 10 sets you can progress one of 2 ways. Either add around 2.5% to the load or add a rep, so it becomes 10x4, then 10x5. After 10x5 add weight. Don't under sell this method. IT WORKS!
This program can be placed as your triceps routine in you schedule. For example if you hit each group once per week:
Mon: Chest and back
Thurs: Delts and traps
Sat: Biceps and triceps
Or if you are beyond outdated once-a-week methods and use undulating periodization:
- Mon: Upper body + 10x3 triceps
Wed: Lower body
Fri: Upper body and 5x10 triceps pushdowns
Sat: Lower body
Remember this is only an example of how this routine could be used, not a definite program.
Favorite Exercises:What are your personal favorite triceps exercises? Why?
My favorite triceps exercises depend entirely on how my program is structured. For example, if I'm training arms on their own day, dips and close grip benches are my favorite. NOTHING comes close to these exercises. They are the number 1 mass builders of the triceps.
There is nothing like the feeling of strapping the average Joe's bench press weight around your waist and knocking out a set of dips. Close grip benches or lockout are also great as you can pile on the weight and watch all 3 heads of your tris grow.
If I am training my triceps as part of my whole upper body (e.g. an upper/lower split), then my favorite exercise is pushdowns. It's simple and more importantly effective. As it has been said before,
Amen to that.
The other great aspect of pushdowns is the variety they can inject. Five of the six intensity techniques I discussed above can be safely used with pushdowns and you can vary them by changing the bar and or hand positioning. V-bars, straight bars, ropes etc can all be used.
My personal favorite is to use a straight bar with a supinated (palm up or reverse) grip which hits the lateral head more. I always get a much more isolated pump this way than using a conventional grip, but at the same time have to use a lighter load, so it is really a catch 22 situation.
Bonus:Who has the largest and most defined triceps on the current IFBB circuit?
Although he was no where near his peak, the untimely passing of Paul DeMayo cost the sport possibly the best triceps since Mike Mentzer. However, of the current pros (and I'm a little biased being an Aussie), I'd have to say that Lee Priest has the best overall triceps.
The bottom line is that Priest is regarded as having the best arms in the business and as we know triceps play a huge role in that. He has a combination of size, symmetry, shape and usually conditioning which puts him in a higher stratosphere. His tris may not necessarily be as big as the 300lbers, but pound for pound Priest defeats all comers.
Lee Priest On Stage At The 2004 San Francisco Pro.
So there you have it, a brief look at another often under-rated body part. Remember, if you want big guns, you must work the triceps as well as the biceps. By following some of the info in this piece those 18-20 inch cannons might not be too far off.
2nd Place - ho_124
Many people today think about getting big strong arms, and since many don't even spend some time to research on how to do it, they often just end up doing endless curls and maybe a few bench press exercises here and there. We all see it, the guys in the gym who just think working the biceps is all they need to do for the arms basically because that's the part of the arm they see the most.
You can't deny it, these people are everywhere, even in the Bodybuilding.com forums there was a guy who asked if there were any good bicep supplements because that's all he cared about. God help that guy. And it does make sense that the triceps makes 66% of the arm.
If you think about it, the bicep is only a lump on the upper arm, and all that stuff below it is basically the triceps. That's why you have to workout your triceps properly because if you don't it will actually give the effect of having small arms. Plus your arms would look so disproportional, with a huge bicep and a flat little triceps muscle at the back.
And if you're into bodybuilding, you will never be able to get away with not working your triceps because so many poses require that you show your triceps. Not only do you need this muscle in bodybuilding but practically every sport.
One example is football. I don't know much about it but when they are blocking and pushing against each other they need strong triceps to do that. So now that we have all the reasons why to workout the triceps its time to get to how to make them grow stronger and bigger.
Knowing the anatomy of the triceps is key to knowing how to work them out for maximum size and strength. It's like upper, lower, inner, and outer pectorals. If someone only works their lower pectorals, the upper part will look flat and the whole pectoral will look disproportional.
Although it will not be as profound if one of the heads of the triceps was lagging rather than your upper pectorals or upper abs, it still isn't good to leave any part of the triceps underdeveloped. Basically the triceps is made of three heads, the lateral, medial, and long heads.
Different exercises will hit different parts or even all three of the heads. Knowing which exercises hit which head is essential for developing the triceps. One thing that you should note is that if I say that an exercise hits only two of the three heads, it's not like the other head doesn't get any work, it just doesn't get worked as much.
Shock Techniques:What are some time-proven techniques to shock the triceps?
There are several tried and proven techniques to build the triceps. Then there are the variations to these exercises, but if you actually take a look at all these different exercises they are basically the same thing just in different positions, with different equipment or just with a different kind of grip.
So basically if I were to list all the techniques the list would be endless. That's why I've divided everything into a couple basic techniques that branch off into other exercises. These variations of the exercises may look totally different but basically it works the triceps muscle in the same way.
Another little not here is concentration on the triceps muscle in compound exercises. Not mental concentration on what you're doing but trying to maximize the use of the triceps muscle on an exercise. So if you're doing bench press, try to get your triceps to do as much of the work as possible and less of your pectorals since this is about training triceps.Right here I want to say something. Let's say for bench press you can do 200 pounds x12, and you're not really a person who really concentrates on your triceps, but just performs the exercise. I bet if you took off 20 maybe even 30 pounds and were able to concentrate very well on your triceps, you would get just as tired with the same amount of reps. I've seen it done before. Someone I know benches less than I do for his workouts and yet he's still bigger and way stronger than I am, just because he is able to concentrate on his targeted body parts so well.
1. Close Grip & Close Reverse Grip (Palms Facing Away) Bench Press:
Close grip and close reverse grip bench press is an excellent way to exhaust the triceps; it's probably one of the top three exercises for it. The thing you have to make sure you do on close grip bench press is not to pick a grip with your hands too close.
If you do, lowering the bar will put your hands in an awkward position and the way your body handles it is by bending the wrists outward. This puts a great deal of pressure on the wrists and you could develop problems in your forearms. So basically you want to choose a close grip where your wrists aren't bent outward as much and put in an awkward position.
One rule of thumb that I use is putting my hands on the bar exactly in line with my shoulders. You can also you use an EZ bar, the diagonal grip will allow you to hold it with your hands very close without putting pressure on your wrists. Remember you can do almost any variation of the bench press to hit the triceps.
Bench pressing exercises hit two of the three heads of the triceps. That's why it is important to pick an exercise along with this that hits the other heads or all the heads.
2. Cable Push Downs & Extensions:
This is another huge exercise for the triceps and there are so many variations that it would be pointless to name all of them. People have been doing them for years with great results and almost every workout program includes cable extensions and pushdowns or some variation of it.
Cable pushdowns and extensions can be done with ropes, single handed pulleys, with different grips (palms gripped down, palms gripped up) and so on. But the most popular is probably using a straight short bar and gripping it so your palms are facing down and pushing down (Pushdowns are probably more popular than extensions).
Remember don't let your elbows shift around or else other body parts will get involved in pushing the weight down. Another unreal exercise that concentrates on the triceps even more is one arm reverse push downs. This is where you take a one handled pulley and grip it in a reverse way (Your palm faces up).
With your arm directly against the side of your body, move your hand off the line with your arm so it's closer to your chest so it's easier to press down. Then all you do is press down with that grip. It is amazing and I would argue that it concentrates your triceps even more because you don't tend to lean in as much.
Extensions are basically the opposite of pushdowns where you extend your arm straight up and lower your forearm and push back up with your triceps. This also works the stabilizer muscles more.
For the one arm reverse pushdowns it hits two of the three heads of the arm. I'm not sure about cable pushdowns with both arms and a straight bar but I'm pretty sure that it's two heads. So basically you want to put this exercise with something that hits all three heads of the triceps or with something that hits the other head.
3. Skull Crushers/ Free Weight Extensions ( + It's Numerous Variations):
The basic movement of skull crushers is taking dumbbells or a barbell putting your arms straight up and lowering your forearms and extending the bar back up. This is again one of the top three exercises to build your triceps.
A lot of people prefer to use the EZ bar because the grip makes it way easier to hold and lower. Also using a huge barbell is inconvenient. Make sure for this one your arms don't shift around or else you won't be concentrating on your triceps as much.
There is another variation that is sort of in the category of skull crushers. There are many names I've heard but I'll just go by what BB.com calls it which is seated triceps press. This is where you take one dumbbell, grip it with two arms and lower it behind your head and extend it up so its right above your head (Don't drop it or your totally done).
This is a very popular exercise that many people use and swear by. I find this exercise alright, but it's just a good exercise to keep in mind.
It can be done standing up, sitting on a bench or even lying down. It can be done with barbells, EZ bars, and dumbbells.
Another reason why these exercises are so good are because they hit all three heads of the triceps, so having a variation of this exercise will ensure that your triceps develops properly.
4. Triceps Dips:
This is basically the same thing as a dip except instead of leaning your upper body forward a bit to concentrate on the lower pectorals, you should lower yourself so that your body is exactly or almost exactly perpendicular with the floor. When you perform this triceps variation you should barely feel it in your pectorals and basically all of the stress in your arms.
One thing you want to do with this is stretch. If your muscle are inflexible going into this exercise, then you could injure yourself. You can also use weight for added resistance.
This is another awesome exercise because it concentrates on all three of the triceps. I don't see many people doing this exercise and that's a mistake because this is an excellent exercise for the triceps.
5. Triceps Kickbacks:
Some people swear by doing this saying it's one of the best exercises. Triceps kickbacks don't really have many variations except in different positions and with one or two arms at a time. I'm not going to explain how to do them because it's simple and if you don't know how to do them you really need help from someone.
I don't really like doing this exercise because it hurts my triceps but if it doesn't it could be a good way for concentrating on your triceps. The big thing you have to watch out for is cheating. When I see people doing this in the gym I always see them not extending fully or swing the weight up or sometimes even jerking it up.
Since I don't do this exercise I don't know how many heads it hits but I can image that it would hit all three of the triceps.
6. Triceps Curls:
Again there are many names for this but basically you take one arm and grip the dumbbell so that the sides of the dumbbells are facing your sides.
Raise the dumbbells straight up and bend the forearm so the dumbbell goes down towards your head then extend back up. I feel that this doesn't give my triceps a good workout but people say that this is a very good exercise for them. It also works the stabilizer muscles to a greater extent.
Now that we have some awesome exercises to work the triceps it's time to incorporate and add in some techniques to exhaust your triceps and take them to the next level.
Rest Pause Training:
Rest pause training is a great way to add mass to your triceps. It is also a great way to up the weight on certain exercises in less amount of time than if you didn't perform rest pause training.
The basic principle of rest pause training is training with more weight than you can usually handle for the targeted amount of reps, therefore getting your muscles more exhausted and more used to using heavier weight. So if you were doing bench press and you usually do 200 pounds for 10 reps.
You might up the weight to a weight that you could only perform 6-7 reps with. Then once you do this you rest for about 10-15 seconds. Then maybe you get two more reps out and rest again then get another 1-2 reps out. However you might not want to do rest pause training for every single set, maybe for just a few.
The reason is because first of all it would take more time to do. Second of all if you did it for every set then you might overtrain because you're putting a lot of stress on the muscles and also your recovery systems as well. So use this technique sparingly and don't go crazy on it. It's just like forced reps, if you do them every set then you would be training too hard.
Supersets are another great way to build mass in the triceps. Basically you want to superset two triceps exercises with each other. The exercise that goes best is Skull crushers/Free weight extensions with close grip bench press.
Just use an EZ bar and after your done the Skull crushers or whatever exercise then you would just go to bench press because you could bench more than you could skull crush. Therefore you would be able to perform a few more reps which would exhaust your muscle further giving it a better workout. On the second set you might want to perform the reps faster, so let's say .5-1 second up and the same time down.
Drop sets are also another great way of fatiguing the muscle further for more strength and size. This works great on machines where you could just take out the pin and put it on a lower weight and go again. But if you were to do it on an EZ bar it would be harder or on bench press.
You might want to get two people to quickly strip the weight off for you if your want to. But, I would prefer to do it with dumbbells or machines because the point of drop sets is to keep constant stress on the muscle, not take rest in between because that just defeats the purpose if you spend 30 seconds lowering the weight.
That's why when training triceps rest pause training might be more for you. But if you want to do drop sets the basic thing to do is choose a weight you could only perform less than your target rep range. So if you were to do 10 reps pick a weight you could do 6 times. Then lower the weight and do another 2 reps, and lower the weight again and finish off.
However you don't want to pick a weight where you will have to drop the weight more than four times. If you find yourself doing that then it's probably too heavy for you. Again like rest pause training you don't want to do drop sets for every single set because the main concern is overtraining.
Drop sets really stress the muscles since your using higher weights and putting constant stress on the muscles. It also like rest pause training stresses the recovery system to a greater extent. So again use sparingly and where appropriate. Usually they are good for the last few sets of a workout.
Forced Reps, Cheating, & Partials:
These are techniques that are basically if you're too fatigued to complete another full rep. For a quick outline forced reps are where someone helps you complete the rep (example: on bench press someone helps you up), cheating is a technique where you recruit other body parts or move the weight in such a way that you are able to complete the rep where you normally couldn't.
Partials is where you do a partial rep when you can't do another full one. These are great techniques to push your muscles further into fatigue but like the ones listed above don't do it for every set, especially forced reps and cheating. Partials can be used more since it doesn't stress the muscles and recovery systems as much as the others.
Workouts:What is the most effective mass building triceps workout?
Like I always say there isn't a perfect workout for any body part like many magazines make you believe which just makes you want to buy it. But basically the best workout is one that you like the best, so that's why I can only suggest a good workout that I think is good, but in the end you're the person who will have to alter it to suit your needs.
If you don't like one exercise that I put on there then you can switch it or if you like doing move or fewer sets the choice is yours. Just make sure you follow a few guidelines, tips, and suggestions.
Don't do more than 9-12 sets for your triceps (I would even say 12 sets might be pushing it), because first of all you run the risk of overtraining. Secondly there is something called diminishing returns for each set for a body part after a certain point. That means at a certain point you don't get as much benefit for that set as you would for the sets before.
I would say that you basically get diminishing returns at 9+ sets, so stick somewhere around there. I always see these workout programs with 12+ sets and sometimes even 15+ which is just stupid because you're doing all those exercises with very little return. And you run the risk of overtraining since that would probably be 1 hour on the triceps if you went +15.
One hour on the triceps is just a waste. One extreme case of a guy I know is where he spends two hours on pecs and triceps. That's like 1 hour on triceps and that just goes to show you how much of a waste it is.
Rest between sets should be 30 seconds to 90 seconds to maximize hypertrophy. Powerlifters rest for 3-5 minutes to prevent muscular gain.
Pick one exercise for every three sets. So if you're like me, I have 9 sets for triceps, so I pick three different exercises. This ensures that all different heads will get it and my triceps will develop properly. Also picking different exercises ensures your muscle won't adapt to one exercise.
For example if you did 9 sets of bench press, your muscles would adapt to that movement and not get as much gain from it. But if you chose 3 totally different exercises, your muscles will be stressed to a greater extent because it can't adapt to all three exercises.
Use a rep range between 6-12 if you're going for muscular size which I'm sure most of you are.
Use extra techniques to further fatigue your muscle like the ones I listed above. But don't use them for every set and more than you need to.
If you're feeling tired and need to complete more reps you can do: Forced reps, partials and cheating.
Now for the workout. I don't usually go above or below nine sets. Whenever I design my program my triceps are almost always worked in nine sets. Don't worry about it; it's enough for your triceps if you pick the correct poundage to exhaust the muscle.
I also go from 6-12 reps because if I go below 6 reps I'm going for strength and my muscles won't have much oxygen capacity meaning they will get tired faster (That's what low rep range does).
Also I don't like going for endurance because that's not really one of my goals. So basically 6-12 reps is a good rep range for me. I also like to use techniques like drop sets to further exhaust my muscle but you don't have to use them if you don't want to.
Parallel Dips- 3 sets of 6-12 reps
Remember in this exercise to keep your torso perpendicular with the floor so it concentrates on the triceps more.
Skull Crushers With EZ Bar Lying Down (puts less stress on lower back for those guys who have back problems) - 3 sets of 6-12 reps
Perform a superset/burn on this exercise for all the sets or just the last two depending on how you're feeling. After you have done one set for this exercise immediately take the bar and do a bench press with it as many times as possible. Since you can bench more than you can skull crush, you will be able to squeeze out a good amount of repetitions. And because you're using a bar and lying down, you can switch from skull crushers to bench press in a second.
This acts like something that exhausts the muscle further so that it will be put under more stress. When it's put under more stress it adapts by repairing itself bigger and stronger.
Remember you don't have to do this if you don't like it. And also on the superset/burn you should perform the set faster than usual but not so that your arms are just flying up and down. It should be like .5-1 second up and the same amount down.
One Arm Reverse Pushdowns- 3 sets of 6-12 reps
Perform drop sets on the last two sets or just the last one depending on how your feeling to fatigue your muscles to a greater extent. To do this pick a weight you can only do a certain number of times which is less than your target rep range. Then you keep lowering the weight until you reach your target rep range.
So if you had to do 10 reps pick a weight you could only do say 5 times. Then once you do it five times and can't do it again take the pin out and lower the weight to something you could only do 3 times, then pick a weight you could only do twice for a total of 10 reps. The maximum number of times I would lower the weight would be 3 times because going over would just be overkill.
Favorite Exercise:What are your personal favorite triceps exercises? Why?
My personal favorite exercise, hands down, has got to be reverse one arm pushdowns like the one I described above in the category of cable pushdowns. First of all it concentrates on the triceps better for me and most people because there isn't as much of a tendency to lean into the exercise as there is with two handed cable pushdowns.
Also, since it's on a machine I can do things like drop sets easier because all I have to do is move the pin, rest pause training and other techniques are also super easy to do with this exercise.
Drop sets on close grip bench press is cumbersome if you're by yourself because you have to get up and change the weight and its more like rest pause training that way because you're suppose to drop the weight and immediately start. Also the thing I like the best about it is you can be your own spotter.
Since you're using one hand, your other hand can assist it very easy which you can't do for things like bench press and two armed cabled pushdowns. However make sure when you're pushing down that you are applying just enough pressure to complete the rep. It defeats the purpose if you just pushdown with full force with your other hand.
Also since I'm alternating hands to do the exercise, I only need to rest for about 10-20 seconds and do it again because my other arm already rested while my other arm was doing the exercise for about 30 seconds. This is good because it keeps my blood flowing constantly rather than if I just keep resting for a minute at a time.
Bonus:Who has the largest and most defined triceps on the current IFBB circuit?
We all know what the answer is and it is obviously Ronnie Coleman. If you look at all the other bodybuilders their triceps are big but Ronnie Coleman just sweeps their triceps away, his are huge and him winning the Mr. Olympia 8 times only goes to show for it.
View More 2005 Olympia Pics Here.
Also if you look at other peoples triceps they don't look that shapely, but if you look at Ronnie Coleman's you can practically see the heads stemming out of his arm, it's almost disgusting.
3rd Place - mivi320
Training only your biceps in your quest for a set of "big guns" is simply setting yourself up for failure. The fact of the matter is that the triceps make up 2/3 of your arms; therefore, it is a smart decision to train your triceps on your journey to of achieving massive arms.
To train the triceps muscles sufficiently, you must put a major emphasis on keeping constant tension throughout triceps isolation movements over the full range of motion. It is also imperative to flex the entire triceps muscle by simply extending the arms fully to get the most muscle fiber recruitment.
The triceps brachii consists of a total of three heads: the lateral, medial, and long heads. It is these muscles which join the humerus and the scapula to the ulna (the forearm bone).
It's rather substantial to assure you implement triceps exercises that target all three of the triceps heads, as this will fully develop the triceps muscles.
When Should I Train My Triceps?
If you're lacking size and overall mass on the upper back of your arms, then you should prioritize your triceps in your training by simply devoting one training day out of the week to train the triceps.
Training chest and triceps together on the same day is very common today among bodybuilders, but if you really want to add some freaky mass to your tri's - devote one day to train your triceps with all out intensity!
The problem with training the triceps muscles after a chest workout is that you cannot fully overload the triceps, as they have already been partially worked during the chest movements.
Prioritizing your triceps by training them with heavier weights while they're fresh will conclusively improve your results in the triceps strength and size department!
What are some time-proven techniques to shock the triceps?
Train With Intensity!
If you want massive triceps, don't be afraid to pound them a bit! When you're in the gym and notice that the beast beside you is knocking out lying triceps extensions with almost 250 pounds loaded onto the bar, it becomes rather clear how the principle of progressive overload aids in the development of larger arms.
Guys like that beast putting up those numbers didn't just wake up one morning and decide to crank out reps with that much weight. It took a long time for guys like that to build up to those weights, but they kept adding poundage to their lifts every week - no matter what.
Incorporate Drop Sets Into Your Triceps Workout!
Finishing your triceps workout off with an intense drop set on triceps pushdowns is a great way to shock your triceps into some massive growth!
Take a weight you can perform pushdowns with for 12 reps, cut the weight in half and crank out as many reps as you possibly can, then drop that weight in half once again and nail as many reps as you possibly can.
This method has shocked my triceps into some serious new size when I hit a plateau with triceps training not too long ago. Use this method sparingly though to break through a plateau or for some variation in your triceps workout - as it can lead to overtraining if used too frequently.
Pre-Exhaust Your Triceps!
Pre-exhaust is simply pre-fatiguing or pre-tiring a particular muscle group by using an isolation or "single-joint" exercise first, followed by a compound or "multiple-joint" movement.
Pre-exhausting the triceps with triceps pushdowns (isolation movement) followed by a heavy compound movement such as close grip bench press, your triceps will have no choice but to grow!
Remember that you won't be able to put up as much weight as you usually would after pre-exhaustion sets, so make sure you leave your ego at the door!
Workout:What is the most effective mass building triceps workout?
- Lying Triceps Press 5x8-15
- Close Grip Bench Press 5x6-8
- Reverse Grip Triceps Pushdown 3x8-15
- Triceps Dips 3x6-8
This routine utilizes the pre-exhaustion method by focusing on fatiguing the triceps muscles with lying triceps presses then followed by close grip bench presses.
Another great thing about the routine is that it focuses on heavy compounds in the 6-8 rep range, which will guarantee some massive gains in the triceps! On isolation exercises, the 8-15 rep range is used to induce even more hypertrophy (muscle growth) and provide you with a great pump!
The overall volume of the routine is just right, as the triceps get hit hard on chest and shoulder day as well. Therefore, the total volume will help prevent overtraining, which will seriously hinder your results.
Remember to sufficiently warm-up prior to working out!
Favorite Exercises:What are your personal favorite triceps exercises? Why?
Personally, I like pre-exhausting my triceps with pushdowns followed by close grip bench press. The feeling I get in my triceps when I do this is simply unreal, and it leaves my triceps sore for days!
My second favorite triceps exercise is weighted dips. I love the looks I get at the gym when I'm doing dips with 85 pounds hanging from my dipping belt. The pump I get in my tri's is amazing whenever I perform weighted dips!
To View Top Selling Dipping Belts Click Here.
My least favorite triceps exercise is dumbbell kickbacks, as I never get anything out of them. I once followed a routine that focused primarily on dumbbell kickbacks as the main triceps exercise, and my triceps didn't grown one bit!
Once I began incorporating pre-exhaustion techniques, heavy compounds, and the occasional drop set into my routine, the growth in my triceps and the back of my upper arms skyrocketed!
Bonus:Who has the largest and most defined triceps on the current IFBB circuit?
His triceps are ridiculously massive, yet defined! He seriously has "horse shoe" triceps! Russian bodybuilding juggernaut, Alexander Fedorov, certainly has triceps that are out of this world. I truly believe Alexander is going to be the next big thing in years to come!
Make sure you keep an eye out for this guy!