Everyone is an expert when it comes to building muscle mass. Most of the guys wanting bigger arms to wind up doing the wrong exercise for hours. Though the truth is that more is not always better. You can make great gains by just training them twice or thrice a week.
The pictures you see posted on social media are mostly of steroid-using professional bodybuilders. Moreover, most of the routines suggested on various platforms are for the experienced lifter with several years of training under their belt.
When it comes to building bigger arms, tricep training is a must. Triceps are a group of muscle that often takes a back seat when gym goer go in to train arms. Your tricep makes up a fair amount of your arm. Thus it makes sense to train them as hard as biceps to build a pistol-size arm.
Why My Triceps Aren’t Growing?
To begin with, let us just take a look at the anatomy of the triceps. As the name suggests tricep is a 3 headed muscle compromised of the long head, lateral head, and medial head. The long head, all by itself, forms two-thirds of the overall size of the backside of the arm. While the lateral and medial head makes up just one-third of the overall mass of the triceps.
Despite the use of major compound exercises like the close grip bench press and bench press, the tricep won’t grow as much as it should. This is because the medial head and lateral head are most responsible for extending the elbow under load. This is exactly what these most popular pressing exercises do.
Most often, it is the long head that gets neglected when it comes to exercise selection. And without a significant focus on getting that arm up overhead (to place an extra stretch on the long head) or back behind the body (to get a tighter contraction on the long head), you simply won’t maximize the size of the tricep and overall development of the arm. However, that is easily fixable.
Let us look over the other reasons responsible for making your efforts to grow tricep go in vain.
1) Exercise Sequence
The way you sequence your exercise for the triceps is going to make a big deal particularly as a result of elbow injuries. Over the years a lot of gymgoers have experienced trouble triceps because their elbows always hurt.
Usually, people kick-start their triceps workout with heavy skull crushers and lying extension type exercise. These exercises are very hard on your triceps or elbow and if your elbows are always banged up and hurting you will not get good triceps. So you may start with push-down variations as those are about easiest on your tricep and highly underrated.
2) Range Of Motion Of Push Downs
While doing push down let the wrist come up higher so that they’re actually getting more range of motion on the triceps. Make sure you don’t rest when you come up to keep tension on the tricep.
Now follow that up with where do you push down in front straight down or slightly behind toward you. Again all those things potentially work but when you pushing straight down you are keeping all the tension on your tricep. You don’t need to snap and lock the elbows out real hard just nice and smooth keeping the tension on the triceps.
3) No Leaning Forward
Close grip pipe push down with this style where you would lean into it that tends to use your chest is not a tricep exercise. It is a kind of upper body exercise with the involvement of chest, shoulder, and somewhat triceps loading the whole stack off.
But there is a better way if you want to do an exercise to really load your triceps. Real heavy pin press is an answer to it. The advantage of real heavy pin presses is when you get to the bottom of a bench press it’s mostly will say chest for the most part and you’re weaker there than your lockout. But if you focus on the lockout you can direct a lot of stress through triceps and with a heavyweight. So it’s more specific to the tricep and your chest is not a limiting factor.
4) Close Grip Range Of Motion.
A lot of people program closed grip for bench presses for the triceps and the problem again is the chest. As there’s so much chess work involved they can’t really focus on the triceps. So if you limit your range of motion it’s going to be much more effective for your tricep. The close grip bench press is a great exercise and if your problem is specifically lagging triceps then I’d much rather see you do this than a full range of motion.
5) Smooth And Nice Tempo
I would like you to do the exercises with a real good smooth tempo. Don’t get sloppy ever something like a dip or disfigure the body postures lest you will definitely hurt something.
6) Bench Dip Range Of Motion
I want to caution you about the bench dip here that it is a little bit risky on your shoulders when you get down into that really low position. Bench dips are okay but you got to limit that range of motion to halfway and squeeze. So you gotta be really precise if you want to use this version of a dip or you’ll hurt yourself.
7) Line Extensions
After a good warmup when your triceps have a pretty good amount of blood and your elbows are warmed up. The line extensions are now gonna be much safer eliminating the chances of tearing your elbow. Line extensions give you the ability to really stretch your tricep heads.
So if you want to put a really good stretch on tricep there’s a couple of ways to do it. One way is actually to get with the pushdown and the other way is anytime the line extension.
So a line extension is recommended because of the stretch you can get and there is nothing better than getting an awesome pump in a movement pushing some weight and then stretching the muscle.
8) Separate Bi/Tri Arm Day
A separate bicep/tricep arm day will give you a lot of focus. Moreover, you will train them when you’re fresh. So a separate arm day programmed with triceps first and then biceps will help a lot.
Most Effective Exercises For Building Triceps
Here I will add some popular tricep exercises that can help to get more focus on the long head of the tricep.
1) Dumbell Kickback
Reps – 12-15
Place your knee on the side of the flat bench with a dumbbell in one hand. Support your body with the other hand by placing it on the bench.
Position your torso and the arm having a dumbbell parallel to the floor, with your right elbow bent at a 90-degree angle. The dumbbell should be hanging straight down below the elbow
With your arm having the dumbbell close to your body, exhale as you kick back extending the arm back until it is straight. Hold it for two seconds.
Then inhale as you slowly lower the dumbbell back to the starting position. Repeat the same with your other arm.
2) Flat Bench Decline Dumbbell Triceps Extension
Sets – 3
Reps – 12-15
Lay on a flat bench holding a dumbbell in each hand using a neutral grip (palm facing each other). Hook both your feet under the footpads.
Keeping your arms fixed, flex your elbows as you exhale and lower the dumbbells after applying a 2sec isometric pause to the sides of your head in a semicircular motion.
3) Tricep Extension
Set – 3
Reps – 12
To get into position lay down on the flat bench and grasp a loaded (desired weight) barbel or an EZ bar with a narrow pronated (overhand) grip.
Press the barbell upward until your arms are fully extended and hold it over your forehead.
From the above position, lower the weights as you inhale on/behind your head by unlocking the elbows.
Once your forearms reach parallel or just below, reverse the movement by extending the elbows while flexing the triceps to lock out the weight.
The key is twofold. First, you have to make sure that you keep your arm angled backward even at the top of the movement. This helps to keep the tension on the tricep throughout the entire exercise.
Second is the level of stretch placed on the triceps muscle at the bottom. If you stop short and limit the range of motion then you are going to lose the ability to tap into an extra stretch reflex for a more powerful contraction.
Make sure you use appropriate weight according to you, don’t go too heavy.
4) Rope Tricep Pushdown
Sets – 3
Reps – 12-15
Stand under the cable pulley and grasp each end of the rope attachment with a neutral grip(palms facing each other).
Pull your elbows down to your sides and lawn forward a little at the hips, keeping your back straight.
Without moving your upper arms, push the rope all the way down until your elbows are locked. And as your arm extends twist your wrists so that your palms face down at the end of the movement.
Inhale as you slowly reverse the motion and return to the starting point.
keep your elbows tucked in to your sides.
If you use too much weight, you’ll involve your back and shoulder, defeating the purpose. So if you can’t keep the shoulders down, lighten the weight.
4) Machine Assisted Tricep Dips
Reps – 10-12
Hoist yourself up on the parallel bars with your torso perpendicular to the floor. Straighten your arms, bend your knees and cross your ankles so that your legs are suspended off the ground.
Keeping your elbows tucked to your body upright, slowly lower your body (as you inhale) until your elbows form a 90degree angle or you feel a slight stretch in your shoulders.
Exhale as you exhale push your body back up to the starting position. If you have shoulder issues, skip this exercise.
Leaning forward will shift emphasis to your chest and shoulders making the exercise a chest dip instead of a tricep dip.
Avoid locking your elbows at the top of the movement.
Keep your body upright and your elbows tucked in.
5) Bench Tricep Dip
Reps – 10-12
Position two parallel benches bandstand between them. Place your hands on the inside edge of one bench and your heels on the other so that your bottom is suspended between the benches. Otherwise, you can also use a single bench with the hand resting on it and heels on the floor.
Keep your elbows tucked in and your torso upright. Lower your elbows as you exhale and lower your body until you feel a slight stretch in your shoulder or make a 90degree angle.
As you inhale, extend your elbows and raise your body position.
Do not lock your elbows at the top of the moment. If you have any shoulder issues skip this exercise.
Hopefully, after reading this article you have a better understanding of the biological make-up of the triceps and how to train to build bigger triceps.
However, there are many other tricep workouts. Though the above-given exercises are tried and tested to get horseshoes tricep whether you are a beginner or a more advanced lifter. Stick with the 8-12 rep range and make sure you are using proper form.