Build Big Triceps with 3 Exercises

Sep 13 16:53 2009 Tony Schwartz Print This Article

The triceps make up 2/3 of your upper arm.  Can you afford not to do these time tested triceps builders?

Is there a lifter out there who doesn't want bigger arms and a bigger bench press? The triceps are one of the most underrated muscle groups.  After all,Guest Posting they contribute a lot more to your overall arm size than your biceps, and they are a key muscle group in all pressing exercises.

With this is in mind it should seem obvious that building your triceps should be your goal if you want to get bigger and stronger.  The problem is that most body builders do not know how to train their triceps properly.  You will often see bodybuilders using valuable energy on things like pushdowns and kickbacks. Now, there isn't anything bad about these exercises, but the majority of your time would be much better spent on compound exercises which allow for heavy loads to be used.

In fact, you simply can't adequately stimulate all of the muscle fibers in the triceps without using some exercises which allow for heavy loads to be used.  In general it is best to hit 1 or 2 heavy compound exercises and then move on to an isolation exercise to squeeze the last little bit out of your muscles.

With this in mind let's take a look at three great exercises for your triceps:

Triceps Skullcrushers

This is probably the body building exercise with the scariest name.  After all, who wants their head crushed?  But the exercise is aptly named because it is performed lying down on your back on a bench with a barbell at arm's length.  You will then flex at the elbows and lower the bar until it touches your forehead. Obviously if you do this in an uncontrolled manner it will hurt your skull!
The key to this exercise is to make sure the stress stays on the triceps.  To do this you want the elbows close to the body and pointed towards the ceiling. It is essential that you only flex and extend the elbows and that you do not move them forward or backward, or you will shift the stress off the triceps.
While this exercise is usually done by touching the bar to the forehead, you can vary the point at which you touch in order target specific areas of the triceps.  In general, shifting lower on the body, such as the chin, will hit the medial head harder, while shifting higher on the body will hit the long head harder.

Tricep Dips

This is the classic tricep mass builder.  Dips are likely responsible for building more tricep muscle than any other exercise.  This is due to the combination of heavy weights and targeted stimulation that they provide to the triceps.  When you first begin lifting you may have difficulty performing more than a couple of these, but as you progress it is important to continue adding weight by using a dumbbell between your feet or a specialized dip belt.  The addition of external loading will allow you to continue to progress in this exercise once you are capable of easily handling your body weight.
As with most triceps exercises, the key to proper performance is to keep your elbows close to the body.  This means using a close grip on the dip bars.  It also means that you should use an upright posture without too much forward lean.  Leaning forward shifts more of the stress to the deltoids and chest, which is not what we want for our purposes.  Optimally, you should descend into the bottom of the exercise until your upper arms were parallel with the ground. However, this will cause shoulder pain in a good number of lifters, and in this case you should either shorten the range of motion or skip the exercise altogether.

Close grip Barbell Bench Press

If this isn't the king of the triceps exercises, then it is pretty close.  The ability to use heavy loads due to synergy from your chest and shoulders allows you to completely overload the triceps and force them to get bigger.  While you want to work on continually getting stronger, you should never sacrifice correct form for weight.  With this exercise it important to keep the elbows near your body throughout the movement in order to keep as much stress as possible on the triceps.  Even with a close grip the stress can be shifted off of the triceps muscle and put onto the elbow joints if you do not keep the elbows tucked in tight. This obviously not only hampers your muscle growth, but can lead to elbow and wrist injuries as well.

As you can see perfect technique is critical to your success with triceps exercises, just as it is with all exercises.  You can perform exercises with bad technique and still get some of the benefit, but you will never see great results and you may just hurt yourself in the process.  Because of this it is highly recommended that you learn how to do these exercises properly from an expert in the field.

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Tony Schwartz
Tony Schwartz

See video and get tips on Overhead DB Triceps Extensions and more of the best exercises for triceps muscles.

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