Table of contents
- 4 Types of exercises to work on your exercises
- Triceps training program
- Train your triceps at least once a week
- Stagnation of your triceps, what to do?
We sometimes forget to work some of our muscles, we only think about having big biceps and pectorals, and the back of our arms are all thin and shapeless! Building up your triceps is easy and there are many different exercises to do. Ready to have harmonious arms and huge triceps?
The triceps is the muscle opposite the biceps, hold your arm out, pass your hand from the top of your shoulder and slide it up to the elbow… you don’t feel a muscle that stands out from the rest of the upper arm, quick, get to work!
This muscle is very important for the stability and strength of our movements when we decide to push something, like when we do bench presses to build our torso.
4 Types of exercises to work on your exercises
Dips, the essential exercise
Dips are an excellent choice for beginners. They can be done at home or in a gym and work all three groups simultaneously. These exercises use two bars or two tables, two chairs, two pieces of furniture, two benches… and involve the body weight. The work can be accelerated by adding a ballast – a weight belt at the waist for example.
It will be necessary initially to choose the parallel bars which must be of a minimum height equivalent to that of your pectoral. The distance between the bars should be slightly greater than the distance between the shoulders – no more than that, otherwise the pectoral muscles will work and not the triceps.
The exercise starts with the grip of the bars. The bust must remain straight. It will be necessary to proceed to a suspension, legs folded and arms stretched then bent. The body will be lowered then raised, the forearms and the bust always vertical. I insist on this condition to make work correctly the triceps and not the pectoral muscles.
It will be necessary to lower the body until the arms are parallel to the ground – the elbows are bent at 90°. According to your flexibility, the amplitude will be more or less important. The elbows will be tilted towards the front to make well work the muscles. You should feel your arms working.
Go back up. This ascent should not be done completely. It is important to stop before the elbows are fully extended. This avoids too much effort on the joints.
During the work, two breathing techniques can be used. I advise beginners to breathe in during the descent and to breathe out during the ascent. For regular practitioners, it is recommended to breathe in at the top and then hold your breath on the way down. You exhale strongly when you begin the ascent.
This exercise is particularly effective for developing muscle mass. If you wish to work in addition the sheathing, opt for unstable supports types rings.
Overhead Tricep Extension
This exercise is suitable for those who wish to develop in particular the long portion of their triceps. It is a work in extension above your head. It is possible to find many variations that everyone will adopt according to their preferences and the equipment they have.
The most common technique is definitely the EZ bar. I will come back to it more precisely in another chapter, just like the extension with pulley. You can also use a triceps bar, which is ideal for vertical extensions, or one – or two – dumbbells.
With the dumbbell, the exercise is done standing upright. We keep the position throughout the work. We begin the session with some lifts, the bar on the front of the body. Then, once the muscles are warmed up, you pass the bar over your head and you perform shoulder movements over your head. Exhale during the lift.
You can also work sitting down. You place the barbell on your thigh and then lift it with both hands to place it in front of your shoulder, turning it 180°. After a flexion of the elbow, one lowers the dumbbell behind the head. We raise it without moving the arms. To work well, I advise you to keep your arms as straight as possible without spreading outwards.
It is also possible to work with a unilateral dumbbell, one arm after the other. In this case, you should extend the arm holding the dumbbell over your head and then lower it backwards. Keep the upper arm still and work with the forearm, which should be lower than horizontal. Perform smooth lifts, working only your triceps. Avoid overstretching the arm, otherwise you could injure yourself.
It is still possible to work with two dumbbells simultaneously. You will have to move your arm vertically to place the dumbbells behind your ears. You should not move your elbows and you should focus on the amplitude of the movement. I recommend this method for those who have little time – you work both triceps at the same time.
High Pulley Overhead Tricep Extension
This exercise is ideal for beginners. Standing in front of the high pulley, feet apart at the level of the pelvis, we slightly bend the knees and we keep the back quite straight. Both hands are placed on a bar connected to the pulley. The arms are tightened against the bust. One then tightens its arms until obtaining a complete extension then one takes again the initial position. It is important to move only the forearm, the elbows stuck to the sides. As for breathing, to be effective, I recommend an inhalation while holding the bar and an exhalation while stretching the arms. Be sure to grip the bar with your whole hand. This will prevent it from slipping and hurting you.
Once you have mastered this exercise, it can be done with different variations. You can opt for the palm of the hand turned towards the ground – pronation – or facing you – supination which intensifies the vastus medialis. You can also prefer the hammer variant, i.e. palms facing each other. If you want to work the long portion of the triceps, bring your arms forward or work with them overhead.
Triceps bar at the front or EZ Curl bar
This exercise is specific to this muscle area and works all three parts. The execution is quite simple. You lie down on the ground or on a bench. We hold the bar in supination – palm facing us. The catch is of a width equivalent to the shoulders. We bring the bar above the forehead without moving anything else than the forearms that we bend. Exhale as you raise the bar.
You then make an extension of the forearms. One repeats the exercise which can be densified by advancing the elbows towards the face. The arms being slightly inclined, the tension will be continuous. You can also keep your feet in the air.
This exercise, if done with too much haste, can be painful. I therefore advise you to start with a reasonable weight. You can also do a series of 20 just with the bar and then add weights once the muscles are warmed up.
Triceps training program
This is the best program for gaining muscle volume, as it consists of increasing the weight after each set while decreasing the number of repetitions.
To help you, here is a concrete example to be performed at least once a week, and maximum 2 times, to let your triceps recover and especially to work your other muscles.
- 1 set of 15 dips, without load, using your body weight on a bench
- 1 set of 12 dips with an X weight
- 1 set of 10 dips adding 5kg to the weight X
- 1 set of 8 dips adding 8kg to the weight X
Triceps front bar or EZ bar
- 1 set of 12 barbells or EZ barbells with X weight
- 1 set of 10 barbells or EZ barbells adding 5kg to the weight X
- 1 set of 8 front bar or EZ bar with 8kg added to the weight X
- 1 set of 5 barbells or EZ bar adding 1kg to the weight X
Pulley triceps extension
Perform 4 decrescendo sets of 15, 12, 10 and 8 reps.
Split triceps program (one muscle per session)
- 7 to 10 minute cardio warm-up (rower or bike for example)
- Dips: 5 sets of 10 repetitions, with 1 min 30 of break between each
- Vertical extensions with a dumbbell: 5 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions, depending on your level, with a 1.5 minute break between each
- Triceps barbell or EZ barbell: 3 sets of 10 reps, with 1 minute break between each set
- Stretching to promote muscle recovery
For all the weights given here, this is just an example of what I do, it’s up to you to adjust according to your strength and level.
Train your triceps at least once a week
The triceps is a muscle like any other that should be worked at least once a week. To help you do this, here are a few videos from coach Marc Fitt to motivate you and explain some exercises to build up your triceps and build up your arms at the same time to maximize your sessions:
Stagnation of your triceps, what to do?
Despite the exercises I suggest, it can happen that your triceps stagnate. There are several reasons for this, and I will give you some advice on how to deal with it.
First of all, you should know that the triceps represent about half of the muscle volume of the arm. If your biceps swell, it is possible that your triceps look smaller, and therefore this stagnation is only a subjective impression. It is always best to measure your arm circumference to see how it is changing, while checking the biceps/triceps ratio.
If indeed your triceps are stuck at a certain stage, it is simply a signal that it is time to question your exercise routine. A very common mistake made when a muscle seems to be stagnant is to lengthen workouts. Instinctively, people think that if they add ten reps per set, or an extra set, it will bulk up the muscle. It won’t. In reality, you’re getting into an endurance type of training, and all you have to do is look at endurance athletes, they are rarely very muscular.
The solution to avoid muscle stagnation is to increase the intensity of the exercises. You can add weights or adopt more explosive movements. If the load is too intense, don’t hesitate to reduce the number of repetitions! One idea, for example, is to reverse the weight progression. Instead of doing sets of vertical extensions with a dumbbell of first 5, then 8, then 10 kilos, do the opposite by starting with the 10 kilos right away. This creates a shock to the muscle, which will then be encouraged to swell to withstand this new challenge.
Also, remember to watch your diet. You may find that stagnant muscle signals that it’s time to increase your protein intake, or other fitness substances (glucosamine, etc.) to fuel muscle growth.