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If you want your arms to be in permanent beast mode, than show some love to your triceps. When its well-defined, the muscle forms a large horse-shoe like shape that makes your arm look monstrous even when you’re not flexing.
But you need to be careful what movements you use to train your tris, according to Chad Waterbury, M.S., owner of HFTmuscle.com.
Performing heavily-weighted kickbacks and extensions can injure your elbows, while dips are tough on your shoulder muscles.
Luckily, there are safer exercise choices that are just as effective at building massive triceps, he says. Keep reading for 3 awesome ways to hammer the back of your arms and carve chiseled horseshoes.
Dumbbell Fly and Diamond Pushup Combo
Close-grip or diamond pushups hit your triceps harder than a standard pushup. However, your chest and shoulder muscles are still carrying a good portion of the load, says Waterbury.
If you perform the dumbbell fly first, though, you can change that. “Your pecs and shoulders will be too tired to contribute much to the diamond pushup when you switch over, so your triceps have to take on the bulk of the work,” explains Waterbury.
Do it: Grab a pair of medium-weight dumbbells. Lie on your back on the floor with the knees bent and feet flat on the ground.
Hold the dumbbells over your chest with your elbows slightly bent and your palms facing out. Without changing the bend in your elbows, slowly lower the dumbbells out to your sides until your arms are nearly touching the floor.
Then, lift the dumbbells until they are two-thirds of the way to the starting position. That’s 1 rep.
Keep the dumbbells moving continuously up and down to maximize the work of your chest muscles. Do 15 reps.
After you complete the chest fly, immediately roll over into a pushup position. Place your hands close together so your index fingers and thumbs touch, and then perform as many pushups as possible.
That’s 1 round. Do 3 rounds, resting 90 seconds between each one.
Seated Overhead Triceps Extension with a Resistance Band
Considering its name, it should be no surprise that the triceps muscle is composed of three different sections or “heads”—long, lateral, and medial. For maximum strength and size, you need to develop all three.
“The long head of the triceps on the inside of the upper arm is usually underdeveloped in most guys,” says Waterbury.
Overhead exercises like the extension hit it hardest—and using a resistance band instead of a dumbbell will protect your elbows.
“That’s because the band has the least tension where the triceps are weakest—when your elbows are bent,” he says. “And it has the most where the triceps are the strongest—with your arms straight overhead.”
Do it: Slide a resistance band under a flat bench. Sit on the bench and brace your abs, as if you’re about to be punched in the gut.
Then grab each end of the band, and press your arms straight overhead with your palms facing each other. Pull your shoulders down and away from your ears.
Keeping your upper arms still, bend your elbows and let your hands go behind your head until you feel a stretch in your triceps.
Then reverse the movement by straightening your arms and contracting your triceps.
When your arms are straight, hold that position for 2 seconds and continue to squeeze your tris. That’s 1 rep. Do 4 sets of 8 reps, resting one minute between each set.
5-to-3 Iso-Squeeze Triceps Pressdown with a Resistance Band
Your muscle fibres exist on a spectrum. At one end, you have the fibres that handle endurance activities. At the other end live the fibres that help you lift maximum loads.
The latter are called type IIb fibres, and they have the most growth potential, explains Waterbury. However, they only ‘turn on’ when muscle tension is at its peak.
Usually, you need extremely heavy loads to create that kind of tension.
“But you can mimic it with a resistance band and an isometric hold,” Waterbury says. “Holding the band at the point where it has the most pull—or stretch—will help you kick on those fast-growing strength fibres in your triceps.”
Actively squeezing the muscle during the isometric contraction will also increase your gains.
Do it: Anchor a resistance band to a tall, stable surface like a door.
Grab each end of the band with an overhand grip, and then step back so the band stretches and forms a 60-degree angle with the floor. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hips pushed slightly back. Tuck your upper arms next to your sides and bend your elbows to 90 degrees.
You should feel the band trying to pull your hands toward the anchor point. This is the starting position.
Without moving your upper arms, push the band down until your elbows are locked. Slowly return to the starting position. That’s 1 rep.
Perform 5 reps. On the fifth rep, pause for 5 seconds when your elbows are locked and squeeze your triceps as hard as you can.
Release the band and rest for 10 seconds. Next, perform 4 reps followed by a 4-second pause and squeeze. Rest for another 10 seconds. Then perform 3 reps followed by a 3-second pause and squeeze.
That’s 1 set. Do 4 sets, resting for one minute between each set.