February 17, 2019 5 min read 1 Comment
Tricep Trifecta:3 power movements to strengthen your triceps and add pounds to your bench
Back-arms. The horseshoe. The three-headed monster. While the biceps may come to mind when the average Joe thinks of arm muscles, any true iron head knows that the triceps is the king of the arms. The three intertwined muscles of the triceps compose roughly two-thirds of the upper arm, so as the saying goes, big tris equals big guns. Every type of pressing movement, from bench press to military press to dips, is dependent on the triceps to lock the weight out at the top. Despite its obvious role in both size and strength, many weightlifters lack a clear understanding of how to train the triceps for both and still remain injury free. Today I am going to share with you my three favorite tricep exercises to build power and increase your strength on the bench press. Just knowing these exercises is not enough…anyone can google “tricep exercises” to learn different variations - I’m also going to layout a strategy for incorporating them into your workouts to maximize their benefits. But first, let’s catch you up to speed on the muscle itself:
The main function of the triceps is to extend the elbow joint and thereby straightening the lower arm. It works as an antagonist to the biceps - while one is contracting concentrically, the other is lengthening eccentrically. There are three heads of the triceps - the long head which originates under the scapula and is often referred to as the “inner tricep”, the lateral head which essentially comprises the “outer” part of the arm, and the medial head which is covered by the other two except at the very bottom where it is seen above the elbow on the inside of the arm. Most tricep exercises involve either single joint (think machine push downs, dumbbell kick backs, etc.) or compound movements (dips, close grip bench, etc.) that extend the elbow.
What I have found over the years is that the best way to sculpt the triceps into that desired horseshoe shape is by doing high volume supersets of single joint extension movements. On the flip side, the clear path to big, powerful arms and a big bench seems to be like any other muscle - low reps with heavy weight on big compound movements. What is the best way to juggle these two training philosophies and get the best of both worlds without compromising the delicate ligaments, tendons and bursae of the elbow?
The key is to incorporate both styles of training, utilizing the following compound movements, but rotating them weekly so that only one is used as the primary power movement and the others are used for accessory work along with single joint movements in high volume supersets. Here are the three power variations:
Now that you are familiar with these three movements, here is a schedule to follow that implements them along with high volume super sets. Whether you train the triceps once or twice per week, alternate and cycle thru these workouts so that each power movement is the focus exercise every third tricep session. I typically train triceps immediately after my chest workout so they are nice and warm. If you prefer to train yours on a different day then make sure your elbows are warmed up by doing adequate stretching and push ups to get the blood flowing.
1 x 10 (bodyweight only for warm up)
1 x 10 weighted
2 x 5 weighted
1 x 3 weighted
1 x max reps (body weight)
Floor Press - 5 reps (dumbbells)
Dumbbell Skull Crusher - 8 reps
Tricep Press Downs - 15 reps
Workout # 2
2 x 5
2 x 3
2 x 1
Dumbbell Skull Crusher - 5 reps
Kick Backs - 10 reps
Dips - max reps Body weight
**on the last super set add a set of 50 Bench Dips at the end
Floor Press - 10 reps
Tricep Rope Press downs - 15 reps
Weighted Dips - 10 reps (last round use bodyweight only for max reps)
Over head dumbbell Tricep Extension - 10 reps
Kick Backs - 10 reps
Now you have the tools to get big powerful triceps and finally break thru that plateau on the bench press. So what are you waiting for? Get to the gym and get after it!
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