Triceps makes up about two-thirds of the total volume of the upper arms. Therefore, it is critical in the aspect of how big our arms look. Since many guys do not quite understand this, they devote most of their time to pumping their biceps. Most of the average gym dwellers simply do not know how to train correctly in order to pump up large and prominent triceps. What exercises should you focus on? How many sets and reps should you do? How often should you exercise?
Let’s discuss all of these questions here within this article.
The tricep anatomy
Triceps (triceps brachii) which is translated from Latin, means the triceps muscle of the shoulder.
They are made up of three parts:
- External (lateral) head.
- Long head.
- Internal (medial) head.
The lateral head is the largest and most prominent of these three bundles. It is this head which is the main muscle that is maximally involved when pushing heavy objects and is located on the outer part of the shoulder. The inner head is centred and used for less precise movements, while the long head runs the entire length of the inner arm and is used to bring and pivot the shoulder inward. In short, all three heads enable the triceps brachii to perform multiple functions, such as flexion, extension and rotation. In order to pump up large and prominent triceps, you need to focus on the development of all three heads. The lateral one is the easiest to train, because it already takes over all the main work. Others take longer to train, but they respond reasonably well to the right exercise.
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How to quickly build triceps
Many people train according to the same principle as when training biceps. In other words, focus on light weights and high reps. This is effective for sculpting, but most guys fail to build large muscle volume because they train with too light weights. The same principle applies to other parts of the body.
Triceps muscles are much larger and stronger than the biceps. They play an important role in basic exercises such as the bench press and the military press. To achieve serious results, you need to train with heavy weights and use supplements for the maximised growth.
The main explanation for this is that the triceps brachii are mostly fast type 2 muscle fibres that respond very well to heavy workouts. Due to the increased focus on the biceps, many novice athletes have the biceps muscles as strong as the triceps muscles. This is unnatural and can cause the arms to look shorter and the shoulders tilted forward like a gorilla.
As a rule, fast type 2 muscle fibres do not grow at all with small weights, but they become more enduring. Therefore, training the triceps shoulder muscles with small weights is a waste of time is muscle growth is your goal.
This is why a lot of guys can have big, strong triceps, even if they don’t specifically train them. The triceps shoulder muscles seem to grow on their own because they are involved in most of the hard exercises.
How often to train the triceps?
This is best explained with two examples.
In the first case, light weights with a lot of repetitions are used, and in the second, intense training with high weights. Many people use the first scenario. In this case, no matter how many times a week you exercise, it will bring almost no results. In the second case, when you take large weights, the triceps begins to grow. Even one workout per week will give amazing results. As we mentioned, the triceps brachii gets enough stress for a week during all the bench press exercises such as bench press, army press and others. Therefore, for most guys, just one full workout per week is enough.
The five best triceps exercises
Basic exercises involve several muscle groups at once. The reason these exercises work best is primarily because you can use the heaviest weights as much as possible, thereby activating fast type 2 fibres. This also applies to the triceps, but in no way means that isolation (especially heavy) exercises will not bring any benefit. It is best to use both to train the triceps brachii.
EZ Bar French Bench Press
Possibly the most popular for triceps training.
The lateral head is maximized because the EZ bar rotates the forearms slightly and as we remember, it is the outer head that is the largest. This exercise also develops the forearms well.
It is possible (and even necessary) to use a variation of the French bench press with a standard bar. It is the change in the load angle that allows you to target different parts of the triceps. When working with a standard bar, the internal (medial) head of the triceps brachii is turned on in terms of work.
Bench press with a narrow grip
It includes not only the work of the triceps, but also the pectoral muscles. Therefore, a very important detail when performing this exercise, as the grip should be narrow enough and the elbows are pressed against the body so that the load on the triceps is maximized. Bench press with a narrow grip is very effective for increasing the volume of the triceps brachii muscle, as you can use really heavy weights. In addition, it uses all three muscle heads. If you do not know how to pump up impressive large triceps, then this exercise is the answer to your question.
Tricep extensions on the upper cables while standing
It is best to use a rope handle. But it is possible (and even necessary) to use both the straight handle and the EZ-handle. Ropes allow more straightening of the arms and easily change the angle and position of the arms to work all 3 muscle heads.
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Dips on the uneven bars
Another tried and tested basic exercise. Dips for triceps are the same as pull-ups for biceps.
Most guys don’t know that the reverse grip pull-ups uses the biceps better than any other load. And they don’t even consider pull-ups to be an exercise for biceps. Well, dips are also often not included in triceps workout, although they use all 3 triceps muscles better than any other exercise. However, this is also due to the fact that it forces you to lift all your weight.
In many studies using EMG (electromyography), push-ups on the uneven bars have been recognized as the best exercise for activating the long and outer (lateral) triceps heads.
There is one thing … When you get stronger, triceps muscle growth will stall unless you start doing the weighted exercises. The main driving factor is the ever increasing weight. Dips are also a great exercise for training your chest muscle. If you cannot do push-ups on the uneven bars, then in most gyms there is a special push-up trainer – the gravitron. And if push-ups are too easy for you, you need to tie the weight to the belt.
Tricep extensions on the upper cable while standing with a reverse grip
In this exercise, grip strength is developed very strongly. How is it different from the straight grip version? This allows you to give the load at a different angle. If you have ever done this exercise, then you probably felt how heavily loaded the inner long head of the triceps. In addition, you can perform it alternately with each hand, which allows you to fully focus on working out the triceps muscles of the shoulder. Works very well in supersets with other triceps exercises and it is often used at the end of a workout.
What you need to know about triceps training
Exercising once a week is enough if you are using heavy weights. That’s enough because the triceps get loaded on other days when you do bench presses, army presses, etc.
For example, with a 5-day training program, they can be trained on Wednesday:
- Monday – chest;
- Tuesday – back;
- Wednesday – biceps / triceps;
- Thursday – shoulders;
- Friday – legs;
- Saturday, Sunday – days off.
And here, for example, is a 4-day program with two training sessions:
- Monday – chest, back, triceps.
- Tuesday – legs, shoulders, biceps.
- Wednesday is a rest day.
- Thursday – chest, back, triceps.
- Friday – Legs, Shoulders, Biceps.
- Saturday, Sunday – days off.
In this program, the biceps and triceps are trained on different days at the end of the workout. In terms of effectiveness, both of these programs are approximately the same. It all depends on personal preference. So, what exercises should you do for each of these workouts? Many bodybuilders also recommend to buy Clen and HCG to get fast results.
Supersets for triceps
When biceps and triceps are trained in one day, it is best to perform supersets. Because these muscles react very well on them. The two-headed and three-headed shoulder muscles are the most vivid example of antagon muscle. That is, when one muscle is reduced, the opposite relaxes, and vice versa. Training antagonist muscles in supersets leads to a significant increase in strength. During the biceps-triceps superset, when one muscle group is tensed, then an increase in blood flow occurs in the other, due to which recovery is accelerated. Superset means that you move from one exercise to another without pause (no rest). And only then rest between sets (approaches).
Two workout examples
This is not a concrete guide, but something to experiment with. Change exercise combinations for yourself to find our which way suits you and your training style. But the main scheme looks like this.
With 5 days of training:
- Lifting the bar with the biceps.
- EZ Bar French Bench Press.
3 sets of 6-12 reps. Rest between sets 2 minutes.
- Alternate lifting of dumbbells for biceps while standing.
- Tricep extensions on the upper cable while standing with a reverse grip.
3 sets of 6-12 reps. Rest between sets 2 minutes.
- Lifting the EZ bar with biceps on the Scott bench.
- Dips on the uneven bars.
3 sets of 6-12 reps. Rest between sets 2 minutes. This entire workout should take 30-40 minutes to complete.
How to progress?
There is no need to try to reduce the rest time between supersets. Here, the principle is still the same, which is to increase the weight.
For example, according to this scheme:
- Weeks 1 and 2 – 3 sets of 12 reps.
- The third and fourth weeks – 3 × 10.
- Fifth and sixth weeks – 3 × 8.
- Seventh and eighth weeks – 3 × 6.
- Then we move on to week # 1. We repeat again the 8-week cycle.
However, the weights progress from week to week, because with fewer reps you can lift more weights. It is this progression of load that triggers muscle growth.
With a 4-day training program. After training the chest and back, we move on to triceps for a two day per week workout:
- French Bench Press with EZ Bar – 3 × 6-12.
- Dips on the uneven bars – 3 × 6-12.
- Bench press with a narrow grip – 3 × 6-12.
- EZ Bar French Press – 3 × 6-12.
The main message to take away from this article is that it is unlikely that anything will go wrong if you focus all your attention on heavy weights with the use of supplementation to maximise your results.
Many guys are preoccupied with something completely different, as they are constantly wondering what exercises to do, in what sequence and how often. If you just choose from the 5 mentioned above, everything will be in perfect order, regardless of the sequence in which you perform them and it is not even necessary to combine them into supersets.
The main thing is to keep a training diary and make sure that working weights increase over time. Plus, both options (one and two workouts per week) are equally good. But experiment and you will soon see what works best for you. Happy tricep pumping guys!