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The Best Triceps Workouts for Glorious Arms

Exercise

You killed leg day and cardio. Now it’s time to bulk up the triceps. Go ahead. Take a look. You know you like looking at them in the mirror. Make sure you set up near the mirror at the gym. You are going to kill it today, and you are going to look good while doing it.

Myths about Bulking Up the Arms

With this workout, we are NOT going to focus on only one part of the arm. You know what that is: the bicep. That is just one myth about bulking up that perpetuates the weight room. Chances are you’ve heard many of these myths about bodybuilding and bulking up your arms.

Myth: You need to overwork the biceps

Your arms may look good when you pump to your heart’s content, but you are just exhausting yourself and your bicep if you don’t perform the opposite movement. If you do only the pump when you are at the gym, you aren’t’ building muscle.  You are making yourself think you are. Bicep pumps are the placebo of the weight room. Get over them! You need three things for big arms, and they don’t involve the pump. You need resistance, isolation, and compound exercises.

Myth: You don’t need cardio

Uh, yeah you do. Heart health is whole health. So, even though you are working on your arms today and your legs tomorrow, don’t dismiss the power of cardio during your workouts, even if you do a burst before or after you work your arms. Go for a run, hit the treadmill, spin on the bike, or climb on the stair stepper. The goal is to get your heart rate up and to keep it up for at least 30 minutes. You can even do cardio on your recovery days, sticking to low-impact cardio.

Myth: Bigger is always better

Hang tight. I am not talking about your arms here. Big arms are good arms, but the weight you lift doesn’t always have to be the heaviest. You can get huge gains in your arms with mechanical tension. Mechanical tension is also called hypertrophy training. Mechanical tension considers the three things that building muscle: muscle tension, metabolic stress, and muscle damage. A mechanical tension plan doesn’t mean you have to lift heavy weights fewer times. You can challenge your muscles my doing twice as many reps with smaller weights. Use different tactics to get more gain.

Yes, there, I said it: You can lift less to gain more.

Myth: You don’t need recovery for bulk

The myth that recovery days diminish your progress is garbage. Actually, I have a couple others words I’d like to use, but we have bigger and better things to do. Your muscles need to recover. I am not talking lie on your couch all day. I am talking about active recovery. Keep your body moving, but don’t overload it all day every day.

Myth: Overtraining leads to better gain

Wrong again. Overtraining does nothing. Oh wait, yes it does. Overtraining, which is working the same muscle too often with too much weight, can lead to exhaustion and injury. I mean, I like to train as often as the next person, but twice a day, 7 days a week is not progress. It’s dangerous and not effective.

Training Schedule to Avoid Overtraining Your Triceps

triceps

It is possible to cut your gym time in half and still get bigger triceps. Yes, I said bigger. I want you to rethink your training schedule because I want you to keep lifting. I want you to benefit from working out, not become consumed with the gym. When this happens, your expectations don’t exactly align with reality. When you don’t achieve the gain you want, despite hours at the gym for days on end, you become tired, you become pissed, and you quit.

There are a few ways you can avoid overtraining, and it all starts with your gym schedule. To avoid overtraining, remember these 5 tips:

  1. Change it up. It’s bad when your muscles find you boring. When you do the same moves over and over, you are only kidding yourself.
  2. Go the gym once per day. Oh, and while you are there, don’t stay long than an hour. An hour and half max. Don’t pack your bag like you’re staying overnight. Go once, don’t stay forever, and go enjoy life a little. Plus, you can show off your body somewhere other than the gym.
  3. Do not go to the gym more than two days in a row, and don’t go more than 5 times per week.
  4. Keep the reps low. I am talking like 10-12 low. Once you surpass that number, you are actually working more for endurance than mass.
  5. Don’t be a cheater. Yeah, you know who you are. Don’t lift the most weight with crappy form. Actually use your muscles to lift the weights. Quit throwing them in the air.

What Increases Triceps Gain?

We have tackled the myths about training your triceps, I have scolded you for overtraining, and now it’s time for the meat of article. That is why you are here, right? You want to know how to increase your triceps. You want mass, you want definition, and you will take a few bragging rights, too.

What kind of exercises make triceps muscles bigger? There is no magic exercise that will give your quick triceps boost, but there are a few that will make you squirm, make you sweat, and give you the definition in the back of your arm that you desire to match the bicep.

The types of exercises I recommend to increase your triceps size: free weight compounds. extensions, and presses. There is more to that, though.

To increase triceps size, you need a little more help. To build muscle, you need a muscle mass plan.

 Your muscle mass plan must:

  • Hit the big and the small

By that I mean to split up your training days. I told you these fewer, shorter trips to the gym would work better, and here is how. In one workout, work a larger part and smaller part of the body on the same day. Don’t try to tackle an entire workout in a single day.

  • Get a partner

Working your triceps with a partner is more fun, it challenges you to push yourself harder, and it allows you to do exercises you would not have been able to do before. I tell you what, if it weren’t for my gym partner, there are times I could have quit and walked away. Partners are the gyms give you the spotter your need to push yourself, increase weight, and compete. Come on. You now you are more competitive to push yourself when a partner is nearby.

  • Choose the right weight and reps

Guess what. You don’t need to do 30 reps. You don’t need 6 sets. You can benefit from optimal gain with the right weight for your goals and the ideal number of reps per set. Don’t add too much weight or you risk getting opposite results, and keep it low – like 10 to 12 reps per set.

  • Progress to more weight

So the question now is: how can I gain if my weight and reps are low. Not to mention that you are going to be going to the gym less. Relax, that’s your T talking. Progress through weight. Don’t throw it on and power through it.

  • Get more protein pronto!

You need to kick up that protein intake if you want to increase muscle mass. You are going to hear that people get more protein than they need, but they are also sitting on their butts all day. No, not you. You are moving, you are lifting, you are looking for results. You need more protein, and no one objected to an extra steak dinner during the week. Add protein for bulk.

You can choose to eat animal meats, or you can add more protein with a powder or plant-based diet. Yes, vegans and vegetarians, you can boost protein without eating meat. Whether you eat meat or not for protein, ways to add protein include adding protein shakes, beans, dairy, eggs, and Greek yogurt to your diet.

  • Try a supplement

Okay, so you need more mass but you can’t quite get to where you want to be. Try a prohormone. Prohormones such as 4-DHEA give you mass and strength. Learn how to cycle 4-DHEA into our muscle plan to get a healthy gain that isn’t dangerous and doesn’t induce dangerous side effects. You can find prohormone products that promote lean muscle, support post cycle therapy, are on cycle support products, and burn fat. When you stack a prohormone with increased protein, you can achieve your desired goals for gain.

Learn more about 4-DHEA for a clean and effective cycle.

  • Hit the same muscle group, but with different workouts

This is an easy one, but you just keep thinking that you are already doing it. You’re not. Sure, you press, you move include, and you work a different area, but you keep doing the same thing. What you need to do is work the muscle the other way than you are used to. Get every inch and movement of one muscle group for maximum gain.

  • When you do the triceps, work the chest – not the biceps

Seems counterintuitive, but you will be pleased with the results. All the recommendations I made: compound exercises, large and small muscle groups, fewer reps come down to triceps and chest day. When you work the triceps and chest together, you benefit from compound and isolation movements and multi-joint moves that allow you to lift more. The meat of your workout should be compound, multi-joint exercises. Isolating the triceps should be done at the end.

Triceps Exercises to Avoid if you Want Bulk

triceps exercises

Before you find the best exercises for larger triceps, get rid of the pointless exercises that are doing NOTHING for your workout. Don’t be cheap when you are working your triceps. If you want bigger triceps, avoid these exercises.

  1. Smith Machine

Well, well, well. We meet again, Smith Machine. Here’s what is going to happen on the Smith Machine. Chances are you are guilty of it too. Too many people overload themselves with weight they can’t handle, and the Smith Machine gives them way too much confidence to do it safely. Don’t squat, don’t bench, don’t even speak Smith. Do it yourself with better exercises for triceps.

  1. Triceps kickback

You are better than this. Stop it right now. Sure, it seems like you are doing something back there. I mean, you can feel it and it’s moving, but your weight sucks and there are better options out there that actually build muscle.

  1. Behind-the-head lats pulldown

It’s a great exercise if you are working on the lats and back, but it kills your neck and shoulders if done improperly. The behind-the-head lat pulldown can put unnecessary stress on your joint when you reach your head too far forward and extend your arms too far up.

  1. Bench triceps dips

Sure, you can get quite a bit of stability, and your triceps will shake like a mother when you are done, but stop doing them. Triceps dips on the bench are KILLING your shoulders. Yeah, you know, the things you need to actually lift. I am not saying bench dips are bad. What I am saying is that you are probably doing them wrong. The body does what it will, and when you do a triceps dip, your head will go forward.

Tricep Trifecta

When you do your triceps exercises, make sure your plan is thorough and complete. That means it MUST:

  • Include overhead exercises to elongate the triceps and fire them up. You can use free weights or a cable to get the overhead motion that directly targets the overlooked muscle.
  • Include dips and bench presses. The best exercises for triceps will include close-gripped presses and dips, as well as overhand exercises. Remember: the bicep movements are in front, the triceps are in back.
  • Include wide elbows and elbows closer together. Remember what I said: work out the muscle at every angle and direction, so that mean you are going to have to move those elbows!
  • Make you push down. The movement and gain isn’t only in the flexion. It is in the pushdown and press, too.
  • Not be locked. Too many at the gym completely lock their elbows or go for a full extension. That is the antithesis to what you want to do. There are a couple problems with locking: rest, and lack or contraction control. When you don’t lock, you get the most momentum and resistance for gain.

Okay, I told you there were three things that you need in a triceps workout: isolation, compound movements, resistance. Here are the 6 best exercises that will give you bigger triceps. These are not warm-up exercises. Don’t’ forget to warm up your body first before you tackle the arms, and remember, work that chest, too.

1.    Rope Pushdown

You can do this with a rope or a cable. The point of the exercise is to get the resistance when you push the rope or cable down and away. To do this exercise, the rope or cable will need to be on a pulley. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and keep your back straight. Hold the rope in both hands, and extend your arms in front of you. This is your starting position. Pull the rope down, keeping your arms straight. Pull the rope down to your thighs as you squeeze your lats. When you reach the bottom, slowly bend your wrist out and then gently return to the starting position. Do 4 set of 10-12 reps.

2. Skullcrusher

The skullcrusher is one of the most beloved exercises for those who want bigger triceps. To do the skullcrusher, lie flat on the bench. When you lower the bar to your head, make sure you have a spotter and that your movements are controlled. Don’t bust out 30 of these in a single set. You only need 8 to 12 reps in a set. Don’t exceed more than 4 or 5 sets.

3. Dips

Instead of doing the standard dip on a bench, try a dip variation for maximum shake and superior gain. The weighted bench dip is a multi-joint movement that requires you to place weights on your thighs for increased resistance. They will boost metabolic load and stress on the muscle. Again, stick to only 10 to 12 reps in a set. Stop at 3 set. We have other dips to do.

The triceps dip machine and weighted parallel-bar dip are more multi-joint movements that you can put in the middle of your triceps workout. Do 3 sets of 10-12 reps of each workout.

4. Cable Exercises

There are two cable exercises that I prefer for good looking triceps: cable kick-back and the overhead extension. The cable exercises are great because they give you the stability and chest exercises I told you than you need. When you work with the cable, don’t lock and don’t fully extend. If your triceps aren’t shaking, they aren’t firing. Do 10 to 12 reps in each set. Stick to 3 sets for bigger triceps.

5. Close-grip push-up

This is an oldie but goodie. The best weight is your own, and you can use it to increase your triceps size with close-grip push-ups. Instead of doing a regular push-up, tuck your elbows in and bring your hands closer together. Use our body weight to your advantage. Do 10-12 close-grip push-ups. If you can handle it.

Which triceps workouts give you the best results? Post your pics #triceptrifecta. Healthy bodies want to know.

 

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SR Content Strategist.

Matt Weik, the owner of Weik Fitness, LLC, is a well-respected fitness expert/author/podcaster with a global following. His work has been featured in nearly 100 fitness magazines (Flex Magazine, Men’s Muscle & Health Magazine, Oxygen Magazine), 2,000+ websites, as well as having numerous books and audiobooks that are published.  Matt Weik graduated from Penn State University with a degree in Kinesiology. He is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, personal trainer, and sports nutritionist. Matt is a member of the supplement expert panel at the Bodybuilding.com Awards 2018.

You can contact Matt via www.weikfitness.com or on social media links below.

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