“It doesn’t matter what car you drive, what matters is the size of your arms hanging out the window”. True to a point. There are other things that matter more than both, but what this old gym saying does portray is the respect demanded by a big set of arms. Given that the triceps contribute to around two thirds of the muscle mass in your arms, it makes sense that these muscles are given priority. Further to that, a strong pair of triceps greatly enhances your pushing power, meaning a bigger bench and military press.
Believe it or not, in terms of reps and sets there’s not a ‘one size fits all’ for every muscle group in your body. The triceps for instance contain a greater proportion of fast twitch muscle fibres than the biceps. As such, they usually respond better to heavy powerful movements. For that reason, you should focus on powerful pressing for the bulk of your triceps training. Incorporate these 4 exercises to develop horseshoe tri’s, and add some power to your bigger pressing movements.
Dips bring it to play your chest and shoulders, but have no fear, these prime movers mean you can place a much heavier load on the triceps. Ensure your elbows do not flare out, and stay perpendicular to the floor to ensure as much tricep recruitment as possible. As stated earlier, the motto here is go heavy or go home. If you’re hitting 10 reps of your body weight then it’s time to start adding some weight.
Arnold hitting some heavy weighted dips.
Close grip bench press
Another exercise which allows you to load the triceps with more weight is the close grip bench press. If you bench press with correct technique and a closer grip you would already be hitting your triceps quite heavily. However, bringing your grip in even closer with allow you to transfer more weight to your triceps and build some explosive power and size. As with the normal bench press set up with the proper posture: shoulder blades tight and pushed into the bench, slightly arched back with your bum firmly on the seat, and drive your legs into the ground. Hold the bar with a shoulder width grip and keep your elbows slightly closer to your body than you would for a normal bench press. While you will still feel this exercise in your shoulders and chest, your triceps should be frying from bearing the brunt of the weight. Ensure the concentric (push) part of the movement is explosive to fire all of the fast twitch muscle fibres.
Hold the bar with a shoulder width and keep your elbows tight against your body.
Plyometric Push Ups
Not in the arsenal of most gym goers but bodyweight movements can be great for adding quality muscle mass. Further to this, they are very functional and have a huge carry-over to athletic performance. Simple plyometric pushups involve exploding from the bottom part of the pushup allowing your hands to leave the floor. If this is too easy, try putting a box either side of your hands. Start with your hands between the boxes and do an explosive pushup allowing your hands to leave the floor and land softly on the boxes. Now perform a wider pushup with your hands on the boxes and land with your hands back on the floor. Repeat for reps. This movement will build explosive power from two different hand positions, allowing you to target both the triceps and chest.
Plyometric pushups build explosive pressing power.
Body-weight Tricep Extensions
Moving away from the heavy pressing movements, this move focusses on the longer head of the triceps and is often underutilised. Set a bar up on the power rack or smith machine at around waist height (note: the lower you have it, the harder the exercise). Set up in push up position with your hands gripping the bar at shoulder width. Keep your elbows tight to your body and slowly lower your body towards the bar until you tuck your head under the bar. Your triceps will be quite stretched at this point. Push against the bar returning your body back to the starting position ensuring your elbows do not flare out at any part of the movement. It’s harder than it looks.
Body-weight Tricep Extensions are often underutilised.
Don’t forget to neck some carbs and protein as soon as you finish to get the babies growing.