Nice-looking triceps are never something to be disregarded, even though just like your hams, they’re rarely trained as a separate muscle when training extremities. Instead, we always hit the triceps as a part of another exercise for other muscles. Most people have developed a habit where they build up their biceps first just so that they’ll be able to see themselves in a mirror and feel good about themselves, but they all forget one simple thing – your arm will never look big until your triceps are developed. If you have large biceps and non-existent triceps, your arm will look really weird, and even though people might not be able to put their finger on it, they’ll notice something’s wrong.
It’s not just about looks though – having a strong triceps is pretty useful both in sports and in day to day life – anything that requires stability or pressing, also requires triceps strength. Don’t worry though, we have come up with a list of 4 exercises you should throw in your daily routine to improve your triceps game.
#1. Parallel Bar Dips
I bet you’ve seen chest and triceps being trained in one exercise as related muscle groups simply by doing some bench presses and variations to them. When you hit this combination differently by doing some dips, you develop your muscles even further and your pushing strength grows as well. You can do parallel bar dips and achieve a greater effect than bench dips simply because the humeral head is positioned differently when it’s being stressed with weight. If you stick your hands out behind your body and internally rotate your arms for a bench dip, your shoulder joints are far more vulnerable than just doing some parallel bar dips, and this can be a real problem if you’ve had shoulder issues before.
If you can make that half-rotation and have your hand neutral when you do parallel bar dips, you can avoid hurting the shoulder capsule and your shoulder joints will be far happier. Also, your pecs and abs will become more involved in this exercise, which will make it even more effective. If you can’t do parallel bar dips at your gym for any reason, you can do them in a squat cage by setting up two barbells on the pins at waist level and choosing the angle that you prefer. If you do this, make sure that you aren’t taking someone else’s squat time and that your bars don’t just slide around. Instead, put some flimsy yoga mats under them.
#2. Floor Press/Pin Press
When you get right down to the basics of the bench press, you are most likely to run out of energy when you do the lockout. If you just take the bench press and slice it up into segments you can address this issue with ease. When you do floor presses, you can do them with dumbbells for reps, and since the floor is blocking your elbows from going down too far, this exercise works on the lateral head of your triceps as well. When you know you can take advantage of manipulating your elbow angle and positioning your wrist, you can get comfortable with this exercise and use it to make your arms tough as nails.
If you want to go heavy, use some pin presses by setting up a barbell bench press station in a squat cage. Once again, try not to usurp someone else’s squat time, and once you make sure you aren’t doing that, set the safety pins on the cage high enough, about 4-6 inches above your chest. When you get used to this movement, feel free to move the pins around, depending on what percentage of a bench press movement you want in this segment. You are doing a part of a bench press, so you’re going to be able to lift a lot of weight, but you can also concentrate on just doing the concentric part of the lift. Let the bar settle on the pins you chose before doing a rep. This will give you a chance to rest and reset your hands for just a second before going back in and giving it your all once again. Do sets of 3-6 reps for best efficiency.
#3. Skull Crusher “Plus”
When you think about how your triceps are built, it starts getting interesting. The triceps are a group of three muscles and most people never work on all three of them – instead, hitting two and hoping for the best. The most often forgotten-about part is the long head, and it connects with your shoulder really high on the shoulder blade. If you can hit the long head, you’re probably bringing your arm really far away from your torso, but most people don’t do that. Instead, they keep their arms really close to their bodies with some close grip bench presses, press downs or dips, and they build up their medial and lateral heads of the triceps. These exercises don’t promote long head growth, but you need it to get all three in check. However, don’t despair – just do some skull-crushers with an added little bonus and you’ll be fine.
The skull-crushers “plus” are all about timing and rhythm. Get into a position to do some regular skull-crushers and start lowering the weight by just using your elbow joints. When your bar gets to your forehead, start flexing your shoulder joint so that the weight will hang down below the level of the bench and begin going towards the floor. This will provide an awesome stretch in your triceps, but you will need to keep it together really tightly, so in one swift move, return to the top position, as you would do a soccer throw-in. Your elbows shouldn’t go too much forwards and you can measure this by trying to keep your upper arms vertical to the point they’re perpendicular to the ground. It doesn’t take much weight to get your triceps in line, so I would recommend you do lots of reps instead of lifting heavy weight.
#4. Modified Pressdown
Everyone knows how to do a normal rope press-down that will make your lateral triceps head feel really good, but most experienced lifters know that this is short-lived and will hit a glass ceiling sooner or later, not allowing you to reach your full potential. This is why you will need to switch them up. If you encourage the long head to get involved in this exercise, you’ll burn out your triceps in the best way possible, and you’ll develop a really nice pump. This is not a primary exercise, nor is it the best for size, but when you use it correctly it will provide an effect that no other exercise can offer.
All in all, to activate any muscle, you need to learn how it works and what function does it perform in the skeletal system, so get exploring – don’t just stick with the popular methods, find something that will be suitable for you and keep doing whatever you logically think is best for your body. You will not only experience better results, but you’ll be in a better place mentally too.