Think about the way in which the upper arm is made: the biceps femoris makes up the anterior portion of the humerus while the triceps brachii fills in the posterior part. The name triceps derives from the three heads: lateral, medial and long. These make up the famous “horse shoe” shape. Contrary to popular belief, the bicep only makes up one third of the upper arm while the triceps fill the other two thirds. Many gym rats tend to concentrate on the biceps, only to have the tri’s lag behind and give an unbalanced look.
Triceps play a big role in many upper body lifts as any pressing movement is assisted by the tri’s. For example, the closer your grip on bench press the more the tri’s are activated. The same goes with overhead pressing for shoulder work. Extending the weight overhead contracts the triceps in the last little bit of the press. Those two exercises are huge mass builders so you it would be in your best interest to make sure you are lifting heavy and safely with those exercises. If you haven’t figured it out by now, the best way to help with those lifts is to work the triceps.
Using cable pushdowns and other isolation exercises will only get you so far. You need to think bigger and use those isolation movements at the end of your workout to maintain symmetry in all of the heads. The goal of this workout is to add weight each week in each exercise. The first exercise will be a bigger movement like close grip bench or weighted dip. The last two exercises will further assist your triceps’ growth and strength in each head.
Here is the split that blasts your triceps twice a week:
- Weighted Dip – 8, 6, 6, 4
- Lying Triceps Extensions – 4 sets x 12 – 15 reps
- Triceps Kickbacks – 4 sets x 12 – 15 reps
- Close Grip Bench Press – 8, 6, 6, 4
- Overhead Tricep Extensions – 4 sets x 12 -15 reps
- Reverse Grip Pushdows – 4 sets x 12 – 15 reps
These routines are not too long so you can throw these in with just about any body part. You will be better off doing Day 1’s workout on a Monday and Day 2’s on Friday or any break with at least 2 days. Your triceps are major assistors in shoulder and chest work, so this will break the triceps down significantly. Remember to push yourself through these and try to add weight each week. You do not need to set records here; adding as little as 5 pounds will make noticeable differences.