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Triceps exercises

Triceps exercises


How many athletes, particularly bodybuilders, have the idea of having big arms when they go to the gym? For many, voluminous biceps are synonymous with strength, power and virility. However, the mistake they make is to focus on working the biceps, while forgetting to work the back of the arm, where the triceps are located.

Anatomical reminder of the triceps

Let's start with a quick anatomical reminder. The biceps are located on the front of the arm, and are made up of two muscles that attach to the forearm and the humerus at shoulder level.

The triceps is located at the back of the arm. It's made up of three muscles: the long portion, the external vest and the internal vastus.

morphologie triceps.jpg

The lower part of the triceps is inserted into the forearm on the ulna, and the upper part into the scapula and posterior shoulder. The fact that the triceps are made up of three muscles means that they give the most volume to the arm, rather than the biceps, hence the importance of working them correctly and from all angles.

The triceps are involved in all pushing movements, such as pectoral and shoulder presses, as well as in external arm rotation and certain pull-back movements.

Muscle all parts of the triceps

To target the three parts of the triceps, there's a whole range of exercises, from basic exercises to isolation exercises.

Let's start with the basic exercises that work the entire triceps.

Tight bench press

développé couché prise serrée_1.jpg

Lying on your back, grasp the bar at less than shoulder-width apart. Unhook the bar to bring it above your pectoral muscles, arms straight. Lower the bar slowly until it touches the pectoral muscles. The elbows must not move away from the body during the movement, as this would be tantamount to doing a développé for the inner part of the pectorals. Then energetically push the bar back to the starting position, arms extended but not locked to keep the triceps under tension.

Forehead bar extensions

This exercise is performed lying flat on a bench with an EZ bar to relieve pressure on the wrists.

front barre.jpg

Arms straight out over your chest, the grip should be slightly less than shoulder-width apart. Bend your elbows so that the bar is level with your forehead. The movement should be slow and controlled. Only the forearms move, the arms remaining fixed. The elbows must not spread. Then return to the starting position.

For this exercise, it's advisable not to load the bar too much at first, in order to master the technique, then gradually increase the load.

Dips for triceps

dips triceps.jpg

The dips, a movement usually used for the pectorals, is a very good exercise for the triceps. The important difference in execution is that, unlike dips for pecs where you lean slightly forward, for triceps, the body must remain as straight as possible, which isolates the work on the triceps.

It is important to descend by slowly bending the elbows in order to avoid the injuryThen push off to return to the outstretched-arm position explosively.

With these three basic movements, you have everything you need to build complete, powerful triceps.

Let's take a look at a few exercises to target specific areas of the triceps.

To target the long portion we can use behind-the-head extensions with dumbbells.

extensions triceps.jpg

Sit on the end of a bench, back straight, arms stretched overhead with a dumbbell in your hands. Slowly lower the dumbbell behind your head, keeping your elbows close together and pointing upwards. Once you've reached the base of your neck, raise the dumbbell back up to the starting position.

It's important to keep your back straight and avoid injuring your lumbar vertebrae.

Now let's target the external triceps area with rope-grip high pulley extensions:

extension poulie.jpg

Facing the high pulley, grasp the rope so that your hands are at the same height on either side. While holding the rope, bring your elbows together on either side of your body. From this position, extend the triceps by spreading the forearms to the outside, then return to the position with elbows bent, glued to the body. Spreading the forearms at the end of the movement targets the outer part of the triceps.

If you keep your forearms in line, it's the long portion that will be targeted.

As with every movement, it's important to control the speed of execution, with an explosive concentric phase (contraction) and a slow eccentric phase (stretching).

Now here's a movement to target the upper part of the triceps, the part that gives the "horseshoe" effect: Kick back extensions

kick back.jpg

Leaning on a bench, back flat, with a dumbbell in neutral grip, press your arm, elbow bent, against the side of your torso. Extend your forearm backwards so that your arm is in line with your body. This movement should be performed without momentum, to place maximum stress on the triceps. Return to the starting position in a controlled manner.

As with any unilateral movement, after performing a series on one side, switch to the other side, reversing the position.

Tips for building triceps muscles

For triceps mass, do sets of 10 to 15 repetitions of a basic exercise. For dips, for example, don't hesitate to use weights, as bodyweight may no longer be sufficient after a while.

To work in isolation, perform sets of 12 to 20 repetitions to exhaust the target zone. 5 sets per exercise seem sufficient.

Control your movements from start to finish, even during explosive contractions.

Lastly, the list of exercises described in this article is not exhaustive and is only an example - you can replace barbell extensions at the front with high pulley extensions held in pronation (hands over the bar). The same exercise can also be performed unilaterally.

You can also vary the work between dumbbells, barbell and pulleys to get different tensions and angles of attack.

Now you know how to work your triceps. You now know that big arms mean big tricepsvoluminous. So it's up to you!

AuthorAlexandre CARPENTIER

Bodybuilding Champion N.A.C 2012

Alexandre shares his bodybuilding experience with MegaGear blog readers