In Part 1 of our guide, we looked at the muscular anatomy of the upper arm, along with the best bicep exercises for any gymgoer. This post will focus on the triceps, as well as how to combine exercises for an even more effective arm workout!
Training the Triceps
(All exercises to be performed with 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps)
Close-grip Bench Press
Lie flat on a barbell bench with your forehead directly under the barbell when racked. With your feet planted firmly on the floor, and your shoulder blades retracted, grip the bar with your hands about two thumb-lengths apart (make a triangle with your thumbs and index fingers and grip around the centre knurling on the bar). Unrack the bar and perform 8-12 reps by bringing the bar down to the lower part of your chest and pressing back up in an arc – the bar should finish above your chin at full extension. Focus on controlling the eccentric (lowering) part of the exercise, and using the triceps to extend your elbows. A good rule of thumb is to use a weight that is about 75-80% of what you would usually perform a standard barbell bench press with.
Overhead Dumbbell Tricep Extension
Sit on the edge of a flat bench with a dumbbell in your lap standing upright. Place your hands in an overlapping triangle shape on the bottom plate of the dumbbell, with the metal handle running between your thumbs and index finger. Taking caution to not hit your head, hoist the dumbbell overhead with your arms extended straight up. Keeping your upper arms in the same position, lower the dumbbell behind your head by bending your elbows as far as they will go. Extend the elbows to bring the dumbbell back overhead – imagine you are drawing arrows from quivers on your back with both arms simultaneously. Throughout the movement, your shoulders should stay locked to minimize any forwards or backwards movement of the upper arms, with your elbows staying pointed upwards.
Cable Tricep Pushdown
Stand about 30cm away from a height-adjustable cable machine. Using either an inverted “V” bar or a flat bar attachment at the level of your forehead, press the cable down by keeping your elbows tucked close to your body and using your triceps to extend your elbows until the bar touches your thighs. The cable should travel in a vertical path to maximize triceps involvement, so make sure you aren’t standing too far away from the cable pulleys (you’ll know if you’re too close because the cable will be touching your face!).
All of the above can be used to put on muscle size, improve performance in other exercises, and as arm toning exercises – simply adjust the weight in accordance with your training goals.
Supersets for Super Progress
In order to challenge yourself during your workouts and make your time in the gym twice as efficient, try supersetting exercises from opposing muscle groups (in this case, biceps and triceps).
Try performing a set of barbell curls for 10 reps, and then immediately switching to tricep cable pushdown. Repeat three times with no more than 10 seconds of rest time between exercises, and a maximum of 30 seconds between each superset. You can then move on to two more exercises and repeat the process. Being conscientious of other gym members is always important, so try and pick two exercises that you can do in close proximity to each other, or using as few pieces of equipment as necessary – seated hammer curls followed by overhead tricep dumbbell extension, for example.