Beast Life: Tricep Exercises

5 mins read

Contrasting the Biceps, your Triceps are the strongest muscles in your arms and make up the majority of their size. If you want huge arms, you work your triceps. If you want the respect of men and inspire fear in the hearts of soyboys at the very sight of you, you make sure you work your triceps. Not just for pushups, any pushing or striking motion requires strength in your triceps–doubly so if you want to bring a warhammer down on the heads of your enemies or HULK SMASH.
The Triceps Brachii muscles have three heads (which is why they’re called triceps) and operate opposite of the biceps on the back of your upper arm. The Long Head and Lateral Head are on either side of the bone, while the Medial Head sits beneath them. Different compound exercises will require more effort from different heads more than the others, but here I’m going to focus on isolation exercises.
Because these are isolation exercises, you are going to have to use lighter weights than you are used to using in compound exercises. Due to your body’s instincts, when one muscle group fails at a movement other muscle groups will step in to complete the motion and help out; this is great for survival sitations, but it steals the gains of one group to give it to another. Start with light weights and steadily increase it until you struggle to keep proper form (but still maintain it) in the last few reps.

Lateral Head
Sits on the outside of your triceps and is the most visible to others when you’re working out or just flexing. If you want a visible line down the side of your arm between your biceps and your triceps, isolating this one is key.
The lateral head of the triceps is isolated with these exercises:
– Cable Kickbacks
– Dumbbell Kickbacks
– V-Bar Pushdowns
– Overhead Tricep Dumbbell Extensions
– Bench/Seat/Chair Dips
Note: dips are hard on your joints. If you’re not used to bodyweight exercises or are a novice lifter, skip the dips until you’re stronger. The V-Bar Pushdowns are only sufficiently different from EZ-Bar pushdowns when the handles are “bent” down approximately 45 degrees or so from where a straight bar would sit, while the EZ-Bars should be closer to 30 degrees.
Long Head
Sits on the inside of your triceps. Not as visible as the lateral head, but makes your arms wider, especially when viewed from behind, and contributes the most to the mass of your upper arms. Most exercises that target these will be above your head.
The long head of the triceps is isolated with these exercises:
– Cable with Straight Bar Tricep Pushdowns
– One-hand Overhead Cable Tricep Extension
– One-hand Overhead Dumbbell Tricep Extension
– Standing Cable Skullcrushers
– EZ-Bar Skullcrushers
Medial Head
Sits beneath the other two and pushes them out as it grows. This muscle does work in all the other isolation exercises because of its shape, but once you’ve exhausted your other tricep muscles, you can work on this one by doing more balanced tricep exercises.
Balanced Tricep Exercises:
– Rope Pushdowns
– Hanging Dips (weighted or unweighted)
– EZ-Bar Tricep Pushdowns
– Underhand Cable with Straight Bar Tricep Pushdowns
(The warning on dips still applies here)
Here’s an example workout of Triceps and Chest:
1×10 EZ-Bar Tricep Pushdowns for warmup, superset with
1×10 chest exercise for warmup
4×8 V-Bar Pushdowns, superset with
4×8 chest exercise
4×8 Standing Cable Skullcrushers, superset with
4×8 chest exercise
4×8 EZ-Bar Tricep Pushdowns, superset with
4×8 chest exercise
You can superset multiple tricep isolation exercises if you have time:
4×12 Cable Kickbacks, superset with
4×12 One-hand Overhead Dumbbell Tricep Extension
4×12 Underhand Cable with Straight Bar Tricep Pushdowns
You can make your own, but keep in mind that you want to alternate between exercises targeting the lateral and long heads, finishing off with a balanced exercise targeting the medial head while the others are exhausted. You don’t have to group triceps only with your chest exercises if you’d like to try a push-pull workout instead, but supersetting (one set bicep exercise, one set back exercise, repeat until all sets complete) gives your muscles time to recover between sets and makes your workouts more efficient.

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