Most guys that pick up a weight for the first time have one goal in mind: to get more chicks. And in the supremely logical, linear mind of your average guy, he believes the secret to getting more attention from the ladies is bigger arms. So your average gym rookie – lets call him Billy for the time being – strolls into his local fitness club and starts working on his biceps. Barbell curls, dumbbell curls, machines, cables, you name it, and Billy has tried it. The rest of his efforts in the gym are devoted to marathon sets on a bench press machine and a few crunches because he knows chicks dig abs. Now fast forward a few weeks later, and Billy hauls out the measuring tape to see if his arms have grown. To his great disappointment, Billy has not seen much progress and of course he wonders why. The reality is, poor Billy neglected to work on his triceps.
If Billy had paid a little more attention in his anatomy class, he would have realized that over two-thirds of the upper arm is contributed to by the triceps. Ergo, if Billy really wants bigger arms, he needs to work those tris. Now, if I were to give Billy some advice, I would tell him not to waste his time on any of the shiny machines taking up space in the gym. I’m not anti-machine, but Billy is not ready for that stuff. In my humble opinion, there are just three triceps exercises Billy should spend a lot of time on over the next six months. Here they are in no particular order:
Dips are one of the best overall upper body exercises you can do. When you perform a dip, you engage many different muscle groups including the chest, shoulders and especially the triceps. Because this exercise is so demanding, the triceps are subject to great overload. They have to recruit more muscle fibers to lift your bodyweight (and more if you’re pretty strong). The more muscle fibers you can recruit, the stronger you become and the more muscle you gain. It’s that simple.
Floor presses are well known in Powerlifting circles for their ability to increase strength, especially on the bench press. They are also fantastic for building mass on the triceps. Every time you pause at the bottom position of a floor press, you force the triceps to work extra hard to press back up to the top (more muscle fibers are recruited). Check out the video below featuring some elite powerlifters training with some crazy weight on floor presses:
Lying Triceps Extensions (with E-Z barbell)
These are a personal favorite for building triceps mass. I like them because in the bottom position of the extension, the triceps get a great stretch. When you lock out at the top, remember to squeeze (contract) the triceps really hard. Expect to be really sore for a couple days if you do these correctly.
I apologize if you were expecting kickbacks or pushdowns to be on the list, but Billy doesn’t have time for those just yet. His sole priority is packing mass onto those tris and to achieve his goal, he’s gotta focus on the basics. Here’s a quick and dirty triceps routine to help Billy stretch those shirtsleeves out:
Billy’s Sleeve Stretching Triceps Routine
|Exercise||Sets & Reps|
|Floor Presses||4 sets of 5 reps (1 second pause at the bottom position)|
|Dips||3 sets of 6-8 reps|
|Lying Triceps Extensions||3 sets of 6-8 (1 second pause at bottom to get full stretch)|
* Rest for 90 seconds in between sets