Tricep Training No-No’s
Feb 15, 2019
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Huge, well developed and defined triceps look incredible. Making up around two-thirds of the upper arm, they really can give your physique that freaky edge.
Like an alien clamped onto the back of your arm, great triceps combine bulk and menacing striations with all round development.
The triceps are also one of the most satisfying and ego-boosting muscle groups to train. You can really feel them work through their range, and within two or three sets you have an enormous pump developing. The triceps have such a great blood supply, they seem to almost double in size with very little effort. Everyone knows that satisfying feeling when your tri’s sit awkwardly on top of your lats, forcing your arms outwards.
So, everyone loves training triceps, right? But how many people get it right?
Here are a few tricep training no-no’s that you must take on board in order to get the most from your training:
Forgetting the Three Headed Monster!
The triceps are so called because they are made up of three heads, and it is vitally important that you train all of these heads effectively, if you want to develop full, thick arms. But that’s just common sense.
So, what are these three heads, and more importantly, what can you do to ensure they are all hit during your training?
You cannot isolate any tricep head as they more or less work alongside each other. The key to full triceps development is to use a variety of different exercises and grips.
The medial head is the deeper of the three heads and provides the basic volume of the muscle. This head is worked most effectively when the arms are by the side, especially with an underhand grip. Underhand cable pushdowns and close grip bench press are the best exercises for the medial head.
The lateral head is the one most people think of when they hear the word triceps. It is the head that gives width and that wicked ‘tail’ to your arm. An exercise with a neutral grip, such as rope pushdowns is the most effective way of hitting the lateral head.
The long head is the larger ‘tail’ at the back and inside of the arm. This head is hit most effectively by overhead movements such as overhead extensions. Mix it up and you can’t fail to stimulate all three heads into growth.
Overtraining is one of the most commonly made mistakes in the gym. Never forget that the triceps, for most of us, are a relatively small muscle group. They don’t need the training volume of larger muscles like quads and pecs. Three or four sets of three or four exercises should be enough to stimulate growth when performed correctly. Utilize the mind-muscle connection to make every rep count and fatigue the triceps as quickly as possible.
Adding Sheer Strength Recovery to your post workout nutrition will help to ward off the damaging effects of overtraining. This excellent supplement is packed with everything your muscles need to kick start recovery and growth after a big session.
Not Going Heavy Enough
Too many people just concentrate on set after set of pressdowns and extensions. To stimulate huge growth, you need to hit the muscles with big weights. Big weights place more stress on the body and cause the release of anabolic hormones like human growth hormone. Close grip bench press and weighted dips are perfect for hitting the tri’s with a big load.
Using proper form is essential to effective training of any kind. Triceps training is highly susceptible to being performed badly. Never swing weights, don’t use momentum, lift the weight with muscular force. Momentum does not build muscle. Always use a full range of motion. Never skimp on motion just to use a bigger weight.
Pushdowns are one of the exercises most often performed ineffectively at the gym. You should keep your upper arms still and by your side, but bend forward slightly to put your body into a stronger position. Press the weight down by moving your forearms only. Feel the triceps do the work, then slowly lower to the start position, feeling the muscles stretch and strain. Proper form will give you huge pumps, improve strength and build muscle.
Flaring the Elbows
This comes down to proper form again, but it’s an important rule for avoiding injury. Keep the elbows tight and still throughout all triceps exercises to maximise isolation and reduce injury risk to this vulnerable joint complex. Never let the elbows flare wildly on overhead extensions. If you feel that you can’t control it, try different grips and methods until you can.
Not Balancing Machines and Free Weights
Don’t be one of those people who spend their entire tricep training session in amongst the cables. Similarly, don’t be one of those ‘old school’ people who swear by using free weights only. Both have their advantages, so should be incorporated into your routine.
Free weights are great for packing huge tension into the muscle and boosting testosterone levels. Taking Sheer Strength Sheer Alpha Testosterone Booster is a great way to add to this anabolic effect. This super potent supplement is jammed with scientifically proven ingredients that will send your testosterone levels and growth through the roof.
Cables also have excellent, muscle building advantages. Some exercises, like kickbacks, are heavily affected by gravity. They are far easier at the bottom of the movement, compared to the top. Cables take this factor out of the equation by providing even tension throughout the movement. Never let anyone tell you that free weights are always better than cables!
Bad Exercise Order
Always put a big lift first on tricep day. Sure, warm up with a few light extensions, but your first working lifts should be a big, multi-joint movement one like dips or close grip bench press. These heavy and strenuous sets will set up an anabolic environment and get blood pumping into the entire area.
One common mistake is for people to blow out their triceps right before training chest or shoulders. This is an amateur mistake and will lead to ineffective pressing due to the fact that you will have created a weak link.Your triceps will fail first, placing excess strain on them, leading to overtraining, and your chest or shoulder training will be well below par. Even training triceps the day before a big pressing session can wreak havoc on your training. Always plan the order of your training.
Locking the Elbows
You should always stop slightly short of lock-out when training triceps. Completely straightening or even hyperextending the elbows leads to huge strain being piled onto the fragile joint and potentially nasty injuries. Stopping just shy of locking your elbows also keeps more strain on the triceps, leading to a more intense and effective set. To increase the effectiveness of your tricep training even further, add Sheer Strength NO2 Nitric Oxide Booster to your supplement stack. This incredible supplement causes the body to release copious amounts of nitric oxide, bringing about some freakish pumps and increased muscular strength and endurance.
Sticking to the Same Routine
One of the biggest mistakes made in the gym is sticking to the same old routines week in, week out. Your body will eventually become used to this and your gains will rapidly diminish. You have to keep your body on its toes to keep the muscles stimulated and growth high.
Switch up the exercise order every few weeks at least. Also play around with the rep ranges. You can’t expect to walk in the gym and do 5 sets of dips, followed by 5 sets of pushdowns, all in the 10-12 rep range, and continue growing.
Here are some sample workouts:
- Close Grip Bench Press-
- Warm up, then 4 sets- 12, 10, 8, 6
- Overhead Dumbbell Extension-
- 4 sets- 12, 10, 8, 6
- Cable Pushdowns-
- 3 sets-10, 8, 6
- 3 sets per arm- 10, 8, drop set
- Cable Pushdowns-
- Warm up set
- 4 sets- 12, 10, 8, 6
- 4 sets- 10, 8, 6, 6
- Cable Pushdowns-
- 3 sets- 12, 8, 8
- Overhead EZ Bar Extension-
- 3 sets- 10, 8, drop set
- Close Grip Bench Press-
- Warm up, then 4 sets- 10, 8, 6, 4-6
- Overhead Cable Extensions-
- 4 sets- 12, 10, 6, 6
- Superset- Dips/Cable Pushdowns
- 3 sets- 8-10/failure, 8-10/failure, failure/failure
- Finish with a drop set of cable pushdowns
Jonathan Warren is a national level physique competitor and personal trainer with multiple certifications including NASM, NCCPT, and IKFF. His specializations include mobility training and corrective exercise as well as contest preparation.
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