In this article we are going to review a clear and complete guide on how to train your triceps, as always with scientific evidence and explained as easily and visually as possible.
First of all, it is important to understand that one of the main reasons to properly train the triceps is because they are the largest part of our arms, they are twice the size of the biceps, so if you really want big arms it will be better. that you start giving it its due place in your training.
In addition to the above, the triceps are a muscle that stands out a lot in any fitness pose, whether facing, back or side. Triceps contribute greatly to the aesthetics of your body, so if you are interested in competing, you better have them at a sufficient level to achieve great harmony with your body.
How to train the triceps?
In order to understand the correct way to train them, it is important to know that the triceps are made up of 3 parts or heads, hence the prefix “tri”, and they are the long head, the medial head and the lateral head.
They are all elbow extensors, although the long head also has a role in shoulder extension, however we will focus mainly on elbow extension, since your triceps are the strongest elbow extensors in the body. This means that any exercise that uses this movement will work the triceps very well, and the truth is that there are many of them, a large part being multi-joint exercises that also work your pectorals and shoulders, such as the bench press, incline press, military press, dips. , etc.
Can our triceps grow only with basic or multi-joint exercises?
With the above, doubt can be raised about whether our triceps can grow with only multi-joint exercises, and here there are very interesting things to analyze, since there are studies like this one by Riki Ogasawara and colleagues in 2012, where the growth of various muscle groups only doing bench press for several weeks, and we can see how definitely the triceps grew without the need for other exercises.
However, this study was done on people with no training experience, so on the one hand we can understand that at the beginning any stimulus can develop your muscles, but eventually as you progress this stagnates.
To make the above a little clearer, let’s take the bench press as an example, which is an exercise where the limiting muscle is the pectoral, for this reason with the passage of time the pectoral continues to grow very well, but the triceps no longer does so at the same time. same rhythm.
It is here when we must understand that we must definitely incorporate specific exercises to complete the growth of our triceps to the maximum, since these exercises will have it as a limiting muscle and that will maximize hypertrophy, which is precisely our objective.
What exercises should we incorporate?
Basically any pure elbow extension exercise will be excellent, and for this we have many options such as the famous “skull crushers” with dumbbells or barbells, high pulley extensions with rope, straight or V grip, bench dips, etc.
With so many options you might wonder which are the best to complete your training, and for this we must first understand that depending on the shoulder position with which we do a certain exercise, it will work certain heads of the triceps to a greater or lesser extent.
Reviewing a little more about this topic, it seems that there are various contradictions in how to work certain parts of the triceps in the world of science, because for example there are positions like the Chris Beardsley that contradict what most experts usually say, this can generate confusion when investigating.
As we said at the beginning, the idea here is to see everything a little simpler and easier to apply, and it seems that the most logical and supported thing guides us to understand that exercises where you have your shoulders flexed (that is, your arms above your head), They tend to work the long head more, and exercises with more extended shoulders prioritize the medial and lateral part more.
However, a study recently came out that looked at this issue of focusing more on one head or the other of the triceps, and the results were very interesting, as they compared the elbow extension exercise with arms above the head and the normal extension with arms outstretched, and as expected the long head of the triceps grew more by having the elbows above the head, but the surprising thing is that the other heads of the triceps did as well, something that you did not see coming.
So the authors concluded that this overhead exercise currently seems to be the best there is for training the triceps, and should be considered in our routine if we want to maximize triceps growth.
This same study was analyzed by Greg Nuckols , who, although he confirms that the study is very well done, also recommends not being so forceful with the information obtained, that is, we must not close ourselves off and think that for this article we should only make extensions in overhead pulley and that this will be the best existing exercise for triceps.
Finally, other experts such as Brad Schoenfeld and Mike Israetel conclude that it is always good to have variety when training and include exercises in various shoulder positions.
To summarize and simplify a little, we could go with Mike Israetel’s recommendation, which is simply to incorporate into our routine some basic exercise such as dips or bench press and also some exercise for triceps varying the position of the shoulder, such as some variation that extends the elbow in a neutral position, some variation that extends the elbow with arms above the head or even some intermediate variation such as the “skullbuster” where the shoulder position is usually average.
By combining these exercises we could have excellent and very complete work for our triceps.
How to incorporate it into our routine?
Here it is enough to remember, as always, the basic recommendations for hypertrophy, which tend to be around a maximum of 10 sets per session and a maximum of 20 sets per week.
However, Mike Israetel recommends not handling so much volume, because as we have already seen, there will be many exercises that activate the triceps, so a maximum of 10 to 14 sets per week will be perfect at most.
That is, if you already have dips or bench presses on the day you do triceps, it might be enough for you to incorporate 4 sets of overhead pulley extensions one day, and another day do a “skull breaker” or normal elbow extension.
With this we will already have a good job for the triceps.
However, if your intention is to prioritize this muscle and enhance the work, you can work 2 exercises of 3 series in one session and 2 exercises of 3 series in another session, always varying the angles to maximize the focus on each head of the triceps, for example. as follows:
- Session 1: Overhead extensions with 3 sets and bench dips with 3 sets.
- Session 2: Barbell skull crusher with 3 series and V-grip pulley elbow extensions with 3 series.
With this you would be practically handling the maximum volume and maximizing your triceps. As you can see, there is no need to exaggerate and do too many exercises.
Finally I want to make some recommendations for those who train from home, and that is that if you have dumbbells or a bar you can work on many gym variations, but if you don’t have anything you can go for a very challenging exercise which is extensions in a chair or some surface. This exercise mimics the elbow extension and feels amazing.
Finally, a note to maximize the quality of your triceps training is that you do not need to perform the pushdown exercise supinely, this will make your grip or wrist more of a limiting factor, we must ensure that the triceps are the ones that take everything the stimulus, so a prone grip will give you much more comfort and direct focus.
Also make sure it’s your forearm that moves, not your body or something else, prioritize technique and don’t let ego get the better of you. In addition, of course, leaving enough rest between sets, do not do the typical thing of leaving only 20 or 30 seconds, leave at least 90 seconds between each set.
With all this we already have the necessary tools to properly work our triceps, now it’s time to put it into practice, don’t forget to share this article if it was useful to you.