If you didn’t know, the triceps are the horseshoe shaped muscles at the back of the arm; the antagonist of the bicep. Tricep development is particularly important for upper arm size because the tricep muscles make up 2/3 of the upper arm muscle mass whereas the biceps only make up 1/3. That’s why for truly big arms you need to really work your triceps and not neglect them in favour of the “more favourable” bicep.
I’d like to take you through several exercises which are great for building up the size of the triceps.
French Curls: Lying on a decline bench, grip an EZ-Curl bar with an overhand grip. Without doing as you would with ‘skull crushers’, resist the urge to bring the bar over your head/face or neck, instead allowing the decline to set the bar paths starting and finishing position slightly back of the top of the head. Now, using the triceps, keeping the upper arms still, simply lower the bar, and again, keeping the upper arms still, raise it, using all triceps strength. Because the arms are locked out, but the decline sets the bar position to be behind the head, the angle of the upper arm is such that the triceps are kept in play constantly – as opposed to the less effective skull crushers.
Close Grip Bench Press: Any kind of pressing motion is going to involve the triceps, and the bench press is an excellent way to work the triceps. But, by using a closer grip, you not only lengthen the distance the bar has to travel, but you take out the chests involvement somewhat. How close you grip is entirely dependant upon how comfortable you feel, and what your body dimensions are capable of. Try to grip as close to the sides of your chest as you can.
Barbell Triceps Extension: In a seated position, using an EZ-Curl bar or a straight barbell, hold the bar directly above your head. Now, keeping the upper arms perfectly vertical, use the tension of the triceps to slowly lower the bar behind the back of the head, and then raise back up to the top.
Dumbbell Kickbacks: Using a dumbbell, the trainee bends their upper bodies parallel to the floor, and holds a bench to steady themselves, with one foot (the same side as the one holding the dumbbell) forward slightly. Now, keeping the upper arm parallel with the torso (floor parallel, remember) the triceps are used to ‘kick’ the dumbbell back until the elbow is locked out and the entire arm is now parallel to the floor, before slowly lowering at the elbow.
One Arm Tricep Holds: This is a good one for those who don’t have weights. Simply hold your arm out to one side, or between your legs – ensuring the elbow isn’t resting on anything. Now, bent the elbow at 90 degrees so the forearm is parallel to the floor, palm turned up. Now, grasp the wrist with the other arm, and hold it while you attempt to extend your elbow completely straight. Hold for 20 seconds and switch arms. This exercise It can be performed in a variety of ways, such as elbow more extended, or elbow more bent, and also, the wrist can be twisted upwards or downwards.
Of course, there are many, many more triceps exercises, but these will always provide great results, beginner or not.