Advanced Triceps Training – 5 Alternative Triceps Exercises
I am going to refrain from the obvious cliché here and spare you the “build triceps like horseshoes” analogy. When it comes to arm mass biceps usually get the nod but triceps make up the bulk of the upper arm. I know that, you know that, so let’s move on.
What do you do with in triceps training? Pressdowns, skullcrushers/nosebreakers, maybe a kickback or two? Are your triceps growing or do you need an intervention because you are still doing the same old boring routine full of the aforementioned exercises and not seeing the results you want?
Yes, the big compound, multi-joint lifts will pack on the upper arm mass, namely bench presses, shoulder presses and even deadlifts, but a little triceps specialization wouldn’t hurt. And the type of specialization here isn’t your mom’s routine. It’s subjecting your triceps to new angles, stimuli and loads.
The triceps gauntlet challenge with CT Fletcher, Mike Rashid, Marc Lobliner at Iron Addicts Gym.
5 Triceps Exercises for Advanced Gains
#1 – TRX or rack triceps press
You are most-likely well aware of suspension trainers, specifically the TRX trainer. These versatile straps can instantly make men into boys. Manipulating your bodyweight may seem simple enough but, done correctly, will challenge you in ways you never thought possible.
The traditional lifter may scoff at this type of training but beware; you may soon eat your words. If you don’t have access to a suspension trainer a horizontal bar set up in a squat rack, power rack or Smith machine will do just fine. Whichever version you decide you will perform both versions the same way.
The how: Grasp the handles of a suspension trainer and face away from where the trainer is stationed. Step back a bit so your body is around 45 degrees to the floor and the handles are overhead with your arms straight. With a rigid body and your midsection solid, bend at the elbows so the handles motion in an arch along the sides and ultimately behind your head.
You should feel an intense stretch in your triceps. Once you have achieved the maximum range of motion reverse the movement and contract your triceps to straighten your arms back out. The key is to keep your body straight and apply all the stress to your triceps.
#2 – Kettlebell triceps extension
Kettlebells seem to sneak into almost all training programs these days and for good reason. These archaic, crude hunks of metal are some of the most effective and diverse pieces of equipment available. Why? They have the advantage (or should I say disadvantage) of being a type of variable, unbalanced load which is tough to control.
There’s no reason that your triceps can’t benefit from a little kettlebell work. Attempting to take control of this somewhat unbalanced load will have the backs of your arms working overtime – which just translates to more muscle.
The how: Normally you would try this out on a flat bench but feel free to attempt on an incline or decline bench as well. These are simply nosebreakers/skullcrushers (or more formally known as lying extensions) performed with a pair of kettlebells. Lie down on a bench grasping two kettlebells overhead.
Angle your arms a bit back to keep constant tension on your triceps. Bend at the elbows and lower the weight in an arch overhead (your upper arms should be stabilized at a slight angle). The kettlebells should travel alongside your head. Reverse the direction keeping the angle and squeeze at the top.
#3 – Unstable diamond push-up
The diamond (close-grip) push-up is the unsung hero of triceps mass builders. So many individuals turn their nose up to viewing push-ups as a true potential mass-builder. What good is it to be unbelievably strong in the bench press, triceps pressdowns and other freeweight and machine exercises if you can’t perform textbook form push-ups?
Now, you may still be shaking your head at the mere thought of diamond push-ups thinking, “Yeah, I can do a ton of those.” Well, let’s put a spin on this exercise and a stop to your inflated ego.
The how: Here, you will add two intensity factors that will have your triceps screaming. One; you will place your feet on a bench to cause more stress and two; you will utilize an unstable surface with your hands so as to increase focus and stimulation. So, with your feet on a bench, your body forming a straight posture and your hands on small medicine ball you are ready to begin.
Keeping your body in the rigid, planked position lower your body with your elbows sliding by your sides and focusing on your triceps resisting the motion. Stop at the bottom for a count and then press back up keeping your elbows tight by your sides. Go slow and controlled.
#4 – Decline close-grip bench press
The close-grip bench press is one of the best triceps mass builders around. Enabling you to use a significant load in a multi-joint motion, this exercise reigns as one of the must-dos. But there are two structural flaws that some may encounter.
First, you may find the flat position puts undue stress on your shoulders, making your chest take over the exercise. Two, you use too close of a grip which puts stress on your wrists. There is a solution which will remedy both problems and give you bigger triceps in the meantime.
The how: Set up barbell on a decline bench press station. After you lay down position your shoulders down to the floor and down toward your waist. This will protect your shoulders. Take a grip on the bar about should width. The width of your grip is less important than how you position your elbows during the lift.
Lift the bar off the rack and descend toward your lower chest keeping your elbows by your sides. Without bouncing press the weight back up and flex your triceps hard. The decline position saves your shoulders and will allow a better contraction of your triceps. Think of the angle as similar to a standing cable pressdown.
#5 – Banded press-out
The triceps press-out may not be familiar to many gym-goers but it is one that can add a wicked stretch to your triceps. Highly more dynamic than your average lying barbell extension the press-out is more of a stretch-induced triceps builder that can cause some serious DOMS (delayed onset muscular soreness).
But as with all traditional exercises listed here, let’s add in a little twist to make it that much more effective.
The how: Traditionally you would perform a press-out by lying on a bench grasping a barbell about shoulder-width and raise your arms straight out over the floor above your head making a straight line from your knees to your hands. Lower the bar toward the floor bending only at the elbows achieving an intense stretch before returning to the start.
The problem here is that you will lose some tension as you descend the barbell toward the floor. To circumvent this problem affix a stretch band to each end of the barbell and the middle to the bench leg closest to your head. This will add linear variable resistance as well as add tension throughout the range of motion.