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Bigger Triceps, Better Bench

A bigger muscle is a stronger muscle. These three triceps mass-builders can help you add more weight to your bench press.

Most big benchers have one thing in common: They look like big benchers. Guys like Kirill Sarychev and Eric Spoto have barrel chests and bowling-ball shoulders, but they also have huge triceps. My point is, you can build a stronger bench by speci cally targeting your triceps. Many effective bench programs will focus on working with heavy weight for the main movement, as well as getting in a good amount of volume using submaximal loads and adding direct assistance work for the triceps. Three assistance exercises that are tried and true are the oor press, JM press, and one-arm cable extension as a nisher. Adding these three to your bench program will not only add size to your arms, but pounds to your bench.

Floor Press
The floor press is a variation of the bench press, which cuts the range of motion, thereby limiting the role of the chest and putting a greater focus on the triceps. This exercise exposes weak triceps immediately, but when used properly, it can help you break through that bench plateau and add size to your upper arm. Many have used the floor press as a main movement, or even as an assistance exercise, with great results.
Find a power rack with multiple holes for J-hooks and set the height of the bar from the floor the same distance as the bar from the bench on a traditional bench press. There are two ways you can set up for this movement. You can either lie on your back with your legs straight out (toes facing up), or lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet planted on the floor. I prefer the second way. After unracking the bar, make sure to keep your elbows pointing forward on the descent to keep your lats engaged, and avoid flaring the elbows out until pressing the bar back up. Bring the bar out over your chest. The bar path should be at about the level of your sternum. Lower the bar under control until your triceps come in con- tact with the ground. At this point, try to avoid bouncing your triceps off the ground and pressing the weight back up until fully locked out. There should be a slight pause at the bottom. Lastly, make sure that your forearms are perpendicular to the ground as you come down. Your forearms and triceps should form a 90-degree “L” at the bottom of the lift. If your forearms are drifting back toward you, try lowering the bar to a lower point on your chest. A typical rep range for the floor press is five to eight.

IM0316_T2G_Exercise_FloorPress_01 IM0316_T2G_Exercise_FloorPress_02
JM Press
The JM press was made popular by powerlifter JM Blakely and has been used for years by bodybuilders wanting to isolate their triceps without putting a beating on their elbows. Picture it as a hybrid between a standard bench press and a skull crusher. Unlike skull crushers, this movement can be performed with minimal risk of your elbows being in pain for days afterward. Additionally, you can use heavier loads on this movement, which should put more size on your triceps. The JM press is mainly used as a bench assistance movement and is typically performed for six to 15 reps.
Lie on a bench or Smith machine bench and set up similarly to how you would for a bench press.
As you lower the weight, you will bend your elbows much more than a typical bench press, and the bar should come down at about the same level as your neck. Press back up keeping the bar path completely vertical rather than pressing at an angle from your chest back toward your head. This movement puts a great stretch on the triceps and will lead to a serious pump. Now why would you do this on the Smith machine? On the Smith machine, the bar is on a track, so it has nowhere to go but straight up and down. That way, you can set up your bench and line your neck/chin area with the bar and just focus on isolating your triceps. I also like it because I can safely use a false grip (thumbs over the bar) to hit the inner head of my triceps better. Feel free to alternate JM presses between a Smith machine and a regular bench.


IM0316_T2G_Exercise_JMPress_01 IM0316_T2G_Exercise_JMPress_02

One-arm Cable Extensions
I like to finish my second day bench routine with these. They are a great isolation movement to get some rep work in after the main exercise. Using one arm allows you to focus on each arm separately. The rep range for these can vary widely, from 10 to 50. This movement is straightforward and well known. Simply grab a single D-handle from a high pulley on a cable station and, using a false grip, extend fully without bringing your shoulders forward. Keep your hips fully extended with your head in a neutral position. Use a controlled eccentric and concentric motion, but with no hold at full extension. Also, keep your shoulders back to isolate your triceps better and avoid putting stress on your traps.

Here is what a sample bench routine would look like incorporating these three movements:
Day One
Paused Bench Press 5×5
JM Press 4×10 Dumbbell Flye 4×15
Reverse Pec-Dec 4×15

Day Two, (Three days later) 
Floor Press 5×5
Vertical Press 4×10
External Rotations 4×10
One-Arm Cable Extensions 4×15-25 (per side)
Finally, make sure you are well fed on the days you bench. The bench suffers the most during dieting, so this program would be great to use outside of serious contest prep. IM

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