Training the arms can be broken primarily into triceps training and biceps training. We’ll start with the triceps because they are the larger of the two muscles groups. Finding someone with great triceps development is more difficult than finding someone with great biceps. Why?
Well, for one thing, it takes focused concentration and near-perfect form to build truly powerful and massive triceps. And let’s be honest, many people neglect their triceps in favor of the more glamorous biceps. That’s a big mistake. The three muscles that make up your triceps comprise a whopping two-thirds of the bulk of your upper arm. So, if you really want to build impressive guns, your best bet is to take your triceps training very seriously.
Now, before I unveil my routine, let’s look at the big picture. My workout schedule looks like this:
Workout frequency: two on/one off/one on/one off
That means I work out two days in a row, followed by one day of rest. Then I work out another day, followed by another day off and then repeat the sequence. I never train with weights more than two days in a row because I find that I build muscle faster if I allow one day in between so I get enough time to recuperate. On the day off I will do the cardio to stimulate circulation, which in turn speeds up recuperation and growth. By the way, if you’re not making steady gains with your current program, try adding a few extra rest days each week. You may actually gain more by training less. Here’s my typical body-part schedule:
Day 1: Chest, shoulders, triceps
Day 2: Back, biceps, abs
Day 3: Rest
Day 4: Quads, hamstrings, calves
Day 5: Rest
Day 6: Cycle begins again
You can adapt this schedule to fit your specific needs. For example, if you want to take the weekends off from weight training, try two on/one off/two on/two off. That way you’ll have Wednesday along with Saturday and Sunday off each week.
Now for my triceps routine. Work your triceps following chest and shoulders. That warms up your triceps and also , prefatigues them so that they can be pushed into the growth threshold with minimum work. Got it? Good. Now here come the meat and potatoes of my triceps workout:
Exercise 1: Pushdowns. After warming up, perform three sets of 10 repetitions or to failure, whichever comes first. On the last set drop the weight about 10 percent, and immediately perform another five reps without resting.
Tips: Take a palms-down grip with your thumbs over the bar. Keep your shoulders back and chest out. Fix your upper arms to the sides of your torso.
Avoid: Don’t let your wrists bend upward during, as that puts unnecessary stress on the joint. Keep your wrists straight and fixed, and don’t allow your elbows to flare out. Keep them near your sides.
Exercise 2: Close-grip bench presses. This is one of the best mass developers for the triceps. Once again, perform three sets of 10 repetitions. On the last set drop the weight and do another five reps without rest.
Tips: Using a straight or EZ-curl bar, take a grip that is six inches wide. Lower the bar slowly to your lower chest while keeping your elbows near your sides. Then push straight up to the starting position.
Avoid: Bouncing the bar off of your chest. Always maintain control during the movement. Lower slowly.
Exercise 3: Seated one-arm overhead extensions. Perform three sets of 10 repetitions. On the last set drop the weight and do another five reps without rest.
Tips: While sitting on a bench with your arm straight above you, lower the dumbbell slowly to the base of your neck. Stretch the triceps at the bottom of the movement, and then contract and return to the start position.
Avoid: Performing this movement too quickly and haphazardly. That could result in injury to the neck and head. Don’t let your wrists wobble with the weight; keep them fixed.
Please note that by training your triceps with these exercises, you effectively hit it from three different angles. In the first exercise, the triceps pushdown, your upper arm points down, parallel to the line of your torso. In the second exercise, close-grip bench presses, your upper arm is at a 90 degree angle to your torso. In the last exercise, overhead extensions, your upper arm is once again parallel to the line of your torso, except that this time, it is 180 degrees opposite the angle formed by the pushdowns.
Next month I’ll cover biceps.
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