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Titanic Triceps and Freaky Abs

www.ironmanmagazine.comQ: I have two questions: Do you have any tips for adding thickness to the inside head of the triceps? Yours look amazing for someone who alledgedly competes at 170 pounds! And what do I have to do to get freaky abs like yours?

A: Thank you for your compliments! It’s funny you should ask about triceps and abs. Those two bodyparts were all I had going for me the first time I stepped onstage. Nevertheless, I placed in the top three, and I was immediately hooked on bodybuilding. Ever since then I’ve been trying to add muscle and build a completely balanced physique—a quest that I’m still pursuing almost 30 years later!

So let’s get down to talking triceps training. One big thing in my favor initially was that I’ve always liked to do dips. Even before I started thinking about bodybuilding, I did dips. In high school I would do a set of dips to failure before I went out to track practice because I liked the way the pump made me look and feel (although I didn’t really know what a “pump” was at the time).

In college I got into martial arts. I was big fan of Bruce Lee. I wanted that ripped muscular look he had, so I would go into the weight room and do sets of dips, pullups and hanging leg raises. That’s the reason I had some muscle on my triceps when I got started in bodybuilding, but they had nowhere near the thickness I carry today. I needed to put muscle on the long heads—which is what you’re after.

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In order to add size to the long head of the triceps, you need to do exercises that put the long head in a stretch position, such as overhead extensions and skull crushers, also known as lying extensions. When the long head is stretched, it can contract over a greater range of motion and do more of the work. When you a do a triceps exercise in which your upper arms are placed close to your torso, the long head contributes less to the movement and more stress is placed on the lateral head.

So, to add size and thickness to the long head of the triceps, start your workout with skull crushers, overhead extensions, overhead cable extensions or the like.

A really great exercise that I came up with to supercharge the long head of the triceps is a combination pullover and skull crusher. I use an EZ-curl bar and recline on a flat bench. I position myself with my head all the way at the end of the bench and start with the bar extended in the start position of a skull crusher. I bend my elbows and lower the bar to my hairline—but instead of returning to the start position, I let my elbows travel backward in a pullover and the let the bar go as low as possible without overstretching my shoulders. From the bottom I pull my elbows back to the position over my shoulders—bar is at my hairline again—and finish with a normal skull-crusher extension to lockout.

I perform the pullover and skull crusher in four distinct parts—from the bar at the starting position down to my hairline, then lowering my elbows to the bottom of the pullover, then back to the hairline and, finally, straightening my arms back to the starting position. I do it very methodically so that I don’t build any momentum from the pullover portion to transfer into the elbow-extension portion; that is, no slinging the weights up.

I perform as many full reps as I can get. When I hit failure doing the full reps, I drop the pullover portion of the movement and just do skull crushers. That usually gets me three or four more reps. I normally do a light warmup set and then three or four sets to failure.

The pullover and skull crusher will get the long heads of your triceps so pumped, you won’t be able to put your arms all the way down to your sides! Then, if you’re really good at dips, go to the dipping bars and knock out four sets to failure to finish destroying the lateral heads. At my level, if I’ve done a stretch-position triceps exercise first, I can usually bang out 10 to 15 reps on the dips (my all-time record is 67 dips). If you’re not great at dips, finish with four sets of pressdowns or kickbacks.

Here are a couple of triceps workouts for you. In recent years I’ve had problems with triceps tendinitis at the elbow, so I either stick with high reps on the stretch position exercises, or I do pressdowns first to make sure that the triceps tendons are really warmed up.


Pullovers/skull crushers

(warmup) 1 x 15

(work sets to failure) 3-4 x 10-12

Dips 4 x max



Seated overhead dumbbell

extensions (warmup) 1 x 15

(work sets to failure) 3-4 x 10-12

Pressdowns (to failure) 4 x 12-15




(warmup) 1 x 15

(work sets to failure) 3-4 x 10-12


(to failure) 4 x 15-20


Now it’s time to reveal my secrets for getting washboard abs. Number one, I have good genetics for abs. Number two, in all of the photos you see of me in IRON MAN or on the Internet, I’m in contest shape at less than 3 percent bodyfat, and my skin is paper thin. And number three, when working abdominals, I contract my abs as hard as I can on every rep.

My ab workouts are very, very simple. I do one leg-raise movement to concentrate more on the lower abdominals, and then I do a crunch movement to finish off the upper abs. I do all of my repetitions very smoothly and deliberately. I consciously flex my abs in the contracted position on each rep, concentrating on making them perform the exercises rather than letting momentum or my hip flexors take over. What’s more, I only train abs once a week. Here are a couple of my favorite abdominal workouts:


Hanging leg raises 4 x max

(Usually no more than

15 per set)


Crunches (on a bench

or on the floor) 4 x max

(typically 15 to 20 per set)




Bench leg raises

(hips slightly off bench) 3-4 x max

Crunches (on a therapy

ball for more stretch) 4 x max


(To see how I perform the exercises, go to my blog at, and click on the Chiseled Abs Workout button in the upper-right-hand corner)

Just keep in mind that if you have a layer of fat on your stomach, no amount of abdominal training is going to give you the chiseled six-pack you crave. You have to be consistent with both your diet and your exercise program to whittle away the bodyfat so you can show off the fruits of your hardcore training!

Try out my triceps and abdominal workouts, and keep me updated on your progress.

Train hard and eat clean!


Editor’s Note: See Dave Goodin’s blog at Click on Blogs in the top menu bar. To contact Dave directly, send e-mail to TXShredder IM

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