Take a look around at most gym across the country and you’ll see guys pumping up their biceps to get bigger arms. Big biceps are great, but if you want the really big guns, you’ve got to train the triceps. Why? The triceps muscle actually accounts for 2/3 of your upper arm. That means if you only train your biceps, you’re neglecting the majority of your arms.
The tricep is also known as “The Horse Shoe Muscle” because a well developed tricep looks like an upside down “U” on the back of someone’s arm. The muscle is made up of three heads known as the lateral, medial, and long heads. Ok, enough with the anatomy lesson. Here are the best tricep exercises that will have you popping out of your shirt sleeves in no time.
Lying Barbell Triceps Extensions AKA Skull Crushers
Skull crushers absolutely kill your triceps muscle. Not only do they isolate the entire tricep they utilize gravity as well. Before engaging in these exercises, there are some safety precautions to be aware of. When doing skull crushers, you want to make sure you utilize a comfortable amount of weight that’s not too heavy. After all, you don’t want the name of the exercise to become a reality. If you’re going to use heavy weight, be sure to use a spotter.
To perform a skull crusher, lay down on a flat bench with your feet touching the ground. Make sure to use a curl bar with angles. Straight bars cause far too much stress on the wrist. While lying back on the bench, extend your arms straight up above your head by straightening out your elbows. Make sure you isolate your triceps by only extending at the elbow. Keep your form tight because sloppy form can end up hurting your lower tricep right above your elbow. Come back down slowly in the same motion. Perform 3-4 sets of 10-12 repetitions.
The tricep pushdown is done with a cable pulley system and an angled tricep extension bar or tricep ropes. This exercise doesn’t quite hit the entire tricep as well as the skull crushers, but mainly focuses on the outer and medial heads. The key to this exercise is form. A lot of people will use too much weight and end up engaging their shoulder and back muscles.
To perform this exercise, grip the bar or ropes overhand. Your feet should be about shoulder-length apart. Your arms should be bent in a 90 degree angle. Slowly bring the weight down keeping your upper arms at your sides bending only at the elbow fully engaging the tricep. Make sure to go slow and use your tricep and not momentum to pull down the cable. This is a great exercise to do lighter weights and 12-18 reps per set.
Standing Barbell Triceps Extensions
Think of this exercise as a standing skull crusher. Some people like to stand while others prefer to sit down on a bench. If you’re going to sit on a bench, make sure it has back support. If standing, it’s a good idea to wear a weight belt, especially if using heavy weights.
To perform this exercise, use an overhand and narrow grip on a curved curl bar. Bend your arms at the elbow and bring the bar straight back behind your head. Without bouncing or arching your back, bring the weight back up by straightening your arms. To really burn your triceps, do 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps.
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