Today we’re going to take a look at 3 hacks that you can apply to your workouts right now to not only improve your triceps training, but help you build bigger arms! We've also covered some great BICEPS HACKS recently so if you missed it I suggest you read all about it!
HACK #1 - Establish a Stronger Mind-Muscle Connection
Okay, so this first tip is different than simply “pre-exhausting” a muscle. Our goal here is to try to get as much of the triceps to activate or “wake-up” as we can so when we start our “working sets”, we’ll be able to lift as heavy as possible and build BIGGER and MORE FULL Triceps! But to do this, we need to utilize an exercise that’ll allow us to easily hit shoulder extension and maximize the contraction of the triceps.
You see, most people have no problem maximizing the stretch like when performing a Triceps Pushdown and coming to the TOP of the movement. However, when it comes to fully locking out at the bottom, a lot of guys just skip it.
And you’ll hear excuses like “I’m keeping tension on my triceps with half-reps” which really makes ZERO sense. Your triceps’ function is to “extend the elbow” and if you were to load up as much weight as you could on a pushdown and then try to hold the “lockout” for as long as you could, your triceps would be burning after a 15 – 20 seconds. GUARANTEED!
No, the real issue is that most people are unaware that the triceps won’t fully contract until we introduce a bit of “shoulder extension” into a movement. So, let’s maximize our triceps activation before our workout by hitting a few sets of Single-Arm Cable Pulldowns.
With this exercise, because we’re performing it one arm at a time, we’ll not only be able to fully extend the elbow at the bottom of the movement, but we can take it one step further and bring our now extended arm BACK for shoulder extension and REALLY feel that hard contraction in the triceps.
Now, you can do this with a rope on pushdowns as well. But the goal here isn’t to lift a heavy load to “pre-exhaust” the triceps like I said earlier. It’s just for “activation”.
So take your time, use a moderate amount of weight and give each arm a bit of individual attention. 2 – 3 sets of 10 reps should be about all you need!
HACK #2 - Understand The Importance of Shoulder Flexion In Your Triceps Training
Guys, I work with a lot of clients and before we start I always ask to see their current workout program to gauge how hard they have been training before I design a custom program and the majority of the time for triceps specific movements I only see exercises like Dips, Close-Grip Bench Press and Pushdowns… which is totally fine… but if you want BIG arms with triceps that REALLY pop, you need to bring in some exercises with more focus on “shoulder flexion”.
This part of your arm right here, this is the LONG head of the triceps and is the head that will REALLY fill out your arms as it grows.
However, to get this head to respond and grow better we need to bring in exercises like Powerbombs or Skull-Crushers to your training.
Overhead movements like these, place your arms in “shoulder flexion” which will allow you to maximize the stretch on your triceps, more specifically that long head. But which exercises are best? Well, if I could pick “ONLY TWO” exercises to blast my triceps, I would go with the CLOSE-GRIP BENCH PRESS for a heavy overload and POWERBOMBS to maximize the growth of all three heads.
HACK #3 - Sneak More Triceps Training In Your Chest / Shoulder Day
Personally, I like to train with a traditional bro-split, or 2 – 3 muscle groups a day and in my current workout program I do have a day where I train CHEST & TRICEPS. But you can split up your body parts pretty much any way you want and it wouldn’t be uncommon to have a CHEST & SHOULDERS day and then another day for ARMS where you train BICEPS & TRICEPS.
So, the goal with this hack would be to take advantage of how hard your triceps are working as a secondary mover on the day you're training Chest & Shoulders and spend some time at the end of your workout hammering your triceps. This way we are taking advantage of them being pre-exhausted already from the chest & shoulder exercises and can bring in some more arm growth with a high-volume drop-set.
You already have an ARMS day so then this would mean that if your triceps are lagging and you want to focus on growing them, you can now train them TWICE a week and take advantage of multiple growth periods.
The exercise I would use for the high-volume drop-set would be the Triceps Pushdown with either a v-bar or a straight bar and I would hit 3 – 4 sets of 6 – 8 reps.
This way we can finish the Chest & Shoulder workout with ONE triceps exercise, but also still fully exhaust the triceps with high volume.
And just to be clear, ONE SET of a drop set would look like this. 6 – 8 reps with as much weight as you can, then lower the weight and hit another 6 – 8 reps, and then lower the weight one more time and finish the set with another 6 – 8 reps.
How much you lower the weight depends on your muscle endurance, so just keep track and do your best to adjust how much you’re dropping the weight by each set because as you get stronger you’ll be able to push harder on each drop.
Oh, and just make sure that if you’re hitting your triceps twice a week, give at least 2 days rest between those workouts.