The triceps is a larger muscle mass than the biceps, and it needs training from more angles. Like the biceps, the triceps have to look good from any view. But unlike the biceps, the triceps need to make your arm look big, massive, and impressive when your arms are not flexed as well. When somebody says, “Wow, look at the size of that guy’s arms!” you can be sure it is the triceps that are creating that effect. They are visible 90 percent of the time you are onstage, whether you are standing relaxed or hitting poses.
The triceps brachii, a three-headed muscle that works in opposition to the biceps, also attaching under the deltoid and below the elbow.
However, just as with other body parts, there is a difference between big triceps and good triceps. Every part of this relatively complex muscle needs to be fully developed. When your arms hang, the triceps need to be evident all the way from the elbow to the rear deltoid. When they are flexed, each of the heads must be fully shaped, separated, and distinct.
A well-developed triceps looks like a horseshoe at the back of the upper arm.
You see this a lot when some bodybuilders try to do Triceps Pressdowns and end up with a good chest pump. In a case like this, learning to totally isolate the triceps becomes extremely important, and can be accomplished by do- ing One-Arm Triceps Extensions or Barbell Triceps Extensions.
Lying Triceps Extensions work the muscle from the elbow to the rear deltoid, and are also great for developing the triceps for straight-arm poses. One-Arm Triceps Extensions help develop the triceps so that they look good when you are doing biceps shots, with the fullness of the triceps offsetting the peak of the biceps. Lying Dumbbell Extensions work the outer head of the triceps to a greater degree, giving you the shape and thickness you need for total triceps development.
Your hand position makes a difference in how an exercise affects the triceps. If you hold your hand so that the thumb is up, palm facing the in- side, you work the outside of the triceps, to a slightly greater degree, as when doing Triceps Press downs holding on to a rope rather than pressing down on a bar or performing Dumbbell Kickbacks. If you turn your hand so that the palm is facedown, as in a Triceps Pressdown, you put more stress on the inner part of the triceps. If you twist your wrist, thumbs in and down, which is easiest when doing One-Arm Cable Triceps Press- downs, you really hit the muscle a little bit differently.
Advanced training also involves supersetting, hitting the muscle with one exercise after another to develop size, strength, shape, and endurance. You need to work the upper and lower long, lateral, and medial heads. Adding on exercises is important only if you pursue them with the kind of intensity that forces the muscles to continue to grow, no matter how ad- vanced you become.
Remember, too, that the triceps rotates the wrist in opposition to the
biceps. Just as you twisted the wrist outward in biceps exercises, you
should do some triceps exercises in which you twist the wrist in the oppo-
site direction. This will give you complete contraction of the triceps muscle. Behind-the-Neck Dumbbell Extensions and One-Arm Cable
Pressdowns are exercises for this purpose.
If you have a real problem with the triceps, I recommend training them according to the Priority Principle, working them first, when you are fresh. I did this myself years ago when I realized that my biceps had developed out of proportion to my triceps. I began to concentrate on this area, using the Priority Principle, and soon they began to respond so I had an Olympia-quality arm rather than just Olympia-quality biceps.
I also found that supersetting triceps exercises, going right from one to the other, was another way of getting extra triceps development. I would first do a few sets to pump up the biceps, which creates a “cush- ioning” effect, and then really blast the triceps. After the superset I would continue to flex and pose the triceps, never giving them any relief.
If triceps are an especially weak point for you, I recommend changing your program so that you train them by themselves from time to time, al- lowing you to concentrate only on the back of the arms to totally shock and stimulate the triceps. To overcome specific weak points, I recommend the following exercises:
Use a heavy weight in each exercise:
Close-Grip Barbell Presses Weighted Dips
Dips Behind the Back
OR MAss AND UPPER TRICEPS
Cable Pressdowns and One-Arm Cable Pressdowns (regular and re-
verse grip) Kickbacks
Do all triceps exercises strictly so that you really Rex them totally, concen- trating on locking out on each movement. Use the peak contraction prin- ciple, holding the full contraction for a few moments at the top of each repetition.
OR MASS AND LOWER TRICEPS
Dips Behind the Back-doing partial reps in which you go all the way
down, but come up only about three-quarters of the way (and not locking out) to keep the lower area of the triceps under stress the whole time (the more your arm is bent, the more your lower triceps takes up the stress)