There are probably more exercise variations for the triceps than any other muscle part. Yet, surprisingly, this area often creates a problem for many who try and bring out the true shape of their triceps muscles. One thing is for sure, no triceps appear impressive if they are not detined. This is an absolute 'must'.
I once saw Bruce Lee standing next to a large bodybui!der. Lee's 131/2 inch arms totally over-shadowed the bodybuilder's near-nineteen inch hams. Why? Because one could see the three triceps heads standing out in bold relief from his upper arms. Every movement was an anatomical lesson in perfectly delineated development. On the other hand, the bodybuilder could muster no impressiveness whatsoever, no matter how he posed his arm.
I often think that pre-contest pumping up does nothing for the triceps, except add weight and size to a frontally posed arm_ Usually there is a swelling surrounded by a red-flush which takes the sharpness and character away from the arm (triceps) appearance.
Most physical culturists perform at least two or three different triceps movements, simply so that the muscle gets worked from different 'angles'. In view of the fact that the triceps is three-headed, this is, at least in principle, a good idea.
Basically, heavy movements like pressing, bench pressing and bench tricep curls develop the triceps
muscles high up on the arm near the shoulder muscle. Alternatively, the lower part of the triceps, near the elbow, is worked from triceps dumbell extension or close-grip standing triceps stretch with barbell (or single dumbell).
Steve Reeves had a unique arm development which was personified by an extremely unusual development of the outer head of the triceps. This
attractive muscle was principally developed from Steve's dedication to an unusual exercise; the single arm supine triceps extension. If you are unfamiliar with how this movement is executed, then: lie on the floor (or on a flat bench) and raise one arm (holding a light dumbell) straight up (vertically) towards the ceiling. Now, while attempting to keep your upper arm as still as possible, lower the dumbell across the chest so that it all but touches the pectoral muscle. If you are Working the right tricep, then you will be lowering the dumbell to the left pectoral and vice-versa. Make sure that you do not bounce the weight. The dumbell must start its return journey to the arm-vertical position under its own momentum. Do not make the common mistake of using too much weight for this exercise, and perform the move as strictly as possible at all times. As you get stronger, add weight in small doses.
The most popular specific triceps exercise is the pushdown-on-lat. machine. It has a tendency to build overall triceps, especially if the position of the hands and elbows are varied, but in truth it is not a top size building exercise for those who find large triceps development difficult.
If you are undergoing difficulty in building triceps size then you should include one of the fol!owing two exercises in every arm workout:
a) CLOSE GRIP EZ BAR BENCH PRESS Lie flat on a bench and (with a hand spacing no more than 6" apart) lower up and down as if you were performing the bench press. Work up to four sets of eight repetitions.
b) LYING TRICEPS BENCH CURL Lie flat on your back (supine) holding a straight bar at arm's length. Lower slowly to touch the bench just behind your head. Your hand spacing should be narrow (just wide enough to allow the bar to touch the bench without trapping the hands).
It is important that the weight touch the bench very lightly and return to the arms straight position without actually rebounding up. In other words, you touch the bench but you do not bounce the bar off the bench top with any real force, which would constitute a form of cheating.
It is a great idea to finish your workouts by working the triceps last, There's a psychological advantage. Nothing feels as good as a heavily `blown' up triceps area. But be sure that you perform quality triceps work if you really want to add dramatically to your arm size. Only the most natural arms will develop from light pumping movements. I have known quite a few bodybuilders who would do their presses, benches, rowing and squats with fairly heavy poundages, only to turn to arm work and use small 20 lb. dumbells for set after set of light
pumping movements and yes!
Many of them gained from this type of `work'. But can you gain from it? The answer to that is, probably not! Most arms need at least some quality sets,
All photo's of Bob Coburn by Denie. Courtesy Clark Sanchez's gym. Albuquerque, N.M.
whereby the resistance is made progressive and where more weight is attempted. Whether you choose to do this with one or two super duty sets or with four or five somewhat !ess intense sets, is up to you.
After your quality work is done, then you can turn your attention towards the pump. Try close drip floor dips, reverse dips with feet raised on a bench or back presses with strands. Three or four sets to really get the blood into those triceps sounds about right! But don't make these final sets just pumping sets with ridiculously light resistance. Practice no more than 15 reps and even with these pump movements you should increase the resistance from time to time. Progressively more demanding triceps work means progressively bigger arms.
Start today. Push it!