You can’t argue that Roelly Winklaar hits his tricep workouts hard. If you read my article on bicep workouts you’ll know that if you want bigger arms, making your triceps grow is the way to go. Even though they account for 2/3 of your arm size, they aren’t quite as sexy as biceps. When it comes to tricep workouts they’re not as well known as bicep workouts and are often times done just as poorly, if not worse.
The elbow is a lever, and to move the lever the tricep has three points in the movement. The first is where the triceps are lengthened as much as possible, called the stretch. The second is when they’re contracted as much as possible, called the contraction. Then there’s anywhere in between, called the strength phase.
During the stretch and the contraction, the triceps are the weakest and during the strength phase, they are the strongest. Obviously. That’s why I see a lot of guys doing tricep workouts that never fully contract or stretch their muscle, they’re content with just working the muscle throughout the middle of the force continuum.
During tricep workouts, it is nearly impossible to fully contract the long head unless you really know the anatomy behind the body. So, assuming you don’t know, the long head originates at the scapula and not the upper arm. This means to fully contract it we will have to extend our arm behind our back, a great exercise for this would be dumbbell tricep kickbacks.
If we put the arm behind the body to get a full contraction, can you guess where it has to be moved to get a full stretch? Because we said that the long head attaches at the scapula the arm must go above our head and bend at the elbow. Almost like we’re trying to scratch the back of our necks. Any overhead exercise, whether with a rope or a dumbbell, will produce a full stretch of the tricep.
Basically, every degree of movement between the contracted and stretch phase is considered in the strength phase. This accounts for almost every other tricep exercise, with the majority of them exercising in front of the body.
Let’s use rope tricep pushdowns as an example. The only movement that should be happening is at the elbows. The shoulders should be stationary while the forearms are moving. As we stated above, the two weakest points are at the bottom and top of a motion. We can tell if were using appropriate weight because we can A) fully contract at the bottom of the motion and B) fully extend at the top without your shoulders moving. An isolation exercise such as this defeats the purpose of throwing so much weight on that we have to compensate with other body parts to accommodate the weight.
One of my favorite strength exercises for tricep workouts is the close grip bench. The narrower your hands are the more your triceps will work and the farther your hands are apart the more your chest will work. I like to find a grip that’s a little bit closer than shoulder width apart and not too narrow because if you have your hands are too close together it puts unneeded stress on your wrists. So find out what works for you!
This article is a good start to get educated and help grow those triceps to make your shirt sleeves stretch. For me, tricep workouts are one of those workouts that are a lot of fun and the pump makes my arms feel like overstuffed sausages. I like to use Wyked 2.1 to help achieve this effect and get my triceps nice and full to help them stretch and grow. Check back soon for my article on tricep workouts for mass!