Workout of The Week 1/18/16: Tri and Keep Up

Cover image: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Pre-note: Whether you call them pythons, guns, weapons of mass destruction, or pipes, there is no questions that a pair of well developed triceps are crucial for a great set of arms. The actions of the triceps include elbow extension and shou-

i-1 (click to enlarge)

lder extension. The muscle is made up of 3 parts, hence the “tri” portion of the word. These parts are the long head, the short head, and the lateral head, which are arranged in a horseshoe-like pattern (i-1). Each portion is targeted through different movements, so a solid workout should consist of overhead, underhand, pushing, and extension (isolation) movements. You should note that the triceps are indirectly worked during any pressing exercises such as bench press, military press, etc.. Therefore, this should be factored into recovery time.




Cardiovascular machine- 5min-10min: A treadmill, bike, elliptical, stair master, rower, etc.  A slow to moderate pace is sufficient. Focus on breathing technique.

Resistance band / thera-band extension warm-up: 2-3 sets of 15-20 reps

tricep ext.
Thera-band triceps extension



Light warm-up sets: 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps with very moderate weight. This will familiarize the movement, and bring blood to the arms







Set-up: You will need a bench with a barbell. Use a smith machine if you do not have spotter. Your hand grip should be slightly narrower than shoulder width. It is important not to go too narrow, as this places unneeded stress to the wrists.

Execution: Begin by placing your feet flat on the ground and your hands in an appropriate position (as discussed above). After you lift off the bar, pause for a second to feel out the balance. Slowly descend, much like you would while benching. Some people prefer elbows to be tight to the sides, however, I prefer them to be 4-5 inches away. I feel this better activates the triceps. Unlike the bench press, you do not need to touch the bar to your chest. Instead, stop 2 inches short. Then press the bar up, until just short of lockout.

close grip press

Close grip triceps bench press



Tip: This is a compound exercise, so I would suggest going slightly lighter than maximum. This will help you to focus on the triceps as the prime mover, and not the shoulders and chest. To further isolate the triceps, mentally imagine the triceps being the only muscle straightening the elbows as you are pressing the bar up.






Set-up: You will need a barbell or ez-bar (curvy bar), and a decline bench. Stay modest at first, and feel it out; the last thing you need to do is actually crush your skull (hilarious, I know). Your hands should be shoulder width apart.\

Execution: To begin the movement, bend your elbows and lower the weight towards your head in a slow and controlled motion. During the lowering motion, slightly allow your upper arm (triceps part of your arm) to rock back. If done correctly, the rocking motion should allow the bar to end above your head at the bottom of the motion, and


Decline BB skull-crusher


not your forehead. Then reverse the exact same motion, and straighten your elbows until you feel a solid triceps contraction.


Tips: Rocking the arms back slightly does not only improve the stretch and muscle activation, but reduces the stress to the elbows alike. Which leads me to the next point- avoid this exercise if you have elbow tendinitis. It is important that you keep your wrists neutral (straight), as well.

PRONE TRICEPS KICK-BACK: 3×10; super-set with next exercise

Set-up: You will need a bench, and 2 dumbbells. I would advise getting a lighter set of dumbbells to introduce the movement. Lay your body prone on the bench (belly down), with your upper arms tight to your rib cage.

Execution: Once you are positioned as instructed above, you are ready

triceps kickback

Triceps kickback


to begin the movement. In a controlled manner (no swinging!), straighten your arms simultaneously until the dumbbells are even with your hips. Emphasize a good contraction with a 1-2s isometric hold at the top, then return to the starting position in a controlled fashion.


Tips: It is crucial that you do not swing and/or use momentum, this is not an ego lift by any means. I could probably do this movement with 45lbs, but I would get much less triceps activation. Instead, I use 15-25lbs, and feel a much greater pump/burn.


Set-up: You will need a cable pulley and a small handle attachment. Set the pulley to the highest setting, and a weight that is moderate (don’t expect to stack it lol). Grab the handle in an underhand position, while keeping your chest and head up.

Execution: Once you are positioned as instructed above, you are ready to begin the movement. While keeping your wrist neutral, extend the arm until you feel a solid contraction of the triceps muscle. Much like the previous exercise, it helps to hold the


1 arm reverse ext.


squeeze for 1-2s. On the return, only allow your arm to reach slightly more than a 90 degree bend.


Tips: I don’t think there is a triceps movement that better hits the medial head. Keep your head up, because you cannot drop the chest with a raised chin. Also, if you have trouble keeping your upper arm still, try holding it in place with the opposite arm. Lastly, if you have a left and right triceps imbalance, begin each set with the weaker/smaller side.




The triceps are great to pair with: chest, shoulders, or biceps.


  • 3-5 repetitions per stretch
  • 10-20s second hold each


You had another healthy workout.


Kyle Blair


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