Triceps: Anatomy, Training, Workouts & Tips (for Men)

Triceps: Anatomy, Training, Workouts & Tips (for Men)

Triceps: Anatomy, Training, Workouts & Tips (for Men)

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               The triceps may not have the same cultural cache as its cousin, the biceps, but is just as important. We will talk about the anatomy of the triceps and triceps workouts. Also, I will share with you some training tips to make them grow even more.

               Here is an article for its cousin, the biceps: Biceps: Anatomy, Training, Workouts & Tips (for Men)

               Make sure you have your macronutrient ratio on-point to get the best result possible: Guide to Macronutrient Ratio for Weigh Loss, Weigh Gain & Maintenance

               Of course, here are some foods you should include in your diet: Foods to Include in Your Diet for Muscle Gain & Recovery

Triceps Anatomy

               The triceps brachii muscle or just triceps, in human anatomy is the muscle that is located on the back of your upper arm. It is the antagonist of the biceps brachii muscle. It is called triceps because it has three heads (the biceps has two) and they are called long head, lateral head and medial head. The long head originates on the shoulder blade (scapula) and the lateral and medial head start on the humerus

origin and insertion of all three "heads" of the triceps brachii muscle

The long head originates on the shoulder blade (scapula) and the lateral and medial head start on the humerus (bone of the upper arm). All three of them come together to a single tendon and insert (attach) on the ulna.

(bone of the upper arm). All three of them come together to a single tendon and insert (attach) on the ulna. The long head is on the inside, the lateral head is on the outside and the medial head is beneath both of them. The lateral and long head create the “horseshoe” shape that everyone is gunning for.

               Its main function is to extend the elbow joint (straitening the arm). Where the biceps contracts the triceps extends and vice versa. Also, it is involved in shoulder extension. Furthermore, the long head is used also, to fixate the elbow when doing fine movements, like writing. The lateral head is used for movements that require occasional high- intensity force while the medial head is used when doing more precise, low-force movements. The interesting thing about this muscle is that each fascicle (head) can be considered as an independent muscle with specific functional roles and can be trained as such.

               You must include isolation and compound movements in your triceps training workouts to make them grow faster. Isolation exercises include cable pushdowns, lying triceps extensions and arm extensions behind the back. On the other hand compound movements include exercises like close-grip bench press, close-grip EZ bar press, dips or weighted bench dips. The closer the grip the more it targets the triceps (keep in minds that also, the closer the grip is, the harder is to balance the weights).

Training Tips

               Because of its adversity I recommend that in your training, you include all rep ranges low (4-6), moderate (8-12) and high (20-25) for max growth. To train the medial head use higher reps with lower weights, for the lateral head use low reps with heavier weights. You use the long head in all exercises. If you want to isolate the long head as much as you can, your elbows must be above your head.

               Start your workout with a compound movement. Close-grip bench press, close-grip EZ bar press, dips or weighted bench dips are excellent. Be careful not to use too narrow grip for the close-grip presses. Shoulder width or 1-2 inches less than shoulder width is enough. Anything more and you risk injuring your wrist or shoulders. Also, you may lower the stress on your triceps and not work it enough.

               On triceps pushdowns, avoid using momentum or shifting your body position forward in such a way that you’re pressing the bar down rather than pushing the bar down. Furthermore, try to avoid flaring your elbows out, in general, on all exercises. A little bit is fine, but too much and you start to take away the stress from your muscle.

               Because the lateral and long head of the triceps are composed of fast-twitch muscle fibers, they respond well to heavier loads and lower reps. On the other hand, the medial head is composed more of slow-twitch muscle fibers. Therefore, it is best to use lighter load with higher reps.

fast-slow-twitch-muscle-fibers

The lateral and long head of the triceps are composed of fast-twitch muscle fibers and you need to train them with low rep and heavy weights. The medial head is composed more of slow-twitch muscle fibers so, you train it with high rep and lighter weight.

               Additionally, less and less people do cable pushdowns. Everyone is doing bar pushdowns. That is probably because you can push more weight with the bar and cable pushdowns are harder. Why are the cable pushdowns better? The triceps plays a role in shoulder extension. Shoulder extension occurs when your humerus is behind your body. When you use a bar, your legs limit the range of motion. When using a cable you can fully contract the muscle. IFBB Pro Ben Pakulski gives a great demonstration in this video.

               Finally, for a full triceps workout, I recommend starting your workouts off with a compound movement, following with two isolation movements and one overhead isolation movement. Train your triceps in all rep ranges to attain max growth in each head.

Workouts

               As I said in the bicep workouts article be careful not to over train your arms. Whenever you push you use your triceps! Think of all exercises you do throughout the week that require pushing. Also, it is more than enough to train your triceps separately one day a week. If you over train it, it will not grow more or faster. You can injure yourself and you will not be able to train at all.

 

                  Workout 1

 

1. Close-grip EZ bar press (4 sets of 6-8 reps)

               Using a narrow grip lift the bar and hold it straight over your torso with your elbows in. The arms should be perpendicular to the floor. As you lower the bar, keep your elbows in.

2. Seated tricep press (3 sets of 10, 8, 8 reps)

               Because of the vertical position of the arms this exercise works the long head extensively. Contract your abdominal muscles to avoid arching your back. The upper arms should remain stationary and only the forearms should move. A better way is to have somebody hand it to you especially if it is very heavy.

3. Low cable tricep extension (3 sets of 12, 12, 15 reps)

               Keep the elbows in and make sure that the upper arms point to the ceiling while your forearms point towards the pulley above your head. Go back slowly so you can have better control of the weights.

4. Lying dumbbell tricep extensions (3 sets of 15, 15, 20 reps)

               Use dumbbell in both hands and push simultaneously. This exercise equally works all three heads of the triceps. Be careful when doing this exercise. Too much weight with sloppy form and you could be looking at injured elbows.

 

                  Workout 2

 

1. Close grip barbell bench press (4 sets of 4-6 reps)

               This exercise is excellent for developing your triceps. Place your elbows closer to your body to put more emphasis on your triceps. Also, make sure that your grip is not to narrow. One or two inches more than shoulder width is enough. It should take at least twice as long to go down than to come up.  

2. Cable rope overhead tricep extension (3 sets of 8-12 reps)

               The arm position stretches the long head of the muscle. Extend your arms with your hands directly above your head using a neutral grip. Your elbows should be in close to your head and the arms should be perpendicular to the floor

3. Cable pushdown (3 sets of 15 reps)

               Keep the body straight and bend your elbows only. The upper arms should always remain stationary next to your torso and only the forearms should move. Let your arms come up to your chest.

4. Lying Tricep Extensions (3 sets of 10-12 reps)

               This fundamental movement is excellent for developing bigger triceps. Using a narrow grip lift the bar and hold it straight over your torso with your elbows in. The arms should be perpendicular to the floor. As you lower the bar, keep your elbows in.

 

                  Workout 3

 

1. Weighted bench dips  (4 sets of 6-8 reps)

               This exercise works the pecs and delts also, but to a lesser degree. Use a weight on your thighs to intensify the effort. Keep the elbows as close as possible throughout the movement. Forearms should always be pointing down.

2. Lying tricep press (3 sets of 8-10 reps)

               This fundamental movement is excellent for developing bigger triceps. The arms should be perpendicular to the torso and the floor. The elbows should be tucked in.

3. Standing one arm dumbbell tricep extension (3 sets of 12 reps)

               The upright position of the arm puts emphasis on the long head. The upper arm should remain stationary and only the forearm should move.

4. Reverse pushdowns (3 sets of 20-25 reps)

               The underhand grip does not allow you to work with heavy weights. Use lighter weights to work your medial head. Elbows should be in by your sides and your feet should be shoulder width apart from each other.

Conclusion

               Now you have the knowledge and exercises to build your tri’s. Throughout your training use the tips I provided here to tweak these workouts to your own needs/preferences. As I always say and will continue to do so until people etch it into their memory: two bodies do not respond the same to the same exercises. Monitor your body take measurements and pictures so that you know if you are going forward or you are spinning in circles.

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2 Comments

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