Nine Weeks to Bigger Arms Part II: Triceps, tricep workouts, bench press, pushdowns, dips

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Nine Weeks to Bigger Arms Part II: Triceps

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Check out Nine weeks to bigger arms, Part 1 for advice on biceps training.

In Part 1, I discussed the basic principles that can guide you toward training your arms properly. I also gave you a detailed nine-week bicep workout. Training your biceps however, is only part of the solution to having impressive guns, pythons or whatever adjective you use. The other part needed for exceptional arms is triceps training, and as noted by the title, triceps will be the subject of this, the second part.

When discussing not only triceps training, but training in general, I think that as a whole, the fitness community has become too specific. And in my opinion this is mainly due to aerobics instructors, personal trainers, and the organizations that certify them. However, don’t get me wrong, I’ve known quite a few highly qualified instructors and trainers. So what do I mean by too specific?

By too specific, I mean trying to isolate the muscle being worked too much. You ask; “How can you isolate a muscle too much? Isn’t that what all the magazines say to do?” Yes, that is what a lot of magazines say to do, and I agree it’s good to isolate the muscle being worked. I’ll even go one step further, and say that it is not only good but also absolutely necessary for muscular growth. However, many instructors and fitness enthusiasts are so concerned with isolation exercises that they’re neglecting form and function.

How does form and function relate to triceps training? Lets look at what the triceps actually do. The triceps extend, or straighten, the arm. For example, if you wanted to get a beer out of the refrigerator, without your triceps, it would be virtually impossible. That would truly be a tragedy. Without a tricep, your arm would be in a constantly flexed state. That having been said, doing exercises that stress movement only at the elbow, such as tricep pressdowns, are solid movements. However, I am starting to see less and less multi-joint movements used in workouts. And for the triceps, examples of multi-joint movements would be close grip bench presses, dips and a few others. These exercises involve not only the elbow joint but the shoulder joint as well.

Multi-joint exercises for the triceps, as far as I’m concerned, are Number One for building mass. This is due to the fact that you can use more weight with multi-joint movements. The more weight, the greater the amount of tension on the muscle. The greater the tension is on the muscle, the better the stimulus for growth and strength. Not utilizing multi-joint exercises is a rookie error. You’ve been warned.

Another almost laughable exercise variation I am seeing more and more of is unstable surface training (UST). In this case, it would be performing a triceps exercise like the close grip bench on a stability ball or Bosu ball.

Muscle force output is essential in developing strength and enhancing performance. To maximize increases in performance, the targeted muscles must use a load that allows for the highest recruitment of muscle fibers. When resistance exercises are performed on unstable surfaces, muscular force output is significantly reduced, with a linear reduction in muscle fiber recruitment.

Research has repeatedly demonstrated the effectiveness of stable free weight exercises for enhancing sports performance. On the contrary, according to the National Strength Coach Association, not one single study has shown the effectiveness of UST.

With the lack of research available, fitness professionals and enthusiasts alike must use caution when performing or prescribing exercises on unstable equipment. The majority of claims made by proponents of UST are undocumented.

Stick to the basics and train hard.

Weeks 1-3

Rest interval: 120 seconds (between sets) / 4-6 repetitions per set

Close Grip Bench Press 3021 2
Triceps Angled Bar Pushdown 3021 2
Lying E-Z Bar Extensions 3021 2

Weeks 4-6

Rest interval: 150 seconds / 4-6 repetitions per set

Parallel Bar Dips 4110 1
Overhead, Bent Forward, Rope Extensions 3020 2
Single Arm Triceps Pushdown 3020 2

Weeks 7-9

Rest interval: 180 seconds / 4-6 repetitions per set

Close Grip Bench Press 21X0 1
Triceps Straight Bar Pushdown w/narrow grip 30X0 1
1 Arm Pushdown w/ pronated grip 30X0 1

ALSO: Check out Nine weeks to bigger arms, Part 1 for advice on biceps training.

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