If one of your main goals is to develop triceps workouts for strong arms then performing tricep exercises on a regular basis should definitely be part of your plan.
To create effective triceps workouts you need to understand that the triceps muscle is located on the back upper portion of your arm and runs from your elbow up to the shoulder joint.
There are principally 3 main sections to target your triceps workouts at – the long head, the lateral head and the medial head. The lateral head is located closest to the outer portion of the arm, the medial closest to the inside as the name suggests and then the long head is the one that is most often seen on the majority of individuals and is located right in the centre. When the lateral head is very developed you will also likely see this one ‘sticking out’ as it is quite a fleshy muscle.
The interesting thing to note here is that the tricep muscle actually makes up most of the upper arm mass so rather than performing bicep curl after bicep curl, if size & strong arms is your goal, this is the muscle to focus on.
By taking steps to reduce your body fat along with improving the muscular definition, you can help to eliminate that under arm jiggle that is common with many people, particularly females as they have a tendency to store fat here.
The main movement that this muscle is responsible for is forearm extension. It works antagonistically with the biceps for forearm flexion so while you are flexing the forearm, the back arm muscle is resting and while you are extending the forearm the front arm muscle is resting.
For this reason, these two muscle groups are often supersetted together in a training program (done right after each other, alternating sets).
This muscle is also quite likely to become sore easily so it is worthwhile for you to perform some tricep muscle stretches after any lifting exercises that target it. To do this simply place one arm behind your head, bending at the elbow, and then gently pull downwards on the wrist with the other hand (or alternatively press the bent elbow slightly backwards). This should create a light pull feeling on the back of the arm while the muscle is lengthened.
In order to develop shapely arms you will definitely want to perform some triceps exercise. This muscle is one that predominately forms the upper portion of your arm and when developed is extremely aesthetically pleasing.
There are generally two types of triceps exercise variations that you can perform: one handed movements and two handed movements. The one handed ones are very isolated and are good for really bring up this body part if it is lacking. Some people who participate in certain sports will see one side being weaker than the other so this is a good way to overcome this problem.
When performing triceps exercise you always want to ensure that your elbow tries to stay directly in line with the shoulder joint. This will help keep the muscle moving on the right track and prevent any pain from developing. Since this is quite a long limb the force of gravity acting on the hand (due to the lever system) will put a lot of pressure on the shoulder joints and tendons so it’s critical you are aware of this.
Furthermore, when performing any movements where the weight is being placed above the head, watch out for the form your back takes. Far too often we start swaying our back when weight moves above and this again creates unnecessary pressure.
Good movements to perform for this muscle group are kickbacks, overhead extensions, cable pull-downs, triangle push-ups, bench presses, closed grip bench presses, barbell extensions and dips. Most of these can easily be performed in the comfort of your own home with a pair of store-bought dumbbells or with some rubber tubing.
A good triceps program will include a few different exercises for this muscle group while predominately focusing on compound lifts so you can get the most bang for your buck. Since this muscle group works with a variety of other muscles during various lifts, it is really quite possible to do an entire full body workout and include your triceps program right in with it.
Two very good exercises to included in a triceps program are the bench press and the shoulder press. The bench press will really target the chest muscle and the shoulder press will target the shoulder muscle; however, your arm muscles will also play a very important role in executing these movements as well. Therefore, if both movements are included in the plan, there is not a lot of need to perform a great deal of isolated work.
If you did want to do some isolated work, good exercises to look into would be kickbacks and cable pull-downs. When performing cable pull-downs it is very critical that you keep your elbows tight to the sides of the body at all times and really focus on just using this specific muscle. It is quite easy to get carried away and start using the latissimus muscle as well, so ensure that you do not do this.
If you are including both major lifts as stated, then one additional isolated exercise performed for 2-3 sets should be plenty to get this muscle responding. If you are choosing to work your arm muscles in a separate session from your chest and shoulders, then you likely would want to do two or three specific exercises with this part and include between three and four sets per exercise. Note however that this set-up would be one for someone who really wants to dial in on this muscle group and bring out extreme definition. For most people a better plan would be on developing more muscle mass in the arm and that is better served with the compound lifts.
Tricep muscle stretch
After a hard workout, performing a good triceps stretch is a smart plan because these are a smaller muscle and can become sore quite easily. If you are suffering from DOMS for this muscle and have, say, a chest workout coming up the next day you might find that that workout will suffer as you indirectly use this muscle group as well during chest exercises. A better plan would be to perform both muscle groups on the same day but not everyone chooses to do that so including a triceps stretch is the next best option.
Even for those for whom the arms are used little, such as outfield footballers, it is still important to improve flexibility in all the main areas of the body in order to avoid any unevenness in levels of flexibility.
The triceps muscle stretch is performed standing up, as follows:
- Lift one arm overhead, with the bicep resting against the back of the head, the arm bent and the hand resting on the rear of the opposite shoulder.
- Grasp the elbow with other hand.
- Gently pull the arm back, behind the head and towards the floor.
- Hold for 30 seconds.
- Relax and repeat.
- Do this twice for each arm.
You should feel this in the lats and the back of the upper arm.
You will often see swimmers doing this before and during a long workout – it’s also popular with body builders, climbers, and most athletes who throw a ball.