If Eric Broser had a nickel for every time a person asked him to “make a muscle,” he would be one wealthy guy.
The funny thing is, when he gets that request, he's always tempted to flex his back or calf since all they asked for was “a muscle.” Of course, however, he knows what it is they want to see, and that is biceps.
But what most people don’t realize is that it's actually the triceps that create most of the arms’ mass, so when a weight lifter throws up an arm and puts on the proverbial “gun show,” they are actually gawking at more tris than bis!
With that in mind, it makes sense to be certain the development of your triceps is equal to that of your biceps. Check out Eric's tips to make sure you are not making one or more of the following “triceps-troubling” errors.
Failure to Include CG Bench Presses and Dips
While isolation exercises certainly have their place in an effective triceps-building program, you will never reach your “mass potential” without regularly including CG Bench Presses and Dips in your workouts.
These basic exercises allow you to team up with your chest and delts to lift prodigious poundage, which is necessary when you are after titanic tris!
Not Including Overhead Movements
The long head of the triceps makes up most of its mass and this is best activated by exercises where the elbows are up by the ears with arms overhead. Every triceps workout should include seated/incline overhead BB, DB or cable extensions if the goal is to create arms that are impressive even when just hanging by your sides.
Using the Same Volume (amount of sets) for Tris as Bis
I totally understand that everyone loves training biceps, but since the triceps are a more complex muscle (3 heads vs. 2 heads) they will require a bit more work to reach their full potential (unless one is genetically gifted in that area). While I normally recommend between 6 and 8 all-out sets for bis, when I assign workouts for tris I push the volume 2-4 sets higher.
Out of Control Elbows
You want to make sure a muscle is growing at the fastest rate possible - right?
Then make sure it receives the most tension on every single rep!
One of the most common mistakes I witness trainees doing in the gym is allowing the elbows to flare out during pushdowns and extensions, which cheats the triceps out of stimulation by making the shoulders/chest “press” the weight. This is not the most effective way to perform these particular movements.
Keep the elbows tight and allow only the power of the triceps to move the bar or DB through the range of motion.
No Lock Out
Most triceps muscle fiber firing occurs in the last 1/3 of pushdown, press and extension exercises. Thus, if you do not lock out, you are not fully engaging the tris and also missing out on potential hypertrophy.
The key is to lock out under full control by contracting the triceps fully and not utilizing momentum or allowing the elbow joint to support the weight. In other words, “squeeze to lockout” and then flex the triceps with intention.