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Build Bigger Arms: The 5 Best Triceps Exercises…

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I believe that it is no secret that every fitness enthusiast wants to build bigger arms.

Understandably so.

Large arms are impressive and are often seen as an indicator of strength and muscularity.

I remember this young lad who used to workout at my gym. Every time I saw him there he was doing curls of sorts. When I asked him why he simply shrugged off and said “I just want big arms”.

It’s a common misconception that the biceps is what makes up the bulk of your arm’s size. When in reality, the biceps makes up approximately 30% of the overall muscle mass.

The remaining 70% is your triceps.

Yes. You heard me right. If you want to build bigger arms, then you need to focus on your triceps.

That is not to say that the biceps is not important. On the contrary – 30% is still 30%. Plus, the biceps really aids in making your arm appear more defined and muscular.

So, if you’re looking on how to build bigger arms I have good news for you. I will be sharing with you my:

5 Best Triceps Exercises

To help you build bigger arms!

1. Elbow Out Triceps Extensions (Tate Press) for Big Arms!

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Men’s Health fitness director BJ Gaddour doing the Elbow’s Out Triceps Extension. Photo Credit Men’s Health

I do believe that this exercise was popularised by the one and only Mike O’Hearn.

I remember seeing him in a video with Steve Cook (another legend in the fitness industry) explaining how if you want to build bigger arms then you MUST do this exercise at least once a week.

When I saw him showcase the exercise I was a bit skeptical. It seemed very awkward in the execution. But one thing that I did noticed is that it focused on the movement for which the triceps was intended – extension of the forearm.

Mike claims that this exercise puts a different type of tension on your elbows allowing them to  properly strengthen over time.

Men’s Health fitness director BJ Gaddour supports Mike’s statement by saying that this exercise will help you improve your bench by making your elbows and your triceps stronger.

I decided to test out the exercise for myself and see what the hype is all about. It took some time getting used to it but after a few attempts I finally got the hang of it.

I’ll tell you this much. I don’t believe my triceps has ever been this sore on the next morning.

Because of the angle at which your elbows move, this exercise puts a lot of stress on the one head of the triceps that we often seem to neglect – namely the medial head. This probably explains why Mike states that this exercise is great for strengthening your elbows.

The lateral and long head of the triceps (responsible for building muscle mass) are also active during this exercise, especially the lateral.

The main reason why I love this exercise is because it helps you build strength in your elbows which allows you to push heavier weights on other exercises such as skull crushers, close grip bench press and dips.

By benefiting a relatively small area of the triceps, this exercise helps you add muscle size indirectly, while at the same time training the long and lateral head, which are responsible for the bulk of the triceps.

How to:  Lie on a flat or incline bench holding dumbbells that are resting vertically on your chest. Your palms have to be facing away from your face and your elbows flared out.

This is your starting position.

Begin extending your arms just as you would with a regular triceps extension exercise, without moving your shoulders. In other words, try and move just the elbow joint to extend the arm and move the weight.

Extend your arm to the point where it’s almost straight. Do not lock your arms out as you would be putting a lot of unnecessary tension on your elbow joints and removing the stress away from the triceps.

If you are looking on how to build bigger arms then you might want to integrate this exercise to your workout program.

2. Close Grip Bench Press to Build Bigger Arms

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I see this exercise as the grandfather of triceps exercises.

Seeing bodybuilders from the golden era such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Franco Columbu lifting heavy barbells has always been a motivation booster.

This exercise is great for adding on size and strength by focusing on all three heads of the triceps.

It is considered by most as the fundamental exercise for bigger triceps and bigger arms.

Another potential reason why this exercise is great for adding on size is because of its compound nature. There are multiple records that show that multi-joint exercises, which allow the use of heavier loads, are great when it comes to building muscle mass.

This is why exercises such as deadlifts, squats, bench presses, pull-ups, etc are commonly advocated for by bodybuilders.

How to: Lay down on a straight bench press. Using shoulder width grip grab the barbell. Lift the bar away from the rack by keeping your arms locked. This is your starting position.

Lower the bar towards your chest just like you would do with a traditional bench press. Your goal is to keep your elbows as close to your body as possible to ensure that you are isolating the triceps muscle.

Release the bar to about 2 inches away from your chest and make sure that you do not rest the weight.

When coming back up you want to make sure you don’t lock your arms. Following the same principle as the Tate Press.

If executed correctly this exercise can deliver amazing results and you will start noticing improvements in arm size in no time.

 

3.  Triceps Dips for Mass

When most people hear dips they think of the pectoral muscle group.

While it’s true that dips are great for adding size to your chest, they are also a powerful tool to add mass to your arms.

Similar to the Tate press, this exercise also has a trickle down effect as it helps add strength to your elbows, shoulders and wrists.

Thus help you add more power and load to other exercises such as the bench press.

The reason why it’s so good in adding size is similar to that discussed above for the close grip press. You can go pretty heavy on it.

Also, you can virtually do this exercise anywhere where you have parallel bars. And yes, you can do it at home. All you need is just two chairs positioned securely.

How to: Grab a pair of parallel bars with your arms almost locked. If there is a regulating tool where you can move the bars closer to each other by turning them, use it. This will ensure more stress added to the triceps rather than the chest.

Take a deep breath and begin lowering yourself down in a slow and controlled fashion. Try and keep your torso straight to add more load to the triceps.

If you were to tilt yourself forward you would be targeting the chest more rather than the triceps.

Keep lowering yourself down until you reach a 90 degree angle of the elbows.  Try and keep your arms closer to your body. Push yourself back to the starting position. And, again, try to not lock your arms when you are back at your starting position.

If all done correctly this exercise is a powerful tool to help build bigger arms.

If you want to do triceps dips at home just take two chairs. Make sure that they are well supported to ensure that they won’t slip as you’re executing the exercise. Grab the upper section of the backrest and the rest is the same.

4.  Overhead Extensions – The Triceps Killer

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Overhead Extension execution. Photo credit: Bodybuilding.com

Another great exercise to help build bigger arms!

This one specifically, as the majority of the stress applied to the triceps is on the long-head.

Furthermore, just like the Tate press this exercise focuses on activating the functionality of the triceps – i.e. forearm extension.

How to: Sit down on a bench with back support holding the dumbbell with both hands. Extend your arms upwards and position it completely overhead.

Lower the dumbbell slowly behind your head. Make sure that you keep your elbows steady. Lower the dumbbell until you feel the strongest stretch on the muscle or just as the dumbbell is about to touch your neck (do not rest the dumbbell on your neck).

When coming back up remember to not lock your arms to avoid unnecessary stress on your elbow joints.

Really focus on that muscle-mind connection. Imagine how you are using the long head of the triceps to move the weight. I know, it sounds bizarre  but it really helps reap the full benefit from exercise.

The same goes for the exercises listed above.

 

5.  Skullcrushers – The Secret to Big Arms

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Skullcrushers execution. Photo credit: Bodybuilding.com

The last exercise on the list is a classic.

You’re probably going to see this one in most articles related to building bigger arms and for a good reason – it works.

Contrary to popular belief, skullcrusher’s actually a single-joint exercise – isolating the triceps as the main movement here is forearm extension.

Similar to overhead extensions, skullcrushers target the triceps by focusing most of the stress on your long head and some on the lateral.

Depending on how you lower the bar.

Keep reading. You’ll get what I mean.

How to: Sit down on a flat bench with the barbell rested on your legs.

The bar can either be E-Z or a straight one depending on the grip. The E-Z bar will allow for more concentrated stress on the triceps, so I would naturally recommend using it over the straight bar.

Lay down on the bench and raise the barbell at shoulder level by holding the bar at shoulder width. This is your starting position.

Keep your upper arms stationary and begin lowering the weight by flexing your elbow – imagine that you are aiming for your head.

I think that there is no need for me to point this out, but I feel like I have to. Make sure that you have the weight under control. If you notice that you’re struggling with it too much, don’t risk it. They call it a skullcrusher for a reason – if you drop the weight it will go straight to your face.

When coming back up do not fully extend your elbows to avoid unnecessary elbow joint stress.

If you want to add more focus on the long head of the triceps then consider doing behind the head skullcrusher.

The execution is similar. However instead of lowering the bar towards your face you lower it behind your head as you are laying down. Do not extend the bar to the same starting position as you with the traditional skullcrushers but rather raise it above your head.

Remember, throughout the execution of the exercise you want to move just your elbows (extension and flexion) to ensure that you are targeting the triceps’ function.

What I would recommend is switching between the two forms.

This will help better isolate the lateral head (traditional) and the long head (behind the head). Thus, ensure you benefit the most from the exercise and move one step closer to building bigger arms.

Conclusion

My 5 best triceps exercises to build bigger arms!

I hope you noticed that this article is not just about listing exercises but also about understanding what the functionality of the triceps is for the body and how you can use that for your own advantage.

Most exercises that target the triceps follow a similar pattern – elbows closer to the body, elbow extension and flexion, stationary upper body and not locking your arms to ensure that you are not limiting the effectiveness of the exercise.

Apply that to any other triceps exercise, other than the ones I have listed, and you are going to see amazing results.

Lastly, if you are interested on fully developing your arms then you might consider checking out one of my other articles “The 4 Best Biceps Workouts“.

 

Tell me what you think

In the comments bellow let me know what you think about the triceps exercises on the list. Do you like them, do you hate them?

Or even better, are there any other exercises that you believe would do a much better job?

Let me know!

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