Many individuals who regularly attend the gym to undertake resistance training do so because they are looking to bring about significant alterations in their physique. These alterations commonly revolve around enhancing the lean percentage of muscular mass, developing tone/definition and adding size to a particular muscle region.
One of the most desirable body parts to train and develop, for obvious reasons, are the arms. Without trying to over generalise, a large percentage of individuals looking to enhance this particular body region will make the common mistake of placing too much emphasis on the biceps, whilst omitting the triceps region.
Although, in theory, both can be considered essential, it is in fact the triceps region which makes up two thirds of the upper arm, with the remaining fraction belonging to the biceps.
Pack Real Size On Your Arms
With the above statistic in mind, if you’re looking to develop the shape and size of your overall arms, then omitting the triceps, or simply not giving them the attention they deserve, can be considered catastrophic in terms of achieving your end training goal.
If all of the above isn’t enough to convince you to effectively train your triceps, then it should be noted that not only will targeting and exercising the triceps develop strength and size in that specific region, it will also assist in all of your pushing related exercises, such as those performed during your chest and shoulder workouts.
Consequently, the purpose of this article is to contemplate numerous key exercises that will well and truly target the triceps muscle region. Each exercise will include a full description and exercise demonstration video, so that you can easily implement them into your arm workout and start to reap the various rewards on offer.
Before moving on and considering these top three exercises, let us initially make reference to the make-up and anatomy of the triceps…
The Anatomy Of The Triceps
The triceps muscle region covers the posterior aspect of your upper arm and consists of three independent muscular heads: lateral, medial and long. These heads run between the scapula of the shoulder region to the ulna of the forearm region. Their main action is to bring about extension at the elbow (or arm straightening) and they directly oppose the biceps muscle region.
The lateral head is situated on the outward side of humerus whilst the medial head is located on the opposite side and towards the inside of the body. Last, but by no means least, the long head, which is the largest, runs along the bottom of the humerus and, besides its primary action, also acts as a stabiliser for both the shoulder and elbow region:
Top 3 Triceps Exercises
There are numerous exercises available which will ultimately target the triceps muscle region. These include the use of body weight, free weights and specific exercise equipment.
For the purpose of this article, we selected the three exercises we consider demand the most from this particular muscular region and offer the potential to bring about significant alterations in both strength and size.
Without further ado and in no particular order, let us consider these exercises:
Close Grip Bench Press
Although the bench press is commonly associated with the chest region, if you perform this exercise with a close grip then it offers direct emphasis onto the triceps region.
- Select a barbell with suitable resistance.
- Lie on the bench and grasp the barbell with a shoulder width grip.
- Slowly lower the barbell to your chest whilst maintaining your elbows close to your body.
- Push the barbell upwards until your arms are straight.
- This is one repetition. Repeat to achieve your desired repetitions.
This exercise primarily relies on your own body weight as resistance, although further resistance can be added through the utilisation of weighted vests or belts.
- Mount a shoulder width dipping bar with suitable resistance.
- Resistance can be added using a vest or adding weight to a weight belt.
- Ensure your arms are straight with your shoulders positioned above your hands.
- Slowly lower your body until a stretch is felt in your anterior shoulder region.
- Push your body upwards until your arms are straight and repeat.
Not only does this exercise require you to bring about elbow extension against resistance but it also places an additional demand on the target region to maintain the upper arm static.
- Select a dumbbell with suitable resistance.
- Kneel over a bench with your resting arm on the bench supporting your body.
- Position the upper region of your active arm parallel to the floor.
- Slowly extend the arm until it is straight before returning to the start position.
- This is one repetition. Repeat and complete on both arms.
Making up two thirds of the upper arm, the triceps muscle region is an important one and should be given the recognition and attention it deserves during each and every arm workout. Not only will this allow for maximum gains and alterations, specific to the region, but your ability to undertake other pushing exercises, such as those relating to the chest and shoulder regions, should also be greatly enhanced.
You will notice that the three exercises selected above all involve the utilisation of free weights – in this case a barbell, body weight with additional resistance and a dumbbell. Free weights demand a great deal more from the target muscle, whilst simultaneously encouraging the recruitment of surrounding stabiliser muscles. For this reason they can be considered advantageous, but aren’t for everyone and do require a base strength foundation prior to performance.
If, for whatever reason, free weights are not suitable to your unique needs and requirements then fear not, the above exercises can easily be manipulated to suit all. The close grip bench press can be performed within the safer confines of a smith machine, the stresses and strains of the weighted dips can be significantly reduced with the removal of additional resistance and the dumbbell kickbacks can be undertaken using a cable machine to provide smaller increments in weight.
Regardless of the exercises you select to target this specific muscle region, the important take home message is that if you are looking to bring about significant alterations in your upper arms, then the triceps simply cannot be overlooked or omitted from your training plan.
So, do you agree with our choices or do you believe an alternative exercise should have made the top three? Let us know in the comments section below…