Exercises are just like ice cream flavors, many people choose common varieties like vanilla, chocolate or strawberry, some even opt out of the mainstream and go for things like butter pecan, chocolate espresso or mango and some are just way out there with things like goat cheese cashew caramel and just like those at the ice cream parlor, most people stick with tried and true movements, rarely venturing into unknown territory on triceps day.
This means push-downs, dips and skullcrushers. More adventurous among the gym goers may try different hand grips or body and bench positions to introduce some novelty into their arm training but they rarely venture from safe waters.
Here are four exercises which would definitely live at the far end of the ice cream counter.
1) Side Cable Triceps Extension
This is a move you will rarely see. I bring the cable to shoulder height, stabilize the shoulder and keep my upper arm of my working side elevated and parallel to the floor so the movement is restricted to the elbow, which is pointed directly out.
Grasping the cable with an overhand grip, I extend my arm to move my hand straight outward, squeezing my triceps at full extension. The weight then pulls my hand back to the start position in a controlled fashion. I usually aim for 3-4 sets of 10-15 (even 20) reps toward the end of my workout.
Maintaining your upper-arm position is crucial for maximizing muscular tension on the triceps. If your elbow starts to stray, use your opposite side hand to help support it and maintain it’s position.
2) Bodyweight Triceps Extension On A Smith Machine
This exercise is a great choice to include in your regular routine to really target the triceps in a whole different way. This movement is unique because it uses your body weight and follows and unusual vector towards the bar.
By performing this exercise, you will notice that you can easily change the resistance by adjusting your feet, making it a great choice for supersets and dropsets. This exercise not only targets the triceps, but is also great for core development since it requires your whole trunk to activate to maintain proper form.
Be sure to start close to the bar and position it fairly high to get comfortable with the movement. You should move back and lower the bar only when you are able to complete your set without breaking form, which is typically broken at the core.
Keep your head neutral as you do the movement and try to keep your elbows tight without allowing them to flare out.
Dropset Variation Of This Movement
Begin at the top and work your way down the Smith machine, training at three different levels. The bottom is the hardest on this long-head movement. I train to failure at every level, repeating for a total of 3 three-part dropsets.
3) Double Cable Kick-Back
Most people do kick backs with a dumbbell or using a single-arm cable from the low-pulley position. This exercise combines the benefits of both exercises into one movement. This is a great exercise to isolate the triceps and really focus on peak contraction.
I think kickbacks with dumbbells are great but I often see people start to lean using their body or allow movement in their shoulder. Using cables allows you to better focus on just the triceps.
It seems best to set the cables up so that they are slightly below where my hands will end in the flexed position. This lets me extend my arm in a more natural upward movement as I approach the end of the range of motion. Make sure you’re bent over about parallel to the ground and of course avoid rounding your back.
Don’t worry about not being able to use a lot of weight with this exercise, the idea is to do slow, controlled reps, really focusing on the mind-muscle connection and of course, the peak contraction.
4) Incline Dumbbell Triceps Extension
This is a great exercise as it is important to train from different angles to help fully develop the muscle but also work connective tissue which ultimately can be a limiting factor in the amount of weight you lift.
Start by setting up a bench with a moderate incline. The idea here is to fully extend your arms at the top of the movement and exercise through a full range of motion through the elbow joint.
When bringing the dumbbells down to
your chest, actually let the weights touch just briefly on your chest before starting another rep. This forces you to start each rep from a dead stop while allowing you to train through the longest range of motion possible. Keep your upper arms locked in place.
Seated Upright Variation
This variation keeps the stimulus on the muscle for an entire set because the weights do not touch your body at the bottom of each rep. I also get some shoulder action here but it can be reduced if your keep your upper arms locked in place.
These 4 variations of triceps exercises really will see you get some amazing progress on your triceps and overall arm size. If you are also interested in training for a lot of strength just using your body weight, click here.