RNT Body Part Series, Part 6: Two Tips To Double Your Triceps Gains

RNT Body Part Series, Part 6: Two Tips To Double Your Triceps Gains

Triceps means 'three-headed muscle of the arm'. Working them hard will give your physique more balance.

19 Dec 2021

Training Intermediate
4 Mins

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Triceps have quickly become one of my favourite body parts to train in the past few years.

After my first bodybuilding season in 2014, it was clear that I needed to add size to my triceps in order to create more balance to my physique.

My first port of call was to begin blasting the long head of my triceps, which is the biggest of the three heads with the most potential to add significant arm size.

PJR pullovers and overhead rope extensions became my staples, and I quickly benefited from specifically targeting the long head in my triceps routines.

If you’ve got lagging triceps, start prioritising the long head. Once you’ve got your programming fixed, add these two tips in to maximise gains.

Before we begin, remember to check out the previous five instalments of our ‘RNT Body Part Series’ here:

1. Press Close And Heavy, Extend Light

A good rule of thumb when it comes to training is to approach your compound lifts hard and heavy with a strong emphasis on progressive overload, and to use your isolation exercises to get the best possible pump.

I touched on this in our tips for your shoulders, but the same applies to triceps work.

I’ve lost count of the number of people I hear complaining of elbow pain and niggles from going too heavy, too often on extension work. Because it lends itself to heavy lifting, it’s tempting to start chasing the weight and begin piling on the pounds. The problem is that the elbow is a very fragile joint, and if you’re truly isolating the triceps, that’s a ton of load going through one small joint.

Instead, a better option for both growth and longevity is to only go heavy with your close grip presses and dip work. For your isolation moves, focus on getting a pump and being progressive in higher rep brackets.

If you’re new to training and pretty weak, you could get away with extension work in the 6-10 rep range. For the most part though, once you’re passed your beginner days, keep extension work in the 8-15 range.

2. Keep Your Elbows High 

To be able to isolate and maximise the recruitment of your triceps (especially the long head) during extensions, always keep your elbows high and pointed to the ceiling.

By doing so, you’ll be able to take advantage of the stretched position the triceps are put under at the bottom of the movement.

To take this further, add a pause at the bottom to kill momentum and create more muscle damage. While doing so, squeeze your biceps to form a ‘cushion’ and deepen the stretch.

Bonus Tip – Stretch!

Stretching is becoming a common tip with the majority of body parts discussed so far, and for good reason.

Deep stretching, whether it’s done at the bottom of a movement, statically or in an ‘extreme’ fashion can help to expand the fascia that surrounds the muscle bellies, allowing more room for growth.

To implement this into your triceps training, the two ways to do it are:
  1. Hold the stretch on a one-arm overhead dumbbell extension behind the head
  2. Hold the bottom of a bodyweight triceps extension on a bar (pictured).
I personally feel the deepest triceps stretch with the second option, and find it’s the safer of the two.

Unleash the Horseshoe

The biggest limiting factor holding many people back from developing their triceps is elbow pain.

I’ve been there where I’ve spent weeks and months chasing poundages on heavy extensions with only elbow tendonitis to show for it.

That’s why I like to set up my training with heavy and light days in the week where you focus on being progressive in different rep ranges.

For your triceps work, this could be as simple as:

Day 1: Dips or Floor Presses 2-3 sets of 4-8 reps

Day 2: Deadstop Extensions 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps & PJR Pullovers 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps

You’ll get the best of both worlds, and if you combine this with focused stretching, expect your triceps to finally start growing!

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