The 'ABC Guide to Big Arms' - Triceps!

In the second part of our ‘ABC guide to big arms’ we are going to be covering the fundamentals of training your triceps. As we discussed in part 1, the secret to big arms lies in understanding the basics of stimulating both your triceps and biceps. Knowing the best way to do this will accelerate your progress ten fold, and knowing the most common mistakes which athletes make will also help you along the way!

Your triceps account for approximately 66% of your total arm size! This is why it baffles me when people spend hours smashing their biceps because they want big arms, yet fail to complete a half decent triceps workout now and then, let alone every week.

The triceps are made of three separate head. These are known as the long head, lateral head and medial head. In order to great that beautiful horse shoe shape you need to ensure your triceps workouts nail all three heads every time! A lot of people fail to do this because most of their exercises tend to focus on the lateral head and medial head, neglecting the long head.

Here are a basic set of rules for you to remember when you hit triceps down the gym!

Do’s –

. Train your triceps once a week doing between 9-12 working sets, WHY?

As the man himself Arnold said, your triceps are a bigger muscle group than your biceps so you need to work them that bit longer to totally fatigue them. However, the nature of triceps training means that it should still only take 30 minutes maximum to total them!

. Use a diverse range of exercises to hit the lateral, medial and long heads, WHY?

To create the triangular mass of muscle down the back of your arm you cannot afford to neglect anyone of the heads. Knowing which exercises do what is KEY!

. Keep your elbows tucked in, WHY?

So many people get excited and load the weight on. As they do this their elbows stick right out to compensate, because this is your body’s natural way of dealing with the extra weight. IF you keep your elbows tucked by your sides then you will get a far superior muscle contraction which should equate to better growth!

. Use a diverse range of repetitions, WHY?

To ensure you are stimulate 100% of your overall muscle mass including the slow and fast twitch muscle fibres.

. Keep rest periods quite short, between 45-60 seconds. WHY?

By nature triceps are one of those muscle groups which fill with blood rapidly when you train! By keeping your rest periods shorter you maintain the pump for longer, hopefully equating to a greater stretch on your fascia!

Don’ts –

. Go too heavy, WHY?

If you go too heavy on triceps your traps and back become largely involved taking the tension of the target muscles. Your elbows are also forced out, taking a lot of the stress off your triceps. NOT GOOD!

. Train your triceps after chest EVERY week, WHY?

A lot of trainers, including myself will train triceps after chest. However, if you only do this it stands to reason your capacity to train at 100% of your overall intensity is limited. This is because your triceps are partly fatigued after pressing. Whilst this is good, it is sometimes best to hit them fresh so you can push them harder than usual. Pair your triceps and biceps up once a month to hit ARMS alone.

. Use a full range of motion, WHY?

This may sound a little crazy and a little controversial. When I say this, what I mean is on the negative don’t always go right to the top. The reason for this is that the tension often leaves the triceps and transfers on to other muscle groups. By stopping just before the top and going back down the triceps can’t catch a break, therefore this should make them work harder.

There are some of the very basic principles of training your triceps. Remember, if you see a guy with a sick pair or arms it will be his triceps which contribute the majority of the mass, not his biceps. Therefore you really need to focus on pushing your triceps to the stars and back week in week out!!!

OK, here is a set a of triceps workouts especially for you. Remember, each workout is different to prevent the muscles getting used to the workload and to ensure you are hitting 100% of your muscle fibres.

Workout 1

4 X straight bar pushdowns 8-12 repetitions

4 X EZ bar skull crusher’s 8-12 repetitions

4 X overhead dumbbell extensions 8-12 repetitions

Workout 2

4 X rope pushdowns 12-16 repetitions

3 X close grip straight bar pushdowns (standing close so the cable runs down your nose, elbows back) 12-16 repetitions

3 X single arm dumbbell overhead extensions 12-16 repetitions

Workout 3

4 X rope pushdowns 50 repetitions (stop/start to failure)

4 X overhead rope extensions 30 repetitions then drop set to do 20 more repetitions

1 X straight bar pushdowns 50, 40, 30, 20, 10 repetitions with 40 seconds rest between sets


Sure, that last week sounds brutal and that is because it is. However, if I didn’t share with you the benefits of high rep training I have personally experienced then I wouldn’t be doing my job! Coupling these sessions with the bicep routines from part 1 of our ‘ABC guide to big arms’ will soon see you sporting a pair of guns which will require a firearms license!!!






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