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Triceps are often forgotten in the development of big arms. However they are an integral part in making your arms look full and muscular. It is easy to forget about how important triceps are, so this article is devoted to tips on triceps development and a few exercises to get you into the habit of working your triceps.

About the Triceps Muscle

The long head of the triceps muscle arises from the infraglenoid tubercle of the scapula. It extends distally anterior to the teres minor and posterior to the teres major.

The medial head arises distally from the groove of the radial nerve; from the dorsal (back) surface of the humerus; from the medial intermuscular septum; and its distal part also arises from the lateral intermuscular setum. The medial head is mostly covered by the lateral and long heads, and is only visible distally on the humerus.

The lateral head arises from the dorsal surface of the humerus, lateral and proximal to the groove of the radial nerve, from the greater tubercle down to the region of the lateral intermuscular septum.

Here are a few tip on how to develop terrific triceps:

*If you're a beginner, try a number of different exercises to see what works for you and what doesn't. Everyone is different, so sometimes trail and error is the best way to learn.

*Keep your elbows in on every triceps exercise, whether that means pinning your elbows to your sides on pressdowns or keeping them as close together as possible on the french press.

*To get a complete workout from every possible angle, experiment with different grips, bars and cable attachments. For example alternate between the rope, V-bar and handles for cables; EZ-bar and straight bar for french presses; and reverse and regular grip where applicable.

*If your triceps are a weak area, train them separate from your shoulders and chest. Either devote a single workout to triceps or train them with your biceps, the opposing muscle group.

*Don't train triceps within 24 hours before chest or shoulder workout. This will significantly reduce the effectiveness of the latter workout, because triceps are intimately involved when training pecs or delts, and won't give your triceps adequate time to rest.

*Most triceps exercises are typically single-joint, isolation movements, so keep them that way. Avoid using your shoulders by keeping your upper arms stationary and moving only at the elbows.

*The close-grip bench press is great for increasing overall size in the triceps and developing the lateral head. I suggest doing these early in your workout before your triceps are exhausted. If you train triceps with chest, the close-grip bench is a good transition between the two.

*Dumbbell kickbacks are another exercise that I do occasionally and which are great for promoting separation and development for all three heads. Put kickbacks at the end of your routine, using light weight and very slow pace.

Here are a few simple to do triceps exercises. Please remember to warm-up those muscles by completing 5 – 10 minutes of upper-body stretching and 20 minutes of cardiovascular exercise.

Seated Overhead Dumbbell Extension

Overhead dumbbell extensions are all about a good stretch and creating fully developed triceps fibers that run muscles. When you take the weight as far behind your head as possible, you develop the triceps fibers that run all the way down the elbow so that it fills out the whole upper arm.

The keys to good form are the same on this one as they are on any triceps exercise – try to keep your elbows as close together as possible and extend completely at the top. Seated, grip the dumbbell, palms up, and raise and then lower above and then behind your head. The bottom of the dumbbell should be close to the back of your neck. Now slowly raise the dumbbell over your head, extending your arms out totally. Slowly lower the dumbbell to the starting position and repeat for ten repetitions and a total of 3 sets.

Cable Pressdown

Cable pressdowns are a great triceps exercise to to first in your routine. Standing in front of a cable stack with your knees slightly bent, use a straight bar attachment with a medium to wide grip so you can work all three of the triceps heads. Keep your elbows close to your body and press the weight down at a medium pace, not too slow, not too fast. At the bottom, extend your elbows completely and squeeze for a one-count. On the way up, maintain control og the weight instead of letting it pull your forearms up. Return to the starting position and repeat for ten repetitions and a total of 3 sets.

When it comes down to it, training triceps is no different from any other body part, other than a few obvious specifics. The approach is the same. Be focused, timely and determined.

Rick Gusler is a certified personal trainer and diet nutritionist who serves his clients through Gusler Body Sculpting Fitness Center in central Denver. To schedule a free consultation, or to learn more about the Gusler method of body sculpting, spin yoga, or Rick's Boot Camp, please contact him at 303.860.7131 or online at

Gusler Body Sculpting Fitness Center, LLC
459 Acoma Street · Denver, Colorado 80204 · 303-860-7131
Hours: Monday-Friday: 6am-8pm · Saturday: Closed · Sunday: Closed