It’s easy for beginners to get stuck into the ‘big bicep hype’. After all when people think of muscle hypertrophy the image of a muscular, tanned bodybuilder flexing his biceps has been plastered all over the TV and magazines since the beginning of time (okay maybe since the 70’s!).
That’s why so many untrained people confuse strength with the ‘size of biceps’. Anyone who knows a bit about strength training will tell you that having big biceps does not determine your strength. And anyone who knows how to fight will probably laugh at you.
I know that it seems like I’m ripping on bicep training, I’m not. I believe we should train all muscles as equal as possible in the body. I’m trying to get a point across for beginners to understand. And my point is, don’t fall into the trap of uneducated training. The bicep is just one of the muscles in the upper arm. Overcompensating on training one muscle will cause you more harm than good.
The other muscle is known as the tricep. You need to build both of these muscles in the upper arm to have muscle balance and a ‘fuller’ bigger looking arm (if that’s what floats your boat). In fact it is essential to train the triceps for bigger arms as the triceps makes up roughly 2/3’s of the upper arm! The triceps have always been the underrated of the two, but once you realise its use, it won’t be for long.
The Use of the Biceps
The Bicep is used for pulling motions in which the forearm is drawn towards the upper arm. A underhand throw of a ball will use the bicep muscle. This is the reason why chin up’s are excellent at building biceps as they involve a pulling motion, in which your forearm is drawn towards your upper arm against the resistance of your body weight.
The Use of the Triceps
The triceps run from your shoulder, down the back of your arm, to your elbow joint. These muscles are called triceps because the muscle group consists of three heads: the long head, the lateral head and the medial head. These muscles primarily work to extend the elbow and the long head helps the latissimus dorsi muscle (this is the muscle in the back that gives the back a ‘cobra head’ shape), to bring the arm toward the body. Any motion that involves ‘pushing’ with the arms uses the triceps.
So basically, when you extend your arm and straighten it from a bent position and when you push something with your arms, you are using the triceps. The triceps are used in just about every upper arm activity in everyday life. Things like, throwing a basketball, putting down a glass of water, using a hammer, putting books on a high shelf etc all use the triceps. The triceps are a very important part to the development of stronger, bigger arms.
So with that out the way, let’s move on to’ The Beginners Top 3 Tricep Exercises’
Now this is an exercise and a half for you. Dips are so underrated and I have no idea why. Actually I do, it’s because they’re hard to do, and they blast the heck out of your arms! Dips are one, if not the best tricep exercise in my honest opinion.
They build, strengthen and shape the triceps tremendously and the best part is you do not need any weight lifting equipment to perform them. They can be done on a chair or anywhere you see two parallel bars (like a park).
When performing parallel dips, to target the triceps more, make sure that you keep your elbows tucked in as close to the body as possible.
Performing Chair Dips at Home
These you can perform anywhere you see…. you guessed it, a chair.
1) Sit down on the edge of the seat and place your hands behind your hips. Your hands should be on the edge of the seat and shoulder width apart.
2) Lift your ass off of the seat and walk your feet forward. Make sure your hands are secure on the chair so that you don’t slip off. Keep your chest elevated and head up. Your knees should not bend past your toes.
3)Slowly lower your body downward. By bending your elbows to a 90 degree angle. Be sure to keep your elbows tucked in towards the trunk of your body so it doesn’t put strain on the shoulders.
4)Extend your arms (push on the chair), raising your body upward and by supporting your weight with your arms.
*Note; you can make this exercise harder by raising your feet off the floor. Simply place another chair in front for you to rest your feet on. Like in the picture above*
2) Diamond Push Ups
Push up’s are awesome for building the triceps as well as the chest. That’s why they are still around after all these years. Even the army test in the UK involves being able to perform push ups. And once again, you don’t need any equipment to perform them, but if you want to add weight, this can be done simply by adding weight (anything heavy, books etc) to a backpack.
To focus more on the triceps you can perform ‘diamond push ups’. This is a killer triceps exercise!
1) Instead of having your hands spread apart like a conventional push up, spread your fingers out and place your hands together so your index fingers are touching on both hands and your thumbs are touching forming a ‘diamond’ shape.
2) Now base your hands under the centre of your body.
3) Lower yourself until you are parallel with the ground similar to a regular push up.
4) Use your arms to push you back up so your elbows are locked out in the starting position.
(If you find them difficult to begin with, you can keep your knees on the floor like in the picture above).
3) Close Grip Bench Press
Bench press is an awesome exercise for building the chest and triceps. However there is a variation of bench press that allows you to put more focus on building the triceps in the upper arm. And it’s known as the close grip bench press.
The reason this exercise is excellent at building strong muscular triceps is because it allows you to use a heavy load on the triceps. To perform this exercise, you simply change the grip on the bench press so that your hands are closer together when holding the bar. Just inside shoulder width is a good amount.
These are my 3 most favorite exercises for triceps. The results I have achieved from these 3 exercises are incomparable, and I have tried a lot of different triceps exercises like skull crushers, French press, kick backs etc.
I still only use these 3 exercises for triceps till this day and continue to get awesome results. There is no need for a beginner to do tonnes of different exercises for the triceps. These 3 compound movements will lead to better muscular strength, effectiveness and overall gains.
Stick to one of these 3 (or alternate, for better results) and you will be on your way to building some serious tricep strength!
Do you use any other tricep exercises? Leave your thoughts, comments in the section below. Feel free to email me if you need any tips/advice. If you know anyone who can benefit from this post don’t forget to share it using the social media buttons at the bottom or top left of this page. Thanks!