Category Archives: triceps

My Favorite Exercises: Muscle by Muscle

by Ben Bruno – 9/12/2012

Several years back, T Nation contributor Chad Waterbury wrote a cool article about what he believed to be the best exercises for each major muscle group. I really liked the idea because I’m always interested in how different coaches think, so I thought I’d take a stab at it myself.
However, a small catch – I don’t believe there’s any such thing as a ubiquitous “best” exercise, so instead I’ll simply share my favorites for each group.
Narrowing it down to one exercise though is like trying to pick the hottest girl out of a Victoria’s Secret catalog. There are just so many good choices. In the end it boils down to basically my opinion, but I’ll also share the why behind my choices to give you a look into my rationale.
I’ve also shared a couple runner-ups in case you can’t do one due to injury, equipment limitations, etc.

Back

When it comes to back development, I could’ve picked any heavy deadlift variation and felt good about my choice – but since I had to narrow it down to one, I chose the snatch grip rack pull from mid-shin height.

The wider grip puts significantly more stress on the upper back, traps, and rear delts, while pulling from the pins with the bar elevated a few inches off the floor allows for heavier loading.
I’m generally a huge proponent of full range of motion lifting and usually advocate increasing the range of motion before increasing the load; however, I’ll make an exception in this case for two reasons:

To that end, a snatch grip deadlift from the floor is really more like a conventional deadlift from a deficit, and while there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, most people just don’t have the requisite hip mobility to do it safely without rounding their lower back something awful.
If you can, more power to you, but if I’m making a general recommendation for the majority, then elevating the bar a couple inches is a much better and safer option.

Deadlift variations aside, my runner-ups for back are chin-ups and inverted rows.

Chest

My Favorite Exercises: Muscle by Muscle

The overwhelming majority of my chest work comes from heavy pressing and push-ups, but if I had to single out the best exercise for chest development, it’d be ring flyes.
I thought long and hard about a good rationale. Sure, I could talk about how the scapulae is free to move, compared to where it’s pinned down during bench press variations, or the fact that it doubles as a hell of a core exercise, but we’re talking more about chest development here.
To that, I’d just ask that you try them for yourself – because I think after just one shot you’ll realize exactly where I’m coming from. These will fry your pecs like no other.
It’s a very advanced exercise though, so don’t just jump right into it without proper preparation or you’ll end up hurting and/or embarrassing yourself. Before you even attempt ring flyes, you should be able to do at least 25 ring push-ups first.
From there, begin with bent-arm flyes with your arms bent to approximately 90 degrees. That may seem easy, but it’s actually a big jump, so you may want to start on your knees. Don’t laugh; I’m dead serious.
Once you can manage those, progress to full flyes, making sure to keep a slight bend in your elbows to protect the shoulders and keep the tension on your chest.
The video below shows all three variations in reverse order: full flyes, bent-arm flyes, and push-ups. Each of these exercises is great in its own right, so take your time and don’t rush the progression. Once you can knock out full flyes though, this makes for one hell of a mechanical drop-set.

If you don’t have access to rings, you can do something similar using Valslides or furniture sliders. These may be even harder due to the increased friction.

My runner-ups for chest are low incline dumbbell presses (both single and double arm) and weighted push-ups.

Biceps

Let me preface this one by saying that I don’t do a whole lot of curls, and I have the results – or lack thereof – to show for it. Let’s just say that if I started selling tickets to the gun show, my water pistols would draw a smaller crowd than a WNBA game.
It’s not that I’m anti-curls by any means, it’s just that I have a borderline unhealthy obsession with chin-ups and find that when I try to add curls into the mix on top of all the chin-ups I do, my elbows quickly start to hate me.
That brings up an interesting point, though. Many people will tout chin-ups as the best biceps exercise going and tell you curls are a waste of time. To that I’d respectfully disagree. About two and a half years ago I ditched curls altogether and went on a steady diet consisting of approximately a shitload of chin-ups each week.
My lats grew a ton, as did my forearms, but my biceps stayed about the same size.
I’d even argue that if you’re feeling chin-ups a ton in your biceps, you probably aren’t doing them right. My goal is to feel them almost entirely in my upper back and lats – of course the biceps will be working, but I wouldn’t consider it to be a superior biceps exercise when done correctly.
Moral of the story:  The majority of your workout should obviously be based around heavy compound movements (such as chin-ups, for example), but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with tacking on a few sets of curls afterwards.
What type of curls you choose is up to you. In my mind, they’re all basically the same. I like barbell curls, incline dumbbell curls, and hammer curls.

Triceps

As mentioned, I’m not a huge fan of doing tons of direct arm work. It’s not that I’m opposed to it or think it’s detrimental by any means, I just don’t enjoy doing it very much so I look for any excuse I can to skip it. Just being honest.
With that in mind, I generally let all the heavy pressing I’m doing for chest and shoulders take care of the triceps as well, but if I’m looking to really smoke the triceps, my number one go-to exercise is bodyweight triceps extensions using suspension straps.

I like this exercise because it also serves as a great anti-extension core exercise, and since I’m also not a big fan of doing tons of core work either, it allows me to kill two birds with one stone.
If you don’t have suspension straps, it’s not the end of the world and you can get a similar training effect using a bar in a power rack or Smith machine. However, the straps add a nice dimension to the exercise if you’ve got them.
When using a bar, the range of motion is limited because you’re forced to bring your forehead to the bar, much like traditional skullcrushers. With the straps though, you can extend your arms out further away from your body, which increases the demand on the core while also enhancing the stretch on the long head of the triceps and taking stress off the elbows.
It also allows you to rotate your hands as you move through the rep, which I find feels better on the elbows and increases the contraction in the triceps.
Be sure to keep your body straight and avoid piking at the hips. While this is ostensibly a triceps exercise, from a core standpoint, it should feel similar to an ab wheel rollout.
This one also lends itself very well to burnout sets at the end of the workout. Start with the straps adjusted lower and step forward as you start to fatigue. You’ll probably be cursing my name after that.
My runner-ups for triceps are close-grip bench presses and chain bench presses.

Shoulders

I love the overhead press and think it’s the best exercise going for building big shoulders, but it can be tricky for folks with shoulder and/or lower back issues.
If the overhead press doesn’t bother you, definitely do that.
If it does, the staggered stance landmine press can be a great joint-friendly alternative since it allows you to press on an angle and use a neutral grip.

I also really like this band pullapart variation that I picked up from Joe Defranco. It’s much harder than it looks, so don’t knock it until you try it.

Quads

This one was a toss-up between Bulgarian split squats and front squats, but in the end, Bulgarian split squats get the nod.
I know this won’t sit well with some of you – and I myself would’ve considered it blasphemy a few years ago before I really tried them – but the more I do them and use them with my athletes, the more I’m convinced that it’s a better way to load the legs for most people.
We’re consistently seeing athletes do Bulgarian split squats with 70-90% of the loads they can front squat, and sometimes more. Here’s a video of a college hockey player doing Bulgarian split squats with 235 pounds for 5 reps like it’s an empty bar.

As a point of reference, he back squats 300 for 5. I think it’s clear the legs are getting more loading in the Bulgarian split squat.
Furthermore, with the front squat, the limiting factor is usually the upper back, whereas with Bulgarian split squats you’re able to hone in more directly on the legs. What’s more, since you aren’t loading the spine as heavily, it doesn’t take as long to recover, meaning you can do them more frequently, which could potentially lead to greater gains.
The big caveat is that you have to take the time up front to get good at Bulgarian split squats before they’re a viable size and strength builder, but that’s true of any exercise. Truth be told, most people get good at Bulgarian split squats much faster than they become good squatters.
If you have a good build for squatting and can squat well, it’s an absolutely phenomenal quad exercise, but if you aren’t built for it, well, you’ll always be fighting an uphill battle. It’s easier to target the quads in a Bulgarian split squat regardless of your anthropometry, making it a good choice when I have to choose one exercise to fit everyone.
I’m often asked if I think you could build absolutely massive quads using Bulgarian split squats; the kind of size you see from elite bodybuilders and Olympic lifters. I’m honestly not sure because I’ve never known anyone to do it, so at this point it’s mere conjecture.
My hunch though is that huge guys may not do as well with it – at least initially – because they tend to struggle more with balance and coordination, so the transition may take longer and it may not end up being the best choice. Again, I’m not sure though because I don’t know many huge guys that use them.
As for Olympic lifters, I think their massive legs are more a result of their loading parameters than their exercise selection. If they did Bulgarian split squats extremely heavy on a daily basis like they do their squats, I bet their legs would be just as big, if not bigger.
For the average-sized guy reading this article though, I think Bulgarian split squats are an awesome choice for building up the quads. Even if you think I’m completely off base, at least give them an honest try before calling for my head. I think you might be singing a different tune once you do.
My runner-ups are front squats and reverse sled drags.

Hamstrings

My Favorite Exercises: Muscle by Muscle

While quads were my toughest choice, hamstrings may be my easiest. It’s hard to argue against RDLs.
The biggest drawback of RDLs is that they can be tough on the lower back. If that’s the case, try doing them with a trap bar, or if that’s not possible, from a dead stop in the power rack.

You can also try doing them for higher reps at the end of your workout so you don’t need as much weight, which even with lighter loads serves as one hell of a brutal finishing exercise.

If back issues prevent you from doing them in any capacity, my runner-ups are single-leg RDLs, glute-ham raises, and sliding leg curls.

Glutes

I make no bones about it; glutes are my favorite body part. As such, I feel they warrant their own section.
You may feel the glutes get more than enough work from your quad and hamstring exercises like squats, deadlifts, and lunges, but I believe that if you aren’t doing specific glute exercises like bridges and hip thrusts, you’re leaving a lot on the table as far as glute development is concerned.
My personal favorite is single-leg barbell hip thrusts.

I like the single-leg version because even though the loads pale in comparison to what you can handle in the bilateral version, I feel an even bigger contraction in my glutes when I do them, all without feeling any stress in the lower back.
Moreover, because the loads are lighter, it’s more comfortable on the hips and you don’t have to bother with loading and unloading such a heavy bar.
The bodyweight-only version is a great exercise in its own right, so start there and add weight slowly as you improve.
My runner-up is the single-leg shoulder and foot elevated hip lift. It can be tricky to add weight to these, so if you’re looking for a way to make them tougher, try using “1.5” reps, like this:

If these two exercises don’t have your booty begging for mercy, I don’t know what to tell you.

Calves

I’ve never been able to crack the code to get my calves to grow much. I’ve tried a slew of different exercises and techniques, but to no avail.
I think the next thing I’ll try is getting some new parents.
(Don’t worry mom, I’m totally kidding.)
Seriously though, don’t go to a guy with puny calves for advice on how to get huge calves.
That rules me out.

And I’m Done

These are some of my favorites. Give some of them a try if you aren’t already and see how you like them.
I believe in rotating exercises from time to time though, so I’m always on the market for new choices to keep in the ol’ toolbox. So I now turn it over to you. What are some of your favorites?

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Inside the Muscles: Best Chest and Triceps Exercises


Editors Note:
 If you haven’t yet read Inside the Muscles: Best Shoulders and Trap Exercises you may want to give it a quick look as it’ll clear up any questions you may have regarding electromyography (EMG) and the experiments.

First, I apologize if I left out one of your favorite exercises. Don’t take it personally. I performed these experiments in my garage, and while I have one of the baddest garage gyms in Arizona, I don’t have a lot of machines. So you pec-deck folks can drop me some hate mail.
I’m also sorry I couldn’t test more individuals. These experiments are very labor-intensive; in order to measure every exercise on every muscle part using a variety of subjects would be a project of colossal proportions. (And one I’d need a few thousand dollars and a keg of Guinness to perform.) Just remember this: people are different, but  not that different. What’s true for me is probably true for you.
Finally, I’m not going to make any judgments regarding the safety of any exercise. I realize that certain exercises pose greater risks to the joints than others, but every guy has the right to train however the hell he chooses. As lifters, we can choose to assume a lot of risk or little risk since we’re the owners of our bodies.
Oh, one more thing: good form, a natural tempo, and a full range of motion were always used in these experiments.
Now that the pre-flight safety announcement list of warnings is over, let’s get to it. Are you ready to build some huge pecs and horseshoe triceps?

What You’ve Been Waiting For! The Exercises.

Since this is a bodybuilding experiment, I never used a weight that was too heavy to perform at least five repetitions. The mean number is on top and the peak number is on bottom. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, please read “What Are Mean and Peak Activation?“)

Exercise Upper Pec Mid Pec Lower Pec Tri Long Head
135 lb Bench Press 53.8
111.0
69.5
157.0
42.0
82.7
14.3
51.2
225 lb Bench Press 125.0
230.0
181.0
408.0
116.0
347.0
47.8
109.0
275 lb Bench Press 109.0
198.0
177.0
288.0
130.0
345.0
73.5
153.0
135 lb Incline Press 87.1
157.0
68.3
197.0
25.3
60.2
18.9
42.7
225 lb Incline Press 135.0
222.0
133.0
374.0
69.4
249.0
48.7
84.0
245 lb Incline Press 130.0
261.0
156.0
422.0
89.4
337.0
55.8
109.0
100 lb DB Bench Press 122.0
192.0
204.0
451.0
88.1
252.0
43.7
128.0
90 lb DB Incline Press 128.0
310.0
124.0
286.0
59.0
172.0
35.5
98.9
BW Dip 73.7
164.0
105.0
234.0
124.0
266.0
73.9
150.0
115 lb Dip 140.0
232.0
192.0
332.0
214.0
418.0
124.0
217.0
225 lb Close Grip Press 106.0
211.0
137.0
229.0
77.5
217.0
52.6
107.0
225 lb Wide Grip Guillotine Press 114.0
302.0
176.0
511.0
169.0
502.0
61.9
142.0
225 lb Floor Press 106.0
197.0
148.0
248.0
121.0
255.0
52.2
112.0
275 lb Floor Press 132.0
265.0
197.0
356.0
154.0
347.0
64.8
170.0
50 lb Fly 116.0
226.0
165.0
354.0
150.0
387.0
13.2
26.1
60 lb Fly 133.0
231.0
195.0
493.0
160.0
450.0
14.9
31.3
50 lb Incline Fly 125.0
249.0
135.0
344.0
77.3
257.0
12.6
20.0
100 lb High Pulley Crossover 107.0
201.0
168.0
311.0
153.0
397.0
9.6
19.1
100 lb Mid Pulley Crossover 154.0
252.0
154.0
271.0
124.0
251.0
11.5
23.1
100 lb Low Pulley Crossover 135.0
233.0
78.6
249.0
36.9
74.8
20.2
77.2
BW Push Up 109.0
204.0
124.0
252.0
101.0
194.0
24.0
38.7
BW CG Push Up 103.0
188.0
118.0
188.0
70.7
119.0
22.9
43.2
BW Elevated Push Up 96.6
156.0
102.0
232.0
52.7
167.0
24.0
46.6
BW Blast Strap Push Up 113.0
206.0
166.0
363.0
177.0
352.0
35.3
107.0
Purple Band Push Up 115.0
168.0
125.0
294.0
113.0
217.0
51.8
78.7
Green Band Push Up 151.0
239.0
162.0
268.0
121.0
238.0
59.3
125.0
100 lb DB Pullover 55.7
119.0
88.6
186.0
53.8
164.0
66.9
153.0
JC Band Press 143.0
272.0
45.7
91.0
53.0
127.0
21.0
52.6
95 lb Skull Crusher 45.6
89.5
21.5
48.6
70.7
118.0
116.0
172.0
120 lb Rope Extension 6.9
14.9
5.4
21.9
36.1
82.5
135.0
276.0
140 lb Cable Extension 9.3
21.3
9.3
18.7
78.2
172.0
132.0
255.0
Purple Band Extension 11.4
27.4
10.7
19.5
69.4
174.0
120.0
221.0
140 lb Cable Overhead Extension 19.4
41.0
19.2
130.0
40.6
126.0
109.0
206.0

The Winners

Based on this experiment, here are the top three exercises in terms of mean and peak activity for each muscle part:

Upper Pec

Mean   Mid Pulley Crossover, Band Push Up, JC Band Press
Peak    DB Incline Press, Guillotine Press, JC Band Press

Mid Pec

Mean   DB Bench Press, Floor Press, Fly
Peak    Guillotine Press, DB Bench Press, Fly

Lower Pec

Mean   Weighted Dip, Blast Strap Push Up, Guillotine Press
Peak    Guillotine Press, Fly, Weighted Dip

Medial Triceps

Mean   Rope Extension, Cable Extension, Weighted Dip
Peak    Rope Extension, Cable Extension, Band Extension

Confirmations

It’s important to know that I used a powerlifting-style bench press: arched low back, good leg drive, arms at a 45-degree angle, slightly narrower grip, bar lowered to the lower chest. The form used for the guillotine press was straight from late Iron Guru Vince Gironda: feet on the bench, no arch, elbows flared out, wider grip, bar lowered to the neck. It’s no surprise the guillotine press works much more pec than the bench press.
Looking at the entire pecs, we find much variety in movements. This jives with the old bodybuilder theory that the best workout should hit muscles from a lot of angles with different forms of resistance. We’ve always known the pecs respond to a good stretch, as shortened ranges of motion rarely build a nice chest.
I’ve long-suspected that pec isolation movements can rival compound movements in terms of pec activity. This study confirms that suspicion. Powerlifting gurus like Louie Simmons and Dave Tate have always discussed the importance of triceps specialization for a strong bench. This experiment lends support to their recommendations.

Surprises

Although I knew that the guillotine press worked much more pec than a bench press, I was surprised to find that a guillotine press with 225 pounds worked more pec than a bench press with 275 pounds! I found it very surprising that the floor press and band push up squeaked their way into the winner’s circle, as they’re the only movements in the entire winner’s group that do not move the pecs into a stretch position.
Although I’ve always felt the JC band press worked a ton of pec (the bands typically place the most stress in the contracted position), I didn’t expect it to work as much pec as it did. I can walk out really far with the JC bands and get a ton of tension in the movement, and the increased stabilization efforts may focus more tension on the pecs and less on the triceps. I was surprised that the barbell incline press and incline fly didn’t make it into the winner’s circle, especially for upper pec activity.
The pullover always gets the long head of my triceps very sore, so I was wondering if it would top the charts in muscle activity. But activation does not always equate to soreness, as stretch position exercises produce more soreness while contracted position exercises produce more of a pump.
I was actually very surprised at how much better triceps isolation exercises seem to work the triceps in comparison to compound movements. However, the body likes to grow proportionately; you rarely see a guy with huge arms and a puny torso, so don’t neglect compound movements for triceps development.

What If?

During experiments like these, one is often left with much curiosity. What if I would have gone heavier on the guillotine press? I could have gone much heavier, as 225 is a relatively light weight for me on that exercise. The same goes for dumbbell bench press—I could have gone heavier.
How would the pec deck have faired? What if I would have placed the electrodes on the inner and outer pecs? Would the activity be the same, or can we isolate those areas as well? (Doubtful.)
What if I would have performed wide-grip weighted dips? What if I would have worn a weighted vest during blast strap push-ups? What if I would have measured the activation in the lateral head of the triceps? Would it have matched the activity in the long head of the triceps, or do they function much differently? What if Miley Cyrus was 18? Would she date a musclehead from Arizona?
Clearly more research is needed, as it’s impossible to anticipate everything prior to an experiment, no matter how prepared and organized you seem.

The Best Damn Pec and Triceps Workout

Based on the results of this experiment, I bet the following would be one kick-ass workout that’d target the upper, mid, and lower pecs as well as the triceps. Enjoy!

The dumbbell bench press had more muscle activation than the traditional barbell bench press.
Inside the Muscles: Best Shoulders and Trap ExercisesThe Guillotine Press
Inside the Muscles: Best Shoulders and Trap ExercisesRecommended: Weighted dips. Not Recommended: Short-shorts.

Screw the skull-crusher. Do rope extensions to really hit the triceps.

About Bret Contreras

Inside the Muscles: Best Shoulders and Trap Exercises

Bret Contreras received his master’s degree from Arizona State University and his Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist certification from the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Bret invites you to follow or join him on his blog. You can download his e-book here.

© 1998 — 2010 Testosterone, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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Unconventional Workout — Triceps


In the first installment of the Unconventional Workouts article series, I presented you with a few out-of-the-box workouts to get even the most stubborn set of biceps on the path to new growth. In this installment, the gun show continues as we target the often-neglected (and underdeveloped) triceps with some unconventional sleeve-splitting stimulation.

Why Train Triceps?

If you’re a power lifter, you already know that strong triceps help you to lock out the elbows on the bench press. So, big benches require strong triceps. We all clear on that? Good.
If you’re a bodybuilder, you’ve probably heard that the triceps comprise the lion’s share of upper arm mass. And, as a God-fearing mirror-trainer, you likely understand the importance of including isolation work in order to achieve full, well-balanced triceps. So if you want huge arms that every little Hulkamaniac will envy, you must include some isolated triceps work. No arguments from anyone yet, right?
But as far as athletes are concerned, many strength coaches don’t believe in doing isolation or single-joint work. These coaches eschew almost any form of isolation training at all, justifying their ideologies with phrases like “train movements, not muscles”.
While it makes for a clever catch phrase, I don’t think it makes any damn sense, because what creates movement? The muscles! So, if muscles create movement, then all muscle training, isolation or otherwise, is movement training.
Furthermore, if the triceps aren’t a “functional” muscle, how come folks dealing with a torn triceps often can’t do anything even remotely athletic?
The truth is, there are no major or minor muscles in the body; there are only muscles, and every last one of them is just as important as the other. I’m not saying athletes need to have a “triceps day”, but some isolation triceps work at the end of an upper-body workout can only help improve performance and prevent injury.

Got Dips? Or Not Dips?

One of the most popular triceps exercises of all time is the triceps dip. Although I don’t think a few dips here and there is going to kill you, as a rule I’m not a big fan. The optimal end-range of shoulder extension is around 60-70 degrees, but in the bottom position of a triceps dips, extension can far exceed this “healthy” range. Considering the loads used in a triceps dip are generally high (at least bodyweight), this can be a recipe for injury. Plus, dips can cause a lot of unwanted stress on the biceps tendon and anterior shoulder musculature.
Bottom line, if training longevity is the goal, why do dips when you can get similar triceps activation without the unwanted stress by using exercises like triceps rope extensions and skull-crushers?

A New Angle On Triceps Work!

In my first article ever published at TMUSCLE, I took some complex physics principles and applied them in a simple manner to improve muscle recruitment and minimize joint stress when performing triceps rope pressdowns.
Then, in the Unconventional biceps article, I explained how you can (and should) change the load vectors to get a better-rounded workout and increase overall muscle development.
In the following triceps workouts, I’ll apply both sets of principles.

The Workouts

Here are three of my favorite unconventional triceps workouts. You can rest assured that these workouts are all versatile enough that anyone, regardless of equipment or special limitations can apply them.

Triceps Workout #1

This workout is based on changing the force vector to maximally load the triceps from different angles with each exercise.
We’ll start with an exercise that maximally loads the triceps from the fully contracted (shortened) position. We’ll then load the triceps at the midrange, before finishing with an exercise that loads the triceps from more of a lengthened position.
1) Low Pulley Triceps Extension (see notes below) — 2-3 sets x 8-12 reps, 60 seconds rest.
2) Prone Skull Crusher (see notes below) — 2-3 sets x 8-12 reps, 60 seconds rest.
3) High Cable Extension w/posterior cable vector — 2-3 sets x 8-12 reps, 60 seconds rest.
 To maximize triceps contraction, isometrically drive the bar into your thighs for 1-2 seconds at the end of each rep.
 This is a great bodyweight exercise that’s a real triceps killer. Be sure to keep the spine straight (tight core) throughout the movement. To increase difficulty, place your hands closer to the ground using a small plyo box or step platform.

Triceps Workout #2

As with the 60/30 biceps workout, the 60/30 triceps workout is one of my favorite ways to trash the triceps and pump up the arms more than Donald Trump’s ego.
Grab a heavy-duty band; tie it up at the top of a squat rack or cable column. Try to bang out 60 triceps extensions in 30 seconds without using too much extra body English (see video at right).
I use a heavy band because it allows you to move fast without gaining momentum. I recommend using a 1/2-inch band for weaker (beginner) individuals and a 1-inch or larger band for the stronger folks.
Perform 60 reps in 30 seconds x 2- 4 sets, with 1-2 minutes rest.
If you can’t complete all 60 reps in the given time frame of 30 seconds, the band is too heavy.

Triceps Workout #3

I have to admit, I love bodyweight training. How can you not like that you can get super strong anywhere, anytime, with zero equipment?
This workout involves one exercise, the Reverse Skull crusher. It’s a three-tier drop set that shortens the lever arm each time, providing you with a greater mechanical advantage, so that you can continue to crank out reps.
Perform as many reps as possible with your feet elevated on a bench. Once you only have about two reps left in the tank, drop your feet to the floor (this shortens the lever arm). Continue to bang out as many reps as you can until once again you reach the two reps left point. Finally, place your hands on top of the bench, further shortening the lever arm, and burn out as many reps as possible. Now, stand back and watch your arms inflate!
Basically, as you fatigue in this drop set, you shorten the lever arm and make the exercise easier, thereby allowing you to continue cranking out more reps.
Perform 2 sets with 2-3 minutes rest in between.

Triceps Workout #4 — The Iron Arms Challenge!

I know I promised three workouts but I always try to deliver BIG! So, for your triceps training pleasure, here’s another killer workout for you to try.
This is my other favorite triceps protocol, along with the 60/30 workout. The Iron Arms Challenge is also of the most popular strength challenges among my athletes.
My male athletes perform it from the floor (as shown in the video). My female athletes usually perform it on top of a bench, although I do have some girls who can do it from the floor.
You’re going to need a medicine ball for this one.
Perform:
4-10 x 1-Arm Lock-offs (each arm)
4-10 x Crossovers (5 each side)
4-10 x Close Grip Push Ups
4-10 x Drop and Returns (minimal ground contact time)
(See the video at right.)
To successfully complete the Iron Arms Challenge, you must finish the entire sequence, 10 reps of each exercise (all four exercises), without ever dropping to a knee.
Most elite athletes can’t get through this protocol using five reps each exercise, much less 10, without putting a knee down for at least the first one or two weeks. After a few weeks, I’ve had athletes repeat multiple sets of this protocol with little to no rest. If you can do that, you, my friend, have Iron Arms!
For a killer triceps workout, Perform 1-3 sets with 3-5 minutes rest between sets.
 Yes, this protocol will also hit your chest and shoulders because it involves push-ups, but it’s always the triceps that seem to feel the most soreness the next day. So, this workout makes a great finisher for an upper-body pushing workout.

Putting It All Together

You might have noticed that some of these workouts are almost mirror images of the workouts featured in the previous biceps article. That’s because often the principles that work for stubborn biceps will work for stalled triceps.
So why change a winning formula? You can build a killer overall arm workout by combining both workouts and hitting it super set style.
For example, Unconventional Biceps workout #1 can go with Unconventional Triceps workout #1, and Unconventional Biceps workout #2 can go with Unconventional Triceps workout #2.
If you’re interested in just adding the above triceps workouts into your existing training program, here’s a sample three times-a-week triceps blast combined with the classic Push/Pull/Quad Dominant/Hamstring Dominant workout.
 Upper Body (Vertical Push/Pull) + Triceps workout #1
 Lower Body (Quad dominant)
 off
 Upper Body (Horizontal Push/Pull) + Triceps workout #3
 off
 Lower Body (Hamstring dominant) + Triceps workout #2
 off
Or, you can just throw any of these workouts onto the end of an upper body workout or perform them as a stand-alone workout.

Conclusion

There you have it guys! I’m about ready to change my name to Fed-Ex because once again, I’ve delivered the goods!
Remember, anyone can do three sets of ten on a triceps pressdown and call it a day. With a little physiology combined with some ingenuity, you can start challenging your triceps in a completely different way.
Get back on the right side of the adaptation curve and give these unconventional workouts a try!

Unconventional Workout — TricepsHigh Pulley Triceps Extension
Unconventional Workout — TricepsLow Pulley Triceps Extension
Unconventional Workout — TricepsReverse Skull Crusher on bench
Unconventional Workout — TricepsReverse Skull Crusher on floor
Unconventional Workout — TricepsReverse Skull Crusher, feet on bench

The 60/30 Triceps Workout

The Iron Arms Challenge

About Nick Tumminello

Unconventional Workout — Triceps

Nick Tumminello is a Baltimore-based personal trainer, strength coach and national educator who works with a select group of Physique Competitors, Elite Athletes, and Exercise Enthusiasts. Nick also serves as the Strength Coach for Team Ground Control MMA. Check out Coach Nick’s Products, Seminar Schedule, and Blog atwww.nicktumminello.com

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