If you’re struggling with your triceps growth or just want to get bigger triceps and bigger arms fast, then there’s one tricep exercise that you need to include in your weekly routine. Many of you watching have likely heard that by just doing enough of your compound movements like bench pressing, that your arms will naturally grow and you’ll get big triceps as a result. And that is true–to a certain extent. But while the other two heads of your triceps only cross the elbow joint and only function to extend the elbow, the long head also crosses the shoulder joint and has an additional function to extend the shoulder. And during your movements like the bench press, your nervous system will preferentially recruit muscles that only cross one joint because those muscles tend to be more efficient Meaning, if you aren’t supplementing your pressing movements with additional triceps work, OR you are but you’re not choosing the right triceps exercises for the triceps long head, then you’re leaving a ton of potential gains on the table. So, to get bigger triceps, what I’d recommend is to ensure that you’re regularly performing a triceps exercise that specifically emphasizes the long head within your triceps workout.
Most triceps exercises where the arms are held overhead will effectively accomplish this. For example, the lying overhead extension is a great tricep exercise that targets the long head. But, we can take this movement and make it even more effective. Since we know that the long head of the triceps functions to both extend the shoulder and extends the elbow, we can combine these two functions into one movement. One option is to simply modify your traditional rope or bar pushdowns. Instead of keeping your elbows locked into your sides, allow them to raise up and initiate each rep by first extending the shoulder and then finishing the rep with elbow extension with your elbows by your sides. And to take it one step further, once your triceps fatigue to the point where you can no longer finish the reps, you can extend the set by just performing the first part of the exercise until you completely fatigue there. As a result you’ll likely feel a burn in your triceps that you’ve never quite experienced before.
Another option that’ll help you get bigger triceps is to perform these modified pushdowns lying down instead like so. This orientation only helps prevent any momentum or cheating during your reps, but the line of resistance from the cable forces the long head to constantly work against the resistance to not only bring the elbows down but to then keep the elbows pinned in place as you fully extend at the end of each rep.
Lastly, option 3. Note that the same concept can be taken and applied to your traditional lying overhead extensions with either a bar or dumbbells. There are 4 parts to this movement that’ll get you big triceps.
Part 1: First, start with your hands held directly above you. Then, lower them to your sides.
Part 2: From here, straighten your arms back behind your body and lock your elbows in position.
Part 3: Lower the dumbbells to behind your head and then extend them back up again.
Part 4: From here, drive your elbows back to the starting position and then straighten your arms up overhead.
That all counts as 1 rep. As you can imagine, you won’t be able to get many reps but each individual rep will place a ton of tension on your long head as you move through its various movement functions. Focus on control, use light weight, and do experiment with different grips and ranges of motion with this movement just to find what feels most comfortable for you and your elbows. I’ve found that using a neutral grip with dumbbells tends to be the best option for most people.
But try out these different exercises for the triceps long head and find which one enables you to best feel that long head working. I’d highly recommend choosing one or two of these exercises to do at least once a week to supplement your current pressing movements or to even swap out some of your other triceps exercises with. As this is the head that tends to get left behind yet is largely responsible for the overall size of your triceps. By focusing on this, you’ll very quickly be able to get bigger triceps – fast.
And for a step-by-step program that shows you exactly what to workout week after week to ensure you’re maximizing growth and not letting any muscles lag behind, simply take the analysis quiz to discover which science-based program would be best for you and where your body is currently at below:
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