Follow This Program To Carve Out A Set Of Your Very Own Muscled Horseshoes
By The Editors | Shot on Location at Sports Specific Training in Oakville, Ontario | Photos By Arsenik Photography | Model: Micah Lacerte
This issue for our Signature Series training feature; we shine the spotlight squarely on the triceps. What makes the triceps musculature particularly interesting from a physiological standpoint and from a training perspective is the fact that this muscle accounts for two thirds of the size of your upper arm. So, taken literally, this means that for every two biceps sets you do, you should be doing three sets of triceps. Unfortunately, more often than not, this is not the case. This is attributed to the fact that the biceps are such a “show” muscle; oftentimes, they get the bulk of the workload with triceps relegated to an after thought and hit with a few sets of push downs at the end of an arm workout. Bottom line: if you want bigger arms, that scene is just not going to work for you! You need to hit your triceps and hit them hard with the correct volume, intensity and exercises. Luckily, that’s exactly what is being delivered in this installment of our exclusive Signature Series!
THE MUSCULATURE OF THE TRICEPS
The triceps are a three headed muscle, hence the name “tri”. When well-developed, the triceps looks like a horseshoe in appearance. The three separate heads of the triceps are the long head, the lateral head and the
medial head, which work as a functional unit to extend the arm. In terms of the anatomy of the triceps, while the long head, lateral head and medial head all have a different point of origin on the upper body, they all
collectively insert on the upper part of the ulna in a location called the olecranon. While it may seem a little on the boring side, it’s important to know a bit about the actual structure of the triceps because different exercises and grips for that matter, have the capability of targeting different heads of the tricep. That in mind, you want to make sure that through proper exercise and grip selection, you are targeting all of the heads, as a means to develop full and well muscled triceps.
A WORD ON REST INTERVALS
Your first triceps workout of the week focuses on a volume approach with a higher rep range. This serves to activate more of the slow twitch muscle fibers, especially when you keep your rest between sets to 60 to 90 seconds. Keep in mind; this will require you to reduce the amount of weight you use on each exercise. Don’t panic though! This is not bad thing; it’s intentional because we are trying to literally force as much blood as possible into the three heads of the triceps as a means to stimulate growth. The heavy lifting comes later in the week during your second, shorter triceps workout. This is where you can rest anywhere from three to five minutes between sets, as we are focusing on fast twitch muscle fibers that day.
TRICEPS SPECIALIZATION SPLIT
Given the fact that the triceps are a small muscle group in comparison to muscles like the chest, back and legs, you would almost always train it alongside another muscle group in any given workout. One example would be a chest/triceps split situation or a bi/triceps split situation. The whole emphasis of the Signature Series is specialization, as a means to bring up a lagging body part or to increase the “wow factor” of a body part; in this case, obviously, the triceps. We accomplish this by:
(1) training the triceps in isolation early in the week, so energy reserves are high and the muscle is not fatigued from any supplementary work involved from the training of other muscles in the same workout and
(2) hitting the triceps with a higher workload in terms of frequency and also in terms of the actual volume of sets and reps. With respect to addressing the first point, the training split on the previous page that fits the bill perfectly.
TRICEP PUSHDOWN: SHORT STRAIGHT BAR (REVERSE GRIP)
Using a reverse grip (palms facing up and the thumbs facing away from each) when doing triceps pushdowns is a great way to isolate the long, bulky head of the triceps.
To properly execute this movement:
(1) Keep your back straight and your head up.
(2) Grip the bar using a reverse grip (palms facing up and the thumbs facing away from each).
(3) Keep your elbows locked tight to the sides of your body.
(4) Press down by extending your arms and stopping just shy short of elbow lockout.
(5) Breathe out while pressing down and breathe in while returning to the start position.
For every two biceps sets you do, you should be doing three sets of triceps.
THE SIGNATURE SERIES TRICEPS TRAINING PROGRAM
In terms of exercising the triceps, many a bodybuilder and fitness enthusiast have relied on cable-based pushdown movements exclusively to add size to this muscle group. While push-down movements are great and have a definite place in a triceps routine, there are many other exercises that should also be incorporated, some of which will be featured here.
The exercises that form this triceps specialization routine center on a mix of barbell, dumbbell, EZ curl, cable and plate work. These are the movements that will add thickness and bulk to your triceps. You’ll notice that in the training split featured in this article, you are scheduled to train triceps twice during the course of the week; once on Monday in isolation and then again on Thursday after back and before biceps. This is not a coincidence or an error. Rather, it’s a strategic plan to maximize growth and development. Monday is going to be your high volume/high rep day and Thursday will be your heavy day with less volume in terms of sets and reps. By attacking your triceps in this manner, you are targeting both fast twitch and slow twitch muscle fibers, which is a key component for our goal of building much bigger and fuller triceps.
There you have it, a 26 set workmanlike approach to building big, horseshoe triceps over two separately structured workouts. Follow this program, make sure your diet is really on point and you should see some noticeable results in terms of increased upper arm girth in as little as six weeks. Remember, at the end of the day, you are only as strong as your weakest body part. So if you’ve been neglecting training your triceps for years in favour of the more popular “show time” bicep muscles, it’s time you got with the program … the Signature Series triceps specialization program that is!