The difference between training your biceps and triceps comes down to variety. While a healthy diet of curls, curls, and more curls will be enough to add some inches to your bi’s, developing a full pair of horseshoe tri’s that pop off the back of your arm requires you to target all three triceps heads—lateral, medial, and the long head. This means trashing the muscle from all different angles, with an assortment of exercises and equipment.
The workout below utilizes isolation and compound movements in the span of a brief but exhaustive 11-set triceps throw down. In the previously published “Straight Up” version of this routine, you had similar diversity. This time, though, the compound movement for triceps switches from close-grip bench presses to bodyweight dips. The other three moves in the routine look similar, though equipment and angles are altered to make sure your triceps don’t forget how to grow. With sufficient intensity, volume, and variety, they will.
Straight up workout (From February 2013)
Lying triceps extension: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Close-grip bench press: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
One-arm overhead dumbbell extension: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Cable pressdown: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Level up workout
Dip: 3 sets to failure
Cable overhead extension: 2 sets of 10-12 reps
Lying dumbbell triceps extension: 4 sets of 10
One-arm cable reverse grip pulldown: 2 sets of 8-10 reps
Level up difference:Dips replace close-grip bench presses as the compound lift in this workout, as they still recruit all three heads. They’re placed second in the routine to ensure the muscles and joints (elbows and shoulders) are sufficiently warmed up. Keep your torso upright to emphasize the triceps over the chest.
3 of 5
Cable Overhead Extension
Level up difference: Using a cable instead of a dumbbell means you’ll be able to keep significant tension on the muscle—namely at the very top, where the squeeze with the elbows fully extended is crucial for maximal contraction and triceps growth.
4 of 5
Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extension
Level up difference: Subbing in dumbbells for a barbell places the hands in a neutral position, instead of a pronated grip, to hit the muscles from a different angle. If possible, do this exercise on a decline bench to increase tension on the triceps long head.
5 of 5
One-Arm Cable Reverse Grip Pulldown
Level up difference: Flipping your grip on pressdowns targets the hard-to-reach medial head of your triceps. If you can’t fully lock out, then lower the weight.