If you want big arms, you need big triceps. I know you might be thinking of how the biceps are more important to a gun show style of showing off but the triceps make up 3/5ths of your upper arm. There are three branches to this muscle, whereas only two to the biceps.
So if you want an aesthetic, balanced look to your arms you’ll need to focus on building these up with pressing movements and isolation movements.
Beyond the aesthetics of them, they are also vital when it comes to strength in pushing or pressing exercises. For a regular bench press they come into effect after the chest and shoulders have done their work (they come into play a little earlier on a close grip bench press).
If you’re looking for any exercises to supplement your tricep growth, any upper body pusing movement will incorporate them. Here, though, we’re going to look at how to do the tricep dip.
You can do a variation of this with your hands behind your back, but here we will focus more upon the more common version, using the parallel bars.
In order to do this exercise you need to :-
- Hold your body up at roughly arms length. Your legs will likely be crossed underneath you.
- Inhale, in order to sufficiently brace, and then lower your body so that your elbows are at roughly 90 degrees. Throughout the downward portion try to keep your torso upright and keep your elbows close in and not flared out.
- Push yourself back up into the starting position, exhaling as you do so.
The exercise itself, and the steps to do it are as simple as that. If you find that you are in need of increasing the difficulty you can add a weight belt and attach plates to yourself. Effectively increasing the resistance your triceps are going through.
Make sure that you take this exercise through its full range of motion without over extending your elbows at the top. With all of your weight (plus maybe more with a belt) hyperextending here could be quite painful.
For more on how to do them, look here.
Why they are so good.
While they do isolate the triceps a little more than most big exercises, they are a compound movement as they include the chest and shoulders to an extent. The range of motion they employ means that the triceps are under more of a constant tension than they would be under during a press movement. Your chest and shoulders would still be involved in these, just not to the extent as during a bench press.
With you having to keep yourself upright and use the triceps (a generally small muscle group) to take you through a large range of motion a good deal of stabilising muscles will also benefit from this exercise.
Do your presses, and if you want even bigger and stronger triceps, do your dips too.
Author: James Wilks
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