Want to increase your lockout strength for heavier presses? Want bigger triceps? These ten exercises will give you both. Bonus: Most of these are joint and elbow friendly.
1 – Push-Up on Kettlebells
This variation works by increasing the stability challenge and increasing the range of motion. Doing push-ups on kettlebells also feels better on your wrists. Most lifters’ wrists are taking a beating already, so this is a nice change.
Programming should involve more of a strength-endurance emphasis of 15-plus reps per set, but you could add additional loading (weight vest etc.) and work on submaximal strength in the 6-8 rep range.
2 – Kettlebell Triceps Extension
Triceps extensions are nothing new, but using kettlebells alters the positioning of the load, making this version more joint friendly. I’ve seen athletes that complain of elbow pain with the dumbbell version, but have zero issues when switching to kettlebells.
Sets and reps: 3-4 x 10-15.
3 – Dip Lockout
If you have elbow or shoulder pain when doing regular dips (as 50 percent of T Nation readers reported in a recent Instagram poll) try this concentric-only variation.
Start from a dead stop every rep. After a solid lockout and squeeze at the top, just drop back down. There’s no eccentric or negative action, and by negating the stretch of the front delts you’re able to train extension without the flare-ups.
Sets and reps: 3 x 6-10.
4 – Dumbbell Floor Press with Neutral Grip
This variation strengthens the top range of your press much like its barbell counterpart. But for pain-free performance, it’s tough to beat dumbbells.
Even though there’s less range of motion with a floor press, leg drive is removed, so you’ll probably be using about 10 percent less weight than your standard bench press.
The neutral grip is better for keeping the glenohumeral joint centrated and thus decreasing stress on the front delt. This variation is going to stress all three heads of the triceps group.
Sets and reps: 4-5 x 6-10.
5 – JM Press Off Pins
Why is this variation effective? It places a great deal of stress on the lateral head of the triceps.
Sets and reps: 5-6 x 6-8, performed once per week.
6 – Incline Tate Press
This variation stresses the lateral head of your triceps as well as the anconeus.
Do this with lighter loads for higher reps. Go too heavy and it becomes easy to cheat by turning it into more of a standard press than an extension.
Sets and reps: 3-4 x 12-15.
7 – Half-Kneeling Bottoms-Up Kettlebell Press
While used mostly for prehab or rehab, this one also helps you indentify asymmetries from left to right. You may notice imbalances even when using modest weight.
I’ve seen some athletes easily perform the prescribed reps on one side and struggle to perform them on the other side. If this is the case for you, it’s time to drop the weight and focus on relearning better motor patterns.
Sets and reps: 3-4 x 5-6 per side.
8 – Overhead Kettlebell Carry
For strength work, perform 4-5 rounds of 90 feet. Rest 60-90 seconds between rounds.
9 – Safety-Squat Bar Overhead Press Off Pins
If you have access to a safety-squat bar, this one is a must. While you can perform this with a standard straight bar, the effect just isn’t the same.
Go for sets of 5-8, setting the pins at chest, eye, or forehead level.
10 – Bench Press Off Pins Against Bands
This is an incredible exercise to build absolute strength. You can progressively build to a 1-rep max or use the submaximal method and build to a 3-6RM using a dead stop on each rep.
This can be performed from a variety of heights with a variety of grips, but for building the triceps stick with a medium or close grip. Since you’re starting from the bottom, you can strategically target individual sticking points and adjust pin height to align with your individual limitations.
This works with a regular barbell or a football bar as shown in the video.