Tip: Do the French Press for Triceps

It's a classic exercise, but most people are doing it wrong. Here's how to do it right.

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The triceps deserve more of your attention than the biceps if upper arm size is your goal. Close-grip bench presses and dips are common options, but neither provide the most stimulation for the triceps.

The most important head to target for triceps thickness is the long head. The EZ-bar French press hammers the long head, but it's also one of the most commonly botched exercises in the gym. The right way to do French presses is when the force angle is exploited with minimal joint stress. Performing them in this fashion will keep constant tension on the long head of the triceps without shifting stress to the shoulder and elbow joint.

It's also important to avoid coming to a complete extension of the elbow – that's not the long head's job! Higher reps (12-15) work well for this particular movement, so expect an insane pump.

French Press How-To

  • Slide forward in an upright seat or set the adjustable bench one notch shy of 90 degrees.
  • Grip the bar with a false (thumbless) narrow grip.
  • Make sure the elbows face in towards each other as much as possible – they shouldn't flare out.
  • Let the weight of the bar pull the elbows backwards (towards the wall behind you) and then "drag" it forward while pressing up over the back of your head. Use a controlled negative and repeat.