Tip: The 4 Keys to Bigger Triceps

You need more than 3 sets of 10 of your favorite triceps exercise if you want maximal growth. Here's what to do.

Several variables are required for triceps growth. Effective tricep development is a product of these variables:

  1. Upper arm position in relation to the torso
  2. The angle of resistance in relation to that arm position
  3. Volume
  4. Tempo

The way the upper arm is positioned will create a variety of angles:

  1. Your upper arm may be parallel to the torso or below your head, like a tricep pressdown.
  2. Triceps Pressdown
  3. Your upper arm may be perpendicular to the torso, like a skull crusher.
  4. Skull Crusher
  5. Your upper arm may be in line with the torso with your arms above your head, like the French press.
French Press

Each of these positions will slightly alter the active range of each of the three heads of the tricep, but primarily the long head – the inner part of the horseshoe. The full active range of the tricep won't be maximized unless all three arm positions are used.

Think of the angle of resistance or line of pull. The greatest muscle activation occurs when the angle of resistance is 90 degrees to the forearm. Since free-weight resistance always travels downward, cables are a great choice to alter the line of pull.

Each position in the video is loaded differently. In position one I'm loading the end-range. In position two, I'm loading the mid-range. And in position three I'm loading the beginning range (stretched). Choose exercises that load the tricep in all three positions for maximum growth. Always use different combinations of upper arm positions and angles of resistance to maximize tricep development.

Make volume and tempo a priority. Why? Because you'll get better results. The biggest mistake people make training triceps is simply going so heavy that they're not able to use enough time under tension to elicit any growth.

Kurt Weber, MS, CSCS, PN-1, is a former Division-I strength and conditioning coach and Track and Field All-American. He now specializes in performance enhancement for the lifestyle athlete at a private gym in Newport Beach, CA. Kurt is also the creator of The Alpha Plan program, designed for high-stress, busy, and frequent travelers. Follow Kurt Weber on Facebook