A competitive powerlifter recently contacted me to correct his woefully pathetic bench press. After a few tests and some obvious visual clues, I realized that his triceps were holding him back from pressing up big numbers.

So I made a huge, genius-caliber deductive leap and figured that he needed a triceps specialization plan.

I pretty much crammed four different training methods into a 6-week period. I had him overreach (i.e. planned overtraining) for the first phase, followed by a maximal strength phase, followed by hypertrophy parameters. Then I finished up with supramaximal strength training.

Granted, I've used these elements before to bring up lagging body parts in my clients, but this was the first time I'd put them all together. The result? Magic!

When he was finished, his bench press increased 5% and he added 3/4" to his upper arm measurement. That's a lot. In fact, you can't beat that in 6 weeks!

Here's what I had him do.


PHASE I: Overreaching Method

Day 1

Dips

Sets: 5
Reps: 10
Rest: 90s

Note: If your strength levels don't allow for 5x10 dips, use an assistance dip machine. If that's not available perform decline close-grip bench presses.

Decline Bench Barbell Skull Crusher

Sets: 4
Reps: 12
Rest: 90s

Day 2

Off

Day 3

Single Arm Overhead DB Extension

Sets: 5
Reps: 10
Rest: 90s

Note: Start with your weakest arm, keep your elbow close to your head. Perform the movement with one arm and then the next before resting for 90s (don't rest between arms).

Reverse Grip Pressdown

Sets: 4
Reps: 12
Rest: 90s

Note: Use a wider than shoulder-width, palms-up grip. This can also be performed with a curved bar attachment if you feel any strain in your wrists.

Day 4

Off

Day 5

Repeat Day 1 with the same load

Day 6

Off

Day 7

Repeat Day 3 with the same load

Day 8

Off

Day 9

Repeat Day 1 with 2% more load.

Day 10

Off

Day 11

Repeat Day 3 with 2% more load.

Day 12

Off

Day 13

Repeat Day 7 with the same load.

Day 14

Off

Day 15

Repeat Day 9 with the same load.

Day 16

Off

Phase I Recovery Techniques:

You must stretch your triceps for at least 6 minutes after each session. Hold the following stretch for 30s, rest 30s, repeat the cycle twice more. Perform the same three cycles (30s stretch, 30s relax) on the other side.

When you get home, or when you're finished stretching, use ice massage on both triceps. Use a cryocup or a paper cup filled with ice and use deep, long strokes that run the length of your triceps. Use half the cup on each arm. Don't skip these extremely important recovery techniques or you'll be set up for failure during the remainder of the program.


PHASE II: Maximal Strength Method

Day 1

Close Grip Decline Bench Press

Sets: 5
Reps: 3
Rest: 90s

Note: The distance between your forefingers should equal the width of your torso directly below your pecs.

Lockout Seated Barbell Shoulder Press

Sets: 3
Reps: 5
Rest: 90s

Note: Set up a seated bench with back support inside the power rack. Set the pins so you can lower the barbell 10-12 inches before hitting the pins. Let the barbell rest for a brief second on the pins before pressing.

Day 2

Off

Day 3

Reverse Grip Bench Press

Sets: 5
Reps: 3
Rest: 90s

Note: The distance between your pinky fingers should be approximately 4" wider than the width of your torso directly below your pecs. Lower the barbell to your upper abdominal region.

Wide Grip Triceps Pressdown

Sets: 3
Reps: 5
Rest: 90s

Note: Use a palms-down grip with a grip width as wide as you can comfortably handle. Keep your abs tight during this exercise.

Day 4

Off

Day 5

Repeat Day 1 with the same load

Day 6

Off

Day 7

Repeat Day 3 with the same load

Day 8

Off

Day 9

Repeat Day 1 with 2% more load.

Day 10

Off

Day 11

Repeat Day 3 with 2% more load.

Day 12

Off

Day 13

Repeat Day 9 with the same load.

Day 14

Off

Day 15

Repeat Day 11 with the same load.

Day 16

Off

Phase II Recovery Techniques

Follow the guidelines outlined in Phase I recovery. However, ice massage isn't mandatory during this phase. But if you find you can't recover, you must add ice massage into your post-workout plan.


PHASE III: Hypertrophy Method

Day 1

EZ Curl Bar Overhead Triceps Extension

Sets: 3
Reps: 8
Rest: 60s

Note: Use a straight bar if an EZ Curl bar isn't available. Don't let your elbows flare out.

DB Triceps Extension

Sets: 3
Reps: 8
Rest: 60s

Note: Perform on a flat bench, or on the floor.

Close Grip Triceps Pressdown

Sets: 3
Reps: 8
Rest: 60s

Note: Use a grip width with a distance of 12" between your forefingers.

Day 2

Off

Day 3

Swiss Ball Push-ups

Sets: 3
Reps: 8
Rest: 60s

Note: Perform a push-up off the Swiss Ball. Use a narrow hand position.

Elbows-out DB Triceps Extensions

Sets: 3
Reps: 8
Rest: 60s

Seated DB Shoulder Press

Sets: 3
Reps: 8
Rest: 60s

Day 4

Off

Day 5

Repeat Day 1 and add one rep to each set.

Day 6

Off

Day 7

Repeat Day 3 and add one rep to each set.

Day 8

Off


PHASE IV: Supramaximal Holds with Maximal Strength Method

Day 1

Close Grip Barbell Bench Press Supramaximal Hold

Sets: 3
Reps: Hold + 3
Rest: 180s

Note: Set the pins in a power rack so you can only lower the barbell 4-6 inches. Start by holding a load that represents 125% of your close grip 1RM. Hold the load just short of lock-out for 10s; rest the load on the pins. Rest 30s and perform 3 partial reps (from pins to lock-out) with the largest load you can handle. Rest 180s and repeat the entire sequence twice more.

Day 2

Off

Day 3

Steep Incline Barbell Bench Press Supramaximal Hold

Sets: 3
Reps: Hold + 3
Rest: 180s

Note: Set up a 75-degree incline bench inside the power rack. Set the pins in the power rack so you can only lower the barbell 6 inches. Start by holding a load, with a shoulder-width grip that represents 125% of your incline bench press 1RM. Hold the load just short of lock-out for 10s; rest the load on the pins. Rest 30s and perform 3 partial reps (from pins to lock-out) with the largest load you can handle. Rest 180s and repeat the entire sequence twice more.

Day 4

Off

Day 5

Decline Wide Grip Barbell Bench Press Supramaximal Hold

Sets: 3
Reps: Hold + 3
Rest: 180s

Note: Set up a 20-30 degree decline bench inside the power rack. Set the pins in the power rack so you can only lower the barbell 4-6 inches. Start by holding a load that represents 125% of your wide-grip decline bench press 1RM. Hold the load just short of lock-out for 10s; rest the load on the pins. Rest 30s and perform 3 partial reps (from pins to lock-out) with the largest load you can handle. Rest 180s and repeat the entire sequence twice more.

Days 6 and 7

Off

Additional Points

1. This program takes the place of all upper body pressing and triceps work for 6 weeks. Perform this program first in your upper body workouts.

2. Keep your other upper body training at maintenance levels (i.e. train other upper body parts no more than twice per week).

3. Stretch your triceps for at least 6 minutes after every workout. Ice massage is highly recommended after each session. mandatory during Phase I.

4. Spike is highly recommended before all workouts. In fact, you should plan on consuming Spike before every workout. Some of these workouts will be tough on your nervous system!

5. Consume 1/2 serving of Surge at the onset of each workout. Consume 1/2 to 1 full serving directly after your workout.

6. If you find that you're not recovering well (i.e. your performance isn't increasing), or if you feel rundown, consume Power Drive anytime after your workouts on an empty stomach, mixed in carbonated water.

Get ready to press up some big weights with your newfound humongous horseshoes!