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Strategies for Building Bigger Triceps & Triceps Training Tips

With so much talk these days about "functional training," it seems arm training has taken a dive in popularity. While this may be the case in some circles, for those of us who got into lifting weights in hopes of attaining muscular arms that resemble those of a superhero, doing direct bicep and tricep work will never go out of style.

Having big, muscular arms that stretch your shirtsleeves will never go out of style either, so let's take a look at a few strategies that you can use to jumpstart your tricep growth.

The 6 Best Triceps Exercises

Dumbbell Triceps Extension
Weighted dips
Skull crushers
Close Grip Bench Press
Triceps Dips
Barbell Lying Triceps Extension

Triceps Training Tips
Here’s where I’ll share all the tips, tid-bits, pointers, hints and tricks that are particular to triceps training…

…This includes everything from general suggestions to very specific and seemingly trivial details – Anything that can give you a leg up.

Tip #1: Grip Width for Barbell Triceps Exercises

Use a shoulder-width or slightly narrower grip for all barbell triceps exercises.

Lots of folks go too narrow because they think it will work their triceps better. However, that’s just not the case. A shoulder-width or slightly narrower grip provides at least as much triceps stimulation.

Using grip width that’s too narrow places undue stress on your wrist and shoulder joints. Not to mention, you can’t lift nearly as much weight.

Tip #2: Scapular Health

Poor scapular (shoulder blades) health can indirectly slow down your triceps gains. Good scapular health is necessary to perform most triceps exercises properly and safely.

Tip #3: Posture

Maintain a neutral spine during triceps training. Don’t arch or extend your back, or otherwise modify your posture or stance in such a way that helps you lift more.

You’re not doing Olympic lifts, training your bench press or doing other power movements. You are simply doing triceps exercises.

Your main goal is to stimulate the triceps as effectively as possible. Modifying your posture or stance to maximize how much you can lift – even if done in a way that isn’t unsafe or blatantly cheating – detracts from this goal.

Tip #4: Elbows In

You’ll target your triceps more effectively by tucking, or rotating your elbows in, on every triceps exercise.

It’s common for trainees to flare their elbows out to the sides like “chicken wings.”

This diverts the focus from the triceps to other muscles (e.g. chest, deltoids) and puts excess stress on your shoulder joints.

Tip #5: Prioritize Compounds

The best approach for training your triceps is to prioritize the compound triceps exercises (e.g. close grip bench press) over the isolation triceps exercises (e.g. triceps extensions).

This way you maximize the extent to which you can stimulate and overload the triceps muscles.

You wouldn’t be able to lift nearly as much on the compounds if you did isolation exercises first…

…Obviously doing compounds before isolation movements reduces how much you can lift on the isolation movements. But your overall potential for overloading the triceps is much greater than doing isolation work first.

Tip #6: Prioritize Triceps Training

Just as it’s generally better to prioritize compound triceps exercises over their isolation counterparts, prioritizing triceps training over training for other muscle groups can be similarly beneficial.

For example, if you have a dedicated arms workout day, then you could set it up in such a way that you do triceps exercises before biceps and delts. This way you’re fresher, more energized and stronger when training triceps.

Whereas, you’d be tired and your triceps would be partially fatigued if you worked your triceps last. As a result you’d be weaker and less able to sufficiently overload your triceps.