T Nation

Cannot Develop Triceps


#1

I am a novice lifter with less than one years experience under the bar. I began training with machines PF style, then found T-Nation and exposure to the compounds and since then have not looked back.

Since I have started lifting, I have struggled to develop my triceps. I have spent hours troubleshooting, trying different exercises in different positions, hand positions, pre-exhaustion before pressing, intensity techniques, dropping the weight and intensely concentrating on mmc, you name it and I've tried it.

I've combed the Internet looking for ways to better recruit and teach the muscle to fire but it's been to no avail. I've started to believe that it could possibly be an inherent lack of muscular control there, as sometimes I can barely flex the damn things. I also think genetics come into play here, as my father has been lifting on and off throughout his life and very consistently for the last few years, and while he has good overall development the back of his arms are also flat.

I am in dire need of advice from somewhere who has been there before, not necessarily with the arms but with an unresponsive muscle that needed to be trained from the ground up, starting with simply teaching it to fire better and how to recruit it in basic movements.

Any constructive statements are welcome! I've been dealing with this issue for a while now and would practically kill to add some beef to the backs of my arms.


#2

When all else fails go for high volume or high frequency. (NOT both)


#3

don’t really see how you could do an elbow extension movement without the triceps firing unless your form is horrible.

Making sure I do at least one exercise that emphasises the long head every time I train my triceps has made a huge amount of difference. So PJRs, overhead stuff, shit like that.


#4

Train them for more than a year! What do you expect them to be like after this long? Keep pressing, heavy dipping and the odd isolation consistently and in 3 years time worry about stubborn parts.


#5

Try incline and decline skullcrushers.

Incline (slightly above flat) with the barbell dropped behind forehead should focus more on the triceps long head.

Decline (slightly below flat) with the bar to chin/neck area should focus more on lateral triceps.

If you do 3 x 8 on each with 90 seconds rest you will be blasting your arms.

Warm up well and stretch.


#6

i want to suggest a post-fatigue superset i’ve tried many times.

bodyweight dips to failure
then immediately
two arm dumbbell overhead extension to failure

3 sets.

then finish off with one arm dumbbell kickbacks. again 3 sets.


#7

My triceps grew just from doing a lot of standing barbell overhead presses.


#8

Rope pushdowns. Any kind of pushdown really.


#9

[quote]lcaxtmann wrote:
I am a novice lifter with less than one years experience under the bar. [/quote]

Learn patience, it will come in time.

What is your exact program?


#10

[quote]lcaxtmann wrote:
I am a novice lifter with less than one years experience under the bar.

Since I have started lifting, I have struggled to develop my triceps. I have spent hours troubleshooting, trying different exercises in different positions, hand positions, pre-exhaustion before pressing, intensity techniques, dropping the weight and intensely concentrating on mmc, you name it and I’ve tried it.
[/quote]

You answered your own question right here. You are a novice with not much experience and you are trying everything under the sun rather than find a decent novice program and sticking with it for a few years.


#11

[quote]spar4tee wrote:
Rope pushdowns. Any kind of pushdown really.[/quote]
These helped for me.

Since you’re new-ish, 2-3x a week, 3-4 sets of 15 should do you well. Just add weight over time.

Do this after your real work is done for the day.


#12

Can you miltary press 220x10? or bench 315x10?

If not Id work towards hitting them and you will have some decent tricep development


#13

[quote]PJS2010 wrote:
Can you miltary press 220x10? or bench 315x10?

If not Id work towards hitting them and you will have some decent tricep development[/quote]

Ya I imagine so…


#14

[quote]usmccds423 wrote:

[quote]PJS2010 wrote:
Can you miltary press 220x10? or bench 315x10?

If not Id work towards hitting them and you will have some decent tricep development[/quote]

Ya I imagine so…[/quote]

LOL.

Might as well tell the kid he’ll have decent triceps if he can bench press 600x1. After all, nobody who can do that has small triceps. What a useless comment. I get what you’re saying, that he should focus on heavy compound movements, but for a guy in his first year of lifting, I don’t believe this is a very effective thing to say.

I am curious how much you weigh, and at what height. If you’re just a really small guy, the answer is ‘eat more’. For guys with small arms, this is almost always the answer. The next answer is probably to stick to something for awhile. You listed about a dozen different advanced techniques you’ve used, and you’ve been lifting for less than a year. You haven’t given anything more than a month to work. That’s ridiculous. I’ve stuck to more or less the same training template, with subtle variations, for the last 3 years. I also rarely use anything more ‘advanced’ than a bicep/tricep superset. And I do that just to save time. You’re making this more complicated than it needs to be.


#15

[quote]flipcollar wrote:
I am curious how much you weigh, and at what height.[/quote]
This. I’ve lost count of how many 6’ 160-pound guys have had threads like, “I Need Bigger Arms, How Should I Train?”

And definitely agree with everyone that you’ve jumped around way too much in too short a time. Bodypart “shock” programs/techniques only work once your consistent training has actually gotten stagnant, and even then, the changes need to be focused. It’s not, 'try this, didn’t work in 9 days, try something else, didn’t work in 9 days, try something else, didn’t work…"


#16

I weigh around 180 at about 5’10".

I understand where you’re all coming from about needing to spend more time getting stronger, or that with such little experience I should be investing more time in the compounds and not majoring in the minors with all the intensity techniques… I don’t program in these techniques and I’m not using them constantly, and I’m not referring to using them in reference to my workouts. I’m illustrating that I’ve tried and tried to burn the shit out of my arms and cannot feel my triceps contract at all regardless of what I do with them.

I understand that where I’m at I shouldn’t be focusing on isolation much, I should be ditching the crazy direct arm workouts and be hammering my presses and dips as I do. What I’m saying is that I don’t feel like what’s going on with my tri’s is normal at all, or at the very least not the usual case.

The problem as I see it is not about my training age in relation to what I’m doing. I cannot get any response from my triceps regardless of how basic/intermediate/advanced the exercise/technique.


#17

I’m not asking why I can’t gain any size, I’m trying to figure out why I cannot feel my triceps contracting and relaxing on the most basic level.


#18

One more suggestion…

Do a few sets of decline bench press. It doesn’t have to be too heavy. Just “feel” how the bar path is kind of low on your chest. “Feel” how your elbows have to be lined up directly under your wrists. “Feel” the way that you are pressing the bar towards your feet, instead of just straight up. Almost like your pushing the bar along your belly. “Feel” how hard your upper back is working to keep your elbows in place, so the bar just doesn’t fall backwards onto your face. Press towards your feet, keep the elbows under the wrists, forearms vertical.

Now go to the flat bench and do some close grip bench presses. Nothing crazy close, maybe 1 finger on the smooth, or right on the edge on the inside of the knurling. Focus on tucking your elbows on the descent, and touch a little low on your chest. On the way up keep your elbows tucked, keep the bar low on your chest, and think about pushing the bar towards your feet.

You should feel like your pushing the bar up and towards your belly. Keep the elbows tucked, and the bar path low over your chest. The range of motion should feel long, and your should really be able to feel it in your tri’s. It will feel like you are pushing the bar at an angle, but in reality it will just be going straight up. Your triceps will have to work.

Sometimes you see people benching, and their chest/shoulders are stronger than their triceps. As they press, the bar drifts up, the wrists get cocked, and the elbows end up in front wrists. If you started on machines, it’s possible you are now using a lot of chest and delt and not enough tricep when you bench.


#19

[quote]lcaxtmann wrote:
I’m not asking why I can’t gain any size, I’m trying to figure out why I cannot feel my triceps contracting and relaxing on the most basic level. [/quote]

Actually, no. The title of this thread is ‘cannot DEVELOP triceps,’ not ‘cannot FEEL triceps’. That’s why you got the responses you did. You asked, specifically, how to develop your triceps. In your first post, you said you ‘want to add some beef to them.’ So forgive us for answering the question you asked, and not the question you meant to ask. -_-

On that note, I see only 2 directions this can go.

  1. You literally cannot feel your triceps contracting ‘on the most basic level’. This would indicate some sort of nerve damage, or worse, and you should seek professional help. That would be a doctor issue, not a T Nation issue.

  2. You exaggerate, and you can feel your triceps contracting when you extend your arm. What you really mean, if this is the case, is that you don’t believe the work you’re putting in is effectively stimulating the muscle fibers of the triceps. If this is the case, then I think the answers you’ve already received are satisfactory.


#20

[quote]FlatsFarmer wrote:

Now go to the flat bench and do some close grip bench presses. Nothing crazy close, maybe 1 finger on the smooth, or right on the edge on the inside of the knurling. [/quote]

This makes zero sense. The knurling is different on different bars. There are no standards for this. 1 finger on the smooth could potentially be several inches different, depending on the type of bars you have at your gym. This would be a very, very close grip on some bars at my gym, and not that close on others. We have at least 4 different knurling patterns on the bars at my gym, from 4 different manufacturers.