T Nation

Improving Tricep Strength and Activity


#1

Hello CT,

At the moment my bench press gets stronger. That should also be the case in the future :stuck_out_tongue:
I feel like a more active tricep ( in my bench press ) and a stronger, more powerful tricep will help me.

Do you have any tricep building and strengthening tips?

My chest is very active in my pressing motions even overhead, so during a close grip bench or even at lock outs (bench) I feel my pecs more than my triceps working. I have the same problem with dips. I don’t feel my tricep working in exercises like tricep push downs. I can’t do tricep extensions with barbells because my left wrist is injured, I need to use dumbbells (they are good). I also can’t use a extremely close grip due to my injured wrist.

Got some tips for me in this case?

Thanks in advance as always! :slight_smile:


#2

[quote]Akidara wrote:
Hello CT,

At the moment my bench press gets stronger. That should also be the case in the future :stuck_out_tongue:
I feel like a more active tricep ( in my bench press ) and a stronger, more powerful tricep will help me.

Do you have any tricep building and strengthening tips?

My chest is very active in my pressing motions even overhead, so during a close grip bench or even at lock outs (bench) I feel my pecs more than my triceps working. I have the same problem with dips. I don’t feel my tricep working in exercises like tricep push downs. I can’t do tricep extensions with barbells because my left wrist is injured, I need to use dumbbells (they are good). I also can’t use a extremely close grip due to my injured wrist.

Got some tips for me in this case?

Thanks in advance as always! :slight_smile: [/quote]

I’ll let coach give the you A+ advice, but it sounds like you are just chest dominant and your triceps are weak (compared to your pecs). If you don’t feel your triceps working during tricep pushdowns, then you might be doing them incorrectly. Assuming you aren’t just keep at it. Prioritize your triceps. I am the opposite, I’m tricep dominant compared to my chest, but I can tell you that my favorite exercises (albeit a little different than the normally prescribed board presses etc) are overhead DB extensions, tricep pushdowns, and push presses. As for dips, to make them more tricep orientated make sure you are as upright as possible and don’t go all the way down. Imagine trying to keep constant tension on your triceps.


#3

[quote]daltron wrote:

[quote]Akidara wrote:
Hello CT,

At the moment my bench press gets stronger. That should also be the case in the future :stuck_out_tongue:
I feel like a more active tricep ( in my bench press ) and a stronger, more powerful tricep will help me.

Do you have any tricep building and strengthening tips?

My chest is very active in my pressing motions even overhead, so during a close grip bench or even at lock outs (bench) I feel my pecs more than my triceps working. I have the same problem with dips. I don’t feel my tricep working in exercises like tricep push downs. I can’t do tricep extensions with barbells because my left wrist is injured, I need to use dumbbells (they are good). I also can’t use a extremely close grip due to my injured wrist.

Got some tips for me in this case?

Thanks in advance as always! :slight_smile: [/quote]

I’ll let coach give the you A+ advice, but it sounds like you are just chest dominant and your triceps are weak (compared to your pecs). If you don’t feel your triceps working during tricep pushdowns, then you might be doing them incorrectly. Assuming you aren’t just keep at it. Prioritize your triceps. I am the opposite, I’m tricep dominant compared to my chest, but I can tell you that my favorite exercises (albeit a little different than the normally prescribed board presses etc) are overhead DB extensions, tricep pushdowns, and push presses. As for dips, to make them more tricep orientated make sure you are as upright as possible and don’t go all the way down. Imagine trying to keep constant tension on your triceps. [/quote]

Yes, I also believe that I am a chest dominat presser! Compared to my pecs, my triceps are for sure weaker. However for a long pressing live, I need to involve more my tricep. I don’t want to suffer from a pec tear.
I already try to prioritize my tricep work. With tricep push downs it’s not like I don’t feel anything in my triceps, I just have the feeling this exercise will never work for me so well and give me the triceps I want.
Regarding the dips, I remember reading an article by Charles poliquin where he says you always should make a full dip for the tricep otherwise you waste your time. ( I think he was talking about the stretch for the tricep)
I will experiment more with the exercises (angle, grip, range of motion) and try dumbbell overhead extensions.

Thank you for your response! :slight_smile:


#4

[quote]Akidara wrote:

[quote]daltron wrote:

[quote]Akidara wrote:
Hello CT,

At the moment my bench press gets stronger. That should also be the case in the future :stuck_out_tongue:
I feel like a more active tricep ( in my bench press ) and a stronger, more powerful tricep will help me.

Do you have any tricep building and strengthening tips?

My chest is very active in my pressing motions even overhead, so during a close grip bench or even at lock outs (bench) I feel my pecs more than my triceps working. I have the same problem with dips. I don’t feel my tricep working in exercises like tricep push downs. I can’t do tricep extensions with barbells because my left wrist is injured, I need to use dumbbells (they are good). I also can’t use a extremely close grip due to my injured wrist.

Got some tips for me in this case?

Thanks in advance as always! :slight_smile: [/quote]

I’ll let coach give the you A+ advice, but it sounds like you are just chest dominant and your triceps are weak (compared to your pecs). If you don’t feel your triceps working during tricep pushdowns, then you might be doing them incorrectly. Assuming you aren’t just keep at it. Prioritize your triceps. I am the opposite, I’m tricep dominant compared to my chest, but I can tell you that my favorite exercises (albeit a little different than the normally prescribed board presses etc) are overhead DB extensions, tricep pushdowns, and push presses. As for dips, to make them more tricep orientated make sure you are as upright as possible and don’t go all the way down. Imagine trying to keep constant tension on your triceps. [/quote]

Yes, I also believe that I am a chest dominat presser! Compared to my pecs, my triceps are for sure weaker. However for a long pressing live, I need to involve more my tricep. I don’t want to suffer from a pec tear.
I already try to prioritize my tricep work. With tricep push downs it’s not like I don’t feel anything in my triceps, I just have the feeling this exercise will never work for me so well and give me the triceps I want.
Regarding the dips, I remember reading an article by Charles poliquin where he says you always should make a full dip for the tricep otherwise you waste your time. ( I think he was talking about the stretch for the tricep)
I will experiment more with the exercises (angle, grip, range of motion) and try dumbbell overhead extensions.

Thank you for your response! :slight_smile: [/quote]

Yeah, and don’t be afraid to experiment with loading, too. It could just be what works for me, but I really respond to sets of 6-8 on tricep movements.

Thanks for the Poliquin tip!


#5

Seated half press from the pins, heavy as you can go for sets of 3. This has really helped with my tricep strength and has really had a positive impact on my lock out strength in both military press and bench, also finishing off sessions with close hand press ups, 3 sets to failure has put meat on my triceps.


#6

[quote]kd13 wrote:
Seated half press from the pins, heavy as you can go for sets of 3. This has really helped with my tricep strength and has really had a positive impact on my lock out strength in both military press and bench, also finishing off sessions with close hand press ups, 3 sets to failure has put meat on my triceps. [/quote]

Thanks for your input, I will use it and see how it works for me


#7

[quote]Akidara wrote:

[quote]kd13 wrote:
Seated half press from the pins, heavy as you can go for sets of 3. This has really helped with my tricep strength and has really had a positive impact on my lock out strength in both military press and bench, also finishing off sessions with close hand press ups, 3 sets to failure has put meat on my triceps. [/quote]

Thanks for your input, I will use it and see how it works for me [/quote]

Yeah, anything close-grip and ONLY last part of the ROM such as the last 1/3 or even 1/4 and HEAVY works really well for me. But I would just have it as a horizontal press from pins. I think you can use more weight horizontal. It will also teach you to holding much heavier weights in your hands.


#8

[quote]Norcient wrote:

[quote]Akidara wrote:

[quote]kd13 wrote:
Seated half press from the pins, heavy as you can go for sets of 3. This has really helped with my tricep strength and has really had a positive impact on my lock out strength in both military press and bench, also finishing off sessions with close hand press ups, 3 sets to failure has put meat on my triceps. [/quote]

Thanks for your input, I will use it and see how it works for me [/quote]

Yeah, anything close-grip and ONLY last part of the ROM such as the last 1/3 or even 1/4 and HEAVY works really well for me. But I would just have it as a horizontal press from pins. I think you can use more weight horizontal. It will also teach you to holding much heavier weights in your hands.[/quote]

Thanks for your advice.

As far for musle building wouldn’t it be “better” to do the overhead half presses and close grip half presses NOT from pins? Or what are the advantages for pin presses ? I can only think of "starting strength " and less “soreness”.


#9

I usually set up with the bar set up just very slightly above forehead level. Pressing from the dead stop with the shorter range of motion allows you to use more weight, I can’t full range military 110kg for a single, but can half press that for 3+ clean reps for a few sets. This is a fair amount of overload on your triceps. Can’t remember which strength coach recommended them as the best tricep builder there is.

Would love to hear what coach would advise.


#10

[quote]kd13 wrote:
Can’t remember which strength coach recommended them as the best tricep builder there is.

[/quote]

It was Charles Poliquin


#11

It’s almost a 2 part question. You want a more active triceps (implying a better mind-muscle connection and development) and a stronger triceps (implying better recruitment).

While I love top half presses either overhead, incline, decline or flat and they ARE great triceps strength movements. I feel that if your triceps is lagging they might not be the best solution, especially not if your mind-muscle connection with the triceps is bad.

I see 2 specific issues with these movements in your case:

  1. If your mind-muscle connection with your triceps is bad, and if they are your weakest pressing muscle, any pressing exercise will tend to shift the tension to other muscle groups (chest or shoulders). YES the reduced range of motion puts more stress on the triceps but the other pressing muscles can still compensate, especially the deltoids.

I find that top half presses are very effective to build triceps strength IF YOU ARE ALREADY GOOD AT USING THEM.

I’ll use myself as an example. Triceps use to be one of my better muscles. Top half press worked amazingly well and were a huge part of taking my bench press up to 445 at the time.

When I began training on gymnastic rings a few years ago I trained something in my elbow and ever since that happened I lost some contraction capacity in my right triceps. I’ve done top half press since then and they didn’t help at all. I could feel all the stress being take up by my right shoulder and the left side followed along, which made the movement ineffective as a triceps builder for me.

If you have a hard time utilizing your triceps to the fullest in heavy pressing movement or if your mind-muscle connection with the triceps isn’t that good, the top half press will not help you much.

  1. I now tend to try to avoid adding more heavy exercises to a program already based on tons of heavy movements. If you are doing several heavy pressing exercises already, adding one more, even if it’s a partial ROM, could lead to stagnation or even regression via neural fatigue. Or it could eventually lead to soft tissue injuries. Unless you are genetically designed for heavy work (super thick joints for example) adding more and more heavy work will rarely be an effective solution.

Now if the partial presses replace another heavy pressing exercise that’s fine. But you can’t simply add one more heavy lift to a program already loaded with them.

I don’t know what you do in your program at the moment. But the solution could be as simple as adding isolation work for the triceps. Make them bigger and improve your capacity to contract them and they will gradually become more and more integrated in your heavy lifts.


#12

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:
It’s almost a 2 part question. You want a more active triceps (implying a better mind-muscle connection and development) and a stronger triceps (implying better recruitment).

While I love top half presses either overhead, incline, decline or flat and they ARE great triceps strength movements. I feel that if your triceps is lagging they might not be the best solution, especially not if your mind-muscle connection with the triceps is bad.

I see 2 specific issues with these movements in your case:

  1. If your mind-muscle connection with your triceps is bad, and if they are your weakest pressing muscle, any pressing exercise will tend to shift the tension to other muscle groups (chest or shoulders). YES the reduced range of motion puts more stress on the triceps but the other pressing muscles can still compensate, especially the deltoids.

I find that top half presses are very effective to build triceps strength IF YOU ARE ALREADY GOOD AT USING THEM.

I’ll use myself as an example. Triceps use to be one of my better muscles. Top half press worked amazingly well and were a huge part of taking my bench press up to 445 at the time.

When I began training on gymnastic rings a few years ago I trained something in my elbow and ever since that happened I lost some contraction capacity in my right triceps. I’ve done top half press since then and they didn’t help at all. I could feel all the stress being take up by my right shoulder and the left side followed along, which made the movement ineffective as a triceps builder for me.

If you have a hard time utilizing your triceps to the fullest in heavy pressing movement or if your mind-muscle connection with the triceps isn’t that good, the top half press will not help you much.

  1. I now tend to try to avoid adding more heavy exercises to a program already based on tons of heavy movements. If you are doing several heavy pressing exercises already, adding one more, even if it’s a partial ROM, could lead to stagnation or even regression via neural fatigue. Or it could eventually lead to soft tissue injuries. Unless you are genetically designed for heavy work (super thick joints for example) adding more and more heavy work will rarely be an effective solution.

Now if the partial presses replace another heavy pressing exercise that’s fine. But you can’t simply add one more heavy lift to a program already loaded with them.

I don’t know what you do in your program at the moment. But the solution could be as simple as adding isolation work for the triceps. Make them bigger and improve your capacity to contract them and they will gradually become more and more integrated in your heavy lifts.[/quote]

Thanks for your detailed response. I will add the top half presses into my training but I will keep your advice about “shifting the tension to other muscle groups” and the danger of too “many heavy pressing movements” in mind and see what will happen with my body. Since my actual training is based on “westside” I will keep adding some isolation tricep exercises, and play a bit with “double stimulation” for my tricep and follow your advice and see how it works:)
Thanks CT!


#13

[quote]Akidara wrote:

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:
It’s almost a 2 part question. You want a more active triceps (implying a better mind-muscle connection and development) and a stronger triceps (implying better recruitment).

While I love top half presses either overhead, incline, decline or flat and they ARE great triceps strength movements. I feel that if your triceps is lagging they might not be the best solution, especially not if your mind-muscle connection with the triceps is bad.

I see 2 specific issues with these movements in your case:

  1. If your mind-muscle connection with your triceps is bad, and if they are your weakest pressing muscle, any pressing exercise will tend to shift the tension to other muscle groups (chest or shoulders). YES the reduced range of motion puts more stress on the triceps but the other pressing muscles can still compensate, especially the deltoids.

I find that top half presses are very effective to build triceps strength IF YOU ARE ALREADY GOOD AT USING THEM.

I’ll use myself as an example. Triceps use to be one of my better muscles. Top half press worked amazingly well and were a huge part of taking my bench press up to 445 at the time.

When I began training on gymnastic rings a few years ago I trained something in my elbow and ever since that happened I lost some contraction capacity in my right triceps. I’ve done top half press since then and they didn’t help at all. I could feel all the stress being take up by my right shoulder and the left side followed along, which made the movement ineffective as a triceps builder for me.

If you have a hard time utilizing your triceps to the fullest in heavy pressing movement or if your mind-muscle connection with the triceps isn’t that good, the top half press will not help you much.

  1. I now tend to try to avoid adding more heavy exercises to a program already based on tons of heavy movements. If you are doing several heavy pressing exercises already, adding one more, even if it’s a partial ROM, could lead to stagnation or even regression via neural fatigue. Or it could eventually lead to soft tissue injuries. Unless you are genetically designed for heavy work (super thick joints for example) adding more and more heavy work will rarely be an effective solution.

Now if the partial presses replace another heavy pressing exercise that’s fine. But you can’t simply add one more heavy lift to a program already loaded with them.

I don’t know what you do in your program at the moment. But the solution could be as simple as adding isolation work for the triceps. Make them bigger and improve your capacity to contract them and they will gradually become more and more integrated in your heavy lifts.[/quote]

Thanks for your detailed response. I will add the top half presses into my training but I will keep your advice about “shifting the tension to other muscle groups” and the danger of too “many heavy pressing movements” in mind and see what will happen with my body. Since my actual training is based on “westside” I will keep adding some isolation tricep exercises, and play a bit with “double stimulation” for my tricep and follow your advice and see how it works:)
Thanks CT!
[/quote]

How is that “following my advice” since you are basically doing the opposite of what I recommended? The Westside approach is already very neurologically draining (I couldn’t handle it myself) so just “adding stuff to it” is about the worst way of solving an issue.


#14

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:

[quote]Akidara wrote:

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:
It’s almost a 2 part question. You want a more active triceps (implying a better mind-muscle connection and development) and a stronger triceps (implying better recruitment).

While I love top half presses either overhead, incline, decline or flat and they ARE great triceps strength movements. I feel that if your triceps is lagging they might not be the best solution, especially not if your mind-muscle connection with the triceps is bad.

I see 2 specific issues with these movements in your case:

  1. If your mind-muscle connection with your triceps is bad, and if they are your weakest pressing muscle, any pressing exercise will tend to shift the tension to other muscle groups (chest or shoulders). YES the reduced range of motion puts more stress on the triceps but the other pressing muscles can still compensate, especially the deltoids.

I find that top half presses are very effective to build triceps strength IF YOU ARE ALREADY GOOD AT USING THEM.

I’ll use myself as an example. Triceps use to be one of my better muscles. Top half press worked amazingly well and were a huge part of taking my bench press up to 445 at the time.

When I began training on gymnastic rings a few years ago I trained something in my elbow and ever since that happened I lost some contraction capacity in my right triceps. I’ve done top half press since then and they didn’t help at all. I could feel all the stress being take up by my right shoulder and the left side followed along, which made the movement ineffective as a triceps builder for me.

If you have a hard time utilizing your triceps to the fullest in heavy pressing movement or if your mind-muscle connection with the triceps isn’t that good, the top half press will not help you much.

  1. I now tend to try to avoid adding more heavy exercises to a program already based on tons of heavy movements. If you are doing several heavy pressing exercises already, adding one more, even if it’s a partial ROM, could lead to stagnation or even regression via neural fatigue. Or it could eventually lead to soft tissue injuries. Unless you are genetically designed for heavy work (super thick joints for example) adding more and more heavy work will rarely be an effective solution.

Now if the partial presses replace another heavy pressing exercise that’s fine. But you can’t simply add one more heavy lift to a program already loaded with them.

I don’t know what you do in your program at the moment. But the solution could be as simple as adding isolation work for the triceps. Make them bigger and improve your capacity to contract them and they will gradually become more and more integrated in your heavy lifts.[/quote]

Thanks for your detailed response. I will add the top half presses into my training but I will keep your advice about “shifting the tension to other muscle groups” and the danger of too “many heavy pressing movements” in mind and see what will happen with my body. Since my actual training is based on “westside” I will keep adding some isolation tricep exercises, and play a bit with “double stimulation” for my tricep and follow your advice and see how it works:)
Thanks CT!
[/quote]

How is that “following my advice” since you are basically doing the opposite of what I recommended? The Westside approach is already very neurologically draining (I couldn’t handle it myself) so just “adding stuff to it” is about the worst way of solving an issue.
[/quote]

As far as I understand it I follow your advice. Since I can choose my RE work based on what I need I can add more tricep sets and a new tricep exercises and remove some other exercises. On my extra training days (where you don’t do max effort or dynamic effort) I do often back and legs/arms/abs. Instead of doing so many sets for back I can simply reduce them and train now my tricep in that time?
I can use the half presses after my max effort exercises as heavy assistance exercises (instead of incline or floor presses) or with light weight for high reps as RE exercise ?


#15

[quote]Akidara wrote:

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:

[quote]Akidara wrote:

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:
It’s almost a 2 part question. You want a more active triceps (implying a better mind-muscle connection and development) and a stronger triceps (implying better recruitment).

While I love top half presses either overhead, incline, decline or flat and they ARE great triceps strength movements. I feel that if your triceps is lagging they might not be the best solution, especially not if your mind-muscle connection with the triceps is bad.

I see 2 specific issues with these movements in your case:

  1. If your mind-muscle connection with your triceps is bad, and if they are your weakest pressing muscle, any pressing exercise will tend to shift the tension to other muscle groups (chest or shoulders). YES the reduced range of motion puts more stress on the triceps but the other pressing muscles can still compensate, especially the deltoids.

I find that top half presses are very effective to build triceps strength IF YOU ARE ALREADY GOOD AT USING THEM.

I’ll use myself as an example. Triceps use to be one of my better muscles. Top half press worked amazingly well and were a huge part of taking my bench press up to 445 at the time.

When I began training on gymnastic rings a few years ago I trained something in my elbow and ever since that happened I lost some contraction capacity in my right triceps. I’ve done top half press since then and they didn’t help at all. I could feel all the stress being take up by my right shoulder and the left side followed along, which made the movement ineffective as a triceps builder for me.

If you have a hard time utilizing your triceps to the fullest in heavy pressing movement or if your mind-muscle connection with the triceps isn’t that good, the top half press will not help you much.

  1. I now tend to try to avoid adding more heavy exercises to a program already based on tons of heavy movements. If you are doing several heavy pressing exercises already, adding one more, even if it’s a partial ROM, could lead to stagnation or even regression via neural fatigue. Or it could eventually lead to soft tissue injuries. Unless you are genetically designed for heavy work (super thick joints for example) adding more and more heavy work will rarely be an effective solution.

Now if the partial presses replace another heavy pressing exercise that’s fine. But you can’t simply add one more heavy lift to a program already loaded with them.

I don’t know what you do in your program at the moment. But the solution could be as simple as adding isolation work for the triceps. Make them bigger and improve your capacity to contract them and they will gradually become more and more integrated in your heavy lifts.[/quote]

Thanks for your detailed response. I will add the top half presses into my training but I will keep your advice about “shifting the tension to other muscle groups” and the danger of too “many heavy pressing movements” in mind and see what will happen with my body. Since my actual training is based on “westside” I will keep adding some isolation tricep exercises, and play a bit with “double stimulation” for my tricep and follow your advice and see how it works:)
Thanks CT!
[/quote]

How is that “following my advice” since you are basically doing the opposite of what I recommended? The Westside approach is already very neurologically draining (I couldn’t handle it myself) so just “adding stuff to it” is about the worst way of solving an issue.
[/quote]

As far as I understand it I follow your advice. Since I can choose my RE work based on what I need I can add more tricep sets and a new tricep exercises and remove some other exercises. On my extra training days (where you don’t do max effort or dynamic effort) I do often back and legs/arms/abs. Instead of doing so many sets for back I can simply reduce them and train now my tricep in that time?
I can use the half presses after my max effort exercises as heavy assistance exercises (instead of incline or floor presses) or with light weight for high reps as RE exercise ?
[/quote]

Ok, I didn’t get the point where you would use the top half press INSTEAD of another heavy press. My mistake.


#16

Since the original question, my arm and especially my triceps got bigger, and the close grip is now my ‘‘to-go’’ grip for pressing. I do 3 , 2sec pauses on the concentric portion of the bench, one at the bottom, one mid-range and one near the lockout, I typically start to fail my reps at mid-point or lockout. Is this due to a weak triceps or because my arms get exhausted since they need to do an majority of work, since my leg drive and back cant contribute anymore to completing the rep ?