T Nation

Tricep Isolation


I've been trying to work more on building up my triceps more and I've added more isolation lifts rather than compounds (e.i. db bench) to try and add a little more size and shape to my body, namely the scrawny patch of skin on the back of my arm. I've definitely made improvements as far as size and strength but I have a really hard time getting a pump rather than just fatigue in my triceps.

also i have been trying to fiddle around with lifts to put minimal stress on my shoulders which tend to come into play on most of the lifts I've been using. Right now I do some combination of

Tri Ext with rope att.
Reverse grip barbell press
Overhead db extension

I'm looking for any exercises that people have had success with that really isolate the tricep and allow for a good pump if possible. or any advice on lifts I'm already using that i should relentlessly pursue and keep in my routines over time due to their quality.


take a curved bar, EZ-style or horseshoe, ge on a cable, put it so that the bar is behind your head, bend all the way down and perform extensions.

reverse grip benching on the smith is good too. and of course CG benching.

i like weighted dips too


Thats the name of the game though...........fatigue, not pump. Im not saying pump has NOTHING to do with growth, but fatigue and progressive overload are far more important. In my opinion your doing things right so far.


I HIGHLY suggest focusing on tempo!.
A. Weighted(or non-weighted, if you aren't strong enough etc) dips. Use a 40X1 tempo. So 4 second negative, no pause at bottom, explode up and squeeze for 1 sec. Do this as the first tri exercise that hits ALL 3 heads well. Do maybe 5 sets.

B. DB tricep extensions 4-5 sets or 8-10 reps, but slightly diff tempo. More controlled on the concentric, i.e 3021.

C.Rope pushdowns, with a 2 sec peak contraction.

If you follow an arms routine, alt each exercise with a Bicep exercise, or do it after your other muscle group, if Back, Chest or Shoulders.

Using these exercises and tempos really brought my tri's up, rather than just moving the weights in the past.



PJR Pullovers FTW.


Ummm....isn't size and strength the goal though?


NO! Why would you ever think that?! Silly Sentoguy


I agree! I seriously wish my gym had DB's higher than 100s so I could have kept doing these, because they are AMAZING!


Tricep extension and pushdown. I find dumbbell extension awkward and potentially hazardous because of a jammed rotator cuff. Better fill a bag with some weight and let it slide down the back,get a really good stretch and then take it up. Bigger ROM.
I can't feel pressing much,and never do I get any DOMS from it.


If you want to minimise stress on your shoulders I wouldn't be doing dips.


Heavy lockout work, and tons of heavy benching and then a few isolation sets to pump up


Save all of your cable/machine work for your last finishing sets. Start off your tricep work with heavy skull crushers and the like.


PJR Pull Overs and Floor Presses have done wonders not only for size but Strength in my triceps, definitely recommend them. Reverse Grip BP is nice too.


PJR's, Smith RGB (DC style grip and form), IH-CGP, Free-weight CGP bringing the bar down higher than usual and with a just inside-shoulder-width grip... HS dips... Lying EZ Extensions bringing the bar down behind the head (on a bench to get more ROM) and letting it rest briefly on the bench, then push back up (not going all the way to vertical).

Get strong on basic tricep moves... Your tris won't magically grow 3 inches from doing kickbacks with the same weight for weeks on end.


An old friend of mine showed me one of the isolation movements they taught him in prison. He called it a kickout. It is good for a pump if done correctly.

Lie on a bench with a single dumbell. place your working arm across your chest like you would cross your arms with your palm facing your feet. Take your free hand and support your working arm at the bicep. Use your free hand to prevent your working arm from moving out of position and cheating the reps. Through the whole movement maintain your elbow in the center of your chest. Lower the dumbell down to the opposite side of your head and back up. Keeping the elbow centered will force your arm to stay at an angle and continuous tension. At the peak of the movement curl your wrist upwards and hold for a peak contraction for a second or two.


sounds good to me but if thats the case can anyone explain the difference between fatigue and pump as far as strength/size gains of any sort?

I tried some pjr's pullovers today and im definitely digging those. also i'm definitely going to play around with my tempo and do maybe some isometrics. i should have mentioned though that while i HAD made gains i was starting to plateau.

i think i'm going to play with my routine a little as far as tempo and overload but i guess there isnt a bunch of miracle exercises i didnt know about - guess i'll have to lift a couple weights before i get cannons


cc i have heard of people tearing pecs on pullovers, have u ever seen anything like that?


PJR's aren't a pec exercise though, but a triceps one. I haven't heard of anyone tearing a pec on them.


this will sound strange but for plain size through isolation try:

pushdowns: positive with both arms, and then negative really really really slow with only one arm. i did these for high reps (15-20) awhile ago and they helped me out and worked as a great finisher. even though relatively my triceps are those of a small child.


o yes i know i haard that since it activates the lats and chest a little it may result in a tear, that could be so wrong but ths what i have heard