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Triceps Assistance for Bench


Hello everyone,

I would like to know what kind of triceps assistance should I do to improve my benching ?

Actually, I try to have one pushdown variation (band or cable extension for example) and one 'compound lockout' variation (top-half bench, close-grip bench, half-dips...).
What do you think ? Are these good variations ?
Should I rotate between variation every workouts or keep with the same months after months ?

And what about an overhead extension variation ?

Thank you.


Your question can't adequately be answered until you give very specific details about your current training program. Share your plan for the last 3 months, including prograss, frequency, etc.


Hi !

I've been training with 5/3/1 for the last 3 months.

I use the 2x2x2 template, it is very similar to the 5/3/1 for busy men (http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/effective_training_for_busy_men_1&cr=) :

Day 1
Squat 5/3/1
Squat variation
post chain variation (SLDL, leg curls, GHR...)

Day 2
Bench 5/3/1
Press variation
triceps pushdown + lockout

Day 3
DL 5/3/1
Squat variation
post chain variation (SLDL, leg curls, GHR...)

Day 4
Press 5/3/1
Bench variation
triceps pushdown + lockout

I train 2-4 times/week depending of job or family life, rotating workout 1 to 4 no matter the frequency.
I rotate between 5x10 and 5's for compound movements variations.
I do 3 sets of 6-12 reps or a total of 50 reps for triceps and sometimes for biceps, calves, etc...for fun.



Are you wanting a stronger lockout or bigger triceps?


both :wink:

Seriously, my weak point is at lockout, especially on my right arm (!).



Post a video I used to believe I was terribly weak at my lock out and I constantly hammered it and nothing ever paid of for it. Then I started working with Adrian Larsen on my technique and turns out i was really slow off my chest. This was causing my triceps and front delts to push with everything they had to make up for being weak off the chest which caused them to be burned out by the time I got to the lockout making it appear that my lockout out was week. Focused on DB Presses and off the chest presses for barely a month and boom a 10lbs PR for 350 at 198 in November. Not saying its the same boat but, chances are if one arms is having a far more difficult time locking out it is probably a technique issue rather than a lockout issue. Take this with a grain of salt I am a shitty presser


You shouldnt have an uneven lock out like that, like being able to say one arm is weaker than the other. Most likely a technique flaw, and a video of your benching would do the most good. But to give you a general answer for tricep size and strength, I've got alot out of close grip benching and weighted dips.


Have you ever tried the Tate Press? It's a dumbbell extension done with the elbows out to the side. You start with the dumbbells on your chest, but squeezed together. With elbows out, you extend while you squeeze the dumbbells together. They kinda roll against each other. You work the tri's, but you also need to use chest and biceps to squeeze the dumbbells together. To me, it feels very similar to locking out the bench press.

Can you tell me a little more about your speed off the chest training?

I've been doing paused benches and wide grip benches for the last 5-6 weeks. I "feel strong" off my chest, but it seems like I'm getting a little slower each week.
-Did you make any special effort to move the dumbbells "fast?"
-What's an off the chest press? Like from the rack or stopping an inch off the chest?


I don't think it really matters, honestly. If you want to have stronger triceps, you need to increase the volume of triceps work and grow the muscle. Combine that with heavy compounds like NG presses and you get the benefit of muscle activation through load as well. So sounds like you're already doing what you need to be doing. This assumes your triceps training stimulus is increasing over time.

A good variation I use all the time that I never see mentioned is the pullover/ext with dumbells. It's elbow friendly because you use a neutral grip, and it hits both heads of the triceps instead of just one like push downs.

I don't think band pressdowns should be thought of as triceps builders. They are good for recovery, but they just aren't enough of a stressor to cause much growth unless you're doing thousands of reps.


Having a weaker side isn't uncommon, but my speculation is you just need to get stronger overall. 3 second pauses and close grip bench are great accessories, but don't major in the minors. Everyone has a weak point. When you strengthen it, then you will just have a different weak point. Get stronger everywhere.


Heavy Triple:
Every rep I do is to be pressed as quickly as possible from the bar to work sets. Also have a speed bench day that is followed by shoulders and OHP. Something I have not give n much attention to due to shoulder problems. But, I doing it to the best of my ability even if ROM is cut on certain moves.

My accessories have all been switched to incline versions and DB versions of the bench. Normal bench session now is

Movement 1
Bench : prescribed reps have a rep day alt with heavy day.

Movement 2: 3-4 sets of 8-12
Incline Spoto Presses Pressed as explosively as possibly every rep stopping when reps have slowed down excessively.

Or Incline DB Press with the db lowered as low as possible. I try to drop just a smidge lower than I can with a barbell as to lengthen the movement kinda like a deficit deadlift for the bench

Movement 3: 3 sets of 10-15
Low Incline DB Flye with hard stretch and pause at bottom.

Flat Flyes Same as above.

Follow up with triceps

Speed Day
Movement 1
Essentially CAT Bench 60% 5x5 same as my squats

Movement 2: 3x5-8
Off Chest or Dead Stop Presses. Essentially a pin press set as low to chest as rack will allow.


Very Long Pause Presses

Movement 3:
JM Presses


Dips with feet to the front.

Follow up with some triceps.


All speed! No sticking points!

I know this will be a difficult question to answer, but how strong or experienced do you feel you need to be to get any benefit out of the CAT benching?

Thanks for the detailed info on your routine.


It is going to vary greatly person to person honestly. But, if I had to put a comfortable number on it I'd say you should be able to rep your BW for atleast a 5 reps unless you are big guy. Maybe a bad example. But I have seen it used successfully with people with as low as 230 bench mind you the guy weighed 150 and was still relative beginner. But CAT is slightly different than just your normal speed work and I find it much more effective. I also find it a lot easier to learn for Squats and Deadlift. Bench Pressing for Speed sets took me a while to get down because I would accelerate so fast the bar would pull me off the bench when I got to lock out because I would have to almost hold the bar so it wouldn't fly out of my hands if they makes sense. Might be a lot easier to learn with 70% for 6-8 sets of 3.


GREAT answer, great explanation. Thanks again!


Reverse grip, JM press, strict close grip press ups.

For single joint excercises just find a move that you can get a lot of reps with without pissing off your elbows. This is a good one...


Thanks to everyone for your answers.
This really helps.

this is exactly the exercise I actually do with bands. Less reps, indeed !

Happy new year,


Hey Mat how did you find the half dips for triceps I presume your talking about parallel bar dips and did it make a difference using half rep as apposed to full reps ?



I always feel DOMS on my long head the next days with this exercise...
But it is very taxing, so be carefull about recovery. I found that my bench suffers if I don't rotate dips with another compund exercise.

it is much, much more shoulder-friendly !



Reed, I wish I could do a ton of incline work. I love it and believe it has infinitely better carryover than pressing, but my shoulders just don't tolerate it. When I hurt my rotator cuff for the 9000 time this past training block after bringing incline and overhead work back into my routine I basically decided that was seriously done with it. But damn I love inclines.


I am just now recently doing them and it has taken me a good while to be able too. I have to due them really close grip, thumbless, and stop a little before my chest in order to stay pain free. But I can tell they are helping.