Can anybody tell me a good tricep-specific lift that will take some stress off of my elbows and/or shoulders?
Various versions of triceps pressdowns/pushdowns should be fine provided you use good form. Seated overhead French presses (one arm at a time the other arm holding the working elbow close to your head) work well too.
For me, skullcrushers (lying triceps extensions) cause much elbow pain/problems whether using an EZ bar or dumbbells. However, I have no problems with dips or close-grip bench presses.
I prefer to start with a heavy compound movement for 4-6 sets of 4-6 reps followed by some isolation exercises such as straight-bar pushdowns or v-bar pressdowns or reverse grip pressdowns for 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps.
And believe it or not, even triceps kickbacks come in handy at the end of your triceps routine if you want to get a good muscle pump. But you really have to watch your form when doing them otherwise, they are not that effective.
One other tip: I’ve found that arms respond well to certain intensity techniques like drop sets, compound sets or tri-sets. This also keeps your workout short and gives you an incredible pump.
For example (using a heavy exercise performed in straight sets followed by two exercises done as a superset):
A) Close-grip Bench presses
4 sets of 6 reps
60 sec rest period
B1) Decline dumbbell triceps extensions
4 sets of 8-10
B2) Triceps pushdowns
4 sets of 12-15
45 sec rest period
Heavy extensions always seem to aggravate my joints (wrists/elbows), but I’ve found heavy pressing to be fine. For example close-grip bench and board presses.
I also like high rep band pressdowns. I assume cables would work just as well, but I train in my garage so I don’t have access to cables.
Just try a variety of movements and see which ones don’t cause pain for you.
Very Good Nate. Good stuff.
Heavy skull crushers can go a little rough on my elbows too, but if I change em to presses I’m fine. Also standing overhead presses with a high cable and EZ Curl handle work well for me in place of French presses. You just have to make sure you lean forward enough and keep your elbows in and up by your ears.
You can also avoid locking out your elbows, and for tricep extension let your elbows flare out naturally if you have an elbow issue.
I’ve become very partial to JM presses. Basically a close grip bench, but you come down over your throat. reverse direction about two inches above the throat. When pushing out focus on leading with the fists rather than pulling with the elbows. This change of focus really makes a difference.
And remember - no bouncing the weight!