Essentials Components for Tricep Growth
Maximizing the time spent in the gym is important, especially for those who find that they are tight on time.
Trying to manage time while simultaneously ensuring that you are getting enough training volume to bring about change, can be challenging.
Common methods of time-saving include using restricted rest times, supersets, tri-sets, and giant sets which allow an individual to work through a greater amount of volume in a shorter time-frame.
This article will cover the best exercises & equipment, time under tension and will finish with an excellent 15-minute workout for building tricep size.
When it comes to exercise choice, the types of exercises you select should be based on the training goals that you currently have.
There are two categories of exercise that should be considered – compound and isolation exercises. While both are effective, they have unique uses and benefits in strength training.
Compound exercises are simply exercises that activate a range of muscles across a number of joints. Some examples of compound exercises include the deadlift, squat, and bench.
Meanwhile, isolation exercises focus on one muscle group across only one joint. Some examples of isolation exercises include the tricep pushdown, bicep curl and front raise.
While both types of exercises have been found to be beneficial for both strength and muscle hypertrophy (1), both have specific uses in resistance training.
Compound exercises will certainly be most beneficial in terms of pure strength development considering that it is possible to lift heavier loads with the majority of compound movements.
Isolation exercises are highly beneficial for ironing out any weakness and imbalances that may exist. They can also be used to target specific areas that are proving problematic.
Finally, because isolation exercises place all the stress on one muscle group, it is possible that these muscles will respond more quickly thus leading to an increase in strength and size.
The best training programs focus primarily on compound exercises and use isolation exercises supplementally in order to facilitate and accelerate the rate of change.
In terms of equipment, it would be wrong to suggest that one piece of kit is better than another. Instead, a combination of equipment should be used for the majority of training programs.
In the following workout, every exercise is to be completed using the cables as they allow for a greater degree of muscular control.
The reason why barbells and dumbbells are not used for this workout is that, although typically more weight can be lifted, muscle tension is not consistent throughout the range of motion.
This is not to discredit barbells or dumbbells as they absolutely have their place in resistance training – however, as will be discussed in the following point, cables more efficiently maintain tension on the muscle.
Time Under Tension (TUT)
Time under tension or TUT is a very common exercise principle that is often used by those looking to build significant muscle growth. The TUT technique involves manipulating tempo to increase muscular tension (2).
The three mechanisms of muscular hypertrophy are mechanical tension, muscle damage, and metabolic stress (3).
The principle behind the TUT technique is to increase the amount of mechanical tension which will consequently increase the amount of muscle damage and metabolic stress.
Causing muscle damage and metabolic stress will prompt a response from the body to begin the recovery process. It is this recovery process that causes an increase in strength and size.
Often, individuals rush through repetitions too quickly which is not ideal when we consider the mechanisms behind hypertrophy.
Finally, as referred to earlier, the reason that cables are used in this workout comes down to their ability to maintain tension on the muscles throughout the duration of the exercise.
Therefore, the cables are the perfect option for all time under tension work.
While all of the above points are very important, they will not make a significant difference on muscle growth if your nutrition is not right.
For muscle growth, there are two key considerations to be made – calorie and protein consumption. Both are needed in high quantities in order to enhance recovery and onset muscle growth (4).
Three Moves for Bigger Triceps
There are 3 simple tricep isolation exercises that are to be performed and the workout follows a very simple structure – 3 exercises, 5 sets x 15 reps and 20-second rests.
The short rest between sets means that you are likely to generate a significant muscle pump – perhaps more so than you would if you were to perform 6 conventional exercises.
In terms of weight, start with a light load. It may feel far too light during the first set however, because of the restricted rest periods, it’ll feel super heavy by set 4 & 5.
Each set should take approximately 25-30 seconds which consequently means that the entire workout should take no longer than 15 minutes.
It is recommended to complete this workout after completing a chest day or to pair it with bicep work.
|Exercise||Sets x Reps||Rest|
|Tricep Pushdown||5 x 15||20 sec|
|Reverse Grip Tricep Pushdown||5 x 15||20 sec|
|Cable Lying Tricep Extension||5 x 15||20 sec|
It’s important to remember that each of the exercises in this workout is an isolation exercise. Therefore, to effectively isolate the triceps, movement should only be generated around the elbow joint.
It’s not uncommon to see individuals moving through the shoulder to assist in this exercise. Additionally, on occasion, the hips may also shift in order to help drive the movement.
When this occurs, it can reduce the amount of tension placed on the triceps and move it onto other muscle groups. Therefore, all movement outwith elbow flexion/extension should be eliminated.
For the pushdown, set up the pulley to a high position, attach the rope and grip it using a neutral grip (palms facing each other).
In the start position, the hands should be approximately in line with the height of the shoulders. Tuck both elbows tightly into the ribcage and lift the chest prior to pushing down.
Drive the load down to the hips by hinging at the elbows only. Ensure that you squeeze the triceps tightly at the bottom of the movement in order to maximize time under tension.
In addition, control the eccentric (or negative) portion of the movement and avoid the temptation to rush through each and every rep.
When you reach the top of the rep, feel free to let the elbows shift forward very slightly to maximize the stretch of the triceps.
The first set of your pulldowns should feel very manageable and set 2 & 3 should feel like warm-up sets.
It is with set 4 and 5 that the triceps will really start to fatigue and burn. As fatigue builds, focus even more so on technique as fatigue can begin to interfere with how you move.
Reverse Grip Tricep Pushdown
Having completed the conventional tricep pushdown, immediately move into the reverse grip pushdown to keep the blood flowing to the tricep muscles.
Quickly swap the rope for the bar attachment and take up an underhand grip on the bar. This change of grip will cause greater activation of the long head of triceps.
The movement pattern of the reverse grip pushdown is exactly the same as the conventional pushdown, the only difference being the grip used.
This time, focus on the backside of the upper arm and keep each rep controlled to maximize the stretch on the muscle.
As with the conventional pushdown, remember to squeeze the tricep at the bottom of the exercise.
Cable Lying Tricep Extension
The final exercise, the cable lying tricep extension, places a great stretch on the triceps as a result of the mechanics involved in the exercise.
For the cable lying tricep extension, set a flat bench in front of the pulley and bring the pulley down to a low position.
Look to keep the upper arm in a vertical position and focus on flexing and extending the elbows.
To maximize the tricep stretch, it is imperative that each rep is kept controlled throughout. Take your time as you flex the elbows before extending and slowly squeezing the triceps.
Often with this exercise (and the majority of tricep exercises), individuals jerk the weight rather than focusing on maintaining control.
Remember that the entire purpose of this workout is to increase time under tension. By performing quick and uncontrolled repetitions, you will fail to effectively do this.
Take your time with the movements and keep the tempo slow. If you do this effectively, you will really feel the triceps burn!
Significant changes in muscle size will occur providing ample protein and calories are consumed and in conjunction with a well-planned resistance training program.
Considering the important role that time under tension plays in causing muscular hypertrophy, this 15 minute, 3-move tricep workout can increase the size of the triceps.
1-Gentil, Paulo; Soares, Saulo; Bottaro, Martim (2015-6). “Single vs. Multi-Joint Resistance Exercises: Effects on Muscle Strength and Hypertrophy”. Asian Journal of Sports Medicine. 6 (2). doi:10.5812/asjsm.24057. ISSN 2008-000X. PMC 4592763. PMID 26446291.
2-Wilk, Michal; Golas, Artur; Stastny, Petr; Nawrocka, Monika; Krzysztofik, Michal; Zajac, Adam (June 13, 2018). “Does Tempo of Resistance Exercise Impact Training Volume?”. Journal of Human Kinetics. 62: 241–250. doi:10.2478/hukin-2018-0034. ISSN 1640-5544. PMC 6006544. PMID 29922395.
3-Schoenfeld, Brad J. (2010-10). “The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training”. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 24 (10): 2857–2872. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181e840f3. ISSN 1533-4287. PMID 20847704.
4-Stokes, Tanner; Hector, Amy J.; Morton, Robert W.; McGlory, Chris; Phillips, Stuart M. (February 7, 2018). “Recent Perspectives Regarding the Role of Dietary Protein for the Promotion of Muscle Hypertrophy with Resistance Exercise Training”. Nutrients. 10 (2). doi:10.3390/nu10020180. ISSN 2072-6643. PMC 5852756. PMID 29414855.