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Science: these are the best exercises for triceps

Posted by Dayne Hudson in Muscle Building

Estimated reading time: 4mins

Science: these are the best exercises for triceps | Bulk Nutrients blog

Training the triceps for maximal growth

Most people have no idea how big their triceps actually are!

And we're willing to bet you'll be blown away when we reveal that your triceps boasts one of the largest volumes of all muscles in your upper body: even more than your lats and chest.

As crazy as it sounds, muscle size is measured on the 3-dimensional amount, not just it's surface area.

So, you can see why a solid routine rooted in science is critical for your arm progress.

The name "triceps" derives from the fact there are three heads. Below is precisely where these heads are located:

The name "triceps" derives from the fact there are three heads: Long Head, Lateral Head, and Medial Head.

So now we know what we're targeting, you'll see why we've chosen the exercises we have.

Also, it's critical we acknowledge that the triceps are made up of ~67% type II muscle fibres, which science suggests is best stimulated with a heavier weight. 

So, we'll be doing 6-10 reps some of the time for optimal results.

Tricep Workout for optimal muscle growth

We will start with four sets of cable press downs: 

First set = 12 reps
Second set = 12 reps
Third set = 12 reps
Fourth set = 8 reps

So why the pushdowns?

Because data shows that the pushdowns are the best isolation exercise for the lateral head. This exercise will also work the medial head.

Then we'll move into four sets of weighted triceps dips.

First set= 12 reps
Second set set = 10 reps
Third set = 8 reps
Fourth set = 8 reps

Studies show that as far as bodyweight exercises go, weighted dips are the best when it comes to stimulating the lateral head.

And of course, the lateral head is what gives us that "sweeping" look when we stand straight on, making our arms appear large.

Weighted dips are the best when it comes to stimulating the lateral head.

Add some weight to this, and you're really putting your triceps to work. This too will work your medial head.

Once you've warmed up, start adding weight with the aim of failing on the aforementioned number of reps. 

For example, you might need 20 kilograms to fail at 8 reps.

Then it's time for four sets of dumbbell kickbacks. 

First set = 12 reps
Second set set = 10 reps
Third set = 10 reps
Fourth set = 8 reps

Compared with 9 tricep exercises, the dumbbell kickback scored the highest when it came to activating the long head!

So, such a workout is using the best science has to offer to grow your triceps as much as possible.

To recap:

  1. 4 x Cable press downs (With a V Bar, straight bar, or rope) (12 reps, 12, 12, 8). 
  2. 4 x weighted tricep dips (12 reps, 10, 8, 8).
  3. 4 x dumbbell kickbacks (12 reps, 10, 10, 8).
The science has always been clear: more volume means more gains.

Sets and exercises for muscle growth

We're doing 12 sets here for triceps because a recent landmark study found that 10+ sets are the best for muscle growth! 

The science has always been clear: more volume means more gains.

And given triceps don't always get enough attention, we're making sure this workout ensures this happens.

The bottom line is that triceps training must be prioritized for maximal arm growth! Tricep pushdowns are the best isolation exercise for the lateral head, and will also work the medial head.

And as far as body weight exercises go, weighted dips are the best when it comes to stimulating the lateral head, and as far as the long head goes, compared with 9 tricep exercises, the dumbbell kickback is the best! 

Triceps are two-thirds of your arms and should be prioritized for maximal arm growth; to the tune of ten sets or more.

References:

  1. Boeckh-Behrens & Buskies. 2000. 
  2. Grgic J, Schoenfeld BJ. Are the Hypertrophic Adaptations to High and Low-Load Resistance Training Muscle Fiber Type Specific?. Front Physiol. 2018;9:402. Published 2018 Apr 18. doi:10.3389/fphys.2018.00402 
  3. Holzbaur KR, Murray WM, Gold GE, and Delp SL. Upper limb muscle volumes in adult subjects. J Biomech 40: 742–749, 2007. 
  4. Langenderfer J, Jerabek SA, Thangamani VB, Kuhn JE, and Hughes RE. Musculoskeletal parameters of muscles crossing the shoulder and elbow and the effect of sarcomere length sample size on estimation of optimal muscle length. Clin Biomech 19: 664–670, 2004. 
  5. Schoenfeld BJ, Ogborn D, Krieger JW. Dose-response relationship between weekly resistance training volume and increases in muscle mass: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Sports Sci. 2017 Jun;35(11):1073-1082. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2016.1210197. Epub 2016 Jul 19. PMID: 27433992. 
  6. Srinivasan RC, Lungren MP, Langenderfer JE, Hughes RE. Fiber type composition and maximum shortening velocity of muscles crossing the human shoulder. Clin Anat. 2007 Mar;20(2):144-9. doi: 10.1002/ca.20349. PMID: 16795030. 
  7. Vidt ME, Daly M, Miller ME, Davis CC, Marsh AP, and Saul KR. Characterizing upper limb muscle volume and strength in older adults: A comparison with young adults. J Biomech 45: 334–341, 2012.
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