By now, you probably know that you can’t have a big bench press without impressive Triceps, since they make up 2/3 of your upper arm. But let me tell you, you simply cannot have a big bench if you don’t work the “long” head of the tris HARD in the gym. The majority of the triceps mass comes from the long head, which runs high up on the arm to the shoulder. And don’t think that press downs, board presses and kickbacks will get the job done – they won’t.
To specifically target the long head, you need to perform exercises with your elbows poi nted up overhead, pulled in close to your ears. This places the long head in a stretched position. You get the most intensity when you train a muscle through a longer range of motion, from full extension to full contraction, and raising the elbows ensures this when you’re talking about the triceps long head. Don’t abandon narrow grip board presses, by all means, keep those in your program. But when you want to focus on the long head, I suggest the following exercises:
Overhead barbell triceps extension: Sit erect on a flat bench or seat, holding a barbell or EZ-bar straight up overhead with your arms fully extended. Keeping your elbows in place, bend them to lower the weight behind your head. Pause, then flex your triceps hard to extend your elbows and return the weight to the start position. You can also do this exercise holding a heavy dumbbell with both hands.
Overhead cable triceps extension: Attach a rope handle to a low-pulley cable and face away from the pulley. (You can do this standing or seated.) Grasp the rope and extend your arms straight overhead. Keeping your elbows in place, bend them to lower the rope behind your head until your triceps are fully stretched. Pause, then press the rope back up to the start position.
One-arm dumbbell triceps extension: From a seated position, grasp a dumbbell in one hand and raise it straight overhead, your arm fully extended. Keeping your working elbow in a fixed position, lower the weight behind your head until your triceps are fully stretched. Pause, then press the dumbbell back up to the start position. Finish your set with one arm, then switch arms and repeat.
Lying Triceps extensions (Skull Crushers / French Press): Lie face up on a flat bench holding a barbell or EZ-bar straight above you, hands are close together. Keeping your elbows fixed perpendicular to your body, lower the weight to your forehead (Skull Crusher) OR have your elbows slightly higher so you can extend the bar behind your head (French Press). Pause, then press the weight back up to the start position.
*** Concentrate on doing the extensions NOT PRESSES. To isolate the triceps, the elbows need to stay in a fixed position without help from momentum achieved by cheating.
Don’t use to much weight: when doing triceps extensions. Aim for 8-12 reps to failure. If you go to heavy, you’ll end up having to “cheat” the weight up rather than isolating the tri’s for maximal stimulation and growth.
ALWAYS LOCK OUT the triceps at the end of the movement. A peak contraction – that is, keep your arms fully extended while flexing and holding the contraction.