As a full-scholarship baseball player in the summer of 1985 at Glendale Community College in Arizona, Troy Alves dreamed of playing center field in the major leagues. The 17-year-old true freshman certainly had the skills for it: Troy was speedy, powerful and had a great throwing arm, recalling a young Rickey Henderson. But he also had a favorite extracurricular activity that would dramatically alter his aspirations: weight training.

Lifting weights wasn’t part of the baseball team’s daily regimen, but Troy spent a lot of his spare time in the gym. “I wasn’t big into bodybuilding or anything,” he says. “I was like most guys -- I just wanted to have huge arms.” That desire prompted him to lift hard and often.

But early in his collegiate career, Troy was reminded that no man can serve two masters. During a heavy benching session, his spotter averted his eyes long enough for the weight to collapse on Troy’s right side. The rotator cuff that had helped him earn the respect from opposing baserunners was torn, a death knell for the young ballplayer. “It was a bad enough injury that I couldn’t throw the ball anymore,” Troy explains. “I felt like my arm was falling off . . . the ball would just go straight into the ground.”


Unable to play baseball, Troy grew disinterested in college. In 1986 he dropped out and, with a new daughter to provide for, joined the Air Force. “I felt like a dummy, giving up my scholarship,” he admits. “I went into the service pretty depressed.” After his four years of dedicated service, however, Troy reacquainted himself with the gym and soon had the physique of a competitive bodybuilder. “People would always tell me that I should try bodybuilding, but I wasn’t interested,” Troy recalls. But he couldn’t deny his intrinsic drive to compete. His abruptly curtailed baseball career, still gnawing at his pride, was enough to get him onstage in 1995 at an amateur show. When he placed second as a light-heavyweight, “I knew my life had taken a major turn.”

Over the years, Troy honed his diet and training to a fine science. He turned pro by winning the NPC Nationals heavyweight division in 2002 and, a year later, was a stunning eighth at the Mr. Olympia. At 225 pounds he now possesses what is one of the most aesthetically pleasing physiques in the sport. But even the most precise routines can go awry.


With his third Olympia on the horizon and his training in full swing, Troy began to experience a slight pain in his lower abdomen. Like any guy would, he gave it a few days to see if the pain would subside before he sought medical attention. His general practitioner suspected a hernia and referred Troy to a specialist. The news was the last thing a bodybuilder wants to hear.

“I was diagnosed with three separate hernias,” reports the former surgical tech. Troy’s specialist recommended surgery for his inguinal hernia, located in his lower left abdomen, but said the other two weren’t serious enough to warrant additional procedures. Troy reluctantly agreed to go under the knife and had his major hernia repaired in April 2005, knocking him out of contention for the Mr. O six months later.

“I just overextended myself a bit,” he says, downplaying the situation. “I’m just fortunate that it wasn’t anything really severe.” Still, Troy believes there was a reason for his injuries. “This past summer, my father was diagnosed with cancer,” he explains. “So by the time the Olympia came around, I was so far away from it mentally.” Being unable to train and compete, while unwelcome at first, allowed Troy to be at his father’s side during treatments.

With his father now recovering, the gym is once again the object of Troy’s full attention. “It took me a long time to see how all those negative things were actually necessary events to make me who and what I am today,” he says. “It’s strange how everything really does happen for a reason.”


Birthdate: Sept. 26, 1967
Height: 5'8"
Weight: 225 pounds contest; 245 pounds off-season
Family status: Wife Tara; daughter Devinie, 19
Current residence: Glendale, Arizona
Competitive highlights: 2005: Ironman, 3rd; Arnold Classic, 8th
Endorsements: Nutrex, Max Muscle, Weider Publications
To contact:


Exercise Sets Reps
Seated Dumbbell Overhead Extension 4 10-12
Lying Triceps Extension 4 10-12
Rope Pressdown 4 10-12
-superset with-
Dumbbell Kickback 4 10-12*
*Each arm


1 Quads, abs
2 Shoulders, triceps, calves
3 Hamstrings, glutes
4 Chest, biceps
5 Back, abs
6 Hamstrings, glutes, calves
7 Off


TARGETS: Triceps, emphasis on long head
START: Sit on a low-back chair and press a dumbbell overhead, holding it with both hands, palms cupped against the upper inside plate. EXECUTION: Keeping your elbows close to your head, slowly bend them to lower the weight behind your head. After a good stretch at the bottom, lift the dumbbell back up to full extension.
TROY SAYS: "This exercise is a great mass-builder. Focus on keeping your elbows tight."

Training notes
>> Using an EZ-bar instead of a dumbbell provides a similar stimulus.
>> For greater individual emphasis on each arm, use a lighter weight and perform the exercise unilaterally.


TARGETS: Triceps, emphasis on medial, lateral and long heads
START: Lie faceup on a flat bench, holding an EZ-bar at arms' length above you. Your arms should be straight; wrap your thumbs around the bar for safety.
EXECUTION: Keeping your upper arms stationary and bending only at the elbows, slowly lower the bar in an arc toward your forehead. When it nearly touches your forehead, push the weight back to the start position, making sure to keep your elbows tight. Squeeze your tri's at the top.
TROY SAYS: "Regardless of the weight you're working with, have someone hand the bar to you while you're lying down. This prevents you from doing anything dangerous or uncomfortable to get the weight up to the start position."

Training notes
>> If you can do so comfortably, try using the straight bar for this move.
>> To increase the stretch on your long heads, move your upper arms back to a 45-degree angle to the floor.

TARGETS: Triceps, emphasis on lateral head
START: Fasten a rope attachment to a high pulley. Take a neutral grip and stand with your feet about hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Keep your abs tight with a slight bend at your waist.
EXECUTION: Keep your elbows at your sides as you press the rope downward, turning your palms down and pulling the ends of the rope out slightly once you pass the midpoint. Contract your tri's hard at the bottom and return to the start position.
TROY SAYS: "Don't swing or throw the weight down. Use a weight that allows you to resist at a steady pace."

Training notes
>> Flaring your wrists during the bottom half of the move bombards your lateral heads.
>> Perform these as drop sets, working to near-failure with progressively lighter weights.

TARGETS: Triceps, emphasis on medial and lateral heads
START: Stand next to a bench and lean forward at your waist, placing your inside hand and knee on the bench for support. Grasp a dumbbell in your outside hand with a neutral grip, bend your elbow and bring your upper arm next to your body, parallel to the floor.
EXECUTION: Keeping your upper arm in place, straighten your elbow, hold the contraction for a second, then return to the start. TROY SAYS: "The key here is to make sure your upper arm is parallel to the floor and that you keep your elbow in place. If not, you'll tend to swing the weight and miss out on a great burn.

Training notes
>> The triceps long head works isometrically to keep your elbow high.
>> Grasp a dumbbell in each hand, lean forward at the waist and do these with both arms simultaneously.

By Troy Alves

1. Even though this is a great triceps workout, you'll plateau after doing it for a few weeks. To prevent this, alternate the angles at which you perform the exercises. For example, try lying triceps extensions on an incline or decline bench for a different feel.

2. To boost the intensity at the end of your supersets, do a few half-reps for pressdowns with either the top half or bottom half of the range of motion. This keeps your triceps under more stress than normal and gives you a great pump.

3. Warming up is extremely important, both to avoid injury and to ensure you get the most blood to your working muscles. I often do a set of 50 rope pressdowns before my heavy movements to get that pump going. You can also finish with a few high-rep sets.

4. The weight shouldn't be a big concern with triceps training. I know guys who say they can do lying triceps extensions with 225 pounds. Maybe they can, but they have sloppy form and small arms. I'd rather use 125 pounds and have big arms. I'd take results over a number any day.

5. When performing all of these exercises, squeeze at the height of the contraction. This is called the peak contraction principle, and if you use it regularly, it'll help bring out the small striations of your triceps.

6. Don't be afraid to change up your routine and do different things. I mix in 8-10-rep days, high-rep days (12-15 reps) and other exercises. All of it gives your muscles new challenges to adapt to.