Arm Exercises

Eric the Trainer's Triceps Workout

The celebrity trainer has a tried-and-true method that will hammer your arms.

Lying Triceps Extension
Duration 30 min
Exercises 4
Equipment Yes

The direct result of intense triceps training is obvious: greater overall arm size. After all, tri’s account for about ⅔ of upper-arm muscle mass. But there’s also an indirect result associated with blasting them: stronger triceps will lead to faster gains in other areas. The three heads of the triceps brachii muscle provide “a trio of rocket-fueled power that can supercharge any pressing motion,” says trainer Eric Fleishman, owner of the fitness company ETT Corp (ericthetrainer.com). “This is especially useful for building chest and shoulders. It’s like giving Robin steroids so Batman doesn’t need to fight as hard!”

The Routine

Fleishman designed this routine to hit the triceps with big weights from every conceivable angle. The first two moves (lying extensions and close-grip bench) allow you to use the heaviest resistance for quick gains in arm size and strength, while the other two call for more modest loads. Collectively, the four exercises put the arms in a number of different positions— horizontal to the torso, overhead, at your sides—to ensure all three heads get ample stimulation for growth.

Standard versions of the movements will suffice, though Fleishman offers unique variations for the two extension exercises to shock the muscles. The rep ranges in the workout remain constant throughout. Fleishman advises increasing weight on every set— the old-school pyramiding principle— which is vital for breaking new barriers. The workout can be performed one or two times per week, with at least 72 hours before repeating it.

The Basics

  • Fleishman recommends doing one warmup set of each exercise using a light weight for 15–20 reps before moving onto the working sets of 8–12 reps.
  • On all exercises, increase weight on each set (pyramid).
  • Rest 90 seconds between all sets to ensure adequate recovery and allow you to use max weight.

Lying Triceps Extension

Lie face-up on a flat bench, holding a barbell at arm’s length over your face. Keeping your elbows pulled in, slowly lower the bar toward your forehead. Before it touches, pause then contract your triceps to press back up to the start position. Fleishman recommends this unique variation on the exercise: After lowering the bar down, move it behind your head until your upper arms are about parallel with the floor, then reverse the motion and press the bar back up.

Fleishman Says

“By rounding out the motion, you capture momentum while simultaneously saving your elbows from unwanted pain.”

Tip

For variety, use a decline bench instead of a flat bench,  making sure your arms are perpendicular to the floor at the top of the movement.

Close-Grip Bench Press

Lie back on a flat bench with a rack and grasp a barbell at shoulder width or slightly narrower, palms facing forward. Unrack the bar and begin with it over your chest with your arms extended. Keeping your elbows in tight to your body, slowly lower the bar down to your lower pecs by bending your arms. When it touches, forcefully press the bar back up to the start position.

Fleishman Says

“Be sure to touch the bar to your chest slightly lower than a typical bench press. This puts less stress on the delts while taxing the larger head of the triceps.”

Tip

If you want to go heavy on close-grip bench but don’t have a spotter handy, use a Smith machine or slide a bench inside a power rack  and set the safety pins near chest height.

Overhead Dumbbell Extension

Sit on a bench or low-back seat holding a dumbbell set vertically on one of your thighs. Wrapping both hands around the handle, hoist the dumbbell to the corresponding shoulder, then reposition your hands to cup the higher end of the dumbbell. Fully extend at the elbows to press the dumbbell straight overhead. Lower the dumbbell behind your head until you feel a slight stretch in your triceps, then push it back up to the start position.

Fleishman Says

“You can perform a standing version of these, keeping the knees slightly bent, to give you the ability to drive the weight upward while protecting the health of your lower back.”

Tip

It’s OK to let your elbows flare out a bit on this move, but do your best to keep them in as tight as possible  so that they’re not pointed directly out to the sides.

Cable Pressdown

Attach a straight bar or rope to a high-pulley cable. Stand facing the weight stack and grab the bar with a shoulder-width, overhand grip; if using a rope, grasp the ends near the bottom with your palms facing each other. Begin with your forearms just above parallel with the floor and your elbows in close to your sides. Contract your triceps to extend your elbows until your arms are straight. At the bottom, squeeze your triceps for a count, then slowly raise your hands back to the start position.

Fleishman Says

“Be sure to round out the motion by not locking the elbows in place. To grow muscle mass, one must overwhelm the body part, not simply exercise the muscle.”

Tip

Cable pressdowns are a great exercise for doing dropsets, as changing the pin to lighten the weight takes only a couple of seconds.

 

Straight-Up Triceps Workout The following exercises do not include warmup sets.

Exercise 1

Lying EZ-Bar Triceps Extension You'll need: EZ-Bar, Bench How to
Lying EZ-Bar Triceps Extension thumbnail
3 sets
8-12 reps
90 sec rest
*Use a barbell or EZ-bar.

Exercise 2

Barbell Bench Press You'll need: Bench, Barbell How to
Barbell Bench Press thumbnail
3 sets
8-12 reps
90 sec rest
*Use a close grip.

Exercise 3

Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Extension How to
Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Extension thumbnail
3 sets
8-12 reps
90 sec rest

Exercise 4

Cable Pressdown You'll need: Adjustable Cable Machine, V-Handle Attachment How to
Cable Pressdown thumbnail
3 sets
8-12 reps
90 sec rest
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