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Photos by Per Bernal

AKIM WILLIAMS HAS A PROBLEM MOST OF US WOULD LOVE TO HAVE: HIS BICEPS ARE TOO BIG. 

For a top-level IFBB professional bodybuilder, this is a real issue in terms of symmetry and muscular balance. If the judges’ eyes are continually drawn to your biceps and not your physique as a whole, it will certainly be reflected in a negative way in your placing.

Williams combats this imbalance in two ways: 1) by scaling back his training volume on biceps, and 2) by hitting his triceps that much harder in an attempt to balance out his overall arm development.

“Triceps are a bigger muscle group than the biceps,” says Williams. “And for me, my biceps are a very strong body part, whereas my triceps need to come up a bit. So I feel I almost need to double my volume on triceps as compared with biceps.”

As with his biceps, Williams prefers to train his triceps with machines rather than free weights. “I want to maximize the isolation and mind-muscle connection, and machines allow me to do this better than free weights,” he says. How much of the weight stack he employs, though, differs between the two body parts. Whereas his preferred rep range on biceps is 15–20, he chooses 10–15 reps for his tri’s (taking sets to failure in both cases, thus making for more relative weight on triceps).

 

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MACHINE DIP

Adjust the seat so that in the top position your arms are roughly parallel to the floor. Grab the handles with a firm grip. Keeping your feet on the floor, head facing forward and elbows in tight to your sides, extend your arms forcefully to press the handles down. Reach full elbow extension at the bottom, contract hard for one to two seconds, then slowly lower back to the start position without letting the weight rest on the stack in between reps. 

WILLIAM’S WISDOM: “People tend to lean forward when doing this exercise, but you really want to stay vertical with your torso and make sure your back is up against the pad the entire time. This will put more emphasis on the triceps; leaning forward hits more chest and shoulders. At the bottom of the rep, I always make sure to go to full elbow extension and squeeze hard.” 

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PRESSDOWN

Stand facing the weight stack and grab the bar with an overhand grip just inside shoulder width. Begin with your forearms just above parallel with the floor and your elbows in close to your sides. Keeping your elbows in, contract your triceps to extend your elbows until your arms are straight. At the bottom, squeeze your triceps for one to two seconds, then slowly return to the start position. 

WILLIAM’S WISDOM:“Doing pressdowns with the bar hits more of the meaty area of the triceps up high and in the back of the upper arm. I also feel like I get a better pump with the bar than with the rope. I’m definitely going heavier when using the bar attachment, which makes this a great mass-building move.” 

 

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ROPE PRESSDOWN

Begin with your forearms just above parallel with the floor and your elbows tight to your sides. Keeping your elbows in tight, contract your triceps to fully extend your arms. At the bottom, pull the ends of the rope apart and squeeze your triceps, then slowly return to the start position. 

WILLIAM’S WISDOM“The rope, as compared with the bar attachment, gives me better range of motion to maximize the contraction in the triceps. At the bottom of the rep, I pull the ends of the rope as far apart from each other as they’ll go and emphasize the squeeze. That’s the whole point of using the rope, so take advantage of it on every rep. I use this variation to target the outer head.” 

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ONE-ARM PRESSDOWN

Grab the handle with one hand and start with your palm facing up (reverse grip), elbow pinned to your side and your forearm parallel with the floor. Keeping your upper arm stationary, contract your triceps to extend your elbow. Lock out your arm at the bottom, squeeze hard, then return to the start position. 

WILLIAM’S WISDOM“Here, I’m targeting the inner [medial] head of the triceps with the palm-up grip. This is really a detailing move for me after the other three exercises. By this point in the workout, my triceps are pretty pumped, so I want to etch in that detail with this exercise.”

 

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 WILLIAMS’ TRICEPS WORKOUT 

  • Machine Dip | SETS: 4–6 | REPS: 10–15
  • Pressdown | SETS: 4–6 | REPS: 10–15*
  • Cable Pressdown | SETS: 4–6 | REPS: 10–15*
  • One-Arm Pressdown | SETS: 4–6 | REPS: 10–15

*2-3 dropsets on last set.

 WILLIAMS’ TRAINING SPLIT 

  • Monday | Chest, Biceps
  • Tuesday Back, Biceps
  • Wednesday Quads, Hamstrings, Calves
  • Thursday Shoulders, Biceps, “Little Bit of Chest”
  • Friday Back, Triceps
  • Saturday Hamstrings, “Little Bit of Quads,” calves
  • Sunday Off 

 FLEX