Workout Tips

The Perfect Body Game Plan

Sculpt the body of your dreams with these 9 targeted tips.

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Man with muscular back and triceps

Marius Bugge

4) Get the Triceps Horseshoe

News flash: Biceps may be cool, but triceps actually make up the bulk of the upper arms. Growing big arms and—even more impressive, carving out a detailed triceps horseshoe—means working every part of the muscle. “You need to make sure you hit all three heads of the muscle—long, medial, and lateral,” says Noah Bryant, C.S.C.S. “While you can’t completely isolate them, you can do exercises that emphasize each one.” Add these three moves to your routine as much as twice per week—on chest day and shoulder day.

The first exercise, which hits your triceps’ “long head,” is the EZ-curl bar French press.

To do it, sit on a bench and grasp the EZ-curl bar with a pronated grip. Start with straight arms and the bar directly overhead. Lower the bar by bending at  the elbows. Go as far as you can while keeping your back, neck, and upper arms straight and perpendicular to the ground. It’s important to perform the full range of motion if you want better results. Slowly return the weight to the overhead starting position.

Then the triceps dip is Bryant’s top choice for hitting this deep-down part of  the triceps. Set up on a dip bar as you would for normal dips, only this time you’ll keep your body straight up and down (perpendicular to the ground) and your feet underneath you rather than crossed behind you. Lower yourself until your forearm and upper arm make a 90-degree angle, then push yourself back up.

To hit the lateral head, Bryant suggests straight-bar cable pushdowns. “The lateral head is the one most responsible for the ‘horseshoe’ shape of the triceps,” Bryant says, “and working it is extremely important to get that look.” Any movement that pushes weight down will hit the lateral head, which runs on the outside of the arm, but this is his favorite. Start with the bar about chest level, your elbows in tight to your body, and your upper arms pointing straight down to the ground. Keep your elbows tucked tightly in to your body, and push the bar down while keeping your upper arms static. Feel your triceps moving the weight—and your horseshoe getting more and more cut.

5) Get a Wide Upper Back

A strong, wide upper back doesn’t just look great, says Jeb Stuart Johnston, C.P.T., a Brooklyn-based Strongman. It opens up your shoulders and improves posture. You stand taller and appear more confident.

To get there, Johnston recommends hitting the upper back with some of the same full-body functional movements that are central to Strongman competitions. Loaded carries force every muscle in the body to work together to lift and stabilize heavy odd objects, and much of the load is placed on the upper back. They also provide tremendous cardiovascular benefits. “Any of these would be great as a finisher on back day,” he says, “or try pairing them with sled pulls and car pushes to make your own ‘Strongman Saturday.’ ”

The first is the farmer’s walk, a Strongman staple that works the whole body, developing powerful legs and hips, increased core strength and grip strength, in addition to making your back stronger and more stable. To do it, simply grab the heaviest dumbbells or kettlebells you can comfortably carry (half your body weight in each hand is a good starting point) and do it. “Also, nothing taxes your posterior chain and your lungs quite like sandbag carries for distance,” says Johnston. “Simply pick up your sandbag and walk for as long as you can without dropping it.”

Finally, there’s the snatch-grip deadlift, a deadlift that puts you at a mechanical disadvantage with a wide grip that engages the lats and rear deltoids and keeps them engaged. To do it, set up as you would for a regular deadlift, but take an extra-wide grip on the bar. Always lower in a controlled manner, keeping the back flat through the entirety of the movement.

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