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4 Ways to Get Bigger Triceps with Weight Training

1. Compound Movements
Defined, compound movements are multi-joint exercises designed to increase skeletal muscle size, strength and power. The most famous examples of compound movements are the squat, dead-lift and bench press. The bench press mainly uses the pectoral, deltoid and triceps muscles. This compound movement works because muscle size is an equation: load (weight lifted) multiplied by time under tension (how long exercise is performed). Compound movements allow the body to lift a greater load than single-joint exercises because it recruits muscles from a variety of body parts. Compound movements, because of the greater amount of muscles worked during the exercise, restrict local fatigue, allowing a greater time under tension. Still, using the mathematical equation, three (the combined strength of the pectoral, deltoid and triceps) times three (combined stamina) is greater than one (single-joint triceps movement) times one (triceps fatigue).

2. Use a Close Grip
Other barbell exercises that use the triceps, besides the bench press, are the military press, decline bench press and incline bench press. These exercises can be performed with a barbell or dumbbells--and don’t forget about pushups. If the goal is to get bigger triceps, each of these exercises should be performed with a close grip. A close grip is characterized by the hands being just slightly wider than shoulder width to the hands being only a thumb’s length apart. The close grip forces the arms to bend more and therefore work harder to straighten.

3. Pull
The triceps are usually included in “push” workout days. To be technically accurate, no muscle has the ability to push. Every muscle pulls. Even when performing a pushup (press-up), the pectoral muscles pull together to bring the shoulders forward, as do the shoulder muscles. The pull of the triceps forces the arm to straighten. The result of all the muscle pulls creates the illusion of a push. The triceps’ function is to straighten the arm. Therefore, during the eccentric (coming down) portion of the pull-up, the triceps must work extremely hard. If you cannot perform a pull-up, cable pull-downs are a decent substitute.

4. Single-Joint Exercises
Without the use of steroids, single-joint exercises by themselves do not increase muscle size. Every recent medical investigation, university study and most highly-touted strength coaches have come to this conclusion. Bodybuilders only perform cable push-downs and triceps kickbacks to help increase muscle definition, not to increase size. Please do not waste your time obsessing over cable push-downs, triceps kickbacks or any other single-joint arm exercise. Instead, obsess over compound movements, using a close grip during “push” exercises, eating big and working hard.