Thursday, April 15, 2010

Triceps and Lockout Strength - Charles A. Smith

Triceps and Lockout Strength
by Charles A. Smith (1950)

There is a situation in the iron game which always fills me with commiseration. It can be bet with in a contest, and it is seen in the training room. It is common to both bodybuilders and lifters. I never witness it without feeling a great deal of pity for the victim – yet at the same time I get a sense of exasperation mingled in with the sympathy. I ask – “Why in the heck doesn’t he DO something about it!”

Ever see a lifter fail to lock out in a heavy jerk? Every see a bodybuilder fail to get past sticking point in a prone press or a bench press? Of course you have, and I am willing to bet a steak dinner the YOU have been the central character in a like drama. The powerful group of muscles which take a weight overhead are many, and of the group the two most important are the TRICEPS and the SERRATUS MAGNUS. In fact, without the latter it would be impossible to press or jerk a weight no matter how powerful your thighs, deltoids and triceps were. You might get it to arms’ length but you would be unable to hold it there. This article will give you special exercises to develop triceps and locking out strength – exercises which can be performed with accessories, exercises which will be eminently successful.

None of these movements are new in the sense that they have just been developed or discovered. They were used YEARS AGO. They are in use today, and I guess as long as fellows “pick em up and put ‘em down” they will be good old standbys to help build that little extra bit of power, and make the successful lifter just that little bit closer to his goals. I will divide these exercises into two parts – specifically for the lifter, and particularly for the bodybuilder. Altho I have divided the movements which the lifter and the bodybuilder must use, you will find that these exercises can be used with advantage by both sections of weight trainers.

For the Lifter

Exercise One:
Take two training partners and weight 10-15 pounds more than your best clean & jerk. With the aid of two friends, or safe use of the power rack set at proper height, get the weight to lockout overhead. Make every effort to stretch the arms higher WITHOUT ALLOWING THE ELBOWS to come out of lock. It is important to make certain that your commencing poundage is supported FIRMLY overhead. The knees should be locked and the thighs tensed. DON’T look up at the weight. Look straight ahead. When this position is gained, start your STRETCHING efforts. The usual method is to make 3 reps with a short rest of a few minutes and then repeat for 2 more sets, making 3 sets of 3 reps. Work up to 6 reps and then you are ready to commence . . .

Exercise Two:
With the identical weight you used on your overhead stretching movement, take the weight to the finish of the jerk position overhead. This time however, you don’t stretch, but allow the elbows to UNLOCK SLIGHTLY and then PRESS out the weight. As with the stretch exercise commence with 3 sets of 3 reps and work up to 3 sets of 6 reps. Once you have reached this goal, add 10 pounds to the bar and start off again with the STRETCHING movement, then when you have AGAIN progressed to 3 sets of 6 reps, go on to the press-out exercise. The lifter will readily observe that the two exercises are “interlocked” as it were, that it is a matter of steady progression from ONE to the OTHER. That the stronger one becomes at exercise one, the more efficient he is going to be with exercise two. The important rules to follow in these two movements are – NEVER LOOK UP AT THE WEIGHT. MAKE SURE that the weight is fixed firmly overhead. Have confidence in your spotters or catching setup or don’t practice the above two exercises. It may interest readers to know that the late Ronald Walker used the first exercise to develop some of his jerking and locking powers. He was capable of using 500 pounds and could support this enormous weight overhead without any difficulty.

Exercise Three:
The third exercise for lifters will doubtless cause no little comment. The bodybuilding boys will exclaim, “Why, this is what I use for triceps development.” And so it is. It is certainly an excellent triceps developer, but it is an even better producer of elbow locking power.

Take a bench, a dumbell you can handle COMFORTABLY for 6 to 8 reps and seat yourself on the bench. With the weight held in either the right of left hand, raise it to arms’ length overhead. Hold the UPPER ARM firmly against the side of the head. Now allow the forearm only to move, bending the arm at the elbow so that the weight drops behind the head. Raise the dumbell to the overhead position again by raising the forearm. Note that the upper arm does not move in this exercise but is held firmly against the side of the head throughout the movement. Commence with 6 to 8 reps and work up to 10 to 12 for 3 sets each arm.

For the Bodybuilder

Exercise One:
For this exercise you will need adjustable squat stands or a power rack. Adjust the stands so that, when you are seated on a bench, the arms will be holding onto the bar just an inch above the top of the head. The position of the bench, of course, should be directly beneath the bar resting on the stands. From this position press the weight off the stands to arms’ length overhead and return it to the stands. Use a light weight until you are accustomed to the movement. Look straight to the front and do not look up at the weight. Your main concern is to develop triceps strength that will take the bar up past the sticking point. Looking up at the weight will place, or distribute, the stress of getting the bar overhead on the anterior deltoids, the pectorals and the triceps, when it should come mainly on the triceps and serratus magnus. Commence with a weight which you can use comfortably for 8 to 10 reps and work up to 12 to 15 reps, 3 to 5 sets.

Exercise Two: Supine Lockouts
Here you will need two benches, boxes, or a rack. The bar should be placed so as to bridge across the boxes. You will lie beneath the bar and press it to a locked out position. A quite short range of motion is employed in this exercise, allowing for the use of very heavy weights. The elbows must point towards the feet. They must be “tucked” in. Don’t allow them to point to the side. As I said, you will find it possible to handle very large poundages in this movement. Take a weight you can handle comfortably for the usual 8 to 10 reps and work up to 12 or 15 for 3 to 5 sets.

Exercise Three: One Arm Dumbell Push Press
I believe this exercise is unexcelled in the development of triceps power. All you need is a heavy dumbell. Clean it in to the shoulder, and using a slight, quick drive with the legs push the bell past the sticking point. With legs straight and back erect continue pressing to full lockout, using mainly triceps and shoulder strength. When the bell is completely overhead, hold it there for a moment, making a few very short lockouts by bending the elbow very slightly. Try to stretch and extend the arm as far as possible.

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