Monday, August 11, 2008

Triceps Development - John McWilliams

Triceps Development
by John McWilliams

In this article, I have sought to place before the bodybuilder a concise, fresh and plain account of up-to-date information and exercises for the maximum in triceps development. Large triceps have always fascinated me. I have admired them, studied them, and eventually secured them.

The triceps are the triple-headed muscle which gives beauty and shape to the upper arm. In the past I have found that the average bodybuilder concentrates most of his time on the biceps and feels all that matters is possessing a big bulky biceps. But fellows, if you really want upper arms with power and the utmost shapeliness, you must develop your triceps. The bulk of the arms, at least two-thirds, lies in the triceps. We agree that the biceps gives a beautiful appearance to the arms, but most of this is only show. So you see, for strength and power it’s the triceps, finishing far out in front.

I have found the aim of the majority of bodybuilders is to get size and bulk. First results will come fast when proper exercises are performed and it is not long when more inches starting showing on that tape measure. In this article, I will try to give you the key exercises for the maximum development.

If you are not accustomed to specialized arm exercises, let me warn you now, most of the movements are strenuous, so go slowly the first month or so. After that time you should be able to put everything you have into each workout. I have always enjoyed the arm exercises I am about to put before you.

In triceps exercises let us never forget to practice the principle of concentration. I have preached this for years and only through this practice will you be able to get the maximum in arm development. When exercising forget about everything else and become completely absorbed in each movement. Remember at all times, exercise requires your whole, undivided attention or it will be of little value.

In exercising the triceps, you must give your arm muscles as much play as you can. Be sure to perform complete contractions and extensions. I always try to avoid an exercise that merely tenses the muscles. To get best results you must perform these movements regularly and correctly. Benefits won’t come merely by reading; you must back up the know-how by actual continuous performance AND remember it will take time to accomplish anything worthwhile.

I am presenting two separate courses, one for the beginner who has had little or no experience and one for the advanced lifter who is near the top of perfection but is only waiting to put the finishing touches to his physique.

It is always a wonderful feeling to know you are the proud possessor of powerful and shapely arms, and the time you devote to these two courses will be more than well spent.

Arms won’t develop by wishing – you must work and train for them.


The following movements are all the beginner will need to start him on the right road. Before long he will be able to follow the more interesting exercises of the advanced bodybuilder.


Stand in the military position with feet 16 to 20 inches apart. You should be careful that your heels do not leave the floor. Inhale as you push the weight from the racked position at the shoulders to overhead, exhale as you lower the weight under control. Let’s work up to 12 to 15 repetitions.


Assume correct position with palms facing upwards and elbows held high and as close to the head as comfortably possible. Now inhale slowly and push the weight to arm’s length. Exhale and resume original position. Let’s perform 12 reps. This popular exercise has been a favorite of mine for years. If you want larger triceps with more power – this is it!


Here is another of my favorite exercises. It is the bulk builder. In doing this movement, be sure to keep elbows close to the sides for better triceps action. Now exhale as you press to arm’s length, inhale as you let the weight down under control. DON’T BOUNCE THE WEIGHT. Repeat 10 to 12 repetitions.


Here is a fine triceps developer. Clean dumbbell to the shoulders so that the hand is palm front, keeping the weight parallel to with front part of the body. Now slowly press to arm’s length overhead in one complete movement, bending slightly to the side away from the dumbbell. Perform this movement 12 times with each arm.


With this exercise we will use bent arms throughout. Let us use a weight with which we can do at least 15 repetitions. Inhale as you let the weight down slowly behind the head, exhale as you pull over. For better resistance be sure to keep head on bench. You may use barbell or dumbell for this, however, when performing this movement with heavier weights, a barbell will prove easier to control.


Using the over-grip, grasp the barbell with both hands about eight inches wider than the shoulders. Be sure to touch the back of the shoulders after each repetition and work up to 12 repetitions.


Here is a splendid movement for triceps. Straighten the arms and place the hands on the dip bars. SLOWLY lower the body and put STRENGTH into every repetition. Press back to arm’s length without swinging the body and try to work up to 10 or 15 repetitions.


This exercise will work the triceps from a different angle, and it is terrific for pumping up the whole arm. Part 1 – Lie face down on bench, Now, with dumbbells in each hand and your lower arms against the sides of your body, slowly raise the forearms until they are in a straight line with upper body. Raise the whole arm up, up, up until your triceps ache and tighten. Then slowly lower to original position and repeat for 10 or 12 repetitions. Part 2 – With no rest assume erect position. Use a weight with which you will be able to do 10 to 15 reps. Now inhale and press dumbbell on your right side to arms length. While you exhale and lower the right dumbbell down, push up the left dumbbell, much like a see-saw movement. You can do this movement sitting or standing.


Here is a wonderful triceps exercise. All beginners should work this movement into their routine. Place hands on two chairs and feet elevated on a third chair or bench. Keeping your body rigid, slowly lower the chest down between the chairs as far as comfortably possible. Rest there a second then push to straight arms and repeat 15 or 20 times. You can provide resistance with barbell plates on your back.


In this group I will attempt to bring out the principles involved for advanced lifters. Then you will be able to choose those exercises which you feel will fit your needs best. Following are some advanced exercises.


Two sets. Grasp bar with hands about eight inches wider than shoulders. Now place barbell upon shoulders. Here is a rough exercise but one of the best for triceps. Press to arm’s length overhead, inhaling as you push, exhaling as you lower the weight under complete control to the back of neck after each repetition. The muscles brought into play with this exercise are given a different workout than with the military press. When the weight is in the low, resting position behind the neck, take 5 very deep breaths to recuperate and get that big chest.


Three sets. Stand facing weight and at a comfortable distance from the pulley so that the cable pulls through at a slight angle. This gives more action on the triceps, especially at contraction. Now stand with the bar at shoulder height, palms facing away from body. Keeping feet about 20 inches apart and the body erect, slowly pull bar down and contract triceps hard until it is at arm’s length at your thighs. Then slowly allow the weight to return to the shoulders under control. Work 15 to 20 repetitions.


The bulk builder. Narrow grip, 3 sets. This is a very good arm exercise as well as a good chest and shoulder builder. Use a weight with which you can do 12 to 15 repetitions. Here we use a large muscle group, so it follows that we will do more sets and more repetitions. This will get the blood in the desired region and keep it there. Be sure not to bounce the bar off the chest.


Three sets. This movement has a tremendous effect on the muscles of the shoulders and arms. You may do this exercise with either barbells or dumbells. Either way, use a wide grip and inhale as you push to arm’s length, exhale as you lower under control back to the chest. When you fit this exercise into your workouts, do at least 3 sets of 12 reps. Remember to keep your back firmly against the bench, DON’T ARCH. Do this exercise correctly or you will be wasting both its benefits and your energy. This exercise places your body in ideal position to give the arms an all around workout.


This is a modified bent press, with a bend at the side allowing the use of heavier weight to really work the triceps and deltoids. Perform this movement fast, working up to 12 reps with each arm.


Part 1 – Take two fairly light dumbells. Standing erect, turn the hands around so the palms of the hand are facing the sides of your body. Bend slightly forward. Begin making the triceps work by raising the straight arms backwards as far as possible and holding this contraction for a couple of seconds before repeating for 10 to 12 reps. Part 2 – With no rest go right into the triceps french press. Extend your arms full length overhead by bending at the elbows, keeping the lower arms stationary throughout the exercise. Let the weight down to the shoulders under full control, then press to arm’s length again remembering to keep the elbows high and stationary.


Part 1 – Pushups. Place hands on two chairs about shoulder width apart and with feet elevated on a third chair or bench slowly lower the chest between the two chairs. Repeat for 15 repetitions and at all times concentrate on working the triceps. Part 2 – Military press. Without a pause after the set of pushups, assume military position and press a barbell from the shoulders to overhead using a weight with which you will be able to do at least 12 to 15 repetitions. Perform these two exercises so that you feel the resistance all the way.


This exercise is done from the same position as the bench press. However, in this movement we will use dumbells. Be sure the arms are fully straightened overhead. Now, holding the elbows in place, lower the weight steadily to a position back of head. Then press to original position and repeat 20 times. You should do this exercise after your bench press for best results. Inhale down, exhale up, for about three sets. Massage triceps after exercise.

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