Saturday, August 17, 2019

Marvin Eder's Triceps Training - Barton Horvath (1952)

Thanks to Liam Tweed! 

This is the story of one of the most famous arms of all time. 

The massive one, possessed by mighty Marvin Eder, the world's most powerfully and massively developed youth. 

At 19 years of age, Marvin is still far from his muscular or strength peak, yet still he has already thrilled the world with his brawn and physique.

The other day when I fitted a snug tape around his 18 and 5/8 inch upper arm, during one of his workouts at Abe Goldberg's Gym in New York, I realized that here was a really great arm, one of the best of all time, and one worth writing about. Asking Marvin to hold the pose for a moment I examined his arm, trying to discover its secret of impressiveness, and I saw it. 

It's Marvin's triceps which give him that balanced appearance. A powerful arm, full and muscular, without a weak link. 

This wasn't always so. I have been watching Marvin's career for years, practically from the time he began to train with weights. I have watched his arm grow . . . first 14", then 15, 16 and so on, until today, for his height and weight he owns one of the biggest muscular arms of all time. Only Alex Aronis with a muscular arm of close to 19" at about the same height and weight as Marvin, and Ed Theriault wo at 133 pounds and 5' 1.5" tall, has hit over 17" can compare in proportionate hugeness to Marvin's arm. 

Of course there are larger arms. Ross, Reeves, Grimek and Park have all taped bigger sizes, with Reg Park recently reporting a 19.2" measurement. All these men are bigger and heavier though, outweighing Marvin by 30 pounds or more in several instances.

Marvin's biceps were always good. When his arm measured 16" his biceps were full and round, rising in that high curve which indicates complete development. While they have probably grown to some extent in the last several years, the bulk of his new size rests in the triceps, and it is the training of his triceps that that article is about.

When Marvin first began his training, he, like most beginners, thought of the arms mainly in terms of the biceps muscle. It was that bump on the top of his arm that interested him mostly, and nearly all of his upper arm work was directed there. As brought out in a previous interview I had with Marvin, he still feels that this is satisfactory for the beginner, since many of the regular barbell exercises develop the triceps pretty well at the start, while the biceps does need special work at once to make it grow.

Therefore, Marvin feels that the average beginner should not specialize on his triceps for the first six months [i.e. do any "direct" triceps work], but after that time, the triceps should get even more work than the biceps for big arm gains. 

In his own case, Marvin admits it was nearly two years after he had begun his training before he paid special attention to his triceps. He wishes now that he had started earlier, for he feels that his arm would be even larger and more shapely, had he not waited so long before doing specialized triceps exercises. 

The reason he began doing special triceps exercises was due to the fact that his arm had hit 15", and he was stuck. He pumped up his biceps practically night and day, but couldn't budge beyond that measurement. At that time he discovered that he had unusual ability in the bench press, making 250 pounds in that exercise the first time he tried it. In an effort to increase not only his upper arm size, but his bench press power as well, he began to specialize on triceps moves. How well this has worked can be seen by his 430 pound bench press of today and his huge arms. Triceps exercises have done much to make him the great champion that he is.

Over the years, Marvin has made a thorough study of the triceps muscle, and some of his findings will be of interest to all bodybuilders. To begin with, contrary to popular belief, the triceps on the trained bodybuilder is not stronger than his biceps. A good example of this can be seen by comparing the amount of weight he can handle in the one arm standing triceps curl as compared to the one arm strict biceps curl. Most bodybuilders can do considerably more in the regular standing one arm strict curl than they can in the triceps curl. This is even more evident when two arms are used, as seen by comparing what you can use in a standing French press compared with a standing two arm strict curl. 

Only when the triceps work in conjunction with other muscles, such as in overhead press, dips, and so on, does it seem to be stronger. But in direct movements which are locally held to the biceps and triceps, seldom, if ever will the triceps be more capable.

While the above is true, Marvin contends that potentially, because it is a larger muscle, the triceps is actually stronger than the biceps. It will take a lot of concentrated work to bring this about, but if enough attention is paid to the triceps in time it will surpass the biceps in direct power. To prove this, Marvin points to the fact that presently he can perform one arm standing strict triceps curls with a 100 pound dumbbell, while only making about 105 pounds in the standing one arm strict dumbbell curl. In time he feels certain that he will triceps curl 120 pounds or so, while he is close to his peak in the regular curl already. 

In discussing bodybuilders of some years back, Marvin feels that most of them showed a distinct lack of complete triceps development. He explains this with the fact that years ago there were few direct triceps exercises generally practiced, the usual movements being one and two arm presses, both standing and lying, and dipping. Today, with more movements and so on, the arms of bodybuilders today are on a  whole superior to those of oldtimers. And much stronger! 

This is pretty evident when it is realized that a 17" muscular upper arm was considered phenomenal 10 years ago, with only a few genuine arms of that size to be seen, while today there are hundreds of bodybuilders with an arm that size or inches larger. Therefore, better triceps training knowledge has been responsible to a large extent for the big arms of today. Of course more modern biceps training methods have helped too, but more gains have been made in the triceps since this was the most neglected previously.

When I asked Marvin if he thought that bodybuilders like himself, Park, Paivio, Ross, Robert, Aronis and others of the greats represented the ultimate in triceps development his answer was a sound No. He feels that even today, bodybuilders perform comparatively more work for the biceps than they do for the triceps. He does not recommend any less for the biceps, but thinks that the triceps program of the bodybuilder should be stepped up even more, and then the arms will grow bigger and bigger and much more impressive. He is following this plan himself, certain that it will give him more power in the bench press, which is his favorite lift, and add more size to his arms. 

Following up this question with another which I am sure will interest the readers, I asked . . . Do you feel that some of our top bodybuilders have reached the maximum in BICEPS development? Marvin thought that this was likely, with Aronis, Wells, Counts, Zeller. Theriault and other big arm owners having come close to their maximum of biceps size. Further improvement in their arms will have to be in the triceps, since in his opinion their biceps just can't be improved on. 

I next wanted to know who Marvin felt possessed the best triceps in the world. He gives the nod to Floyd Page for the most finely shaped triceps, to Leo Robert for the most massively formed (at 175 pounds, Robert reports 18" arms at this time), and to Reg Park for most powerful appearing. Reg has just recently made 430 in the bench press and crated a new British Professional Two Arm Dumbbell Press record of 235 pounds, so it appears as though Marvin has judged his man very well. 

Marvin has of course been around a lot and seen many unusual feats of strength performed. I asked him what he felt was the most sensational act of triceps power he had ever seen. To him, the 44 consecutive handstand dips, performed by Santos Sanchez, featherweight lifting star, was the greatest feat of pure triceps power he had ever witnessed. However, the 170 pound one arm press of Doug Hepburn, performed in good military style, while not a pure triceps feat, does show how powerful the triceps can be when working with the shoulders and upper back. Both of these strength acts represent tremendous triceps brawn. 

I had now reached the point in my interview where I was ready to ask Marvin for the exercises he recommends for maximum triceps development. Following are a list of these exercises and a trial will show you how great they are. 

Marvin suggests you use them three times a week, placing them in your routine after your heavy chest and upper back work, right after you have concluded your biceps exercises. Marvin likes to do his bench pressing and other chest exercises first, then he goes to upper back and then the biceps, followed immediately by this triceps routine. This is a good way to train for it flushes up the upper body fully.

While Marvin doesn't recommend training more than three times a week as a regular plan, he does believe that every once in a while you can train more often. Therefore, if your triceps are very underdeveloped relative to the rest of your physique, to start them growing fast you could perform just these triceps exercises on in-between training days, taking three workouts a week with them alone, and three general workouts. This should not be continued for more than a month or six weeks at a time, but sometimes in stubborn cases it will work wonders over the total of several specialization periods such as this. Try them first as a part of your regular workout, though, and only use them on in-between days if you fail to make progress that way. Here are the exercises.

Exercise #1 - Seated One Arm Triceps Curl.

This exercise is performed by lowering a dumbbell behind the head and then extending the arm again. The upper arm stays close to the head at all times, with the full strain of the exercise being thrown on the triceps muscle. 3 sets of 10 reps each arm.

Exercise #2 - Triceps Pressdown.

Hold the bar of the lat machine at the chest, and then with no body motion the bar is pushed down to the thighs. The upper arms remain close to the sides at all times. 3 sets of 10.

Exercise #3 - One Arm Pulley Rear Extensions.

Facing the pulley and bent over, the arm is extended from the chest to the rear, forcefully contracting the triceps. 3 x 10 each arm.

Exercise #4 - Parallel Bar Dips.

3 x 10, using additional weight tied to the body as your strength increases. 

Exercise #5 - Seated Two Arm Dumbbell Triceps Press.   

One dumbbell is held in both hands, held on one end. The weight is lowered behind the head and then pressed up again. 3 x 10.

Exercise #6 - Close Grip Lying Triceps Curl.

Lie on a flat bench, barbell held with a very close grip. The upper arms remain in a fixed position and the weight is lowered and raised behind the head with triceps strength only. 3 sets of . . . wait for it . . . 10 reps! Of course, you realize rep recommendations are just that and no more. 

Exercise #7 - Triceps Bentover Contraction Movement.

Grasp a light barbell in the hands, holding it behind the back and standing upright. With triceps strength, move the weight as far to the rear and away from the body as possible, and then bend the body forward, continuing to raise the weight back and up until it is held behind the back, above the head, flexing the triceps strongly. Raise the body again gradually to upright position, lowering the weight while doing so. Sets of reps, eh. 

These seven exercises are the ones Marvin has used the most in his training. When specializing for more triceps development he uses them all in one workout. At other times when some other part of his body demands more attention he picks out 2 or 3 of them, just to hold the gains he has made and to keep his triceps in shape. 


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