This workout will help you maximize the size of your triceps while minimizing the toll and impact that could bother your elbows.

By Roger Lockridge

Since the triceps make up the majority of the upper arm and are involved in a lot of heavy pressing action, it can be easy to fall for the temptation of training them hard with heavy weight and reckless abandon.

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The issue is that over the course of many training sessions, you pose a greater risk of annoying aches or even serious injury to the elbows. If your elbows suffer, you risk not being able to train to the best of your ability, losing hard-earned muscle, and overall issues that can impact your life out of the weight room too.

This workout will help you prepare properly, train at your highest level, and minimize any risk to those all-important joints in the middle of the arm. You’re looking at a time commitment of around 30 minutes and can plug this workout in as a part of your arm training or after a pushing muscle group like chest or shoulders.

Single Arm Cable Extension – 3 sets of 20, 15, 10 reps per arm.

Cable movements are best to isolate a muscle group and warm-up because the motion is restricted, you have tension throughout the entire range of motion, and your joints will be able to produce synovial fluid which acts as a lubricant.

Whichever arm is weaker is the one you should start with. Perform 20 reps with each arm while controlling the speed at which you lift. Focus only on contracting the muscle and don’t let weight be too much of a concern. Once you finish with the first arm, repeat with the other, and rest for 60 seconds before starting again. Add weight with each set as the reps decrease.

Close Grip Bench Press – 4 sets of 12, 10, 8, 6 reps.

This is a bread and butter movement. Your shoulder blades should be retracted and pulled in so your chest can stick out higher. This helps also minimize shoulder involvement so you can focus more on triceps.

Keep your grip around shoulder-width apart so you don’t place any stress on your wrists. When you lower the bar to your chest, stop at the bottom for a second. This eliminates momentum and makes your triceps work harder. After that brief pause, press up as high as you can until your arms are close to locking out. Don’t lock them out completely! Keep that tension on the muscles. Add weight after each set and rest for 90 seconds between sets.

Lying Rolling Dumbbell Triceps Extension – 3 sets of 10 reps.

You likely know these as “skull crushers”. You can do them on the floor or on a bench. The differences with these are you’re using dumbbells instead of a bar and you’ll allow the dumbbells to “roll” back behind you as you lower them. They should go down to around your shoulders and then roll them back like you’re trying to touch the floor. Go as far as you comfortably can and don’t try to force the stretch. Once you’ve rolled them back, roll them back up and press them up to arms’ length. Squeeze the triceps as hard as you can before lowering them back down again. Stick with a weight that will force you to work but not reach failure. Rest for 60 seconds between sets.

Kneeling Rope Pressdown – 3 sets of 15 reps.

The only difference between these and the standing version is that you’re on your knees which decreases your ability to use momentum. That makes your triceps work harder which is what we want at the end of the workout. We’ve also went back to a cable exercise for the same reasons we started, isolation and less toll on the elbows.

Spread that rope apart at the bottom as much as you can. Don’t forget to turn your wrists so you can maximize that contraction. Slowly let the rope back up but don’t let your upper arms come up with them. Lock them into your sides. Use the same weight each set and rest for 45 seconds in between. They’ll burn at the end but that’s what we want. 6 weeks on this program will help you see improvement in the triceps without any extra toll on the elbows.

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