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By Sean Nalewanyj

Biceps training is an important part of a complete workout plan for building up your arms… but did you know that your triceps are actually twice as big and make up 2/3 of your total upper arm muscle mass?

If you really want a set of arms that pop, it’s time to get serious about your triceps training.

The triceps is made up of 3 individual muscles which perform the function of straightening your upper arm:

- The long head
- The lateral head
- The medial head

For complete triceps development, all 3 heads need to be fully stimulated for growth.

Although any triceps targeted exercise will cause all 3 heads to fire simultaneously, you can still use specific exercises to shift the emphasis onto different heads.

To structure an effective overall triceps workout for mass, at least one movement pattern should be dedicated to each individual head.

It should be noted that there are literally hundreds of different triceps exercises you could perform. My goal is to keep this as simple as possible by outlining the most basic, proven-to-work exercises for each category…

The Long Head

This is the largest of the 3 heads and runs down the back of the upper arm.

The most effective exercises for targeting the long head are overhead extension movements where the triceps start off fully stretched behind your head.

Any of the following overhead extension movements will work well for emphasizing the long head…

* Overhead dumbbell extensions (You can also use the 2-handed version)
* Overhead straight-bar extensions
* Overhead cable rope extensions

Always make sure to use a full range of motion with a very strict, controlled pace on these types of exercises. They’re excellent for stimulating your triceps but can also put a lot of stress on your elbows if performed incorrectly.

The Lateral Head

This head gives the triceps its “horseshoe” shape and runs down the outer side of the upper arm beside the long head.

To shift the emphasis onto the lateral head, pushdown movements are going to be your best bet…

* Straight bar cable pushdowns
* Twisting rope cable pushdown
* One arm cable pushdowns

Again, keep these movements strict, use a full range of motion and stick with a weight that you can control at all times.

The Medial Head

The medial head runs directly underneath the long head and is only visible towards the bottom of your upper arm.

This head is maximally stimulated during close-grip pressing movements…

* Close-grip barbell presses (These can be performed on a flat, incline or decline angle and can be done using either a barbell or dumbbells)
* Narrow-grip dips

It should be noted that any regular grip pressing or dipping movement will target the medial pretty significantly. Because of that, all of your basic chest and shoulder training should provide plenty of stimulation for this head already.

If you want to include a close-grip press or dip for good measure that’s fine, but it won't be a big deal either way.

Triceps Workout For Mass: Wrapping It Up

So, that’s really all it takes to fully stimulate all 3 heads of the triceps for optimum upper arm growth.

A complete tricep workout for mass should include:

- An overhead extension to target the long head.
- A pushdown movement to target the lateral head.
- A close-grip bench press or dip to target the medial head. (Optional)

Your triceps can be directly trained 1-2 times per week with anywhere from 2-4 sets per movement.

The volume and frequency you use will depend on your level of training intensity. If you’re training to failure, less volume and frequency is required; if you’re training a few reps short of failure, more volume and frequency will be necessary for complete stimulation.

In terms of reps, I’ve always been a fan of the 5-7 range for stimulating maximum hypertrophy, but anything up to 10 reps will be highly effective.

For your overhead extension and pushdown movements I’d suggest sticking to the higher end of the rep range in order to protect your elbow joint.

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