When you train the triceps, you should target larger muscle groups surrounding the triceps (like the chest and shoulders) first. Why? “Muscles are used in a large-to-small recruiting pattern in the body,” Stillwaggon explains. “That means your strongest muscles, almost always your largest muscle groups will usually be recruited first.”
In other words, if you want to target or build strength in the triceps, you’ll need to tire the larger muscle groups before your body will begin recruiting the smaller ones like the triceps. The easy solution? Whenever you’re training the triceps, first knock out a set involving chest and shoulder exercises (like an overhead press, chest press, and side raises).
I think a lot of people use cable exercises above everything else for triceps. I like cables a lot for triceps, but I want to help make you realize how good dumbbells can be for tricep growth as well!
- Seated Upright Unilateral Seated Overhead Dumbbell Extensions
I don’t think there is a better overhead extension exercise for the triceps, to really stretch out the long head. I like to let the dumbbell fall right behind my head, so there is a big stretch – don’t make the mistake of going too heavy and shortening your range of motion. Make sure you have enough shoulder mobility so the elbow can point upwards, rather than to the side otherwise your long head won’t get as much tension.
You can even use a pause to make the stretch even more noticeable.
- Incline Bilateral Dumbbell Extensions
Using bilateral overhead dumbbell extensions on an incline has a shorter range of motion, but they are a great way to rep out on the triceps and get blood into the long head. I would use these to finish triceps off with “finisher” sets, taking just 30 seconds between each set.
- Lying Single-Arm Dumbbell Extension (outward)
This can be used as a mass builder for the long head – just don’t overuse it because the elbows do a lot of work here. On a flat bench, do single-arm dumbbell extensions, but this time have your little finger pointing outwards so the extension is across your body, rather than downwards. In that 8-12 rep range, it can be a great mass builder!
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