The Complete Arnold: Triceps

Arnold Schwarzenegger answers your questions on training, nutrition, and intensity.


Your biceps seem to be discussed much more than your tri’s. Can you give us some insight to your triceps training methods?


One thing I learned in my many years of training is that the isolation principle is very important for developing fabulous triceps. Triceps exercises must isolate the three muscle heads to work them properly. Consequently, you must know which movements best affect each head. Early in my bodybuilding career, I picked up an idea from Vince Gironda that helped me learn which exercises had the greatest effect on particular body parts. Vince would choose an exercise and perform 15–20 sets of 20 reps, and that’s all he would do that day for triceps (which is plenty). The next day, judging from where he experienced the greatest muscle soreness, he got his answer as to what area of the triceps that exercise worked the most. If he had done cable pressdowns, he would know whether they targeted his inner or outer head more or if they emphasized the lower section of the muscle group. Using this method, you’d know what area of the tri’s each movement affects most. Although today, with the help of Vince’s and Joe Weider’s techniques, as well as exercise science studies, we know more about which exercises hit what areas of most muscles.

You must be an instinctive trainer. You have to experiment, find out what’s best for you and stick with it. Don’t be afraid to use as many different exercises as you know, especially for tri’s. Training triceps is different from training biceps because with the latter you have one movement, the curl, with which you do as many variations as possible (barbell, dumbbell, preacher, etc.). With tri’s, you can do exercises in front of your body, overhead, or lying down, and you can also target them with a close-grip barbell bench press. The tri’s need to be isolated to grow to their potential, so concentrate strongly on the action of each exercise. - FLEX

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