Shock Your Triceps

Ronnie Coleman's favorite triceps shock routine.


What is your favorite triceps shock routine?


I don’t have a specific workout, but I do have a specific principle: in every shock workout, I need to be able to build such a phenomenal pump that I can actually see and, more important, feel my triceps swell to their max with new size and hardness. 

Developing that sensation is not as simple as it seems. I put my mind into the skin-popping tightness of blood and the deep-burning hardness of an iron-hammered pump every time I flex that muscle, and I must never let my concentration lag. 

I don’t waste a single repetition. If you’ve ever pumped or pounded away at anything — your bike tires when you were a kid, an airhammer compactor during a summer construction job, the grease gun when servicing your car — then you know the satisfying feeling of building that pressure to the point where it’s full, solid and ready to burst. That’s the sensation I need in my muscles. 

My shock workouts are fundamentally the same as my normal workouts, with my favorite exercises for my usual rep range of 12-15. The significant difference is that my triceps shock workouts are performed in giant-set fashion. 

For triceps, I pick four exercises and hit them one set at a time, in sequence, nonstop, three times through. That’s 12 total sets. The only pause I may take (not always) is after each four-exercise (four-set) sequence; even then, only for a few seconds, to shake out my arms. 

Neither do I use typical giant-set “pump” weight. I always go heavy. Right from the start of the set, my triceps pry away like a car jack to get that weight up there, so when I reach rep nine or 10, they’re stone hard from the pump. That tells me I’m almost there, so I grind out two, three, sometimes five more reps, then immediately start another 12- to 15-rep set for the next exercise, again heavy, pressurizing the blood even tighter and deeper into my triceps, so the knotting twisting pain of the pump builds unbearably. You learn to love it. 

A typical exercise selection for a triceps shock would be two behind-the- neck extension movements, a cable pushdown and a “belly builder,” such as lying cambered-bar extensions. A lot of bodybuilders say you should start with the heaviest and most basic exercise, but I’ve found that the order of exercises has nothing to do with triceps development. If you have a hierarchy of exercises, that means some are not as good as the others, so get rid of them. They should all be the best. 

My triceps shock workout immediately follows my chest workout, so that my triceps are prepumped and thus able to reach their full blood capacity quicker. It also means only one trip to the gym that day, which avoids the lactic acid buildup before a second workout. 

Another thing: shock your triceps twice a week, to keep that pump in there, and change the exercise order each time. 

Start with the workout I’m giving you here — it’s one of my favorites. Use good form and a full range of motion, and always keep your mind on pressurizing the pump and hammering away at that hardness. - FLEX  


EXERCISE: Seated one-arm dumbbell extensions, SETS: 3, REPS: 12-15 

EXERCISE: Seated two-arm dumbbell extensions SETS: 3, REPS: 12-15

EXERCISE: V-bar cable pushdown, SETS: 3, REPS: 12-15

EXERCISE: Lying cambered-bar extensions, SETS: 3, REPS: 12-15


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