I train triceps last in a workout where I hit chest and shoulders first, but my tris are lagging. How can I bring them up?
You need to make your triceps training a priority in your workout program. You state that you hit your triceps after training chest and shoulders. Although matching triceps with chest and shoulders to create a “push” workout is good in theory, in practice it causes the last of the three pushing muscle groups — in this case, your triceps — to suffer. They’ve already taken a beating as secondary movers in all of your chest and shoulder exercises, so by the time you’re ready to focus on isolating the triceps muscles, they’re drained.
Prioritizing your workouts is no different than prioritizing your life. When we want to get a promotion at work, we tend to focus our energies on our job and make it a primary consideration in our day. When we’re looking for a relationship, we make it a point to get out and socialize more often. Instinctively, we prioritize our lives according to our wants and needs. So it goes for bodybuilding.
If you want to prioritize your triceps, you will need to make them the centerpiece of your workout. Rather than training triceps after chest and shoulders, set them apart from your other pushing movements. Train your tris on the same day as legs and biceps. This way, your tris will be fresh when you hit them.
"Rather than training triceps after chest and shoulders, set them apart from your other pushing movements."
Normally, I would suggest training thighs, the larger of the three muscle groups, first, followed by bis and tris. But because you’ve indicated that your triceps are lagging, you should start your workout with triceps to fully prioritize them. Perform two exercises: lying triceps extensions and pushdowns. Stick with three sets per exercise, but treat the first as a warm-up set, consisting of 12 to 15 reps, and perform the following two to hit failure around the eighth rep.
Start with lying extensions. I prefer using a cambered bar, as it takes stress off the wrists and elbows. Make sure to follow proper form when performing these, which means lowering the bar to your forehead and keeping your elbows immobile throughout the movement. I’ve seen many people turn this into a close-grip bench press by using sloppy form. Avoid doing that. Also, always have a spotter handy for this exercise.
Move next to pushdowns. As with lying extensions, keep good form, meaning elbows in and rigid. Also, do not let the handle fly back up during the negative portion of the movement. Control the weight and stop the motion when your hands reach the midpoint of your chest.
Once you begin to prioritize your triceps, I’m confident you’ll see the kind of growth you’ve come to expect from the rest of your body. - FLEX