Tri Tips

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Whether triceps are your worst or best bodypart, these tips will help you balance your physique.

1. Limit the number of exercises
Regardless of whether your triceps are a strength or a weakness, you should never perform more than three exercises for them per workout in the offseason. Only if you're preparing for a bodybuilding show should you do four exercises and then only during your cutting phase. Triceps are a small muscle group, and they respond better to intensity of training than they do to volume. Three well-planned exercises performed properly will always fully fatigue the triceps. If you do more than that, you're either overtraining or working with too little intensity.

2. Limit the number of sets
Young bodybuilders often tell me they limit the different exercises they perform to three, but then they admit to doing five or six sets of each one. That's just a different version of the same problem--overtraining. For triceps, you should limit the total number of working sets you perform to nine, certainly no more than 12.

3. Use a moderate rep pace
I use typical bodybuilding form for triceps, and I recommend the same for you, regardless of your level of triceps development. When you train triceps, you don't need to be as creative as when you train complex bodyparts, such as back, which call for using different grips, handles and angles.

My form is simple, almost primitive, regardless of the triceps exercise. I use a moderate pace, focusing on stretching and flexing the muscle. At the top of every eccentric phase, I squeeze my triceps.

4. Include overhead movements
Overhead exercises activate your triceps differently than pressing movements. Your triceps are more stretched throughout the range of motion. Incorporate overhead rope extensions and seated overhead cambered-bar extensions into your triceps training. The latter is good for adding mass, whether you're a beginner or an advanced bodybuilder, and it's particularly important for those with weak triceps.

5. How to train triceps if they're a strength
If triceps are a strength of your physique, you should perform nine or fewer total sets, and you should train them directly after you train your chest. This will allow you to focus more on chest. Also, don't train your triceps every time you train chest. Skip tris every fourth chest workout to help keep your physique in balance. Concentrate more on detail movements than mass builders.

6. How to train triceps if they're a weakness
In this case, perform more reps for each set, but never more than 12. Use a light enough weight that you can really feel the stretch and flex during each rep--weak triceps are often the result of using too much weight to adequately work them. Switch your training around so that sometimes you work triceps first. Try pairing them with biceps instead of chest. Train chest a day or two after triceps, rather than a day or two before, to better prioritize them. Nasser El Sonbaty's Tri Alternative Workouts

ROUTINE ONE

One-arm dumbell extensions
Sets: 3
Reps: 8-12

Seated overhead cambered-bar extensions
Sets: 3
Reps: 8-12

Rope pressdowns
Sets: 3
Reps: 8-12

ROUTINE TWO

Overhead rope extensions
Sets: 3
Reps: 8-12

Two-arm dumbbell extensions
Sets: 3
Reps: 8-12

Narrow-grip bench presses
Sets: 3
Reps: 8-12

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