WSBB Blog: Quick Guide to Tricep Training
When it comes to accessory training focused on building the strongest bench possible, the triceps should be the number one focus. The triceps muscle is responsible for extending the elbow in the bench press, as well as the overhead press, and increases stability in the shoulders. At Westside we consider triceps training to be the highest priority during accessory work, here are a few of our go to exercises to increase triceps strength.
Rolling Dumbbell Tricep Extensions
If you have ever visited Westside during an upper body training day you have more than likely seen the exercise done in the gym. You will use two dumbbells, and the movement pattern is similar to a dumbbell skullcrusher. The difference with this workout is you will allow the dumbbell to travel further down the side of your head, while allowing your elbows to travel back similar to a JM press.
Your elbows should be kept relatively tight to your body, about the same or slightly more than when you bench press. We believe this movement allows us to specifically strengthen the medial head of the triceps, which is a difficult part of the muscle to target with heavy weight otherwise.
Close Grip Two Board Press vs. Mini-bands
This exercise can be done as both a main exercise or an accessory exercise. When used as a main exercise we will work up to a top set of one to three reps, when used as an accessory exercise we will perform three to five sets of eight to ten reps, sometimes working up to sets of twelve to fifteen to train the triceps to failure. To maximize the amount of accessory volume, take smaller jumps set to set.
Seated Overhead Pin Press
An extremely valuable exercise that contributes equally to triceps and shoulder strength development is the seated overhead pin press. This exercise is set up in a squat rack setting the safety bars at a height that places the barbell at a forehead height starting position. You will want to use an adjustable incline bench for this press.
We recommend performing sets of three to fives reps while working up through the lighter weights, eventually working up to a max or near max single rep. This allows for us to increase the rate of force development in the triceps muscles. Due to the advantageous position this exercise places the lifter in, coupled with the fact it is a partial movement, this exercise is one of the few accessory exercises you can work up to a 90% or above set and still recover in time for the next upper workout.
At Westside we will typically work up to a heavy accessory overhead pin press twice per month at two different barbell starting positions, focusing on beating prior records from each of the starting positions.
Tricep Extension vs Bands
One of the most common exercises used as either a super set exercise, or a way to end the tricep training day is tricep extensions vs bands. This exercise is simple, you will take a band that is heavy enough to stimulate the triceps, then you will begin performing AMRAP sets either back to back with a minute rest in between, or between sets during your final exercise of the day. One of the best ways to program these in as a super set exercise is to do them in conjunction with lateral dumbbell raises or front raises.
It is not uncommon for lifters to hit forty to fifty reps their first few sets, but the end goal is to train the triceps to failure. By the end of this workout it should be difficult to perform even one rep.
These are just a few of the exercises we use at Westside Barbell to increase our tricep strength and increase our ability to lift world class weight in both the bench press and the overhead press. For additional information regarding how we train and program for the bench press, as well as the accessory exercises we use, visit the Westside Barbell online store to purchase Lou’s Westside Barbell Bench Press Manual.