Article by Dave Groscup, IART/Med-Ex HIT Trainer
For those bodybuilding enthusiasts who are looking to add measurable size to their arms- and who isn’t-there are some facts that are undeniable. First of all, it makes no sense to do set after set of barbell curls in an effort to magically amp up arm size.
Biceps make up only 1/3rd of total upper arm size; triceps contribute a full 2/3rd ! So to build massive arms you need to pay as much-or more- attention to developing your triceps. Besides, triceps contribute heavily to bench pressing strength, especially in the final third of the lift. They also assist the shoulders during pressing movements.
Establishing the Appropriate Volume for Triceps Training
As you no doubt know, I am an advocate of HIT, or high intensity training. I have been using this protocol for many years and have trained other bodybuilders successfully with it. HIT enables bodybuilders to find the exact amount of training needed to stimulate maximum muscle growth without overtraining. This training requires intense concentration and the willingness to push yourself.
Set volume for triceps training differs based on the experience of the bodybuilder, HIT variables used and the recuperative abilities of the individual. For instance, if you train to failure but don’t use any HIT variables, it will be necessary to use a higher amount of sets in your training, because while the intensity of effort is high, it isn’t as high as it is with forced reps added at the end of the set.
Experience of the bodybuilder matters because the longer you train the stronger you get and the more strain you put on your energy systems. You are able to focus better, training the muscles harder by directing the resistance on the muscle more efficiently. Because of this it is necessary to drop the amount of sets.
The following guideline is a great place to start. Remember, it is imperative that you push yourself hard because if you don’t, it will be hard to see the results you desire.
This is the period of time when you learn proper exercise form and technique.
Use 3-4 sets, finishing one rep prior to failure.
After you have been training for 2-4 months, you will have reached this level. By this time proper form will have been learned and you will have progressed substantially in the weights you use for your exercises. Use 3 sets to failure.
At this point you are able to focus intense energy on working your muscles completely during a session. In addition to training nearly all sets to failure, you are using advanced HIT variables as directed in my books to increase the intensity of your workouts to produce much faster gains in muscle and strength.
Use 1-2 sets to failure. To break this down further, during workouts where sets are taken to failure, do the maximum number of sets and use the minimum if using two or more variables during sets.
Note: Complete all routines by moving from one exercise to the next without resting in-between.
- lying triceps extensions-1×12
- standing triceps press-downs-1×10
- triceps kickbacks-1×12
- close-grip bench press-1×10
- triceps kickbacks-1×12
- seated triceps extensions-1×10
- standing bar dips-1×8
- seated triceps forward extensions-1×8 plus 4 forced reps at end of set
- seated machine dips-1×8 negative-only reps plus 4 static contraction holds
Have an assistant lift the weight for you while you lower it to a count of 8. Decrease the weight slightly and with the help of a partner, press the arms of the machine down until they are near the lockout position. Hold the arms in position for 10 seconds before returning the weight to the stack. Reduce the weight then repeat until a total of 4 holds have been completed.
If you follow my advice and put forth +close to 100% effort, you will succeed in building great Triceps muscles.
David Groscup has over 35 years of training experience in HIT, or High Intensity Weight Training. He is certified as a High Intensity Trainer by the IART/Med-Ex Group and has trained many people successfully in this protocol.
He has authored several books on the subject of high intensity training, which are available at: http://www.amazon.com/author/davidgroscup
You can read his blog on High Intensity Training at: http://drhitshighintensitybodybuilding.blogspot.com/