Training Muscle Groups Series – TRICEPS
The Triceps muscle are made up of three different heads; Long Head, Medial Head and Lateral Head, all of which are responsible for extension of the elbow, and in the case of the Long Head, is also involved as a shoulder extensor due to its biarticular nature.
The Lateral head is located on the outer portion of the arm and is quite often the easiest of the triceps heads to develop (most exercises involving push down variations will recruit this area well).
Whilst the Lateral head can be more easily developed, it does not offer much in the way of pressing strength or overall arm mass.
The Long head, by contrast, is located on the inner portion of the arm and contributes more to the overall density of the muscle.
If we’re looking to develop a muscle across its full anatomical range, then we need to know the most lengthened and shortened positions. In the case of the triceps (including the long head), its fully lengthened position will involve the arm being positioned overhead and the elbow fully flexed (think any overhead extension exercises), whilst its shortest position will involve the arm in a position of shoulder extension with full elbow extension.
One common misconception with triceps training is hand position and its relation to the triceps recruitment. Whilst this is certainly an important factor when it comes to Biceps training (as these muscles impact forearm supination/pronation), the same does not ring true when training the Triceps group. As mentioned above, the triceps group is responsible for elbow extension only.
Altering hand position in different degrees of supination and pronation will not change the triceps muscle group recruitment.
With this in mind, if we’re looking to optimise triceps development, the key factor to remember is to change the arm position in relation to the shoulder. Compound pressing exercises will primarily work the muscle in its strongest position, so opt for isolation exercises that focus on working the extreme ranges.
An example tri-set that works the muscle through its most shortened, mid-range and lengthened positions is provided below.
A1) Standing Dual Rope Cable Trice Extensions 3 x 10-12 3013
A2) 10° Incline Lying Triceps Extension / Skullcrusher – (Neutral Grip) 3 x 8-10 3210
A3) 70° Incline Lying Dual Rope Cable Triceps Extensions – (set with low pulley) 3 x 10-12 4210
UP Mayfair London, Personal Trainer Reid Stafford