Triceps on fire – are you ready for that?

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After our article on biceps workout, our series would not be complete without a triceps workout. A greater part of the arm’s mass (about two thirds) is made up by the triceps. Knowing that, it would be a mistake to neglect it, wouldn’t it? Still many do that (and focus on the pecs and biceps, you know). If you tried the high-rep biceps workout, you know how painful it is. Just for you to know: this will be even worse ;) But it’s worth it!

The exercises

Although the tricep is a larger muscle group than the bicep, and training all of its three heads takes a bit more work, more is not necessarily better. Remember: your triceps get some load during chest and shoulder workouts, too. And even though they are bigger than your biceps, they do not belong to the large muscle groups.

The rest break is ideally one minute. You may prolong it up to 90 seconds in the case of more difficult exercises.

Machine dips

Description of the substitute exercise

This may be the “Achilles heel” of this plan, as not every gym has a dip machine. If there isn’t any in your gym, you may substitute this exercise with push up dips between benches. You can try traditional dips, too. However, the machine or the bench version enables you to isolate your triceps better, so you don’t need to worry that your shoulders or pecs will tire sooner than your triceps. And these tiny details matter a lot in the case of high rep counts, as they did in the biceps workout.

And, just like in the biceps workout, start with a set of 30 or even 40 reps (after sufficient warm-up, of course). And you should NOT use a small weight but a weight that will make 30 reps a real torture. This means, you should not choose the weight so that you can comfortably do the exercise; choose the weight so that you die a little bit in each set in order to complete the target rep counts. In the second set, raise the weight and do as many reps as you can, but preferably no less than 20. Then comes another raise; don’t go below 15 reps. And, at the end, when you have hopefully reached your own weight (on a dip machine) in the 4th set, you should not go below 12 reps either. If you cannot make it with your own weight, you should not increase the load this far.

In the case of push up dips between benches, you should begin with your own weight and increase load by putting weight plates on your lap or dumbbells between your legs.

Supine tricep extensions

Description of the exercise

Yes, our old friend: the skull crusher. It might as well be devastating for your elbows, too. I recommend that you use a decline bench if you can. This will put less stress on your elbows. And—unlike the horizontal bench version—your triceps will be less likely to rest in the top position.

If you are doing this exercise on a horizontal bench, your triceps get virtually zero load when you stretch out your arms fully, as your arms will underpin the weight. While doing this exercise on a decline bench so that your arms are not vertical in the top position, but your elbows are slightly shifted towards your head, your arms will be working against gravity even in the stretched position. This will ensure your triceps are under constant load.

Again, keep the rep counts high: you might go up to 30 in the first set if you can. Then, increase the weight and do 20. And, after another raise, you may finish with a set of 12 to 15 reps. An aide behind you might prove useful in the last set, especially at the horizontal bench—I have seen fellows who overestimated their strength and the bar knocked on their heads at the end—just to make it clear where the alternative name of this exercise came from. It doesn’t look good and it surely doesn’t feel good either. And, as you will see, this kind of training is likely to drain your strength suddenly and unexpectedly...

Rope triceps extensions

Description of the exercise

Our last exercise will lead you to the high pulley. You should keep in mind that the amount of weight is only of secondary importance; all you need to focus on is the mind-muscle connection and fully strict form! So: hold the peak contraction at the lowest point; flex it; keep the negative phase slow and absolutely under control; and the positive phase should be crisp, but not haphazard. Only your forearms should be moving; the upper arms or other muscles should not help in. The rest break should be no longer than 1 minute; preferably 30 to 45 seconds. Keep the reps between 15 and 20. Always use the heaviest weights possible that still enable you to do the exercises in strict form. You might need to lower the weight at some point. In this case, feel free to lower it; it’s only the sense that matters. 4 sets will suffice. If you have some extra energy, you can go for more. Then it will almost be like FST-7 :)


Description of the exercise

The rope is not only good for cable pushdowns, but for overhead tricep extensions, too. If you keep rest breaks short as we recommend it, try to do these two exercises alternately. One pushdown, one extension, one pushdown, one extension. This will “spice up” the experience for sure.

And the icing on the cake

You may use this training plan (occasionally) in supersets with the biceps workout we mentioned before! Biceps on a Scott bench—machine dips; then, incline bicep curls—supine tricep extensions; then, hammer and concentration bicep curls in supersets with the pulley exercises. If you do concentration curls at the end of your workout, I recommend you do it with a barbell, on a vertical Scott bench. This exercise is easier done in supersets with pulley tricep exercises. This arm workout will give you a sense—and a look—you have never experienced before. You can take it for granted. And, if you fuel up with pre-workout igniters: well, I can’t find the words for that ;)

You should only apply the superset version occasionally or for a limited period of time to avoid overtraining. And remember: this is an intense training plan. Work each muscle group once a week, not more!

Go hard or go home!


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