All right, all you math whizzes out there. Which is bigger: two-thirds or one-third?
Time's up. For those of you who answered right away, good job! To those of you who looked at your fingers and started counting aloud, don't fret-even without calculation skills, you'll find the DMV is always a career option.
The real reason for the question was not to lead you into an article on basic math. (After all, if you wanted to read something basic, you'd get a Detroit Lions playbook, right?) The question refers to your upper arm and its mass, or lack thereof.
You see, most guys-not you, of course-but most guys spend a whole lot of time training their biceps. You give a man a mirror, a bar and a set of weights and come back in five minutes, and you can damn well bet you'll find him doing a barbell curl. The triceps, on the other hand, barely gets any notice in the gym. Maybe a kick-back here, a press-down there, but certainly not the attention owed a muscle that makes up two-thirds of your upper arm.
Yes, to bust through your shirtsleeves, you need big tris-and so we present a unique workout that can help, and only requires four fingers to count all the exercises involved. Now let's hurry up before your Mensa meeting starts.
Armed With Knowledge
The triceps can be chiseled in a couple of different ways. In a press, the tris work in conjunction with the chest and shoulders to move a weight above the torso from a lying-down position or overhead from a standing or seated position. In an extension, you straighten your arm against resistance while your shoulder remains stationary.
According to David McWhorter, Ph.D., C.S.C.S., an anatomy professor in Kansas City, Mo., extensions work the triceps more directly. "Any exercise in which there's only movement at the elbow and not at the shoulder will work the tris the hardest," he says. "On the other hand, exercises that involve both the elbow and shoulder [such as a close-grip press] are going to share the work among different muscle groups."
[pagebreak] That doesn't mean that you should only do extensions. Pressing movements allow you to handle heavier weights, which in turn can lead to more muscle stimulation. Both types of movements should be included to achieve a complete triceps routine. If you pair chest or shoulders with triceps, chances are you're getting the benefits of at least one pressing movement, meaning you may not always have to add another press when it's time to fry the tris. If you work your triceps by themselves or as part of a dedicated arms day, you should include some type of close-grip bench-press variation, or even push-ups, along with at least one or two extension moves.
This workout is designed to take the place of your current triceps routine. If you're getting results from that routine, you can occasionally substitute one or more of the exercises presented here to give yourself a new stimulus. Before you begin, a few notes to keep in mind:
First, consider having a spotter for the reverse, close-grip bench press. As an option, for slightly more safety, you can use a Smith machine with the stops set right above chest level.
On the fixed-bar triceps extension, take your time. This move puts the long head of the triceps under maximum stretch at the bottom, which in theory leads to a stronger contraction on the positive part of each rep. But for best results, a slow, steady pace and a full contraction of the tris will make you feel like you're etching new detail into the muscle before the first of the two sets is history.
For the first reps of the finishing exercise, the one-arm-at-a-time lying, cross-body dumbbell extensions, move the dumbbell slowly through the full range of motion, flexing on the way up and maintaining muscle tension on the way down. As you tire, you can speed up the concentric portion of the rep while maintaining a deliberate descent, squeezing the remaining energy and power out of every last muscle fiber in the back of your arm.
Click the workout link below to view the exercises.