The triceps is usually the forgotten part of the arm despite the fact that it's a much bigger muscle than its overrated brother - the biceps. I've seen people do more biceps exercises than I do for legs and yet they often neglect the triceps because it's not a “popular” muscle in our society.
The following routine is inspired by the High Intensity Principles of Dorian Yates and the arm training philosophy of the The Legend Larry Scott.
The triceps are a large muscle group and a very strong one. I've seen people bench over 300 pounds with very light chest development. How? Triceps. They are strong motherfuckers.
The back of your arms has three heads - external head, medial head and long/internal head. The biggest one and accidentally the hardest to hit is the long head. It's the only head of the three that attaches to the scapula and therefor you need to have your arms overhead in order to pre-stretch it and "load" it hard. Otherwise it's having a smoke break.
Training The Long Head
Larry Scott's favorite exercise for development of the long head are the Kneeling Rope Pulls. The exercise is quite simple but there are a few fine points to it.
Step 1: Find the V-shape handle and attach it to the upper section of a cable station.
Step2: Place a regular flat bench in the middle of the cable station.
Step3: Facing away from the pulley, grab the V-handle, get on your knees and place your elbows on the bench in front of you.
Step4: Extend your arms slowly and under control in order to avoid stress on your elbow tendons.
Triceps Training Inspired By Larry Scott and Dorian Yates
The following article represents a triceps routine which combines many of the triceps exercises used by Larry Scott and the high-intensity programming popularized by the H.I.T. master Dorian Yates
Recommended sets and reps:
The following rep scheme was programmed using the High-intensity principles popularized by Mike Mentzer and Dorian Yates.
2 warm-up sets with a moderate weight that allows you to do 10 -12 reps.
1 working sets with a weight that allows you to do 7-8 reps. Go to form failure. 1 back-off set to form failure with 80-90% of the weight used for your working set;
Rest: 1 minute rest between the two warm-up sets and the work set. 10-15 sec rest before the back-off set.
Note: Those are just guidelines and an example of how to program this exercise. You should always make decisions based on the way you feel. Don't blindly follow anything.
Training The External and Medial Head
The external head of the triceps will add width to your frame. Luckily most of the exercises you are currently doing are hitting it hard. Most people even have overdeveloped external heads. The regular triceps push-downs will get the job done just fine. Since this is a a very popular exercise I won't go into details.
However in order to put more emphasis on the external head flare your elbows. That way the movement becomes more of a close grip decline bench press only done on a cable. This will add meat to your arms and transform your current fatceps.
Recommended sets: The same as the first exercise.
All Three Heads - Finisher
Choose between the exercises below:
Close Grip Flat Bench Press; Close Grip Decline Bench Press; Parallel Bar Dips; Close Board presses;
Recommended Sets and reps:
2-4 warm-up sets for the bench press - depending on how much you lift; 1 working sets of 6-8 reps. Go to failure - use a spotter; 1 back-off set using 80% of the weight used on your working set; Go to failure - use a spotter.
Parallel Bar Dips
If you are strong and you can do weighted dips do 1-2 sets of 10-15 bodyweight dips and then do one 1 working set with weight to form failure - 6-8 reps. If you are very strong and can lift a lot of weight you will need to do more warm-up sets before you get to your working weight. Use your experience as your guide.
All of the above exercise will hit the three heads of the triceps pretty hard. You can cycle them every 4-6 weeks. For example you do close grip bench press for six weeks and then you switch it for board presses for a little bit of muscle confusion and to break the monotony. In case you are unfamiliar with board presses - this is a regular bench press done with wooden boards on your chest in order to reduce the range of motion and take the pectorals and front delts out of the movement while keeping the stress on the triceps. It's a very popular assistance exercise among powerlifters who want to improve a certain week area of their bench press. In case your gym does not have boards or experienced powerlifters who can show you how to perform the exercise just choose some of the other exercises. They are all compound triceps blasters.
In case you wonder why the isolation exercise are done before the big movements the answer is - injury prevention. Let's say that you are very strong on the weighted dips but after a certain weight your shoulder starts to call. It happens. Dips are stressful on the shoulder. By pre-exhausting the triceps with isolation exercises you will greatly reduce the weight you lift. That way your triceps will get plenty of stimulation from your dips while taking some stress from your shoulder and mainly the AC joint due to strain at the bottom position of the dip. The same things stays true for the presses although they are very kind to the shoulder compared to the weighted dips or bodyweight dips. When you've killed your triceps with an isolation exercise prior to a compound movement the triceps will go to failure before your shoulders or chest.
Demonstration of the exercise by The Legend Larry Scott