Blazing the Trail: Building Your Horseshoe Muscle
If you are looking to build a pair of impressive arms, then you will need to be sure to include one of the largest areas of your upper arm; the triceps muscle.
The triceps, responsible for extending the elbow and shoulder, make up the posterior or back part of your upper arm.
They are made up of three different heads; the long head, the medial head, and the lateral head. The long head runs the length of the upper back arm and is the only head that extends the shoulder while the medial and lateral heads dominate the middle and the outer part of the upper back arm respectively. Together all three heads are responsible for extending or straightening the elbow joint.
With enough development and definition, these three heads of the triceps muscle can resemble a horseshoe shape. When working out the triceps, you will want to be sure to perform exercises that work all three heads to get maximum results.
You can help ensure the development of all three of your triceps heads by incorporating different grips and elbow extension movements which will blaze the trail for your horseshoe muscle.
Men’s Triceps Workout Exercise Tips From the Pro
How you perform a workout is just as important as the workout itself. Although the triceps serve as assister muscles in a number of different exercises, you will want to target them with directly with isolation exercises to overload them for maximum growth. However, simply performing exercises without proper planning or form can set you up for sub par results. Therefore, I have compiled up a few tips to help you avoid making growth limiting mistakes and to help you focus in on the triceps muscle in it’s entirety for optimal growth.
Triceps Rope Extensions Exercise Tips
Using a full range of motion is a very simple technique, but it often gets overlooked as it sits in the shadows of gym egos. Gym goers are notorious for loading up the stacks or plates and performing half reps when it comes to doing triceps extensions. Although it might feel good to move a lot of weight, you are potentially robbing the triceps of all its growth potential when performing half or cheat reps.
In addition, swinging the elbows during the majority of triceps exercises removes some of the emphasis off the triceps and places it onto the muscles of the back. Remember, the priority of isolation exercises is to isolate the muscle not to load up the plate stacks.
Stressing the muscle to its fullest by performing full range of motion repetitions makes for a stronger and more developed muscle. Therefore, proper form is crucial to targeting the right muscle for muscular development and growth.
When performing any elbow extension exercises that target the triceps muscle be sure to keep your upper arm tucked at your side, and start in a position where forearms are almost in contact with your biceps. From there, extend the forearms away from the biceps until the arms are straight with elbows almost fully locked out. While keeping your arms tucked at your side, return to the starting position to finish the repetition. Keeping the arms tucked at your side stabilizes the elbow joint and puts the emphasis on the muscles of the triceps instead of the muscles of the back. Although the grips, angles, and movements may change, the starting point of the majority of triceps exercises should begin with your forearms close to your biceps while the finishing position should end with the arms straight and the elbows almost fully extended.
Changing your hand positioning or grip is a easy technique to use to engage different areas of the triceps. By performing triceps exercises with a pronated or overhand grip, the emphasis shifts to lateral head or outside part of the triceps, while performing the same exercise with a supinated or underhand grip focuses the attention on the medial head or middle part of the triceps. Therefore to maximize muscular activity out of all three heads of the triceps, the best triceps workout routines need to include exercises with supinated, pronated, and neutral grips to overload and grow all heads of the triceps.
Utilizing Different Angles:
Generally speaking, most gym goers are not thinking of the angles or planes of movement in which the exercise takes place. Changing the motion of or the angle in which you extend your elbow angle during a triceps exercise gives the muscle an opportunity to be developed from every angle thus leading to more muscular activity. So in order to engage the triceps muscle to the maximum, these workout routines include exercises that extend the triceps muscles with a variety of planes and angles.
Men’s Triceps Workout Nutrition Tips for Definition
Although performing triceps exercises will indeed firm and build that area, it has little or no impact on the fat in that area. I say this countless times, but it cannot be said often enough. When it comes to fat loss you cannot spot reduce. Therefore, if you want a nice defined pair of triceps, you will need to incorporate a proper fat loss nutrition plan.
There are such a variety of different types of fat loss diets out there, but ultimately the type of nutrition plan you choose is up to you. The determining factor for success in your fat loss and muscle growth efforts hinge on your nutrition plan having an adequate amount of protein and the right amount of energy. If your nutrition plan lacks either one, you may be short changing your results.
If you need guidance to help develop a fat loss or muscle building nutrition plan, I suggest checking out some of my nutritional articles, purchasing my lean physique guide, or hiring a nutrition coach. Remember, there is no such thing as spot reducing so if you want leaner arms, you will need to have a nutrition program that supports your goals.
Best Triceps Workout for Men: The Routines
There are two different triceps workout routines outlined below. Not only am I a proponent of exercise variation, but switching between several routines allows an individual to work the triceps muscles through a variety of different grips, angles, and motions for well rounded muscular development. Both workouts will engage all three of the triceps muscle heads by following the fundamental principles mentioned above.
These workouts should be completed up to two times a week and can be performed alone or in conjunction with another muscle group. For example, a chest and triceps workout on Monday followed a few days later by a shoulders and triceps workout on Friday. However, I do suggest periodically switching the muscle groups worked along with the triceps in your workouts because of muscular overlap. The triceps muscles serve as assister muscle groups in a number of different chest and shoulder exercises. Attempting to complete a triceps workouts after it has been used as an assister group, can set you up for a sub par performance as the triceps muscles may already be fatigued before you start.
This is why training the triceps with different muscle groups can be beneficial. For instance, there is very little or no overlap between back and leg exercises and the muscles of the triceps. Therefore, training triceps with those muscle groups would side step the fatigue issue caused by overlap allowing you to train the triceps while they are fresh.
In addition to keeping proper form and having a sound nutritional and workout program, you will need to put in the work at the gym. You cannot expect extraordinary results by simply going through the motions during your workout. Instead, be sure to using a weight or load that is challenging for the number of desired reps. If the target rep range is 8-10 reps, aim to use a weight that you can perform no more than 12 reps. Rest periods in between sets should be kept to a minimum lasting no longer than 1 minute and the repetitions should be performed at a moderate and controlled tempo.
Triceps Workout A
- Triceps Rope Extensions (neutral grip) 1 warm up set, 3 working sets 8-10 reps
- Underhand Triceps Straight Bar Cable Extensions (supinated grip) 3 working sets 8-10 reps
- Skull Crushers (pronated grip) 3 working sets 10-12 reps
Triceps Workout B
- Triceps Kick Backs (neutral grip) 1 warm up set, 3 working sets 10-12 reps
- Triceps Bench Dips (pronated grip) 3 working sets 12-15 reps
- Dumbbell Triceps Overhead Extensions (neutral grip) 3 working sets 12-15 reps
The Bottom Line
The key to getting horseshoe like triceps developed on the back of your arms requires solid workout and nutritional habits. From a workout perspective, you will need to incorporate different grips and motions as well as performing the exercises with full range of motion to maximize growth in all areas of the triceps muscle.
Keep in mind that muscular development is only half the battle; the other half is being lean enough to see that muscle mass. Nutrition affects both muscular growth and leanness and is the key player in triceps definition. Therefore, if you want some horseshoe looking triceps, then it is critical to implore proper training and nutrition protocols as that is the only way you can reap the full benefits of your gym labor.