Ronnie Coleman was one of the biggest, strongest bodybuilders of all time. He was known for throwing the 200 pound dumbbells all over the place on chest day and lifting unbelievably heavy weights for his triceps exercises.
Just take a look at this video of Ronnie Coleman bench pressing 500 pounds for reps:
Just ask any powerlifter: you need incredibly strong triceps to bench press that much weight!
However, Ronnie was no slouch when it came to training his triceps. He trained them hard and heavy twice per week just like he did every other body part.
In case you were curious here is Ronnie’s full weekly training schedule:
Ronnie Coleman’s Training Split
- Monday: Pull Workout #1
- Tuesday: Legs Workout #1
- Wednesday: Push Workout #1
- Thursday: Pull Workout #2
- Friday: Legs Workout #2
- Saturday: Push Workout #2
- Sunday: Off
Ronnie trains each body part twice per week using a 6 day push / pull / legs split. Ronnie trains his triceps on his “push” day right after training his chest.
One of the interesting things about Ronnie’s tricep routine is he used completely different exercises during his two weekly workouts. This is a great strategy for an advanced bodybuilder like Ronnie because you can train your triceps from multiple angles and avoid boredom in the gym.
Let’s take a look at Ronnie’s first weekly tricep workout. Check it out:
Ronnie Coleman Tricep Workout #1
- A1: One-arm DB french press, 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps
- B1: Hammer strength machine dips, 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps
- C1: Standing cable tricep pushdown, 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps
Here is the training video for all three triceps exercises:
One of the things that I really like about this workout is that he used 3 completely different triceps exercises. This is important because the triceps have 3 different muscle heads:
Most triceps exercises only target 1 or 2 of these triceps heads. If you want to train all three heads then you really do need to use a wide variety of exercises to “hit the muscle from all angles.”
Ronnie starts his workout with the one-arm dumbbell french press. The term “french press” is just another way of saying an overhead triceps extension exercise. All types of overhead extensions are great for overloading the load head of the triceps. They place the long head under a huge stretch and are fantastic for stimulating triceps growth.
Ronnie’s second triceps exercise is the hammer strength dip machine.
Research has shown that dips are one of the best exercises for recruiting all three heads of the triceps. In fact dips recruit the long head, lateral head AND the short head of the triceps better than other compound exercises like close grip bench presses.
Finally Ronnie finishes his triceps routine with cable press downs. These are a favourite of Dorian Yates and other famous bodybuilding coaches like John Meadows. Cable press downs are great for hitting both the lateral head and the medial head of the triceps.
Now let’s take a look at Ronnie’s second weekly triceps workout. Check it out:
Ronnie Coleman Tricep Workout #2
- A1: Lying ez-bar extension (behind head), 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps
- A2: Close grip bench press (with ez-bar), 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps
- B1: Seated DB french press (with one dumbbell), 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps
- C1: Bilateral bent-over DB tricep kickbacks, 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps
Here are the training videos for all four triceps exercises:
Ronnie starts his second triceps workout with one of the most famous triceps exercises in the world: the skull crusher.
The term “skull crusher” is just another way of saying the lying triceps extension. Bodybuilders like to call this exercise the skull crusher because it feels like the bar is going to crush your head on the way down!
Skull crushers are great for overloading both the long head and the lateral head of the triceps. Ronnie is smart enough to perform this exercise for higher rep ranges and with a slow, controlled tempo. If you go too heavy on this exercise then you run the risk of hurting your elbows.
Ronnie’s second triceps exercise is the seated DB french press. This reminds me of the other french press variation that Ronnie performed on his first triceps day. The big difference is he holds one dumbbell with two hands for this variation.
Once again this exercise is great for overloading the long head of the triceps and for putting the triceps in a huge loaded stretch.
Finally Ronnie finishes his second triceps workout with some dumbbell tricep kickbacks. This is another good exercise for overloading the lateral and medial heads of the triceps.
Ronnie’s Secret Tricep Training Strategy
Ronnie Coleman has a secret technique that he uses on all of his triceps exercises. If you want to build triceps like Ronnie Coleman then you have to use this technique! Here it is:
Ronnie performs partial reps in the stretched position of all of his triceps exercises.
Ronnie never locks out his triceps exercises. Instead he performs partial range of motion reps in the bottom two-thirds of the exercise. Just take a look at the following video of Ronnie performing the dumbbell french press:
Ronnie barely lifts the weight halfway up before dropping it back down to the stretched position!
Why would Ronnie lift this way? Doesn’t he know that anonymous bodybuilding experts on the internet are going to say he’s lifting with bad form??
Ronnie is actually one of the smartest bodybuilders out there. He figured out early on in his career that he “feels” his triceps working the most in the stretched position of triceps exercises.
He wants to focus all of his effort on the part of the exercise that builds the most triceps muscle (the bottom or stretched position) and avoid the part of the exercise that doesn’t work as well (the top or lockout position).
This may sound like “bro-science” but there is actually a lot of research backing up Ronnie’s partial rep training style. Loaded stretches have been shown to stimulate muscle growth through many mechanisms including increased satellite cell proliferation and increases hormones like IGF-1 and mechanical growth factor.
If you want to learn more then check out the following article:
The bottom line is Ronnie Coleman used two very smart triceps workouts to build up some of the biggest, strongest arms the bodybuilding universe has ever seen.
If you want to build freaky big triceps then go ahead and give Ronnie’s triceps routines a shot. It works very well for advanced bodybuilders with above-average recovery ability.
“Good things don’t happen by coincidence. Every dream carries with it certain risks, especially the risk of failure. But I am not stopped by risks. You cannot fail forever.”
Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of luck on your strength training journey!
Chad Wesley Smith is one of the brightest minds in the fitness industry today. Chad has competed at the absolute highest levels in three different sports: shot put, powerlifting and strongman....
There are many different ways to squat. However, one of the most popular variations is to squat with your heels elevated. There are many ways to do this: you can use special squatting shoes...