I don’t know about you, but I have never met a bodybuilder satisfied with the size of his triceps. There is just something about a pair of full, round triceps that commands respect. If you are looking for a new routine to increase the size of your arms then this article is for you!
- Workout #1: Uni-Angular Tri-Sets For The Lateral Head
- Workout #2: Uni-angular tri-sets For The Long Head
- Workout #3: A Brutal Isometronics Routine
- Workout #4: The Doublé Method
- Workout #5: Supra-Maximal Eccentric Training
- Workout #6: Advanced Rest-Pause Training
- Workout #7: Origin-Insertion supersets
- Workout #8: The 6-12-25 Method
- Workout #9: Dorian’s Insane Forced Reps Routine
- Workout #10: A Simple But Powerful Drop Sets Routine
- Workout #11: Escalating Density Training
- Workout #12: Eccentric Training With A Twist
- Workout #13: Devil’s Tri-sets
One of the reasons most people aren’t able to increase the size of their triceps is they just don’t know how to train them properly! Don’t worry, I have your back: in this comprehensive guide I am going to teach you 13 of the most effective triceps mass-building routines ever invented.
The triceps are a unique muscle group because they respond best to a combination of compound and isolation exercises performed with both high and low rep ranges. You need to be extremely creative if you want to maximize your triceps size!
Some of the best triceps routines include the 6-12-25 method, uni-angular tri-sets, escalating density training and rest-pause training.
You can think of this guide as an all-you-can-eat buffet of some of the most brutally effective training methods ever invented. You don’t have to perform every routine presented in this article. However, I am confident that at least a few of these routines will work AWESOME for you!
Note: if you have any trouble reading the routines presented here then check out this article on how to read a training program. Now let’s get down to business…
Workout #1: Uni-Angular Tri-Sets For The Lateral Head
Uni-angular tri-sets are easily one of the most effective training methods that you can use to build big, strong arms. They were a favourite of professional bodybuilders from the 1940s all the way through the 1970s. In fact, the first-ever Mr. Olympia winner Larry Scott used uni-angular tri-sets almost exclusively to build up his legendary 20-inch arms!
A tri-set is a series of three exercises performed back-to-back for the same exercise with only 10 seconds rest in between exercises. For example here is what a tri-set would look like in the real world:
- Perform exercise “A”, rest 10 seconds
- Perform exercise “B,” rest 10 seconds
- Perform exercise “C,” rest 2-3 minutes, repeat!
Just think about it: if a regular set takes about 30 seconds to complete then a tri-set will take about 90 seconds to complete! This extra time under tension places an incredible overload on your muscle fibers and is fantastic for stimulating muscular hypertrophy.
Of course there are many different ways you could structure a tri-set routine. In my experience uni-angular tri-sets are easily one of the best tri-set protocols for building bigger arms.
Normally with a tri-set you would pick three completely different types of exercises for a given bodypart. For example, for the triceps you might perform a tri-set with dips, lying extensions and overhead extensions. These different exercises are great for overloading different parts of the strength curve.
Uni-angular tri-sets are different: you are going to pick three different exercises that overload your muscles in the same muscular plane. If you want to overload the lateral head of your triceps then one of the best methods is to perform a uni-angular tri-set with three different types of decline triceps isolation exercises.
Here is a sample uni-angular tri-set routine that you may want to try. Check it out:
Uni-Angular Tri-Set For The Lateral Head
- A1: Decline DB extension, 5 x 6-8, 3/0/1/0, 10 seconds rest
- A2: Decline ez-bar extension (to forehead), 5 x 6-8, 2/1/1/0, 10 seconds rest
- A3: Decline ez-bar extension (to nose), 5 x 6-8, 2/1/1/0, 180 seconds rest
Research has shown that all forms of decline extensions are especially effective for overloading the lateral head of the triceps. The lateral head is recruited especially hard in the stretched position of these exercises so make sure you really emphasize a deep stretch on every rep!
If you are new to tri-sets then you may have a hard time picking the right weights for all of your exercises. The first exercise is performed just like normal. Pick a weight you can lift for about 6-8 reps and knock out your reps in perfect form.
For the second and third exercises you are going to have to lower the weight below what you normally use because you are performing these sets in a pre-fatigued state.
You may also find that you have to lower your weights slightly from one tri-set to the next as your fatigue builds up. Don’t worry, this is also perfectly normal.
If you want to learn more about how to target the lateral head of the triceps then check out this article:
The lateral head is often called “the lazy head.” Hopefully this article helps you to turn this muscle into an elbow extension workhorse!
Workout #2: Uni-angular tri-sets For The Long Head
In part 1 of this article I gave you an awesome uni-angular tri-set routine to overload the lateral head of the triceps. Now let’s look at a uni-angular tri-set routine for the long head of your triceps.
The long head is located on the back side of the arm. It is easily the largest head of the triceps and it really gives the triceps that thick, 3-D look when it is fully developed. If you want to fill out your shirt sleeves then training the long head of your triceps is an absolute must!
Unlike the lateral head the long head responds really well to all forms of flat and overhead extensions. These exercises place the long head under a deep loaded stretch which is fantastic for stimulating growth.
Here is a uni-angular tri-sets routine for the long head of your triceps that you may want to try. Check it out:
Uni-Angular Tri-Set For The Long Head
- A1: Skull crushers (narrow grip to forehead), 5 x 10-12, 3/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
- A2: Flat DB extensions, 5 x 10-12, 3/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
- A3: Skull crushers (wide grip to forehead), 5 x 10-12, 3/0/X/0, 180 seconds rest
Skull crushers are easily one of the most controversial exercises in the world. I can’t tell you the number of people who have told me that this one exercise has permanently destroyed their elbows.
Perhaps the most famous example of someone injuring themselves is Josh Bryant. Josh was at one point the youngest man to ever bench press 600 pounds.
However, he admits his ego got the better of him and he did some stupid things in his quest to get stronger. This included trying to perform skull crushers with 330 like his idol Bill Kazmaier! Long story short he injured his elbow so badly that he required surgery to fix it.
The key to making this exercise work for you is to use a very slow, controlled eccentric phase. I recommend a three-second eccentric phase for this particular routine (see the 3/0/X/0 tempo). Controlling the negative this will make any form of skull crushers much, much safer to perform.
If you want to learn more about how to train the long head of the triceps then check out the following article:
Even if you already know everything there is to know about targeting the long head of the triceps I am sure you will find the sample training routines useful.
Workout #3: A Brutal Isometronics Routine
This unconventional training method was invented in the 1950s by some of the world’s best Olympic weightlifters. They were using isometronics to improve their overhead press and many other assistance exercises.
Isometronics is like a hybrid of two different training methods:
- Partial range of motion repetitions
- Overcoming isometric contractions
This is a reasonably complicated training method. Before I explain this method in more detail I want you to watch the following video (it does a great job demonstrating an isometronics bench press workout):
In order to perform this training method you are going to need a power rack and 2 sets of safety pins. You are then gong to divide the bench press (or whatever other exercise you are training) into three seperate ranges of motion:
- The bottom third
- The middle third
- The top third
You are going to perform 3 sets of isometronics in each of these ranges of motion. You want to set up the pins so that they are about 6-8 inches apart from each other in each part of the range of motion.
On each set you perform 4-6 partial range of motion reps in between the safety pins. On your last rep you want to perform an all-out overcoming isometric contraction against the top pins for 6-8 seconds. You want to press so hard that you break the pins in half!
After this 6-8 second overcoming isometric contraction you lowers the barbell down to the bottom pins and attempt one final partial range of motion repetition. If you struggle to complete this last rep then you know you used the right weight.
A full isometronics workout consists of 10 total sets:
- 3 sets in the bottom section
- 3 sets in the middle section
- 3 sets in the top section
- 1 regular full range of motion set
After performing the ten sets of bench presses you can do a little bit of accessory work for your triceps if you really feel like you need it. Here is what a full isometronics workout for the triceps would look like. Check it out:
Triceps Isometronics Workout
- A1: Bench press bottom-position isometronics (close grip), 3 x 6***, 1/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
- B1: Bench press mid-position isometronics (close grip), 3 x 6***, 1/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
- C1: Bench press top-position isometronics (close grip), 3 x 6***, 1/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
- D1: Bench press (close grip), 1 x 4-6, 3/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
- E1: 45 degree incline DB extension, 3 x 6-8, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
***Perform 6 partial range of motion reps. Once you hit the top pins on your 6th rep continue pressing into the pins for a full 8 seconds. You are trying to literally break these pins in half!
This is definitely one of the most challenging routines of this article. However, it is also one of the most rewarding.
You are able to recruit way more motor units with isometronics than you can with regular lifting. This means you are activating and damaging more muscle fibers than normal. This all adds up to form an outrageously effective stimulus for mass gains!
As a general rule of thumb I recommend you use a weight that is slightly less than your regular six-rep max for the bottom position isometronics. For the mid- and top-range isometronics you can use a weight that is slightly heavier than the weight you used for the bottom position isometronics.
Note: on this routine it is MUCH better to start off with a weight that is too light than one that is too heavy! If your weight is too heavy then you will struggle to apply much force into the pins during your 8 second overcoming isometric contraction.
If you want to learn more about isometronics training then you may find the following resource helpful:
You simply won’t find a better resource on isometronics training anywhere else in the world.
Workout #4: The Doublé Method
I first learned about the doublé method from Charles Poliquin.
Doublé is a french term which loosely translates to English as “to perform twice.” A lot of Olympic weightlifters found that they could rapidly improve their strength on a particular lift by performing it twice within a workout. For example, a weightlifter looking to improve their back squat might start and finish their workout with back squats.
The doublé training method isn’t just for strength gains though. It can work outrageously well for hypertrophy gains if you structure your routine correctly.
In my experience one of the best ways to design a doublé hypertrophy workout is with tri-sets. You would perform the same exercise first AND last in your tri-set. Only the second exercise would be different. Obviously you would need to reduce the amount of weight you lift the second time you perform the exercise in the tri-set.
Here is a sample doublé tricep hypertrophy workout that you may want to try. Check it out:
Triceps Doublé Hypertrophy Routine
- A1: Decline DB extension, 3-5 x 5-7, 2/0/X/0, 180 seconds rest
- A2: Decline close grip bench press, 3-5 x 5-7, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
- A3: Decline DB extension, 3-5 x 7-9, 2/0/X/0, 180 seconds rest
Trust me, this routine is MUCH harder than it looks! Performing the same exercise first and last in a tri-set damages a ton of muscle tissue. I think you will be surprised at how sore your triceps get from this simple routine.
As Charles Poliquin used to say you might get so sore from this routine that you have trouble reaching the back of your head for at least a few days! Make sure you take your pre / intra / post-workout nutrition or whatever else you need to do to recover from this routine.
If you are up for something a little different then I highly recommend you give it a shot!
Workout #5: Supra-Maximal Eccentric Training
If you are a long-time reader here at Revolutionary Program Design then it should come as no surprise to you that I am a HUGE fan of eccentric training! In my experience nothing matches eccentric training for helping intermediate and advanced athletes blast through strength and hypertrophy plateaus.
Of course the eccentric portion of a repetition occurs when you are lowering a weight down. In technical terms your muscles are contracting while lengthening.
It is almost impossible to really tax your eccentric strength levels with traditional hypertrophy routines. This is because you are much stronger during the eccentric phase of a lift than you are during the concentric phase.
Just think about it: when do you fail during a set of bench presses, squats, or any other exercise? When you are lifting the weight up! Lowering the weight down under control is never an issue.
In fact, the scientific research has shown that you can safely lower up to 170% of your 1-rep max during eccentric training! Of course this is an extreme example but the point stands.
If you can figure out a way to overload the eccentric phase of an exercise then you will be rewarded with newfound muscle growth. After all, you damage FAR more muscle fibers lowering weights under control than you do lifting them up!
If you have at least 2 years of training experience under your belt then you may want to give an accentuated eccentric training routine a shot. Check it out:
Supra–Maximal Eccentrics Tricep Routine
- A1: Eccentric-only V-bar dips (upright torso)***, 5 x 4-6, 10/0/1/0, 240 seconds rest
- B1: Dave Tate press, 3 x 6-8, 2/0/1/0, 60 seconds rest
***Start in the top-position and lower yourself down under control over 10 seconds. When you reach the bottom position of the exercise let your feet hit the floor. Now stand back up on the support bars so that you are at the top position of the exercise. Repeat this process until you have completed 4-6 total eccentric-only repetitions.
The heart and soul of this routine is the eccentric-only repetitions performed on the v-bar dips.
Dips have been shown to recruit all three heads of the triceps better than the other mass-building triceps exercises such as close grip bench presses. Eccentric-only repetitions performed on free weight dips are easily one of the fastest ways to add slabs of muscle to your triceps.
It is absolutely essential that you lower yourself down over 10 seconds. You want to make sure that you are lowering yourself down at the same speed throughout the entire repetition. Don’t speed up or slow down at the end of the rep!
As long as you are able to use the correct exercise tempo you should make the exercise harder by wearing a dipping belt with added loads. If at any time you are no longer able to maintain the correct tempo you should terminate the set.
If you want to learn more about eccentric training then I highly recommend the following two articles:
The first article is more technical in nature, while the second article focuses exclusively on ways to incorporate eccentric training into your own programming. These articles might be the two greatest resources on eccentric training available anywhere in the world. You don’t want to miss them!
Workout #6: Advanced Rest-Pause Training
World-class strength coach Josh Bryant once called rest-pause training the “universal gainer.” This is because rest-pause training is one of those training methods that seems to work well for almost everyone!
Josh Bryant is not alone in this regard: Christian Thibadeau has called the rest-pause method the single best training method for hypertrophy gains.
OK, maybe this is a little bit of an exaggeration. There is no single training method that everyone will respond well to. However, rest-pause training certainly comes close.
The idea behind a rest-pause set is pretty straightforward. You are going to perform three sets to failure on an exercise with very short rest periods in between each set. For example:
- Train to failure in the 6-12 rep range, rest 20-30 seconds
- Train to failure a second time with the same weight, rest 20-30 seconds
- Train to failure a third time with the same weight, done!
This was the original rest-pause training protocol as popularized by Dante Trudel and his DC Training bodybuilding program. Many people have tried to come up with an improved or modified version of Dante’s original rest-pause training protocol. However, I still find Dante’s original system to be most effective.
Here is an advanced triceps rest-pause routine that you may want to try if you are stuck in a training rut. Check it out:
Advanced Triceps Rest-Pause Routine
- A1: Reverse grip bench press, 1 x 7-10***, 2/0/X/0, rest as needed
- B1: Decline ez-bar extension to forehead, 1 x 10-13***, 2/0/X/0, rest as needed
- C1: Hammer strength dip machine, 1 x 20-30, 2/0/X/0, rest as needed
***Performed as a rest-pause set. Go to technical failure, rest while taking 12-15 deep breaths, go to technical failure a 2nd time with the same weight, rest while taking 12-15 deep breaths, go to technical failure a 3rd time with the same weight, DONE!
The first two exercises in this routine are performed as rest-pause sets while the third exercise is a regular-old straight set.
For each set I want you to take as many warm-up sets as you need to get ready for your 1 all-out working set. This is the only set that counts – you need to put everything you have into it!
This routine features three of the most bang-for-your-buck triceps exercises and targets your triceps from every possible angle. What’s not to love?
If you tend to get your best results from more of a low-volume, high-intensity training style then I am confident that this triceps routine will work AWESOME for you! In fact, I would say that if you want to train to failure year-round then using rest-pause sets ala DC Training is probably the way to go.
If you want to learn more about rest-pause training then I highly recommend you check out the following articles:
I cover a lot of information in these articles that you won’t find anywhere else.
Workout #7: Origin-Insertion Supersets
To perform a superset you simply perform two exercises back-to-back for the same body part with minimal rest between sets. This is in contrast to a tri-set where you perform three exercises in a row, or a giant set where you perform 4+ exercises in a row.
Of course this isn’t just a regular superset workout. We’re going to use origin-insertion supersets to obliterate the triceps! Let me explain.
On every exercise there is one part of the muscle that is moving and another part of the muscle that is fixed. The fixed part of the muscle is the origin while the moving part is the insertion.
Origin-insertion supersets are particularly brutal because they superset exercises that work a muscle at both the origin and the insertion! By forcing the muscle to function in both of these movement patters you create a nasty amount of muscle damage!
Here is a brutal origin-insertion triceps routine that you may want to try. Check it out:
Advanced Triceps Origin-Insertion Superset Routine
- A1: JPR pullover extension, 4 x 6-8, 3/0/1/0, 120 seconds rest
- B1: Close grip bench press w/ chains, 4 x 10-12, 4/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
- B2: Seated french press (close grip), 4 x 15-20, 2/0/1/0, 180 seconds rest
This routine is mainly geared towards overloading the long head of the triceps.
The first exercise (PJR pullover extension) might be the single best exercise you can do for recruiting the long head. I learned this exercise from Paul Carter. It is almost a hybrid movement between a pullover and a triceps extension.
This exercise is so effective for working the long head because these are the two functions that the long head of the triceps performs: shoulder extension and elbow extension!
Of course the heart and soul of this routine is the superset that follows the PJR pullover. You are going to superset close grip bench presses with chains with the seated french press. This is a nasty combination that first overloads the mid-range position of the strength curve followed by the stretched position of the strength curve.
You are going to have some serious delayed onset muscle soreness after this one!
If you are going to use this routine then I recommend you train triceps no more than once every 5-7 days.
I know a lot of high-frequency gurus would scoff at this suggestion but you are unlikely to make much progress using this routine more often than that. There is just too much to recover from and I think you will agree that the extra rest days on this type of workout really are necessary.
For example, here is one possible training split that you could use:
- Day 1: Arms
- Day 2: Legs
- Day 3: Off
- Day 4: Chest / Back
- Day 5: Off
- Day 6: Repeat
Here is another:
- Day 1: Chest / Biceps
- Day 2: Legs
- Day 3: Off
- Day 4: Shoulders / Triceps
- Day 5: Back
- Day 6: Off
- Day 7: Repeat
Of course there are many other viable splits that you could choose from but these two would be excellent choices. Of course you can check out my comprehensive guide on training splits for more information.
Workout #8: The 6-12-25 Method
The 6-12-25 method is an old favourite of mine. Actually, it is one of my “trade secrets” for packing on slabs of muscle mass onto my clients in record time! Seriously, I know from experience that almost anyone who runs this routine will be rewarded with explosive muscle growth!
The 6-12-25 method is a specific type of tri-set. You are still going to perform three exercises back-to-back for the same body part with minimal rest in between sets. The thing that makes the 6-12-25 program unique is the rep ranges used during the tri-set.
With this method you are going to perform 6 reps on the first exercise, 12 reps on the second exercise, and 25 reps on the third exercise.
The varying rep ranges and exercises means that you are going to be recruiting and fatiguing nearly all of the available motor units within the targeted muscle. Talk about total triceps annihilation!
You can also expect some of the best pumps of your entire life on the 6-12-25 method. While a skin-splitting pump doesn’t guaruntee that you created a stimulus for growth, any experienced bodybuilder would tell you that you are clearly on the right track.
I have a lot more to say about this training method but let’s go ahead and look at a sample training routine. Check it out:
6/12/25 Method Triceps Routine
- A1: Floor press (medium grip), 4 x 6, 4/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
- A2: Seated hammer strength dip machine, 4 x 12, 3/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
- A3: Standing overhead rope extension, 4 x 25, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
There are two things you have to do when designing the perfect 6/12/25 routine:
- Pick the right exercises
- Use the right exercise tempos
One of the keys to making the 6-12-25 method work is choosing the correct exercises. Over the years I have found that using a compound “power” movement first in the tri-set and focusing on more “stretching” movements towards the end tends to work best.
In this routine you are performing big, compound exercises like floor presses and dips early in your routine. Then you are going to finish off whatever muscle fibers are left in your triceps with the overhead cable rope extension. Not only are these exercises sequenced correctly but they overload the triceps in three completely different ways.
The second thing you need to do is to use the correct exercise tempos! The key is to use a 4-second eccentric phase on the first exercise, a 3-second eccentric phase on the second exercise and a 2-second eccentric phase on the third exercise. These tempos are not optional! Instead they are a core part of this routine.
If you want to learn more about the 6-12-25 training method then the following resource is probably your best bet:
It covers everything you need to know on how to design a training program for all of your body parts using this superior training method.
Workout #9: Dorian’s Insane Forced Reps Routine
If you are more of a low volume, high-intensity kind of guy and love training to failure then I think using a rest-pause training style is one of your best bets.
However, there is one other training style that you may want to consider. Of course I am talking about Dorian Yates and his “Blood And Guts” training program!
Dorian used his low-volume, high intensity training program to became one of the most dominant bodybuilders the world has ever seen. His training program was based on the idea of performing one single all-out set per exercise. On most exercises he actually trained beyond failure using something called forced reps.
To complete a forced rep your training partner will provide a little bit of assistance through the concentric range. This enables you to complete additional reps after reaching technical failure.
Of course you are responsible for controlling the eccentric phase of the extra reps on your own.
Dorian’s triceps routine is absolutely savage and features forced reps on every exercise. If you are an advanced bodybuilder then this may be just what you need to get your triceps growing again. Check it out:
Dorian Yates Forced Reps Triceps Routine
- A1: Standing bilateral straight-bar cable push down, 1 x 6-8**, 2/0/X/0, rest as needed
- B1: Ez-bar skull crusher, bar to forehead, 1 x 6-8**, 2/0/X/0, rest as needed
- C1: Standing 1-arm cable push down, 1 x 6-8**, 2/0/X/0, rest as needed
**Perform 1-3 additional forced repetitions with the help of a spotter immediately after reaching technical failure.
This is the exact triceps training routine Dorian used during his reign as the 6x Mr. Olympia champion. OK, I may have made some minor tweaks to the rep ranges and exercise tempos to make it more effective for the majority of trainees. Sue me!
Just look at the intensity Dorian Yates puts into each and every set! It’s as if Dorian thinks his family’s life is on the line here!!
Dorian has said on numerous occasions that these workouts from his training DVD “Blood And Guts” weren’t anything special. In fact this was just another regular-old training session for Dorian!
One of the downsides of this forced-reps routine is that you will need a reliable training partner who really knows what he is doing.
If you train alone then this probably isn’t the routine for you. In that case I recommend you try the rest-pause training routine I provided earlier as it is similarly effective.
If you want to learn more about Dorian’s triceps training then you may want to check out the following articles:
I have never seen anyone break down Dorian’s exact training program quite like this. Highly recommended!
Workout #10: A Simple But Powerful Drop Sets Routine
Drop sets are one of the oldest bodybuilding “intensity” techniques ever invented. After all, what could be more natural than a drop set?
First you perform as many reps as you can with a given weight. Then you simply reduce the overall weight and continue busting out reps. You can rinse and repeat this process as many times as you want. The end-result is a skin-splitting pump that would make Arnold proud!
I am confident that even the earliest bodybuilders in the early 1900s intuitively figured out that drop sets are a fantastic way to train.
Here is an old-school drop set routine for the triceps that you may want to try. I may not have re-invented the wheel with this triceps routine but I am confident it will help you thicken up your triceps in no time. Check it out:
Triceps Drop-Set Routine
- A1: Seated behind the neck press (shoulder-width grip), 4 x 8/4/4**, 180 seconds rest
- B1: Seated unilateral DB french press, 3 x 12-15, 2/2/1/0, 120 seconds rest
**Performed as an 8/4/4 drop set. Complete 8 reps, drop the weight by 5-10%, complete 4 reps more reps, drop the weight by another 5-10%, complete 4 more grueling reps, DONE!
This workout is designed to overload the long head of the triceps. Our primary weapon of choice is the behind the neck press.
The behind the neck press is the subject of more controversy than any other exercise in the iron game. A quick internet search will reveal that the behind the neck press is a shoulder wrecker, a reckless exercise, a torn rotator cuff just waiting to happen! But is this really the case?
In reality the behind the neck press is a most bang-for-your-buck exercise that you should be doing. It actually improves the health of your shoulders faster than any other pressing exercise.
The behind the neck press is one of the best exercises to overload the long head of the triceps because this muscle head is strongly activated during overhead pressing movements. The rep ranges in this routine are relatively high so most of you reading this should be able to perform the exercise as is.
The only caveat is that you must have reasonably healthy shoulders including good shoulder range of motion before you can do this exercise.
The seated unilateral french press is another fantastic exercise to work the long head of the triceps. The stretch that you can get on your triceps is simply unbelievable!
I want you to really emphasize the stretched position of this exercise with a 2 second pause at the bottom (see the 2/2/1/0 tempo for this exercise in the above routine).
There is a lot of research showing that placing a muscle under some sort of loaded stretch is absolutely fantastic for stimulating hypertrophy gains. This stretch can be achieved on many exercises by utilizing a 1-2 second pause when the muscle is under a deep stretch.
Overall there is nothing overly complicated about this routine. Sometimes the simplest routines really are the best!
If you want to learn more about how to use drop sets for size gains then you might like the following article:
Workout #11: Escalating Density Training
And now for something completely different!
I have to admit, escalating density training is probably the “weirdest” routine on my list of the 13 greatest tricep workouts for mass.
You see, the way you progress on most routines is pretty straightforward. You do a workout, wait 3-7 days (or thereabouts) and then repeat the same workout with the primary goal of adding weight or performing more reps per set.
This makes perfect sense – if you are positively adapting to a workout routine then you should be at least a little bit stronger the next time you repeat it. However, things are a little different with escalating density training.
The way you progress on the workout isn’t by lifting more weight or busting out more reps per set. Instead you are going to try and increase the number of sets you do in a fixed time period! This is where the word “density” comes from – you are literally trying to level up the density of your workout!
Let’s take a look at the routine in it’s entirety before we dive into the specifics of it. Check it out:
Escalating Density Arm Training Routine
- A1: Decline close grip bench press, sets of 2**, 4/0/X/0, no rest
- A2: Preacher ez-bar curl (close supinated grip), sets of 2**, 4/0/X/0, no rest
- B1: Standing overhead rope extension, sets of 8***, 3/0/X/0, no rest
- B2: Seated zottman curl, sets of 8***, 3/0/X/0, no rest
- C1: Cable pushdown (cambered bar, close grip), sets of 20****, 1/0/X/0, no rest
- C2: 45 degree incline DB curl (hammer grip), sets of 20****, 1/0/X/0, no rest
**Perform sets of 2 on the A1 and A2 exercises for 30 minutes with no rest in between sets.
***Perform sets of 8 on the B1 and B2 exercises for minutes 31-45 of the workout with no rest in between sets.
****Perform sets of 20 on the C1 and C2 exercises for minutes 46-60 of the workout with no rest in between sets.
The workout itself takes 60 minutes to complete and it is divided into three distinct phases.
During minutes 0-30 you will be performing the “A” exercises. During minutes 31-45 you will be performing the “B” exercises. Finally during minutes 46-60 you will perform the “C” exercises.
You are going to alternate back-and-forth between the two paired exercises for each of the three phases with no rest between sets.
For example, during the first 30 minutes you will alternate back and forth between decline bench presses and preacher curls. You perform 2 reps for exercise “A1”, walk over to your “B2” exercise and perform 2 reps, then walk back over to your “A1” exercise and perform 2 reps, etc.
This continues until your 30 minutes are up, at which time you proceed to the “B” exercises.
It is very important that you pick the correct weights for each superset. I recommend you start out with your 10-rep max for the “A” exercises, your 20-rep max for the “B” exercises, and your 40-rep max for the “C” exercises.
This is definitely one of the stranger workouts in this article. Trust me, escalating density works unbelievably well if you have a high pain tolerance. It takes a while for the fatigue to really kick in, but once it does, watch out! After about 15-20 minutes your arms are going to feel like they are about to explode!
The crazy thing about this workout though is the pump just doesn’t go away. It stays there and just continues to pool blood over the entire workout.
One of the biggest questions I get on this routine is how many sets you should do for each exercise. As a general rule of thumb you should try to perform AT LEAST 20 sets for each of the “A” exercises and AT LEAST 8 sets for the “B” and “C” exercises.
If you can hit at least these numbers then you can consider bumping up the weight on the next workout. If you fall short then just stick with the same weights and do your best to pump out more sets at the next workout!
I find that a Poliquin-style split tends to work best for this type of workout. For example:
- Day 1: Arms
- Day 2: Legs
- Day 3: Off
- Day 4: Chest / Back
- Day 5: Off
- Day 6: Repeat
I could go on and on about the merits of this workout but I am going to have to cut myself short right here. If you want to learn more about this superior hypertrophy training method then the following article is your friend:
I give away many of my hard-earned training secrets in that article. Trust me, you don’t want to miss out on this cutting-edge information!
Workout #12: Eccentric Training With A Twist
I’ve already talked about how effective eccentric training protocols can be for building muscle mass. Don’t worry, I’m not going to repeat myself here. Instead I am going to provide you with a completely different type of accentuated eccentrics hypertrophy routine that you can use to increase the size of your triceps.
This eccentric training routine is very different from the one I covered earlier in this article. You are going to do the eccentric work at the end of the workout after first performing 2 regular triceps exercises. Essentially we are exhausting our eccentric strength levels after first accumulating a lot of concentric muscular fatigue.
This is simply an outrageously effective way to design a routine for muscle mass gains. I almost feel guilty giving this training secret away for free! Check it out:
Accentuated Eccentrics Triceps Routine
- A1: Close grip bench press, 4 x 6-8, 3/2/X/0, 120 seconds rest
- B1: Overhead rope extension, 4 x 8-10, 3/2/X/0, 120 seconds rest
- C1: Eccentric-only V-bar dips (upright torso)***, 3 x 3-5, 8/0/1/0, 180 seconds rest
***Start in the top-position and lower yourself down under control over 8 seconds. When you reach the bottom position of the exercise let your feet hit the floor. Now stand back up on the support bars so that you are at the top position of the exercise. Repeat this process until you have completed 3-5 total eccentric-only repetitions.
By the time you get to the tricep dips your muscles will be absolutely exhausted. Even if you are a stronger lifter you may find that you have to use far less weight than normal to get the job done.
Don’t worry, you will still have plenty of energy left at the end of the workout to make the eccentric dips a worthwhile exercise. After all, the scientific literature has clearly shown that eccentric training requires far less energy to perform than regular lifting.
Your muscles will be on fire but you WILL make it through the 3-5 sets of eccentric dips. Again, these eccentric contractions are like CT Fletcher. They command you to grow!
Trust me, this final eccentric-only exercise will light your triceps up like you wouldn’t believe!
Once again you may want to check out the following resources to learn more about how to incorporate eccentric training into your own workouts:
These articles contain countless tips and training routines that you won’t find anywhere else. Trust me, I’ve looked.
Workout #13: Devil’s Tri-sets
A devil’s tri-set is a variation of tri-sets where you perform six repetitions on three exercises in a row for a body part.
For example, you might perform 6 reps on exercise A, rest 10 seconds, perform 6 reps on exercise B, rest 10 seconds, and finally perform 6 reps on exercise C.
This is an absolutely FANTASTIC way to train for functional hypertrophy!
One of the problems with using lower-rep sets for hypertrophy training is that it is difficult to accumulate enough time under tension within a single set.
Devil’s tri-sets solves this issue perfectly by stringing together multiple low-rep sets together in a row. The amount of lactic acid that you can accumulate on this training protocol is unusually high given the lower rep ranges. Check it out:
Devil’s Tri-Sets Tricep Routine
- A1: Dead stop skull crushers (narrow grip), 5 x 6, 3/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
- A2: Standing rope cable pushdown, 5 x 6, 2/0/X/1, 10 seconds rest
- A3: 30 degree incline DB extension, 5 x 6, 2/0/X/0, 180 seconds rest
If you are more of a dopamine-dominant or acetyl-choline dominant lifter then you will absolutely LOVE this training method! It is one of my favourite hypertrophy training protocols to use with my clients who had little luck with traditional high-rep, high-volume bodybuilding routines.
I want to bring your attention to the dead stop skull crushers video. This is an unbelievably effective exercise if you perform it correctly.
Unlike traditional skull crushers you want your hands to drift behind your head slightly. During the concentric range you are using a little bit of shoulder extension (think “pullover”) to help complete the movement. This makes the movement somewhat similar to a PJR pullover. The end result is complete long head annihilation!
When you wake up the next morning you will feel like someone took a stick of bamboo and started beating your triceps for an hour the previous day. You’ve been warned!
If you want to learn more about the dead stop skull crusher (and many other underrated triceps exercises) then you simply must check out the following article:
Trust me, you can’t afford to pass up on this cutting-edge information.
You are now fully-equipped with 13 of the greatest tricep workouts for mass of all time! The downside to this is that you no longer have an excuse for walking around with “eleven-teen” inch arms.
If you fail to fill out your shirt sleeves then you have no one to blame but yourself! So what are you waiting for? Get in the gym and start training your triceps like you mean it!
“My instinct was to win, eliminate anyone who is in competition, destroy my enemy, and move on without any kind of hesitation at all.”
Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of luck in 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....
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