The Best Westside Barbell Triceps Exercises!


The Westside Barbell powerlifting team says that a strong pair of triceps is the key to a strong bench press.

If you want to build bigger, stronger triceps then this article is for you!

Introduction

  • Part 1: Max Effort Exercises
  • Part 2: Dynamic Effort Exercises
  • Part 3: Repetition Effort Exercises

In this comprehensive guide I will teach you how the Westside Barbell powerlifting team trains the triceps for a huge bench press.

The Westside Barbell powerlifting team trains their triceps twice per week using a combination of heavy compound exercises and lighter isolation exercises. Here is what the Westside Barbell bench press training schedule looks like:

The Westside Barbell Bench Press Training Schedule

  • Sunday: Dynamic Effort Bench Press
  • Wednesday: Max Effort Bench Press

As you can see they alternate between a dynamic effort or “speed” workout and a max effort or “heavy” workout. 

On their max effort day they work up to a 1-rep max on a special exercise for the bench press like the floor press, the bench press with chains or the pin press.

The Westside team loves to pick max effort exercises that overload the top half of the bench press to target the triceps more.

For example here is a video of the pin press:

As you can see the Westside team is lowering the bar down a set of pins and then pressing the weight back up. This exercise is chosen on purpose to target the triceps and improve their lockout strength.

The Westside team rotates the max effort exercise every single week but they are always looking for different exercises to overload their triceps.

On the dynamic effort day the Westside team performs their speed sets on the bench press. Here is a great video of the dynamic effort bench press:

As you can see the Westside team is performing the bench press explosively as possible. They load the bar with a weight that is somewhere around 50% of their 1-rep max and perform multiple sets of 3 reps as quickly as they can.

The Westside team almost always uses chains, bands or even chains and bands at the same time for their dynamic effort sets.

The bands and chains force them to press the bar as fast as possible all the way to lockout and increase the tension on the triceps throughout the entire exercise.

Louie Simmons says that the max effort and dynamic effort exercises are critical for building strong triceps strength but you also have to use different isolation exercises to fully develop this muscle.

Louie has his athletes perform 1-3 triceps isolation exercises per workout!

Louie uses many different triceps exercises but he loves to use different variations of the lying triceps extension. For example here is the dead stop skull crusher. Check it out:

This triceps exercise forces you to lift the weight from a dead stop position. This breaks up the concentric / eccentric chain and forces your triceps to work very hard in the bottom position.

In part 3 of this article I will show you all of Louie’s favorite triceps isolation exercises. I hope you found this overview helpful. Now let’s get down to business…

Part 1: Max Effort Exercises

The Westside Barbel powerlifting team uses many different max effort exercises to build their triceps strength. Here are some of their favorites:

Westside Max Effort Bench Variations For Triceps

One of Louie Simmons’ favorite max effort exercise for targeting the triceps is the floor press. Here is the Westside team demonstrating this exercise:

The Floor Press

The floor press is very similar to a regular bench press. The biggest difference is you lay down on the floor to perform this exercise. You lower the bar until your upper arms touch the floor, then you press the weight back up to lockout.

The floor press really targets your triceps because you can only lower the bar until your upper arms are parallel with the floor. This overloads the top half of the exercise and keeps constant tension on the triceps.

There are many other exercises such as the pin press or the board press which also target the triceps by reducing the overall range of motion.

Another option for targeting the triceps is to use bands or chains on the bar. Here is a demonstration of the max effort band bench press:

Bench With Bands

The bands are like giant rubber bands – they are literally pulling the bar down towards the ground!

The bands make the exercise lighter in the bottom half of the exercise and heavier in the top half of the exercise because they add more tension as they are stretched more.

The bands create a tremendous overload in your triceps because your triceps have to work extra hard to lock out your elbows.

Another great option is to use lifting chains to overload the top half of the bench press and your triceps. Here is a demonstration of the floor press with chains:

Floor Press With Chains

As you lower the bar down to your chest the chains unload on the floor. Then when you press the bar back up to lockout the chains lift up off the floor and make the bar feel heavier.

In other words the chains overload your triceps by making the exercise feel heavier near lockout!

Bands and chains can be combined with other partial range of motion exercises like the floor press, the board press or the pin press to overload your triceps even more.

If you have weak triceps then I strongly recommend you try any of these max effort exercises in your rotation.

Part 2: Dynamic Effort Exercises

The Westside Barbell powerlifting team performs their dynamic effort bench press workout every Sunday. The basic idea is to perform 8-10 sets of 3 reps on the bench press as explosively as possible.

The Westside team likes to add bands and chains to the dynamic effort bench press to build explosive strength and to target their triceps even harder.

Here is what the dynamic effort bench press with chains looks like:

As you can see the chains lift up off the ground as they press the bar to lockout. This makes the top half of the exercise much heavier than the bottom half. It also makes the triceps work much harder than normal.

Louie Simmons says that you should always perform your dynamic effort bench press in 3 week waves, regardless of whether you are using chains or bands on the bar.

Here is what a 3-week wave might look like using chains:

  • Week #1: 8-10 sets of 3 reps @ 50% of your 1-rep max
  • Week #2: 8-10 sets of 3 reps @ 55% of your 1-rep max
  • Week #3: 8-10 sets of 3 reps @ 60% of your 1-rep max

Louie Simmons says chains are a great tool but he likes bands even more. The bands cause a phenomenon called “overspeed eccentrics.”

In other words the bands are pulling the bar down to your chest faster than the speed of gravity.

This causes your body to store more elastic energy in the form of the stretch reflex which helps you lift the weight more explosively on the positive phase of the rep.

Here is what the dynamic effort bench press with bands looks like:

The bands create a tremendous amount of tension in the top half of the exercise. This forces the triceps to work harder than the other pressing muscles like the chest and shoulders.

This is important because Louie Simmons says that the triceps are the key to a huge bench press.

Here is what a 3-week wave might look like using bands:

  • Week #1: 8-10 sets of 3 reps @ 40% of your 1-rep max
  • Week #2: 8-10 sets of 3 reps @ 45% of your 1-rep max
  • Week #3: 8-10 sets of 3 reps @ 50% of your 1-rep max

Louie Simmons also likes to perform the dynamic effort bench press with bands and chains on the bar at the same time. This is an extreme training method but it is very effective for overloading the triceps.

Here is the Westside team demonstrating this method:

The bands and chains create a tremendous overload in the top half of the exercise. Your triceps have to work extra hard throughout the whole range of motion to perform the exercise correctly.

If you are using bands and chains on your dynamic effort day then you need to use a lower percentage of your 1-rep max. 

Here is what a 3-week wave might look like using bands and chains:

  • Week #1: 8-10 sets of 3 reps @ 30% of your 1-rep max
  • Week #2: 8-10 sets of 3 reps @ 35% of your 1-rep max
  • Week #3: 8-10 sets of 3 reps @ 40% of your 1-rep max

The bottom line is Louie Simmons uses bands and chains on the dynamic effort bench press to build explosive strength and target the triceps over the chest and shoulders.

Part 3: Repetition Effort Exercises

Louie Simmons says that triceps extensions and other isolation exercises are even more important than compound exercises for building the triceps. In fact Louie Simmons tells his athletes to perform 1-3 variations of triceps isolation exercises per workout!

Here are some of Louie’s all-time favorites:

Westside Barbell Triceps Accessory Exercises

Louie Simmons likes all different kinds of triceps isolation exercises but his favorites are variations of the lying triceps extension.

The lying triceps extension makes the triceps work in the same plane as the flat bench press and does a great job of overloading the lateral and long heads of the triceps.

One of Louie’s all-time favorite triceps isolation exercises is the rolling dumbbell extension. Check it out:

Rolling DB Extensions

The rolling dumbbell extension is almost like a hybrid between a lying triceps extension and a neutral grip dumbbell press. You roll the weight forward until your elbows are in front of your shoulders. Then you quickly press the dumbbell straight up in the air while extending your elbows.

If you perform this exercise correctly then you can use a tremendous amount of weight.

Another one of Louie Simmons’ favorite triceps isolation exercises is the JM  press. This exercise is named after JM Blakely, one of the best powerlifters who ever trained at the Westside Barbell powerlifting gym.

Here is a perfect demonstration of the JM press:

JM Presses

The JM press is almost like a hybrid between a close grip bench press and the lying triceps extension. There are really 3 different steps to this exercise.

First you lower the bar down towards your clavicle. When the bar is a few inches above your clavicle you let the bar drift back towards your chin while pushing your elbows up. This places a tremendous stretch on the triceps.

Then when the bar is about 2 inches above your chin you press the bar back up to lockout. Louie Simmons says this exercise is tremendous for developing the medial head of the triceps.

Another one of Louie Simmons’ favorite triceps exercises is the bamboo bar skull crusher. Check it out:

Bamboo Bar Skull Crushers

The bamboo bar is a specialty barbell that can be used for the bench press and other upper body exercises.

The bar and the hanging weights wobble all over the place while you perform the exercise. This forces your body to recruit more muscle fibers in the triceps to stabilize the weight.

Louie Simmons loves to perform lying triceps extensions but he also likes to perform tricep pushdowns. One of his favorite variations is the band pushdown. Check it out:

Band Pushdowns

The bands completely change the strength curve for the exercise.

Normally the pushdown is hardest at the start when your forearms are parallel with the ground and easiest in the bottom position when you lockout the weight. The bands add extra resistance as you extend your elbows so the entire range of motion becomes extremely hard.

Louie Simmons likes to use band pushdowns as a “finisher” exercise and he often has his athletes perform sets of 30-100 reps on this exercise to build connective tissue strength and muscular endurance.

Louie Simmons also likes to use cable overhead extensions to develop the long head of the triceps. Check it out:

Cable Overhead Extensions

Louie Simmons says that this exercise has less carryover to the regular bench press so he doesn’t perform it as often as the other exercises.

Conclusion

The Westside Barbell powerlifting team believes that strong triceps are the key to a huge bench press. They use many different compound and isolation exercises to target the triceps in all of their bench press workouts.

If you use the Westside Barbell powerlifting program and are serious about getting results then you need to make these triceps exercises a core part of your bench press workouts.

Here is a great quote by Louie Simmons to pump you up even more: 

“Just when you think you have all of the answers. You need to start asking new questions.”

Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of luck on your strength training journey!

Dr. Mike Jansen, PT, DPT

Thanks for checking out my site! My name is Dr. Mike Jansen and I'm the founder of Revolutionary Program Design. If you want to reach your size and strength goals faster then you've come to the right place. My goal is to make RPD the #1 strength training resource available anywhere in the world. So grab a seat, kick back and relax. There's never been a better time to lift weights or to learn the art and science of strength training program design.

Recent Posts