Natural bodybuilder Julian “The Quad Guy” Smith often receives shock and awe surrounding his insanely massive and defined triceps. Julian’s sleeve-tearing triceps are almost as impressive as his quads. Almost.
The triceps comprise anywhere from two-thirds to three-fourths of your upper arm mass. So if you want two all-access tickets to the gun show, your triceps need to be a top priority.
Fast-track your triceps training with the following three moves from Julian Smith. But before you do these exercises, make sure you have the prerequisite triceps flexibility and shoulder mobility by warming up with the elevated prayer stretch or the EQI pullover extension.
1. Skull-crusher into throat-crusher
Julian calls this move “the squat for the triceps with a twist.” The skull-crusher is an old school move that most gym rats will recognize. But the addition of the “throat-crusher” component is where this exercise finds its novelty.
“The key to making your triceps do most of the work is to limit the movement of the upper arm,” says Smith. The upper arm should only move slightly during the throat-crusher.
Julian recommends 4 to 6 sets of 6 to 12 reps for the best results. Since the triceps are a very fast-twitch dominant muscle group, they respond very well to heavier loads and a lower to medium rep range.
2. Dumbbell overhead triceps extension
A quick briefing on your tricep anatomy is key to understanding the importance of this exercise. Your triceps are composed of 3 heads: the lateral, medial, and long head. All 3 heads fuse to the tendon that attaches behind the elbow joint. But the lateral and medial heads attach to your humeral head where your long head attaches to your scapula.
To preferentially target the often neglected and underdeveloped long head, you need to do some exercises with your arms overhead. From an aesthetics standpoint, a well developed long head (that’s what she said) makes the back of your arm look massive when doing a double biceps pose.
Julian likes to do 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps with this exercise with slower, more controlled tempos for time-under-tension work. “I vary between having my elbows bowed out and tucked in close to my head,” Julian says. “It just hits the triceps ever so differently. Play around with it and see what works best for you.”
As with all tricep exercises, try to limit the movement of the upper arm.
3. Wide-grip triceps cable push down
Push-downs have long been a staple in total triceps training. Julian prefers to do them with a wide-grip to give an additional focus to the long head of the triceps.
“I usually keep my reps between 10 to 20 on this one,” Smith says. “If I use the lower end of that rep range, I tend to do time-under-tension tempo work with a slow negative. If I go on the higher end of that rep range, I use faster, more explosive reps with a brief pause on the contraction.”
Julian recommends 4 sets of these bad boys if you want to start tearing sleeves.
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