If your triceps workout consists of a few sets of push-downs, maybe some halfhearted push-ups and the odd triceps kickback, it's pretty likely that you'll never have terrific triceps. What you need is a complete overhaul of your routine. There are far better exercise out there for a start, but one way you can really ramp up your training intensity and get far better results is by introducing supersets to your triceps workout. These may sound mystical and complicated, but they're super simple and will give great results.
Bodybuilding magazines are generally the first place most people discover the wonders of supersetting. However, supersets aren't just for hulking brutes wearing tank tops and bandannas. A superset involves performing one exercise, then jumping immediately into another with no rest in between. Supersets burn up to a third more calories per minute than regular strength training, writes coach Natalie Gingerich in Fitness Magazine. Not only that, but less rest means you'll finish your workout quicker, meaning less time in the gym and better results to boot adds Rachel Crocker, personal trainer and editor of Oxygen Magazine.
Kiss goodbye to your cable kickbacks, triceps extension machine and 2 pound dumbbells -- it's time for a triceps revolution. You might be comfortable performing easy exercises with light weights for high reps, but this will do nothing for your fat loss or muscle gain results. Pick tougher, more demanding, multi-joint triceps exercises instead. These compound exercises hit more muscle fibers and burn more calories claims trainer Rachel Cosgrove, owner of Results Fitness in California. Pushups (with a normal or close grip,) dips on a bench or set of parallel bars, close grip bench presses, and dumbbell extensions should be your go-to triceps exercises from now on.
You can superset any two exercises together -- the only rule is that it must be challenging. Supersetting a big compound movement with an isolation exercise is extremely effective and will fatigue your triceps far better than regular straight set training. Start with a set of dips, bench presses, close grip presses or a pushup variation using a relatively heavy weight and perform eight to 10 reps. Then move immediately to a triceps isolation such as a dumbbell or cable extension or a cable pressdown and do a set of 15 to 20 reps with a slightly lighter weight, making sure your squeeze and flex your triceps on every rep. Repeat this three times and do two different supersets per session.
Spicing Things Up
Superset will feel cool, new and exciting for a few weeks, but like everything else they can become mundane. When this happens, give your triceps training a kick by twisting your supersets around. Add a third exercise into the mix, so instead of just pushups and overhead cable extensions, you could now do pushups, cable extensions and press downs. If your triceps are really lagging and need an extra boost, then try adding antagonistic supersets into your biceps workout. The name might sound fancy, but the premise is simple. Antagonistic simply means opposite, so you superset opposing muscle groups. Perform a biceps exercise, then move into a triceps one. Close-grip chin-ups and dips, hammer curls and pushups or EZ bar curls and French presses are all seriously tough combinations.
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.