While biceps steal the spotlight when it comes to a muscle-gun show, it is actually your triceps that make your arms look bigger. Making up 2/3rd of your arm’s mass, your triceps are the way to grow into monster arms.
However, if your training program isn’t well-structured or if you’re stumbling through triceps exercises without proper form, you’re on your way to harming your gains.
In this guide, you’ll learn about the 5 common triceps mistakes to avoid when gunning for those big guns so you can have your dream physique – and stay functional too!
Get jacked with these 6 best arm exercises to gain mass!
Not Working All Three Heads | Improper Exercise Order | Overdependence on Machines & Cables | Poor Triceps Form | Overtraining | 10 Worst Triceps Exercises | Key Takeaways | FAQs
5 Mistakes to Avoid While Training Triceps
Not Working All Three Heads
Your triceps comprise of three distinct heads – long, medial and lateral. Most popular exercises such as the triceps push downs or kickbacks work the lateral and the medial head. Because the long head requires overhead movement, it is often overlooked.
With the goal of having bigger and bulkier arms, you need to train all three triceps heads to avoid imbalance in your muscle development. In addition, you’re likely to experience triceps pain after workout if you overtrain one head and overtrain the other due to overuse.
- Make sure you isolate your long head with overhead extensions.
- Balance your triceps training routine by incorporating reverse pushdowns for the medial head.
- Work all three heads with dips and close grip bench press to prevent injuries and ensure growth.
Learn how to do triceps pushdown correctly.
Improper Exercise Order
If you’ve ever experience triceps pain after workout, then you need to rethink your exercise order. When planning your triceps routine, you need to make sure you line up exercises in an order that’s easy to follow for your muscles. And, that doesn’t exhaust your triceps right in the beginning.
Typically, this happens when you line up lighter exercises in the beginning and focus on hitting more reps. This also happens when you do isolated exercises such as single arm overhead extensions in the beginning, rather than hitting compound exercises.
- Always plan compound movements such as close-grip bench or dips as your first exercises so you can lift heavy.
- Plan free-weighted, single or double arm exercises after compounds.
- Line up isolated or cable exercises towards the end of your program.
Get those hulk arms with this complete triceps workout routine.
Overdependence on Machines & Cables
By using machines and cables excessively, you slow down your triceps growth because it prevents muscle engagement and stability that you need for gaining mass. In addition, machines and cables lock you in, limiting your range of motion. On the other hand, free weights give you a wider and fuller range of motion, activating your muscles and boosting your growth.
Moreover, since the machine and cables lock you down, you don’t get enough flexibility to target your triceps from multiple angles. With free weights, you have more room and range for movement, helping you work your triceps from various positions. This is why, overdependence on machines and cables leads to weakness in muscles and aesthetic imbalance.
- Incorporate EZ bar or dumbbell extensions in your triceps routine for muscle stability.
- Always start off with compound movements that utilize bodyweight such as dips and diamond push-ups.
- Switch up your attachments when doing pushdowns so you can work different heads of your triceps.
Get toned without cables or machines with these 4 chair workouts for strong arms!
Poor Triceps Form
With incorrect form during your triceps exercises, you’re not targeting the muscle group you want to grow. For instance, if you wish to gain mass in your triceps medial and your form on reverse pushdowns is improper, you won’t be creating resistance for the medial head. This means the medial head isn’t targeted, meaning your workout is ineffective.
What’s worse is that improper form often exerts secondary muscles and joints. This could lead to two major problems, one of them being overtraining of your secondary muscles such as your shoulders, which you might have already trained. In addition, with greater load on your joints, you’re at a higher risk of injuries and post-workout pain.
- When doing any kind of overhead or pushdown exercise, avoid flaring your elbows out and keep them tucked to your sides.
- Fully extend your arms at the end of an exercise to completely stretch out your triceps and engage them properly.
- Avoid swaying your arms or locking your joints to keep the load on the muscle you’re targeting.
If you don’t have access to the gym, grow your arms with these at-home triceps workouts.
One of the biggest mistakes you could make when training triceps is overdoing it. This is because your triceps are involved in several upper body workouts such as pushups, benches, presses, etc. If you train your triceps separately, then make sure you give at least 24-hour recovery time after upper body workouts so your triceps aren’t exhausted.
If you train your triceps right after chest or shoulders, your triceps will be overexerted, leading to fatigue, pain and even poor recovery. Combined, this could lead to poor gains.
- Go no more than 12 sets per workout session when it comes to hitting your triceps
- Make sure you give 48-60 hours of recovery time before you train your triceps again
- Hit each rep intentionally with controlled eccentrics to maximize contraction
Ladies, don’t overlook your arms! Get sculpted with these 10 arm exercises for women.
10 Worst Triceps Exercises
|Worst Triceps Exercise
|Why It’s Bad
|Benefit of Alternative
|1. Behind-the-Neck Triceps Extension
|Puts strain on the shoulder joints and can lead to injury.
|Overhead Dumbbell Triceps Extension
|Targets triceps effectively without risking shoulder problems.
|2. Smith Machine Close-Grip Bench Press
|Restricts natural movement and may cause joint stress.
|Close-Grip Bench Press with Free Weights
|Allows a more natural range of motion and better muscle engagement.
|3. Triceps Kickbacks with Heavy Weights
|Difficulty maintaining proper form and control, leading to ineffective results.
|Lighter Weight Triceps Kickbacks
|Ensures better form, muscle isolation, and improved triceps development.
|4. Partial Range of Motion Pushdowns
|Doesn’t fully engage triceps and limits growth potential.
|Full Range of Motion Pushdowns
|Targets triceps throughout the complete range, promoting growth.
|5. Cross-Body Triceps Extensions with Dumbbell
|High risk of elbow strain and limited effectiveness.
|Skull Crushers with an EZ-bar
|Provides better stability and triceps activation without straining the elbows.
|6. Triceps Dips with Incorrect Form
|Places excessive stress on the shoulders and may lead to injury.
|Properly Executed Triceps Dips
|Engages triceps while minimizing shoulder stress for safe and effective results.
|7. One-Arm Triceps Pushdowns
|Uneven muscle development and potential for overuse injury.
|Two-Arm Triceps Pushdowns
|Promotes balanced triceps development and reduces injury risk.
|8. Triceps Pushdowns with Poor Cable Position
|Incorrect cable setup leads to inefficient triceps targeting.
|Properly Aligned Cable Triceps Pushdowns
|Ensures effective muscle engagement and better results.
|9. Triceps Isolation Machines with Inadequate Adjustments
|Difficulties in adjusting machines may lead to improper form.
|Adjustable Triceps Isolation Machines
|Allows customization for correct form and targeted triceps training.
|10. Tricep Pushdowns with Momentum
|Relying on momentum reduces triceps activation and effectiveness.
|Controlled Triceps Pushdowns
|Maximizes triceps engagement for better results.
*Pro Tip: Make sure you’re either wearing a gym stringer or a high-stretch gym t-shirt during your triceps workout so you get physique visibility as well as flexibility to hit full ranges of motion when doing your workout!
To grow your triceps, make sure you’re hitting each distinct head of your triceps with focused, controlled and slow eccentrics. Remember, it is important to build contraction more than it is to lift heavy. By hitting a full range of motion, you’ll be able to activate your triceps in the right way. Incorporate a healthy, protein-rich diet so you can boost your gains and grow mass on your arms!
Pair your triceps routine with biceps exercises to get those Superman arms you dream of!
When training triceps, always be careful when doing any kind of exercise so you’re activating the right muscle for growth. Some of the common mistakes for triceps exercises include:
- Not activating your triceps with warm-ups or stretches
- Poor form and technique, which takes the load off the targeted muscle
- Improper muscle activation because of heavy weights or not doing the pre-workout stretches
- Focusing on quantity of reps over quality
- Using momentum to lift heavy weights instead of controlling your movements with lighter weights
One of the most common triceps extension mistakes is lifting weights that are too heavy. With excessive weight, you’ll be restricted, which compromises not only the form but also the range of motion. As a result, you won’t be working the right muscles and your triceps won’t grow. In addition, this also puts you at a risk of injury. Instead, lift lighter weights that allow a full range of motion so your triceps are fully activated and engaged for the best results.
Yes, you should lift heavy on triceps. However, you should only progressively overload. This means you need to get your form on triceps right so that you build strength and tempo. Once you hit each rep with controlled eccentrics, you need to increase the weight and move from lighter to heavier weights to increase the resistance of your training and boost muscle growth.