Self-analysis is the athlete's best friend… and complacence is the worst enemy! The strength athlete who is continually self-analyzing and working to modify his or her existing training protocol is the one who will make the most long-term gains as a result. Complacency is your worst enemy. You should always be looking at the way you train to find small adjustments you can make to see better results from your efforts. Let's look at once such training area where small changes can make a very big difference - the angles you use for your arms during the most common triceps exercises.
Don't go too narrow on close-grip bench press
This is a terrific movement for building up triceps mass. Standard bench press targets the pectorals. Move in the hands, and suddenly you're hitting the triceps. The key to success, however, is not to move the hands so close that they are in danger of touching. Keep the hands about ten inches apart. If they're close than that, your wrists are doing more of the work than your triceps. This minimizes your muscle gain potential, and places your wrists at great risk of injury!
Elbows locked during kickbacks
Triceps kickbacks are essentially the same movement for your triceps, as leg extensions are for your quadriceps. Would you ever let your knees wildly flail during a set of leg extensions? Of course not! However, many lifters let their elbows drift upward, downward, and outward, letting this locked single-joint movement turn into a shoulder exercise, placing your RC and AC joints at risk while leaving your triceps undertrained. Don't waist your time in the weight room doing your kickbacks the wrong way!
Avoid elbow flare during overhead dumbbell extensions
Without a doubt, overhead DB extensions are one of the best ways to build up pure, unadulterated triceps mass. That is, until they are transformed from a locked triceps movement into a wile, flailing shoulder exercise in futility. If you cannot keep your triceps locked and elbows stationary during this movement, then it's time to drop the amount of weight you're using.
Don't lock elbows on Machine Dips
You'd think machine dips are one movement where it's not even possible to do things wrong. Not so fast! It may feel natural and reassuring to lock out the triceps during seated triceps machine dips. However, this is not advisable. Anytime you lock out on this movements, your bones and tendons pick up the brunt of the work, letting your triceps right off the hook. This defeats the purpose of this exercise! You're trying to isolate the triceps, and keep them under continuous tension. In order to do this, you must never lock out all of the way on your machine dips. Complete your 8 or 10 or 12 repetitions without ever locking on either end of the movement, and your triceps will experience 30 to 45 seconds of pure muscle building stimulation!
Use perfect form on skull crushers
Without a doubt, lying french presses (known as EZ bar skullcrushers) are one of the most intimidating movements you'll encounter in the gym. They're also one of the most effective. The vast majority of top bodybuilders use these movements on a regular basis. It's an excellent lift for isolation of the triceps while keeping a pro level of tension and intensity placed upon the triceps. Use them, and use them often. Just be sure not to let the elbow drift or the bar to change positions vertically as you train. This lets your chest, shoulders and back get in on the action, and pulls emphasis away from your triceps, the point of the entire workout!
Even if you're not interested in seeing greater results, you should be focused upon the safety of your training. The angles you use in training are specifically designed to keep the joints and tendons safe and free from injury. If you're bending and twisting to move more weight or to make the exercise easier for you, then you're likely moving the emphasis of the movement away from your muscles, and only the joints and tendons of your body. Keep the reps perfect, and the muscles will be doing the work. You'll minimize the chance of incurring injury as a result.
Remember that in this high-tech world, there are plenty of tools at your disposal to make your training smarter and better. Your cell phone camera is perhaps the best tool available when analyzing your triceps training angles and positions. Place the camera on the floor or the bench, and make a video of you completing your workout from several angles. Then analyze that video. If there's a lot of poor angles, then you will quickly realize that you're squandering 10 to 20% of your potential gains by not completing these reps in a picture perfect form. Adjust your angles, then record more video until you get it right. Basketball players record their jump shot practices. Quarterbacks record their throwing motions and analyze it. Why wouldn't any serious strength athlete be open to recording his or her training practice in order to analyze and make the proper adjustments?
Being self critical regarding your own training… it's not always an easy thing to do! However, being able to put your ego in the closet and focusing upon training better all the time is what the great ones do - and so should you. Take a step back from the training in which you're immersed and find a few changes to position and angle that can make you a better, safer, and more productive lifter!