When it comes to most things in life, there are always two ways to do it… The clean way, and the messy way. If you're filling out your taxes or changing a tire, then as neat and clean as possible is the way to go. Minimal disruption, quick and concise completion of the task is always desirable. Achieve the goal with as little effort and overall messiness as possible. Then there is the other way to do things.. where things get a little messy, a little gritty… and it's not always a bad thing! If you're painting an amazing piece of art, winning the ultimate paintball championship, or torching a muscle group in the gym in order to elicit some new muscle strength and size increases, then making a dirty mess of things is perfectly acceptable!
Building the triceps muscle group is one area where getting gritty is not only acceptable, but also preferred! Typical "clean" triceps movements involve the isolation type movements that do hit the triceps, but don't recruit a great number of muscle fibers in the process. Going "dirty" with your triceps training can lead to the recruitment of a great deal of muscle fibers, which can bump up your results in a big way. Ready to dive in?
Off-Set Grip Two Dumbbell Skull Crushers
This move is commonly seen in gyms throughout the world, usually completed by the biggest guy in the gym. There's a reason for this! Using two dumbbells for skullcrushers, and keeping your palms facing one another, is a movement requiring unparalleled balanced, control, strength and franky, mastery of that weight! Your elbows will not be able to flare out to the side, as is often the case when using the EX curl bar for standard skull crushers. Keep your pinky fingers pressed up against the inner edge of the dumbbells - this will increase the workload at the peak point of exertion during your range of motion. If you want to keep the triceps under nonstop tension - never giving them a break - avoid locking out the dumbbells on any given repetition.
Low Cable Triceps Kickback
Dumbbell kickbacks are among the most popular movements for hitting the triceps. They're an isolation movement, however, which stops the continuous tension when you lock out. That's not ideal if your goal is to burn up those upper arm muscle fibers. Therefore, swapping out your DB kickbacks for low cable triceps kickbacks offers some cool & creative ways to change up the exercise, giving you the same great benefits without some of the drawbacks. You're at your strongest while at the bottom of this movement, which is ideal for the use of cables. Keep the weight light to moderate, with the cable at a 45 degree angle in relationship to the floor. Keep the repetitions slow and controlled for optimal results.
Stability Ball Push
Without a doubt, this has to be one movement that you've never used before. Using a stability ball for push-ups is unique in that both pectoral (chest) and triceps (upper arm) muscle fibers are recruited at a higher rate, according to research. Be sure to inflate the stability ball. Keep your hard turned outwards, with the palms of your hands facing down. This may take some getting used to, but will be far more gentle on the joints of your wrist in the long run.
As with any workout routine, the best exercises are the ones you aren't currently using. Sure, that is a generic 'catch all' statement, but it rings true. The gritty, useful movements you should be doing are likely the compound movements with a few quirky approaches that you aren't currently using. We all know the decent gains you'll see from using standard triceps isolation movements, and we all know that they will subside as you exit "beginner" weightlifter status and move up to "intermediate" bodybuilder status. When this happens, the triceps will cease to grow from standard isolation movements. It is at this point - at the very latest - that you need to move on to heavy, compound movements for the triceps… the grittier, the better!
Also, you should remember that training gritty along won't build up the thick, massive muscles you desire, nor the powerful strength that results from heavy compound work. You have to recover from the workouts, and fuel your body and overall nervous system for the next tough workout. This means you cannot complete your amazingly creative, gritty triceps workout, then enjoy a Big Mac and hit the club for a night or drinking and partying. Workouts should be followed up with a protein shake, followed by a slow burning protein and plenty of carbs a meal later. Enjoy 30 grams of protein per meal. And sleep is just as important as training! You should be relaxing for 9 hours a night, with 7.5 to 8.5 hours of sleep in there. A quick nap before a workout can leave you at the strongest point of your day, just in time to crush those weights. Sleep and nutrition are the recovery factors which will help you to train at your highest level, and grow as a result!
And don't become one of those lifters that always trains arms, and neglects the rest of the body. The best arms you'll ever see are always attached to a complete physique. Grow the legs if you want to put some meat on those arms. Good luck!