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Week of February 21st 2010 – The “Cry-cep”

Tricep exercises are crucial if you want powerful, strong and toned arms because the fact is that the tricep makes up two thirds of your arm muscle. Yes that is right, two thirds of your arm is actually the tricep muscles. Although there are many tricep exercises to choose from without a doubt the best 3 are:

  • Parallel dips – 12 reps
  • Seated bench dips  – 12 reps
  • Diamond push ups  – 12 reps

Repeat the Cry-cep routine for 4 sets and don’t forget to walk around the house in a vest to enjoy your hard work – LOL!

Parallel Dips
It doesn’t matter if you use bars especially constructed for dips in the gym or if you train in the house and use a couple of chairs, the technique is basically the same. Grab the handles or the top of the chairs and lift your whole body of the ground by straightening your arms.

Make sure you keep your arms as close to the sides of your body as possible and then bend your elbows until your arms are at 90 degrees. The most important thing to remember is not to let your elbows flair out to the side but keep them parallel with the sides of your body.

Once they are at a 90 degrees angle push your arms back up until they are just an inch from being completely straight and then repeat the exercise, by not straightening your arms completely you will keep the tension constantly on the tricep muscles.

The secret to getting the most out of this tricep exercise is to keep your body completely straight; the only movement should be the bending of your arms at the elbow.

Do not make the mistake of leaning forward when doing parallel dips as this turns it into more of a chest and shoulder exercise. (We’ll tackle that variation a bit later on). So remember look straight ahead and keep your body moving up and down as straight as possible.

  • Easier – Bend your arms a couple of inches on each rep and gradually over the course of a few weeks go lower and lower until you can get them to the 90 degrees position
  • Harder – Stop half way down on each rep and hold this position for ten seconds before continuing to complete the full repetition. (The ten second static hold will bring isometric tension into effect and makes this type of dip one of the hardest tricep exercises you can do).

Another way of making dips harder is to raise your knees to waist height and keep them there throughout the exercise

Seated Bench Dips
To do these you can use a bench or chair. Start by sitting on the bench with your hands gripping the edge of the bench and as close to your body as possible, almost as if you are sitting on them.

Your feet will be on the floor and the further away from your body you place them the harder the exercise will be.

Now just lift your bum off the bench but keep your back as close to the edge of the bench as possible and dip down to 90 degrees and then push your arms back up. Your arms should stay close to your body and when you dip, your elbows should be pointing directly behind you.

This is one of the best tricep exercises because when you get the technique right you will be able to concentrate all your efforts on just the tricep muscles. The key is to keep your elbows pointing behind you and don’t let your arms flair out to the sides.

  • Easier – Move your feet closer to the bench or just lower your arms a few inches on each rep until you get stronger and can lower yourself to the 90 degree position.
  • Harder – Move your legs further away from the bench, in fact you can keep your legs straight if you want. Another way of making them harder is place your feet on another bench the same height as the one you are using for your arms. This has the effect of making your triceps lift more of your bodyweight. The king of bench dip techniques is to put your bench about 2-3 feet away from a wall and then place your feet directly on the wall about three feet high. Then all you have to do is stop yourself from landing on your arse by pushing against the wall with your feet and taking most of your bodyweight on your triceps as you perform the exercise.

Diamond pushups

To do these correctly start from a normal push up position on the floor and then slide your arms together until your thumbs meet and your index fingers are touching. You will see that a diamond shape is formed in the space between your two fingers and thumbs.

From this position you simply lower your body down until the centre of your chest touches your hands and then push yourself back up until your arms are straight.

  • Easier – There are two options, you can either start from a wider grip so your chest and deltoids help and over a period of weeks move your hands closer together until you can do them in the strict form, or if you are really struggling you can do tricep press ups with your knees on the floor which makes them a lot easier for beginners but obviously works the triceps less.
  • Harder – Lower your body until your chest is just a couple of inches from the floor and hold this position for 10 seconds on each rep, this will work the muscles using isometrics. This makes the press ups very difficult but very effective. Another option when you feel strong enough is to start doing your tricep press ups one handed.

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