We come up with all kinds of novel ways to pump up our biceps, one of our favorite mirror muscles. But for truly show-stopping arms for the warm weather months, it’s time to put a high premium on the larger, less-loved muscle that also makes up your guns, the triceps. You can do more than just pushdowns and extensions to get that rear arm swell on.
Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. puts a twist on a traditionally staid triceps workout with this tough kneeling kickback series by taking your legs out of the equation and focusing on the toughest part of the exercise.
“The most challenging position for our triceps during any triceps movement is the straight-arm position,” says Samuel. “Here, you’re going to find and maintain that straight-arm position for a growing amount of time on every set, and you’ll need to maintain that position while also doing standard reps on the other side.”
Just don’t be over-aggressive in your quest for bigger arms. “There’s a premium on triceps control here, and on true dominance in that straight-arm position,” says Samuel. “Use a lighter weight than your instincts suggest. Most people explosively drive into the kickback position with momentum, then can’t stay there (another reason that the straight-arm hold from a kickback position winds up underutilized).”
To perform the kneeling triceps kickback challenge, you’ll need a set of light weight dumbbells and something to kneel on. If you need a solid set of weights to try this out at home, check out this option from Bowflex, or any of these adjustable dumbbells.
Men’s Health/Eric Rosati
- Get in a tall kneeling position on the ground, holding both weights. Hinge at the hips to lean over for kickbacks, keeping your arms parallel to the ground and your head neutral.
- Squeeze your triceps to perform a kickback rep with both arms.
- Maintain the squeeze with one of your arms while you perform another rep with the opposite arm. Continue that squeeze no matter what.
- Repeat that pattern, this time with the arm that was holding straight arm position.
- Perform another double arm kickback rep. After this one, perform the above series with each arm, performing 2 kickback reps this time.
- Continue building up reps until you reach 4.
But your triceps won’t be the only beneficiary of the exercise. “You’ll also work your back musculature more than you think here, as you work to keep your upper arms parallel to the floor at all times,” Samuel says. “There’s a ton of anti-rotary core work in this move too, because you’re maintaining that straight-arm kickback position while repping on the other side; battle to keep hips and shoulders square.”
Add the 3 rounds of the kneeling triceps kickback challenge to your arm day as a nasty triceps finisher. For more tips and routines from Samuel, check out our full slate of Eb and Swole workouts. If you want to try an even more dedicated routine, consider Eb’s New Rules of Muscle program.
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