How to Balance Your Triceps Development

In order for you to develop a muscle completely, you must hit it from all angles with various set/rep schemes using a multitude of multi-joint and single-joint movements. You've been training long enough to know that, so why don't you do it with your triceps?

Think about it, you do all sorts of exercises for your triceps, like heavy close-grip bench presses and dips, along with moderately-heavy triceps extensions, pressdowns, and kickbacks. You make sure to vary the elbow angle on a regular basis, and of course, you alter the grip position and orientation as well… or do you?

How often do you use a supinated grip when training your triceps? I bet it's not that often. Pronated and neutral, yes, but supinated, no!

The elbow flexors are often trained using a combination of all three grip orientations, but the same doesn't hold true for the elbow extensors. That creates a muscle imbalance – not only does it compromise complete triceps development (notably the lateral head), but it also promotes an imbalance with other muscles around the shoulder and elbow joints.

It's wise to pair antagonistic (opposite) movement patterns if you want to promote muscle balance and deter injuries. That means every time you do a supinated arm curl, you should do a supinated triceps movement, but I'm sure that doesn't happen, so here are two ways to make it happen!

Reverse-Grip Cable Pressdown

Supinated Grip Pressdown Top PositionSupinated Grip Pressdown Bottom Position

Perform the exercise in a staggered stance – if you're training your left arm, put your right foot forward, and vice versa. Grab the handle with a palms-up grip, and extend the elbow as far as you can. Pause for a second in the bottom position, then return back to the start in a controlled fashion. Make sure that your elbow stays glued to your side the whole time.

A moderately-heavy weight for 10-15 reps works best.

Supinated Grip Pressdown with a Stirrup Handle

If possible, use a stirrup handle with hand support to reduce the grip involvement and increase the activation of the triceps.

Supinated Dumbbell Kickback

Supinated Grip Kickback Start PositionSupinated Grip Kickback End Position

Position yourself at the edge of a bench as if you're about to perform a one-arm row. Raise your elbow as high as you can (keep it tight to the body) and use a supinated grip so that your thumb is pointing away from the body. Now extend your elbow all the way (i.e., go to lockout), pause at the top, then return back down to the start position. Only your forearm should move, nothing else!

Go a bit lighter on this exercise. Aim for 15-20 reps.

Offset Grip Kickbacks

Offset the grip as shown above to emphasize the lateral head of the triceps.

Bottom Line: Add reverse-grip pressdowns and supinated kickbacks to your arsenal of triceps exercises for complete and balanced muscle development.

To your success,

John Paul Catanzaro

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Posted Jun 6, 2018

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