Working out isn’t just about what you do — it’s about how you do it. Exercising improperly can severely hamper your gains and can even lead to injury. This is true with all of the muscles in the body, and it’s especially true for tricky triceps.
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Whether you’re trying to work your triceps in order to improve your overall strength or to reduce the look of arm flab, learn the training mistakes you need to avoid in order to get the most out of your workout.
Mistake #1: Neglecting A Warm Up
Warming up is important before any work out. A good warm up gets the blood flowing and readies your body for exercise. Before you start your tricep exercises, spend at least five minutes jogging, performing jumping jacks, or using a jump rope.
The other way you might want to try warming up is to specifically use your triceps, but at a much lower intensity than you will use during your actual workout. For example, before beginning doing intense, triceps-heavy weightlifting, you might try spend a few minutes working on a punching bag. Punching movements involve the extension of the triceps, but don’t have the heavy load you’ll be using later.
Mistake #2: Static Stretching Before Your Work Out
We all know that stretching is important. It improves your flexibility, increases mobility and helps prevent injuries, including pulled muscles or joint problems. However, not all stretching is created equal.
There are two basic types of stretching: static and dynamic. Static stretching is probably what comes to mind for most people when they think about stretching. It involves placing the muscle into a stretched position and holding it there. (For the triceps, the classic stretch is to place your bent arm behind your head, to grasp your elbow with the other hand, and to gently pull.) Dynamic stretching, on the other hand, involves moving the muscle through its range of motion in order to warm it up and gradually get it ready for work.
While stretching can be a good thing, doing static stretching before working your arms when they’re not good and warm can increase in the likelihood of injury. This isn’t to say that static stretching is always a triceps training mistake though. After a workout, static stretches can be very beneficial in lengthening your muscles and helping increase your flexibility.
Mistake #3: Beginning With Isolation Moves
If you really want to increase the size and strength of your triceps, isolation moves are your friend. These exercises focus the work on your triceps without the assistance of other, larger muscles. This means that you can really wring the last amount of effort out of your triceps.
However, you shouldn’t write off compound exercises, either. Exercises that utilize multiple muscle groups and multiple joints burn more calories, teach you greater coordination, and may even help you increase your levels of muscle-building hormones.
When you combine isolation and compound exercises into a single workout, make sure you avoid the triceps exercise mistake of putting your isolation exercises first. Compound exercises should always be used first. Otherwise, you run the risk of tiring out your triceps using movements like skullcrushers and then having your triceps be too tired to perform combination movements like bench press while your pecs are still going strong.
Mistake #4: Using Improper Form
With any exercise, you need to make sure you’re doing the proper form, not just to avoid injury, but to maximize your results and enhance performance. Look before you leap. Ensure your movements are steady and intentional, and understand the proper mechanics of any movement as you do it.
Mistake #5: Picking The Wrong Weight
Weight training is a balancing act. Use too little, and you won’t put enough load on your triceps to gain strength and size. Use too much weight, and you’ll likely sacrifice proper form, leading you to rely on other muscles to do the work that your triceps should be doing. A sweet spot should be around eight to 12 reps, and the very last rep should be very challenging.