The Elite Physique

How to Make Your Triceps POP!

Learn How to Make Your Triceps POP for Impressive Arms

figure competitors showing how to make your triceps pop on stage

Here’s the scientific information on how to make your triceps pop.  “The triceps brachii muscle (Latin for “three-headed arm muscle”) is the large muscle on the back of the upper limb of many vertebrates. It is the muscle principally responsible for extension of the elbow joint (straightening of the arm).”


Here’s The Deal About Your Triceps

If you want to know the intricate details of the triceps muscle and how it functions, read my BEST-SELLING female muscle-building eBook, Iron Dolls. Don’t worry, I don’t copy from Wikipedia or cut and paste someone else’s work. All my information is researched and written by yours truly.

All kidding aside… If you want to get the judges attention as a competitor and look great on the stage, an impressive set of triceps will get you noticed because. One, they look sexy and two, they display that you have a powerful set of arms, which a lot of figure competitors lack.

But we’ll fix that so you can rise above the rest, get noticed on stage, and even snag a First Place trophy.  Oh what the heck; snag the Overall Title or even Pro Status. Will that work? Great… Let’s get to the meat (pardon the pun) of how to make your triceps pop.

Developing well-rounded triceps is the key to building a great set of arms.  However, you want to make your triceps POP OUT, to Command Attention. If you can really get that horseshoe (lateral head) to stand out on your quarter turn left pose or quarter turn right pose, you will have earned points and respect.

Here’s what you need to understand to get that horseshoe muscle to pop out. Basically, the lateral head is on the outer side edge of the upper arm. This is the muscle most competitors strive so hard to develop. This head tends to respond best to higher reps, usually in the 12 rep range for muscle-building.  Perhaps higher for contest prep training.

We’ll cover 3 exercises (in no particular order) that zone-in on the horseshoe muscle on the triceps. Here we go…

Dumbbell Kickbacks (Sissy Exercise?)

First on my list is the dumbbell kickback. First a bit of history… I was one of the first moderators on  when it first came into existence. In the early days of, the forum was a standard format that wasn’t too user friendly. There were no profiles. You just posted. I was a regular poster there and my posts were so in-depth that most guys there accused me of being a guy. I guess they think women don’t know how to build muscle.

Anyway, on one thread I was responding to a post about how to build the triceps. I gave a few triceps exercises, working from a compound exercise that targets the largest triceps head first, then an exercise that targets the medial head, and finished off with DB kickbacks. I caught heat from some 17 year old, not-finished-going-through-puberty, geek about the kickbacks. He posted they were ineffective and for sissy’s. He just finds kickbacks not glamorous for guys. Perhaps he’d be surprised to know that everyone from Craig Titus to Monica Brant uses kickbacks in their training for overall triceps development.

Sure, you need the muscle-building movements like dips, overhead extensions, skulls, but avoiding the exercises that target the smaller head could lead to underdeveloped triceps. No one wins a show with underdeveloped arms.

A little figure competition training trick for kickbacks (dumbbell or cable) is to put in a little twist when you get to the contraction point.

Skulls (What Your Coach Didn’t Tell You)

Skull crushers are next on my list to make your triceps pop. These are also lying triceps extension. But that name doesn’t get my adrenaline pumping like “skulls” do. Anyway, this is a very good triceps exercise for overall development, and of course for bringing out that highly sought after horseshoe shape in the upper arm.

Now, for a little training trick to ZONE-IN to that horseshoe… Put your bench at an incline and do incline skulls. Be sure as the bar lowers, your triceps get a GOOD s-t-r-e-t-c-h and when you bring the bar back up to the contraction point, contract the triceps HARD.

V-Bar Pushdown (Easy, Save For Last)

The v-bar pushdown has been a favorite throughout the bodybuilding and fitness eras. This is one of the most popular triceps exercise EVER. Anytime you walk into a gym you will see someone doing the pushdown. Now, whether they are doing it correctly or not is a different story.

With the pushdown, I want to share with you a training tip from Nick Nilsson (you know the exercise inventor, the MAD Scientist). This training trick is inspired by Vince Gironda, the Iron Guru. Here it is, the Preacher Pushdown. Place a preacher bench under the v-bar pushdown. Grab the v-bar and bring it down with you as you sit on the bench. Get into position as if you were going to do a preacher curl. Now, push down and be sure to keep your triceps in contact against the padding. Yeah, it’s called the preacher pushdown because you’ll be praying for each set to be over quickly! *evil grin*

Ok give these three exercises a try in your triceps training workout in the next 3 weeks and let me know how you do.

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Yes, these are basic training tips on how to make your triceps pop.  Implement them and you will see a difference in no time.  Now, join over 73,000 other’s who are training hard and making progress.  If you want to transform your body, get my FREE Contest Prep Crash Course.


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Karen Sessions NSCA-CPT

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My name is Karen Sessions and I am a life-time natural female bodybuilder, multi-certified fitness instructor, author, specialist in performance nutrition, and a success coach. I've been in the fitness industry since 1988! I teach people Just Like You how to transform their bodies, get in shape, build muscle, lose fat and compete in Bodybuilding, Physique, and Figure Competitions. When you have the CORRECT information you can have total confidence and turn your dreams into reality... and I can help transform YOUR body. I have helped THOUSANDS of clients reach their goals and I can help you, too. Be sure to grab my free gift above so you can start moving toward your goal.

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