Friday, March 27, 2015

Overhead Triceps Extensions: My personal Tips. By Veeraj Goyaram

Overhead Triceps Extensions: 
My personal Tips
By Veeraj Goyaram
Cape Town, South Africa 

The overhead triceps extension ranks among my best triceps exercises of all time. My other favourite ones being cable pushdowns and bent-over cable extensions. Most of the time I like to begin my triceps workout with cable pushdowns which is more of a "contracted" exercise because I contract my triceps hard at the bottom for a second after which I move to overhead extensions which works great to stretch the triceps. It leaves me with a great feeling. Pump it and then stretch it! This approach has always given me good results. By the way, this exercise is also called "French Presses" although I don't think the French had anything to do with its invention (correct me if I am wrong).

Overhead extensions are often said to "isolate" the long head of the triceps. The term isolation is a misnomer because we all know that we cannot isolate any particular triceps head as all three heads work together during any triceps exercise. However, from personal experience I do feel this exercise more in my long triceps head. It can be said that this exercise "emphasizes" the long head. You may or may not agree with me. Overhead extensions helped me build that "semi-lunar" shape in the triceps apparent when I flex the biceps (pictured). I didn't have this until I start doing overhead triceps extensions.

Personal tips

Tip #1: Standing or seated
This exercise can be performed standing or seated. Seated can offset any use of "body English" (cheating) when the going gets tough. I prefer to do the seated version on a bench with back support although I sometimes do the standing version. 

Tip #2: EZ-Bar, Dumbbell or Triceps Bar?
The EZ bar (using the inside grip) is highly recommended because it is less stressful on the wrists for most people. Some of you may be wondering, "what stress on the wrists?". If you don't feel any wrist discomfort using a straight bar then go for it. A short bar is preferable to a longer bar as less effort is spent in balancing the bar, of course. I have found that the EZ-bar bothers my elbow a little bit especially when I am going a bit heavy. Therefore, whenever I need to hammer the heavier weights I use dumbbells which are way easier on the elbows. Elbow pain aside, I do like the feel of the EZ-bar a lot and would reserve the use of the bar whenever I am using higher rep and lighter weight training to build a great muscle-building pump.  Yet another nice piece of equipment is the triceps (or hammer) bar. 

The Hammer Bar works amazing. A little flaring
of the elbows is necessary. 
Tip #3: Flaring elbows
You should be getting the smell of bullcrap when anyone approaches you in the gym while doing this exercise and tells you to keep your elbows close otherwise the exercise is useless. A little flaring of the elbows is necessary because this reduces discomfort in the shoulders especially those who have reduced shoulder flexibility. Do not flare excessively.

Dumbbells are less stressful to my elbows
Some Sample routines incorporating Overhead Triceps Extensions

BEGINNER WORKOUT DESCRIPTION: This workout can be performed on a dedicated arm day or after a pressing workout (E.g. Chest or Shoulders). Perform two light warm-up sets on the first exercise and then go straight into the workout. Do not use heavy weights. Learn to feel the exercises working the triceps. Use a weight which is heavy enough to achieve 10 reps. If your focus is on moving weight rather than feeling the muscles work then quit bodybuilding and join powerlifting.

Anything you want to add? Anything you want to share about this exercise? Any further tips? The floor is open! Drop me a line. 





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