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Different Versions of the Triceps Pushdown

Bodybuilding style training is fun. Not only for the results that it produces but because of the variety it allows. Whereas other forms of training require some sort of strict progression in order to progress, bodybuilding not only allows for variation, it is a requirement for success. In order to accomplish their dream physique, bodybuilders not only have to worry about the size of their muscles but equally important is the shape and symmetry of their muscle groups. They accomplish this by attacking the same muscle group from different angles throughout their routine. This is where the variety kicks in. This is a big reason why I enjoy bodybuilding style training, you can do the same exercise over and over again with a slightly different twist each time. Changing the angle of the exercise ensures that you are creating a new stimulation of the muscle fibers which in turns creates well-rounded size and shape. Changing angles can be done a few different ways such as changing your grip, the handle being used, and also your body position. Although different angles can and should be used for every exercise and muscle group I have chosen to discuss the triceps muscle in this article and specifically different ways to execute the triceps pushdown, an exercise that most people are familiar with. P.S. I chose to just number the variations because well, who really has names for each of these?

Variation #1

Can’t play video? Click here: Variation 1 video 1

Can’t play video? Click here: Variation 1 video 2

This variation using two different handles is probably the most common of the ones I will discuss. This is also the more conventional push-down. Meaning elbows tucked to the side, pivoting just at the elbow, squeezing at the bottom, controlled movement on the way up. Neither handle is better than the other. Remember, we want to use as many different handles as possible and if you’re lucky enough to be at a gym that has different kinds of handles try them all at this conventional angle.

Variation #2


Can’t play video? Click here: Variation 2

This variation is unilateral which allows you to focus on one arm at a time. As seen in the above video, no handle is needed as you simply grab the cable. In this variation you are going across your body and then down. I use my opposite hand to stabilize my working arm by placing it in my arm-pit allowing my working arm to rest on it.

Variation #3


Can’t play video? Click here: Variation 3

This variation is unique because the position of your palm will change. Instead of your palm facing the floor like in most pushdown variations in this one your palm will be facing up. You can think of it as simply a reverse grip. Other than the grip, this variation is very closely related to the “conventional” pushdown shown in the first variation. You can pin your elbow to your side and press straight down towards the floor. By changing your grip you will stimulate the triceps in a different way. As with most of these variations you can also change the angle by changing your own body position by standing a different way. Depending how you stand your elbow may not be pinned to your side but as long as you can control the movement you are fine. There have been many professional bodybuilders that have said they have found great success by standing and executing an exercise in the same way they pose on stage. Bottom line, don’t be afraid to try almost anything to create a different stimulus, and if it feels good then you have found success.

Variation #4


Can’t play video? Click here: Variation 4

This variation can be tough to master at first. It is different than the previous ones because you are going to stand a short distance from the cable machine and you are also not in the upright position. Watching the above video will be most helpful for you to understand how to stand but it may help you to think of the position you are in if you have ever done kneeling cable crunches. The position of your torso is very similar except you are standing. You will need to use a rope handle for the exercise. This is a great exercise to target the hard to reach long head of your triceps, the part that runs up towards your armpit. By developing this part of your triceps you will start to create that separation of your delt and triceps that everyone loves. At the top of the movement you should feel an awesome stretch in your triceps, and if you don’t then try and reposition yourself until you do.

 

These are four variations of the triceps pushdown that I like to use quite frequently in my routines. With these four variations you are hitting the triceps in almost every way possible in a pushdown exercise. The great thing about bodybuilding style training is that there are no rules so be sure to constantly look for and experiment new ways to do old things. If it feels good then you are not wrong.

As always, thanks for reading and be sure to support the site by subscribing with your email.

 

3 Exercises for Bicep Peak

What is the first image you get when you think of a muscular arm? For most people, the king of all aesthetic features is the bicep peak. It is the round, ball looking part of the muscle that sticks up from the rest. Like many muscles, the bicep peak is easier to achieve for some than others. A beginner might think that all bicep exercises are created equal, but they would be wrong. Yes, any type of curl will hit the entire bicep, but, again like all the muscle groups, there are exercises that are better than others for hitting a certain part of the muscle. You hit different parts of your arms by changing the angle of the exercise. This can be done either by changing your hand position or elbow position.

SEE Arms! (Part 1 of 2) OR Arms! (Part 2 of 2)

First things first, no matter what exercise you’re executing you want to be curling into your body and have the pinky side of your hand turning outwards. (See this in the videos below) Unfortunately, I’m in the group that has to work extra hard at developing the peak of the bicep and following are three exercises that have helped me see improvement.

Concentration Curls

The concentration curl is a classic. It can be done a couple different ways:

Standing w/ Dumbbell or Cable Machine

**Note: For the sake of keeping the wording simple I used a dumbbell in the instructions
but this exercise can be executed the same way utilizing a cable machine.

  • Grab a dumbbell, holding the handle closer to the pinky side of your hand. (See picture
    below)
  • With a dumbbell in one hand bend over and let the arm holding the dumbbell hang directly in front of your knee. Don’t let your elbow rest against your knee but have it hang directly in front.
  • Have your opposite arm rest on your opposite knee.
  • Shift your weight so that majority of your body weight is on the foot that is on same side as dumbbell.
  • Curl the dumbbell towards the midline of your body and in while turning your pinky out.
  • Weight is not the priority in this exercise. So be sure to use a weight that is challenging but one that allows you do get a full contraction at the top of the movement.
  • Try using both a dumbbell and the cable machine. I switch back and forth between the two.
  • Recommended rep range: 12-20

Dumbbell Grip

Proper dumbbell grip.


Can’t play video? Click here: Seated Concentration Curls

Can’t play video? Click here: Standing Concentration Curls
 
 
Dumbbell Spider Curls

The spider curl can be done a few different ways and is a great exercise for building overall bicep mass as well. However, I’ve found it harder to target peak using anything other than dumbbells. Dumbbells allow you the freedome to turn your wrist outwards getting that extra contraction in your bicep.

  • Grab a dumbbell in each hand, holding the handles closer to the pinky side of your hands. (See picture above)
  • Lay face down on an incline bench. The degree of incline can vary. Try different ones and see which angle feels best for you.
  • Let your arms hang and start the movement by holding the dumbbells in a neutral grip. (See video below)
  • Start the curl from a dead hang, don’t swing or use momentum to start the movement.
  • Curl the dumbbells up and towards the mid line of your body while turning your pinkies out.
  • If you do it right the back end of the dumbbells should almost be touching each other while the front ends are as apart as they can be. (See video below)
  • Weight is not the priority in this exercise. So be sure to use a weight that is challenging but one that allows you do get a full contraction at the top of the movement.
  • Recommended rep range: 12-20

Can’t play video? Click here: DB Spider Curls
 
EZ-Bar Drag Curl

This is the only exercise of the three that you aren’t going to use dumbbells thus making it the hardest of the three to execute correctly. By using the EZ-Bar with this exercise you obviously cannot physically turn your wrists outwards but I want you to act like you can.

  • Grab an EZ-Bar with a narrow grip.
  • Start with the bar against your stomach. (This will mean that you are starting with your arms already slightly bent)
  • Flare your elbows.
  • As you begin the movement think about curling it into your body and turning your pinkies outwards. (Again I know you physically can’t do this but act like you can)
  • Be sure the bar come all the way back down so that it leaves your stomach. This is a short range of motion.
  • Weight is not the priority in this exercise. So be sure to use a weight that is challenging but one allows you do a get a full contraction at the top of the movement.
  • Recommended rep range: 12-20

Can’t play video? Click here: EZ-Bar Drag Curls
 

These three exercises have helped me improve my bicep peak and I hope that you also find them useful. Be sure to let me know what you think of them. As always, thanks for reading and be sure to support the site by subscribing with your email. Thanks!

Arms! (Part 2 of 2)

Angles

In last week’s article, I covered the different hand placements that should be included in your arm routine. This week I want to focus on the different angles that should be in your routine. These are details that many people overlook when putting together a routine. Too often people add exercises to their workout plan because they saw someone else doing them, someone taught them the exercise way back in the day, or they stumbled upon it in a magazine and thought it looked cool. Let me say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of those reasons. I have done exercises for exactly all those reasons. However, ensuring that you have a balanced arm routine involves a little more detail and focus. When trying to build up and achieve an aesthetic look in any muscle group you must train it from different angles. In this article I will discuss the different angles that should be included in a balanced arm routine.

Elbow in Front

The angles will all relate to elbow position. The first one I will discuss is elbow in front of your body. This is the angle that is seen in preacher curls. This is usually a favorite among people because of the contraction you feel at the top of the movement. Because your arms are rested against a pad and you are usually seated you can isolate the biceps without the risk of cheating the movement. The contraction at the top of this exercise is a great way to build the peak of your biceps. I usually contract and squeeze at the top for a second or two before lowering the weight back down. This angle is a great way to build the inner head of the biceps. Although the focus of this angle is the inner head, it is always a good idea to switch the grip back and forth between wide and narrow periodically to stimulate the muscle in different ways. Try this exercise with all different kinds of equipment, (i.e. EZ bars, dumbbells, machines, etc.).

Elbow Behind

The elbows behind your body can be a tricky angle as there aren’t many ways of doing it. This is a position I rarely ever did when I started out and after adding it in to my routine I immediately regretted not doing it sooner. This is the position you are in when performing inclined dumbbell curls. This angle allows a stretch in your biceps that is rare to find in most other exercises. This stretch is a great stimulation for your biceps since it’s not a common occurrence. This exercise is a great way to give your bicep length, ensuring that it has size all the way down to the elbow.

Elbow to the Side

The elbows to the side of your body position is one that most of us are familiar with. This position uses the entire bicep which allows us to use more weight. This is the position that our elbows are in when performing standing dumbbell curls, barbell curls, hammer curls, etc. Even though this positon recruits the entire biceps the focus can shift to the inner head by widening the grip or the outer head by narrowing the grip. There are many different variations that can be used when in this position. Try it standing and seated. Try it with all different kinds of equipment.

 And There it is

That concludes part two of this two-part series. By putting together everything that was covered in the last two articles you should be able to put together an affective arm routine. Even without having extensive knowledge of anatomy you will be able to include all the muscles of the arm while training those muscles at all angels. This will allow you to build arms that are not only massive but also aesthetic. Some people have one or the other but it is special when you have both characteristics. Before ending this article, I want to remind you to train your arms with these hand placements and angles by using different equipment. Just as people fall in love with certain exercises we all fall in love with certain equipment. Again, nothing wrong with that. Just be conscious about periodically expanding your tool box and trying different equipment. As always, thanks for reading and please help me help more people by sharing this article and subscribing to this site.

 

 

             

Arms! (Part 1 of 2)

Here it is!    

This is it. My first article writing about what most of you would call your favorite topic: BIG ARMS. Big arms are the holy grail of bodybuilding. Everyone admires big arms and everyone wants to know the secret to getting them. Let me start off by saying that to get any body part bigger in the gym you must eat and eat a lot. You must have a surplus in calories to gain size so increasing calories should always be the first step you take. The second thing you must do is simply work that particular body part more often. If you have an area that is lagging behind other body parts, training it once a week probably is not enough to see improvement. You can expect an article on training weak points soon, but for now, just remember if you want to improve something in the gym you must train it and train it often.

This two-part series will discuss the different hand placements and angles you must train to have the arms of your dreams. This is something that I’m sure most of you haven’t considered in the past so take notes, apply it, and reap the benefits.

Pronated

A pronated grip means that the palm of your hand is facing down. This hand placement is a great way to target the triceps through pressing movements (triceps pushdowns, dips, etc.) You can also target the largely forgotten forearm extensors and brachialis muscles.  The extensor muscles are the muscles on top of your forearm when your palm is facing down. The brachialis muscle is the muscle that many people forget about and runs between the triceps and biceps. Training both muscles will greatly improve the size of your forearm and the aesthetic look of your forearm connecting to your upper arm. Using a pronated grip and performing reverse curls with a barbell or EZ bar target both muscles.

Supinated

A supinated grip means that the palm of your hand is facing upwards. An old trick to remember which position is supinated is to remember that your hand will be in the correct position to hold a bowl of soup. This is the hand placement that is used when performing curls, no matter the piece of equipment being used to execute it. Use this grip with varying widths to hit different angles of the bicep (more on angles in future articles.) I have seen variations of triceps extensions using a supinated grip, but from my experiences, I see better results leaving the supinated grip to bicep work and leaving triceps work to the pronated and hammer grips.

Neutral (Hammer)

A neutral or hammer grip means that the palm of your hands are turned in facing each other. This is usually the strongest position your hands can be in, meaning that the most weight can be moved utilizing this grip. Because of this, hammer curls are a personal favorite of mine. The hammer grip is often underutilized when performing curls which is probably because you don’t get the pump in the peak of your biceps that you can using a supinated grip. The hammer grip will directly target the previously mentioned brachialis muscle. This grip is also used when performing triceps kickbacks. Kickbacks are not a great strength builder for the triceps, but if you focus on it, you will get an awesome squeeze and contraction at the top of the movement. Neutral grip is a great strength builder for triceps when used in pressing movements such as the neutral grip dumbbell press lying on a bench.

Do Them All

The purpose of this article was to make you aware of the three different grips you can use when working out. This is basic stuff that many people often overlook when putting together a routine. If you have an area of your arms that are lacking (i.e. forearms, triceps, biceps) chances are that you need to make sure you are incorporating all three of these grips in your routine. I personally try to incorporate each grip in every one of my arm workouts to ensure a balanced routine. Even if you don’t remember the exact benefits of each grip, do them all and everything will be covered. Try each grip using different equipment and angles. Keep different angles in mind and pay attention for the next part of this two part series which will cover the different arm angles you should use in your routine. But for now, give the different grips a shot and be sure to let me know what you think of each. Also, be sure to subscribe to this site and share this article so that we can help spread the big arm love.