Building the Horseshoes

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Building the Horseshoes

Let’s face it. Arm day has to be the most anticipated day of the week. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of achieving that pump and looking like you’ve just added an inch to your arms with veins popping down your forearms like a roadmap. We love the feeling in the gym but we want that temporary size gain to become permanent. Every bodybuilder and gym rat that I’ve ever met wants bigger arms. And unless you’ve been blessed with the genetics of Phil Heath, you’re most likely going to have to bust your ass day in and day out to get them (not that Phil doesn’t). So what’s the best and quickest way to get big arms, if there even is one? Focus on the muscle that constitutes the majority of the size of the upper arm. The Triceps.

This is where many new gym goers and aspiring bodybuilders go wrong. The first thing they think about when it comes to building a bigger set of guns is biceps. They spend an hour doing curls from every angle making their way from free weights to every machine in the gym, and then quickly finish off with a set of rope extensions for the triceps and call it a day. If you want a complete set of aesthetic guns, you HAVE to provide just as much if not more attention to the triceps. They make up the majority of the upper arm and will contribute the greatest amount of overall size. Training the triceps however, should be approached from a scientific understanding of how they are designed and the specific function that each head has.

The triceps as you can derive from the name, has 3 heads; the long head, medial head and lateral head. You have to make sure that all 3 heads are trained and therefore primed for growth in order to achieve massive and balanced looking triceps. This is the way that I think and approach every single triceps workout and has done wonders for me over the years. All of the three heads have an insertion at the olecranon process of the ulna (elbow), but the origin of each of these will dictate the angle that they are best trained at. 

  

The lateral head is the outer most part of the triceps that is seen when looking at a person from the front. Its origin is on the upper half of the posterior humerus (back of upper arm bone) thus being targeted best from an angle where your arms are tucked into your sides. The best exercises to work this area include cable pushdowns and dips. The long head is the one closest to the inside of the arm. Its origin is actually on the scapula, so in order to activate this head best, the arm needs to be stretched overhead. Seated overhead dumbbell extensions or skull crushers on an incline bench are going to target this muscle the best. The medial head is the final piece of the puzzle and lies deep to the other two, right in the middle of the arm. Its origin is also on the posterior humerus and can benefit the most from press downs or angles where the arms are in front of the body such as skull crushers or close grip bench press. Building this head will help push the other two out more helping to create overall size and stretching that tape measure inches further.

These are just a few of the main exercises I use to target each head, but there are lots more that can be implemented into a solid arm day regimen. As long as you keep the three heads in mind every single workout and the angles needed to hit them, you can keep it interesting by trying different exercises. I will usually pick 1 exercise for each head, sometimes changing the order by which head I target first. Follow these simple but important rules and keep them in mind every time you train arms, and soon you’ll have a nice set of horseshoes popping out from the back of the arms that not even a long sleeve shirt can hide. 

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