Everyone wants massive horseshoe triceps, busting out of your sleeves and fit to bench press huge weights.
Sadly, Triceps Kickbacks and Cable Extensions haven’t been optimal to get you to your goal.
Now we will get into the most effective horseshoe triceps builders out there.
What Makes Horseshoe Triceps
Before we devise a plan of attack, we must identify the target.
The triceps make up around 2/3 of the arm’s surface area. Many lifters want big arms, but place too much focus on their biceps.
The other problem is that far too many lifters waste their time on suboptimal isolation exercises.
And while isolation exercises are fine, they don’t offer much potential for progressive overload after a certain point. They should be the cherry on top — not the whole damn cake.
Compound movements with emphasis on progressive overload will contribute towards over 90% of your overall mass for your triceps.
Let’s jump right in.
1. Triceps Trinity
This tri-set that hits all three horseshoe triceps heads is more of a finisher than a main lift, but it will tire you fast.
From our article on the Triceps Trinity:
By using the same weight throughout on an EZ bar, start off by performing Skullcrushers until you have 1-3 reps in reserve; then, perform JM Presses until you have 1-3 reps in reserve; and finally, do the same, but with Close-Grip Bench Press.
If you don’t have a gym, then, not to worry, you can follow the same schema with your bodyweight or a low horizontal bar.
Start off by doing Bodyweight Skullcrushers, Bodyweight JM Press, then do Close-Grip pushups to failure.
The principle behind this is simple: you are to become progressively more fatigued as the tri-set continues.
Your Skullcrusher should be weaker than your JM Press and your JM Press should be weaker than your Close-Grip Bench.
This tri-set can be done with NO rest period between sets and take your triceps to exhaustion.
As each successive exercise should be, on paper, stronger than the last, which is why it is to be performed in said order.
We recommend that you perform these at the end of your session as you shouldn’t have energy for much else.
You will receive a skin-splitting pump from this tri-set and an opportunity to make your arms bigger than you ever dreamed of.
In the past, however, we have advocated for what we coined “rebound drop sets” to take your body beyond failure and using burnout sets themselves as an opportunity to rest!
One of my other favorite tricep workouts is to do mega JM Press dropsets on the Smith Machine — Julius Maddox, the world’s strongest bench presser by far, does them so I’m allowed to do them too! — until I am completely burned out.
But this can be unkind on the elbows if the weight load is too high.
This is why we have suggested performing this exercise at a lighter weight (no more than 25-30% of your bench press 1RM) and with the EZ bar.
You should perform this exercise with the EZ bar as it is gentler on the wrists, elbows, and shoulders.
And although we like to train hard, we are also training for longevity.
Strong triceps are key to a big bench press, if you wish to obtain a program specific to bench pressing, try our eBook here.
2. JM Press
This exercise hits the long and lateral heads. It is one of the most underused exercises in the gym.
Seasoned lifters will be familiar with the JM Press, but I’ve never actually ever seen the JM Press be used in a commercial gym.
It is a hybrid of a close-grip bench press and a skullcrusher, but exceptionally powerful for developing strength and gaining size while being criminally underused.
I am not a naturally gifted bench presser: I have narrow wrists and long arms. Both traits make the bench a harder exercise. But I still managed to bench 4 plates for reps while natty.
Because of the JM Press.
When I first started keeping the JM Press in my regimen as a staple, I increased my bench press by around 40-50lb in 6 months–and I am an advanced lifter.
While there are several other movements in my accessory arsenal I could recommend; the JM Press is a movement both powerlifters and bodybuilder can program into their workouts to great effect.
The JM Press is a lot kinder on the wrists and shoulders than the skullcrusher if you have poor mobility. It is also a lot less technical than the skullcrusher.
By effectively performing a close-grip bench press over your mouth/nose area and pausing before making contact, you will also give your triceps a great stretch at the bottom phase of every rep.
3. Weighted Dips
I prefer doing this with a wider grip as I’m a broad gentleman with long arms, but nothing hits my medial head as much. In actuality, Weighted Dips will add more mass to your triceps than any other exercise.
Weighted Dips will do more than just give you horseshoe triceps, but add slabs of mass to your lower chest and numbers to your bench press.
If you suffer from shoulder or upper body mobility issues, it isn’t advisable for you to do this exercise, but you will be missing out on a phenomenal exercise.
Beginners should start with assisted or bodyweight Dips before moving onto Weighted Dips.
4. Banded Close Grip Bench Press
For this exercise, the former powerlifter in me is coming through, but this will OVERLOAD your triceps and translate to massive gains in your pursuit of horseshoe triceps.
The Close Grip Bench Press is a staple exercise in many people’s arm days, but adding bands or chains exaggerates the strength curve towards the lockout, adding more tension onto the triceps throughout the movement.
While the Close Grip Bench Press also works your chest, shoulders, and upper back, the addition of the band/chains turbocharges this Arm Day favorite.
If you’re looking to increase your Bench Press and struggle with the lockout portion, I strongly advise programming this movement into your repertoire.
5. Rope Triceps Extension
This old classic, when used with proper form, at a light weight and high reps, will polish off your horseshoe triceps.
Powerlifters and bodybuilders alike choose this exercise for its wonderful ability to isolate the triceps hard.
As well as hitting the lateral and long heads, this exercise helps draw blood to the triceps after a heavy pressing session to facilitate post-workout recovery.
Make sure you perform with proper form, forging mind-muscle connection, and lightly squeezing the muscle at peak contraction.
I have chosen this exercise over Skullcrushers and French Presses as these exercises can impinge the shoulders, elbows, and wrists.
As somebody with longer arms, my joints are at a greater risk of impingement; with the Rope Extension, I can manipulate my positioning and form to prevent these joints from becoming aggravated.
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