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In a new video on the Athlean-X channel, strength coach Jeff Cavaliere CSCS provides a detailed overview and demonstration of exercises he believes can help you make better gains in your triceps. You only need one thing: a resistance band.
Dips are a great way to target the triceps, but assuming you don’t have access to the equipment required for this move, Cavaliere shows how to replicate this movement pattern in the banded standing dip. “Hook the band around your neck, then press it down and keep your elbows tight at your side and behind your body,” he says. “This will give you a good activation of all three heads of the triceps.”
The second exercise, the JM press with bands, mimics the movement of the dumbbell or barbell press: you simply wrap the band around your hands and behind your back and press up. “It confines a lot of resistance to the upper part of the press, which is where the triceps are doing most of the work anyway,” says Cavaliere.
We know the triceps work hardest at the top end of the rep, so this creates an opportunity to add tension there, which is why Cavaliere follows two push-up variations. First, in the banded diamond cutter push-up, loop the band around your back and assume this tight grip position. Then, in the cobra push-up, spread your hands further apart and make sure your elbows are snug to your body.
Next comes the lying triceps extension. Attach the band to a low anchor point, lay it face up on the floor and stretch your arms back over your head. Cavaliere notes that you’ll feel more tension on the triceps here than with a regular dumbbell version of this exercise because the band’s force is perpendicular to the forearms, while with a dumbbell, the force travels down parallel to the forearms.
The next exercise is the banded kickback. “Again, the beauty of it is that I get tricep resistance from this position where I wouldn’t normally have it with a traditional dumbbell variation,” he says. “When I get to the top, I still have good resistance against the triceps in that contracted state, making it a good option if you’re trying to overload the long head in its fully shortened state.”
The banded overhead extension maximizes tension at the top of the rep where it would normally be lost with a dumbbell. “As the ligament gets stretched more and more, there’s more and more tension to get to the top position, we have to use more force,” he explains.
Next is a banded version of the woodchopper pushdown that incorporates some rotational movement into the exercise. “One benefit of this is that you get more overall body strength to be able to use a really high resistance band here,” he says. “But more importantly, you can bring that one arm a little further behind your body…the more the arm extends behind the body, the more of that long head we integrate with the medial and lateral heads.”
When demonstrating the banded pushaway, Cavaliere adds an extra step. While standing upright and stretching his arms overhead, he keeps one foot behind him, which allows him to walk to the end of the movement and maintain the isometric position. He adds that you can get additional conditioning benefits from this move by switching to a low anchor point and adding a twisted lunge before the overhead press move. “If you want to train your triceps, you don’t always have to do it in isolation,” he says.
Philip Ellis is a UK freelance writer and journalist covering pop culture, relationships and LGBTQ+ issues. His work has appeared in GQ, Teen Vogue, Man Repeller and MTV.