Over the past two months I’ve been focusing on increasing the weight on my main lifts in an effort to add a few pounds of muscle for when I step on stage again next year. One of my favorite movements of late has been tricep dips using a dip belt with plates attached to it. This is a great exercise to be able to overload the tricep muscles and work them hard, hitting all three heads.
I like to include this early on in the workout after a few warm up sets on tricep pushdowns. Over the past few weeks I’ve been hitting 6-7 reps with 2x45lb (20kg each) attached to the dip belt. Last week I managed 5 reps at 100lbs, which was a personal best of mine. Today I was determined to break that personal best, and working out at Gold’s Gym in Venice, California – the Mecca of Bodybuilding, I was feeling strong and motivated. After warming up with some body-weighted dips, a 45lb plate, and two 45lb plates, I chased after last weeks personal best and surprised myself with a fairly comfortable 9 reps. Things were looking good to break that record, and not wanting to jump to far ahead of myself I added a 5lb plate to the chain, taking the total up to 105lbs (2x45lbs, 1x10lb and 1x5lb plate).
With this small increment of 5% more weight I managed 6 clean reps, failing at the top of the 7th rep, taking each rep through a full range of movement, really engaging all the deep tricep fibers.
This is one of my favorite tricep exercises to overload and get them to grow. The next exercise I moved on to was lying tricep extensions, or skull crushers as their sometimes called, and continued to chase the heavy weights, using a spotter to help with the final rep or two once I reached my maximum poundage.
Staying away from the machines for the most part of this lean muscle gain program that I’m following, and using as much free weights as I can for each muscle group has allowed me to really focus on technique, often calling on other synergist muscles that wouldn’t normally be worked when using isolated machines. It also allows me to make small adjustments within almost every workout – even if it’s only a pound or two extra for the same amount of reps as I did last time, it’s still progression, and it still means my strength is increasing, which along with good nutrition and sleep, is resulting in muscle growth. My weight has pretty much remained unchanged, still tipping the scales at around 178lbs depending on what time I weigh myself, but I am noticing that I am starting to look a little thicker and more dense, and the continued focus on the big 4: deadlift, squat, bench press, and overhead press, along with the tricep dips, olympic curls and calf raises hitting the smaller groups, I am slowly but surely seeing my physique change.
I’m in the process of adding all-new content to my new website that has been built but not yet launched, and over the next few weeks you’ll be able to see my full training and nutrition plan on it, plus lots more.
Until then, you can follow my progress on my Twitter account: @robriches