In the pursuit of bigger arms it’s all too easy to focus on the biceps. After all, most guys think all that’s required to get T-shirt-filling arms is a set of dumbbells and a full-length mirror. But that isn’t the fastest route to success and in fact, neither free weights nor a reflective surface is necessary. You don’t even need to be indoors because a set of parallel bars – the railings of a footbridge are perfect – is all you need to add serious size to your triceps. And the bigger these muscles are, the wider and more impressive your arms look.
How it Works
“This four-move drill goes from hard and heavy to light and easy-ish,” says outdoor training specialist Andrew Tracey (opens in new tab). “It gives your body a chance to recover slightly but each round gets harder because of accumulative fatigue.” You’ll tax more triceps muscle fibres by working them to near-complete exhaustion, shocking your body into growth.
This is a 20-minute every minute on the minute (EMOM) workout. In the first minute do five heavy weighted dips, resting for the remainder of the minute. In minute two do ten bodyweight dips, then rest until the minute’s up. In minute three do 15 explosive incline press-ups then rest, and in minute four do 20 triceps dips then rest. Do this four-minute four-move circuit a total of five times.
Make it easier: Find bars that are closer together to take the strain off your shoulders and allow you to press with more power. If you start to struggle, focus on the eccentric part of the move by jumping to the top of the move and slowly lowering yourself under complete control.
Make it harder: Target the triceps muscles more by keeping your torso completely upright (reducing the involvement of your chest) and slowing down the tempo of each rep. To really fatigue your muscles, Tracey recommends increasing the duration of the lowering phase of the move to up to eight seconds.
1 Weighted dip
Wearing a loaded backpack, grip the bars with your arms locked out. Lean forward to recruit your chest muscles to help your triceps out. Bend your arms to lower until your elbows are at 90˚ or your hands are level with your chest, then press back up powerfully to full lockout.
2 Bodyweight dip
Remove the backpack and repeat the move. Stay upright to work the triceps more, or lean forward to recruit more chest muscle fibres. If you stop just short of full extension at the top you’ll keep the muscles under constant tension. It’ll be harder but the results will come faster.
3 Explosive incline press-up
Start in a press-up position with your hands on one railing. Lower your chest towards your hands, then explode up fast to bring your hands off the bar. Put them back on the bar to break your fall and continue into the next rep. The further your feet are from the railing, the more power you need.
4 Parallel dip
With your back against one railing, put your palms on the bar with your fingers on the same side as your body. Hook your legs over the other railing and lift your body so your arms are extended and legs straight. Lower until your arms are bent at 90˚, then drive back up.
Sam Rider is an experienced freelance journalist, specialising in health, fitness and wellness. For over a decade he's reported on Olympic Games, CrossFit Games and World Cups, and quizzed luminaries of elite sport, nutrition and strength and conditioning. Sam is also a REPS level 3 qualified personal trainer, online coach and founder of Your Daily Fix (opens in new tab). Sam is also Coach’s designated reviewer of massage guns and fitness mirrors.
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