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Try Your Triceps

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There's more to strength training than picking a weight up and setting it back down. If you add a different angle or grip, your body would be forced to adjust and your base strength level would broaden. The goal is to have strength at any angle you throw at the body.

Take the triceps press down. The function of the triceps, the muscle on the back of your upper arm, is to extend the hand away from the body, as if to straighten out your arm. You can add a twist to it by taking it over your head.

When training the triceps, it is important to keep your upper arm stationary. The body's natural tendency is to ''press'' the bar away using your shoulders and chest. To reduce this urge, keep your elbows close together as you extend your arms.

Select a light weight so you can learn the exercise; 10 pounds for women, 20 pounds for men. Select a short bar with your palms facing away from you. The bars may have bends in them to help reduce stress on the wrists.

With your back to the cable machine, bend over while holding onto the bar. Your torso should be parallel to the floor. When you start the exercise, your arms will be bent and your hands will be behind your head. In one deliberate movement, extend your hands away from you to a full extension and then return back to your starting position. Perform 15 repetitions with this weight and then return the weight to the weight stack and stretch your triceps.

Taking your right hand, reach behind your neck as if to scratch your back. While in this position, take your left hand and, reaching over your head, grab and pull your right elbow and then switch hands and stretch your left triceps.

For your second set, increase five pounds for women and 10 pounds for men and perform 12 repetitions. Again stretch before increasing the weight for your third set of 10 repetitions. Women may increase five pounds and men 10 pounds. Be careful with this exercise so that your elbows are not moving around, but very restricted with little to no movement, only the upper arm extending. If you still have the energy and are performing the movement with impeccable form, increase for a fourth and final set of eight repetitions.

These various gym accessories keep your exercise routine fresh and challenging.


(Michael Klepper is a certified strength and conditioning specialist and nutritionist who owns the MEDFIT gym in Miami Beach. Write to him c/o The Miami Herald, One Herald Plaza, Miami, FL 33132.)


(c) 2003, The Miami Herald. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.

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