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Thread: Elbows and tricep exercises

  1. #1
    Bring it. DaCypher's Avatar
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    Elbows and tricep exercises

    Lately I've been experiencing some pain in my elbows when doing tricep exercises (mainly skullcrushers and overhead tricep db extensions). Recently there has been some dicussion about proper form for these exercises having to do with whether your elbows should flair outwards or not. I've always been somewhat strict with keeping my elbows in, is this really the right way? Should I try these exercises with my elbows pointing out? Is there something else that could be causing this discomfort?

  2. #2
    Administrator chris mason's Avatar
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    Try it with the elbows out and see if it feels better. If it does, then do them that way.

  3. #3
    Cottage cheese addict LiftAgain's Avatar
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    I addition to keeping elbows out try also a wider grip on the skulls.
    Last edited by LiftAgain; 06-05-2002 at 08:06 PM.

  4. #4
    . Delphi's Avatar
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    If I bend my elbows too much doing dips or skullcrushers the back of my elbow is sore for a long time. I've learned to tone down the range of motion some.

  5. #5
    Trying to figure this out JohnCollins's Avatar
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    I've had a bad right elbow for years. I recently read somewhere that if you have elbow problems, training bis and tris on the same day is a good idea. The theory is working the biceps first pumps up that muscle which stabilizes the elbow a little. Then move right to triceps exercises.

    I just switched to doing this last week. Don't know if it works yet, but it felt pretty good last workout.

    JPC

  6. #6
    new and improved runt's Avatar
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    Read the article on Glucosamine this month. That might be what you need. Glucosamine has helped me alot with joint pain.
    sometimes slowly

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  7. #7
    Gettin Lean Goin_Big's Avatar
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    Not necassarily glucosamine alone, I took osteo-bi-flex after a pharmicist recommended it. It apparently has the right ratio of chondroiton and glucosamine. That stuff works wonders.

    Also, I agree with Chris, whoever came up with the theory of keeping your elbows in while doing tris prolly has small arms and bad elbows.
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  8. #8
    Bring it. DaCypher's Avatar
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    chris-
    Ok, I wasn't sure if there was anything inherently wrong with keeping your elbows out. I'll play with my form a bit and see what happens.

    delphi-
    Yea, thats where I get the pain, maybe I'm just going down too far...

    johncollins-
    I do chest/shoulders before I work my triceps directly so I would think they would be properly warmed up by that time...

    runt, goin_big-
    I'll have to look into glucosamine, sounds interesting...
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  9. #9
    Trying to figure this out JohnCollins's Avatar
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    DaCypher,

    My post was not about having your Tris warmed up. I know working chest/shoulders would do that. The point of the article is that getting a pump in your Bis helps stabilize the elbow prior to doing your Tris, so the author recommends training them on the same day. Has nothing to do with your chest/shoulder workout. But most folks (I think) train bis and tris on different days.

    I found the article, and I'd love some feedback from you more knowledgeable folks. Below.

    Dynamic Duo
    By Michael Mejia, M.S., C.S.C.S.

    If you want huge arms, train your biceps and triceps together.

    With the exception of washboard abs, few things rank higher on the wish list of most athletes than well-developed arms. Nothing shows off your hours of dedication in the weight room like a pair of sleeve-stretching guns. Yet, while there’s little arguing their widespread appeal, there seems to be a large difference of opinion on the best way to attain them. Some lifters prefer to split their arms by training them with different muscle groups, while others opt to combine their biceps and triceps in the same workout. Does one approach really yield better results? If so, why?

    A combination of heavy compound lifts and strategic isolation exercises can produce superior results.

    Armed With Knowledge
    Before you can get a handle on exactly what it takes to forge big arms, it’s important to have an understanding of their basic structure and function. First up, you’ve got the biceps brachii. This two-headed muscle has both long and short heads, which originate from different points on the scapula (the supraglenoid tubercle and the coracoid process, respectively) and insert into the forearm (tuberosity of the radius). Along with the brachioradialis and brachialis, the primary function of these muscles is to flex your arm at the elbow, although the biceps are also responsible for supination (turning the palms up).

    The triceps brachii make up two-thirds of the bulk in your upper arm. This three-headed muscle has long, medial and lateral heads, which originate at three different points (the infraglenoid tubercle of the scapula, the distal portion of the humerus and the lateral aspect of the humerus, respectively) and insert via a common tendon into the olecranon process of the ulna. Working in opposition to the biceps, the triceps extend your arm at the elbow.

    So, when you get right down to it, no matter what exercises you choose, they’re basically all just variations of flexion and extension. Therefore, if your primary goal is to gain size, you don’t need to be creative with your exercise selection — just do the exercises that allow you to handle the heaviest loads. "A close-grip bench press will beat a kick-back any day of the week; likewise, a supinated pull-up will cause more biceps activation than a set of cable curls," explains strength and conditioning specialist John Williams, CSCS, president of WILLPower.com. "That’s because exercises like these give you the biggest bang for your buck. They recruit the largest motor units, which in turn activate the greatest number of muscle fibers, thus producing a more effective stimulus for growth."

    Sadly, this is a concept that many lifters fail to grasp. They often take a pass on basic compound movements in favor of more machine and cable-based isolation work. Not that isolation exercises, such as the preacher curl and cable push-down, are a waste of time; they’re just not always the best way to go when you’re trying to pack on the beef.

    Know the Opposition
    Besides giving you a killer pump, there’s a physiological reason why working your biceps and triceps together can lead to superior results. Since they’re opposing muscle groups, in order for one muscle to contract, the other must relax to permit movement in the joint. So when you’re squeezing your biceps at the top of a barbell curl, your triceps are forced to go into deep relaxation mode. "Known as Sherrington’s Law, this forced relaxation of the antagonist causes it to recover faster than it otherwise would, thus allowing you to handle more weight on the subsequent set," explains leading sports conditioning coach Charles Staley, MSS.

    It also appears that training bis and tris together can be beneficial from an injury-prevention standpoint. According to former Mr. Olympia Larry Scott, a guy who knows a thing or two about building big guns, "Triceps training can often be tough on the elbows. By pumping up your biceps first, you can effectively warm up the area around the joint and better prepare it for challenging exercises, such as close-grip presses and lying triceps extensions."

    By contrast, consider what happens when you work your biceps or triceps in combination with other muscle groups. For instance, if you train your triceps with your chest and shoulders, and your biceps with your back (the classic push/pull system), by the time you get around to your arms, they’re smoked! What’s the point of doing further isolation work after all of that heavy pressing and rowing, especially when you consider the type of volume typical of most bodybuilding programs? Besides the undeniable residual fatigue, you lose the previously mentioned neurological benefit, so you end up handling much lighter loads than you would if you trained your biceps and triceps together.

    Feeling a Little Isolated?
    OK, so maybe isolation exercises don’t offer the best way to put on size. However, there are times when they can be of value, depending on how you use them.
    Zeroing In On Specific Segments of a Muscle

    There are currently two schools of thought on this premise. Many people believe that once a muscle is stimulated to contract, all the fibers of that muscle will respond in a uniform manner. So, no matter what exercises you do, such factors as the type of grip or your foot position will have little or no bearing on your results.

    Bodybuilders, on the other hand, have believed for decades that it is possible to target different segments of a muscle depending on which exercises you do and how you perform them. There now appears to be solid research to support this latter position. So, if you need more work on the outer head of your triceps or you’re looking for more peak on your biceps, isolation exercises may indeed help you to gain the specific hypertrophy you desire.


    Trying to Maximize Fatigue in a Muscle

    Another great way to use isolation exercises is to strategically combine them with either compound lifts or other isolation exercises to make a more effective training stimulus. For instance, few would argue that the dip is one of the best overall triceps exercises. That said, just because a set of dips taken to failure will exhaust most of your larger motor units doesn’t mean that your triceps are completely shot. For maximal development, you need to exhaust as many muscle fibers as possible. Following that set of dips with an isolation exercise — or even two — that hit your triceps from different angles can allow you to work past your previous point of perceived exhaustion and stimulate even more growth.
    Multiply Your Benefits
    Whether you buy into the scientific theory behind it or you just like the way it feels, there are plenty of reasons to work your biceps and triceps in tandem. Giving them direct stimulation with a combination of heavy compound lifts and strategically sequenced isolation exercises can produce results far superior to anything you’ve experienced before. So say goodbye to straight sets, and forget about the push/pull system: The key to building big arms is using every trick you have up your sleeve.

    Writer Michael Mejia arms himself with a combination of today’s latest research and old-school training techniques every time he hits the gym.

    Reference
    Antonio J "Nonuniform Response of Skeletal Muscle to Heavy Resistance Training: Can Bodybuilders Induce Regional Muscle Hypertrophy?" Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (2000) 14: 102-113

  10. #10
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    That's nothing new

    JohnCollins, The idea of training biceps with triceps is nothing new. I see the article was printed in 2000 but the information in it isn't new to the bodybuilding world. Arnold advocated doing several sets of biceps prior to any triceps workout for both the psychological and physiological advantages that it provided. Personally, I'm more into the few sets of biceps prior to a triceps workout than a full biceps/triceps workout on the same day. I find I can hammer them better individually, but to each his own.
    Last edited by g-dot; 06-06-2002 at 10:34 PM.

  11. #11
    Bring it. DaCypher's Avatar
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    Interesting points... However, my only real problem with that type of workout is if I gave bis/tris their own day I would be hitting them each twice a week (bis with back workout and tris with chest). I've found through past experience that this was very counterproductive for me...
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  12. #12
    Trying to figure this out JohnCollins's Avatar
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    Well, I'll give this a try for while and see if my right elbow improves. Like you, DC, it bothers me on skull crushers. I'll report back if this new arrangement makes the elbow feel better after a few weeks.

    JC

  13. #13
    Senior Member hemants's Avatar
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    I use a rule of thumb not to let my elbows go past 90 degrees on any tricep exercises. Seems to work fine for me.
    If the only thing you are holding is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

  14. #14
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    i used to get the same pain with skull crushers.. anything over 120lbs would hurt!!
    i found doing 3 sets of close grip bench press or one arm over head extensions before hand got my tricep warmed out enough and had no pain since i started doing this.
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  15. #15
    . Delphi's Avatar
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    Originally posted by hemants
    I use a rule of thumb not to let my elbows go past 90 degrees on any tricep exercises. Seems to work fine for me.

  16. #16
    Bring it. DaCypher's Avatar
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    Originally posted by hemants
    I use a rule of thumb not to let my elbows go past 90 degrees on any tricep exercises. Seems to work fine for me.
    That's a great point, I'm going to try that in my triceps workout today...

  17. #17
    Bring it. DaCypher's Avatar
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    Ok, tried not going past 90 degrees and it seemed to help a little bit. However, the pain is still there. This only occurs during skullcrushers and OH db extensions. I guess I should start finding some different tricep exercises. Maybe its time to go back to close-grip bench presses...

  18. #18
    . Delphi's Avatar
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    Maybe it's time to stop doing triceps exercises until the ulnar nerve or the triceps tendon isn't inflamed. Once you've got an injury, changing the exercise isn't going to help much. Once the inflammation is gone, that's the time to try changing the exercises. My .02 worth.

  19. #19
    Bring it. DaCypher's Avatar
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    Well, I can do single arm tricep cable extensions with no problem at all and I don't remember close grip bench presses bothering me either...

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