With exercise and weight lifting comes wear and tear but little attention is paid to how taxing upper body lifts can be on the elbows. For most who train; the emphasis of safety is on the knees, hips and spine and there is little regard for the elbows.
When people train their triceps in particular it is common for them to suffer soreness and cracking in the elbow joint. The extending and contracting during tricep workouts should be done with due care, ignoring any pain can even lead to tendonitis. Fear not, there are tricep exercises that can give you a great workout without compromising the elbow joint AND keep the intensity of your tricep exercise.
Dips are a great way to start building big guns, firstly you can go heavy and they don’t cause too much pressure on the elbow joints. Dips can be performed with your legs tucked behind you whilst balancing on raised parallel bars. The idea is to raise yourself up and down until your arms are fully extended, make sure not to lean forward as this will take the emphasis away from your chest!
This exercise allows your tricep to act as leverage for your elbow joints, making lighter work for the joint and harder work for the muscle.
Narrow-Grip Bench Press
We all know how to bench presses but this variation focuses much more on the triceps. By tucking your elbows in at your sides and gripping the bar with your arms in line with your shoulders, you will be able to go heavy on this exercise. An added bonus is that your chest and front delts help the leverage of the move, alleviating pressure from your elbow joint.
Keep in mind that this is a bilateral movement, so if you have any imbalances in your arms or shoulders, you need to work on these weak points in order to complete this move safely.
Tricep Cable Pushdowns
An effective way to do tricep extensions, the safest way to do this is using a straight bar with a shoulder width grip. For some variation you can try a shoulder width grip overhand OR underhand, keeping your elbows tucked in at your sides and leaning forward slightly in your standing position will take the stress away from your elbow joints.
Once again, be sure to keep constant tension on the muscle and focus on the mind-muscle connection. Strict form and isolation are vital for true tricep development; this is all a learning curve that we all have to go through in order to build guns of steel!