I believe triceps-tendon irritation stems from 1) not enough ‘off’ days, and 2) poor exercise sequencing.
To address #1, I would suggest clustering all your triceps-intensive work (ie, pressing movements and direct tri work) on a single training day. This will allow maximal recovery time for the tendons.
Working with Meadows opened my eyes to the importance of #2. Since I’ve started programming JM’s way, I haven’t had any trouble with my triceps insertions (and they used to hurt constantly). Think of your Triceps work as being divided into three phases. Each phase has a specific goal, and each prepares you for the following phase.
1) Activation/warm-up phase;
2) hypertrophy-work phase; and
3) stretch phase.
IMO, the key to a tendon-sparing triceps workout is a thorough and proper warm-up. The goal is to engorge the muscle with as much blood as possible, but without putting undue stress on the tendon. To accomplish this, the exercise should be one that allows a hard squeeze against resistance in the flexed position (I prefer rope pulldowns, but kickbacks work really well too). The weight should be very light, allowing reps in the 20-30 range. **This is key**: The ROM must be kept very short–from the ‘almost fully flexed’ to the ‘fully flexed’ position. (Basically, you just break the locked-out position to the tune of a few inches, then go right back into it.) Squeeze your tris like a maniac throughout. Do 3-4 sets, with only ~30 seconds rest between.
Your tris should feel absolutely blown up at this point. That is a good thing. NOW your tendons are ready for some heavy work. Heavy pushdowns, dips, CGBP (another reason to do tris on Chest day, BTW), etc–pretty much anything EXCEPT skullcrushers (more on this below). Reps in the hypertrophy range, 8-12 or so. Do as many sets as needed.
Only NOW are the tendons ready for some careful stretching. The last triceps exercise emphasizes the stretch position. Skullcrushers with the head hanging off the bench and the bar reaching back towards the floor are great here (I do them with DBs, which allows me to tweak the hand position as needed). As with the activation phase, the weights are lighter, and the reps higher–10-20/set is probably ideal. 2-3 sets are plenty IMO.
At the end, your tris will be fried, but your tendons will not.
I’m assuming you already know how to bench properly, how to use leg drive, and how to set up on your traps.
This goes after a general warm up, right before your first working set.
- Lay on the ground and do single-leg glute bridges. 2×15 per side
Stand back up
- Use a theraband or any other light band to active rear delts, traps, and shoulder stabilizers like this:
-Grab the band about shoulder width apart
-Spread the band apart while keeping your elbows locked with a slight bend -Use your rear delts to spread the band, you should feel your shoulderblades pinching together as you spread and coming apart as you bring the arms back in front of you. -Repeat 15-20 times
-Then, grab the band just like you did before, spread it apart using your rear delts and hold this position, your rear delts should be pinched together tightly.
-From this position, bend your elbows so that your shoulderblades are still pinched, but the band is in front of you
-Slowly, press the band forward and back (away from body, back to chest) in the same motion as a bench press.
-Make sure your shoulderblades stay pinched throughout this entire movement, you will probably lose shoulder position a few times the first time you attempt this. 2×15-20
Hope this makes sense, will record a video if needed.
This also acts as a cue. Before your set you are reminded of what it feels like to completely contract your posterior chain and fully retract your rear delts while your arms move independently.
Did about 5 reps of the pull aparts and then the presses with shoulder blades retracted
Bench every other to every 3rd day. My preference would be to bench every third day, but you can do up to 3 workouts in a 7-9 day period. Follow this and I bet you are there in about 7-8 weeks easily.
Workout 1 4×8 at 70% 1RM
Workout 2 5×6 at 75%
Workout 3 6×4+ at 80% (AMRAP last set only, do 4 on the first 5 sets)
Workout 4 add 5 lbs to workout 1
Workout 5 add 5 lbs to workout 2
Workout 6 add 5 lbs to workout 3
Workout 7 add 5 lbs to workout 4
Workout 8 add 5 lbs to workout 5
Workout 9 add 5 lbs to workout 6
Workout 10 Warm up to a single at about 80-85%, and then do 3×5 at 60% (deload day)
Workout 11 4×4 at 80%
Workout 12 4×3 at 85%
Workout 13 4×2+ at 90% (AMRAP last set only, do 2 on first 3 sets)
Workout 14 add 10 lbs to workout 11
Workout 15 add 10 lbs to workout 12
Workout 16 add 10 lbs to workout 13
Workout 17 add 5 lbs to workout 14
Workout 18 add 5 lbs to workout 15
Workout 19 add 5 lbs to workout 16
Workout 20 Warm up to a single at about 80-85%, and then do 3×5 at 60% (deload day)
Workout 21 Set new max!
At 3 workouts per week, this is 7 weeks, if you add some extra rest days in there it is about 8 weeks.
Yoga classes were more effective than a self-care book, but not stretching classes, in improving function and reducing symptoms due to chronic low back pain, with benefits lasting at least several months.
It’s quite common to see people skip their warm up. Maybe some think it’s just a myth of importance, or simply because they don’t understand it’s value. In this article I’ll go over some points as to why it’s just as important as the workout itself.
This is a simple guide for people who are new to training, and/or who are not aware of the benefits of warming up properly.
A warm up is exactly that: A “warm up”. It’s not a few measly stretches, it’s not spending an hour on a foam roller, and it’s not an enduring workout within itself.
An adequate warm up should ensure that:
- Body temperature is increased to allow muscles and tendons to become more extensible.
- Muscles are filled with blood, and aids in the transportation of oxygen and nutrients needed to perform.
- Joints are lubricated with fluids for protection and ease of moment.
- Soft tissue is lengthened enough to reach the range of motion required from your training without excessive force.
- The nervous system is primed and ready for the task ahead, allowing your muscles to contract and fire as needed.
- Increased state of mental focus and motivation.
A good warm up should last between 10 and 15 minutes, and should have you slightly perspiring but not completely drenched in sweat. If you overdo it, you will start eating into fuel sources which will hinder your work out.
Factor in that if you’re in a colder climate, then it’s even more essential to warm up properly since your core body temperature will be lower than that of a warmer climate, and will take longer to get everything moving properly.
Limited range of motion and lack of soft tissue preparation can contribute to injuries that occur while training, especially when joints and muscles are being forced into positions that they have not been prepared for.
It becomes more important for stiff and/or older individuals who have hindering tightness or restrictions due to the lack of mobility over a greater length of years. It’s easier to get a youngster to move into certain positions than someone who is older and has been stuck at a desk job for prolonged periods of time. Even though a proper stretching program will be the best benefit for these individuals, a proper warm up performed regularly can also aid in restoring some of this lost mobility over time.
Be aware that some people are more flexible opposed to others, and most women are generally more flexible than most men. Women also tend to increase in joint flexibility during pregnancy and menstrual cycles due to a hormone released, called Relaxin. This doesn’t pose a high risk, but end-range flexibility and strength endeavours should be cautioned during these times.
Your warm up should mainly be based around dynamic stretching exercises rather than only static stretching exercises.
- Dynamic stretching is a technique where you perform low-intensity movements repeatedly to move your joints and muscles through a full range of motion. Some examples are shoulder dislocates, bodyweight squats or leg swings.
- Static stretching involves stretching your muscles to a point where you feel a slight discomfort, but not to the point where you feel pain. The stretch and your position are then held with no movement for a period of time. This type of stretching is best left until after your work out.
Some people will argue about whether or not you should include static stretching exercises in your warm up, and their effects on reducing strength within a muscle.
A simple rule of thumb:
Do you have tight muscle groups that hinder the required range of motion required for your training session, even after performing dynamic stretching exercises?
- If no, then there isn’t a dire need to perform static stretching. This is unless of course you have a flexibility goal that you wish to attain – then go for it.
- If yes, you should perform static stretches on those restricted muscle groups. Spend around 15-20 seconds on these areas to elicit the change needed.
I’m sure most people would prefer to lose a tiny bit of contractile strength from static stretching rather than increasing risk of injury from immobile muscle groups.
There’s no use trying to explain what the « perfect warm up » sequence is, because it simply doesn’t exist.
What you want to do first is a general warm up to prepare the body, and then a specific warm up directed towards the movements in your training session.
Take note of the word specific – this is key.
- If you train with gymnastic movements – wrist mobility is going to be important for you.
- If you train with powerlifting movements – hip mobility is going to be important for you.
- If you train as a swimmer – shoulder mobility is going to be important for you.
It’s not ideal to be spending 5 minutes on wrist stretches when your training session calls for sprinting, unless of course you need to.
I’m not going to go over what the « perfect warm up » sequence is because it simply doesn’t exist. It really depends on the individuals needs. Specificity is the key.
This article is more directed towards why you should prepare your body for exercise, rather than what exercises you should be doing – otherwise, this would turn into a thesis.
So, with that said – If you’re not sure what to do, I’m going to leave you with the Bodyweightfitness Beginner Routine Warm Up, which has a simple yet effective sequence with video links that will help you prepare for your bodyweight training.
As Bruce Lee once said – « Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own. »
Go egg hunting and use what works for you, but never skip your warm up!
Thanks for reading!