How to activate the triceps muscle?

Fall of Titan

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Hi. I was watching the video below, and in one of the exercises (around the 4-minute mark) the sensei indicates that you should use your triceps for more power vs just the biceps. I can only seem to activate my biceps. Can someone give me a "dummies" drill to try out that would activate my triceps? Thanks.

 

Oily Dragon

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Hi. I was watching the video below, and in one of the exercises (around the 4-minute mark) the sensei indicates that you should use your triceps for more power vs just the biceps. I can only seem to activate my biceps. Can someone give me a "dummies" drill to try out that would activate my triceps? Thanks.

What they're doing is very similar to CMA bridge hand training, and learning to use both bicep and tricep is a big part of that.

The basic idea is being able to cross arms against resistance in any position. Think sticky hands but with real muscle pressure.

Hung Ga Kuen has 12 of these, arts like Choy Li Fut and Five Ancestor Fist and other Chinese family styles have similar drills. In those arts you typically strengthen the bicep/tricep together using weighted rings and bridge training calisthenics. I don't know what Japanese arts have this but this video is basically it.

Without going through all the bridge hands themselves, and without the rings, you can do the same basic strengthening with an inverted kettlebell. Just try not to drop it on your face, which is why I normally do these exercises standing.

 

mograph

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Hi. I was watching the video below, and in one of the exercises (around the 4-minute mark) the sensei indicates that you should use your triceps for more power vs just the biceps. I can only seem to activate my biceps. Can someone give me a "dummies" drill to try out that would activate my triceps? Thanks.

All muscles work in contraction: they get shorter. So the triceps also work by getting shorter. Because they're on the outside of the joint, when they contract, the joint extends: the arm straightens.

So, in order to activate the triceps, you need to straighten the arm: to extend it against resistance. It's like banging your fist on the table, or tenderizing meat. Whack! Outside of the gym, you could try raising yourself out of a chair using only (or mostly) your arms.

In the video, you can see him pressing down (and away) on the opponent: expressing force by attempting to straighten the arm at the elbow joint. If the opponent did not resist, and the teacher kept going, his arm would become straight at the elbow.

You can look up tricep exercises, but they are all based on the idea of extending the arm against resistance. If you want to learn how to activate the muscle without any resistance present, you should first do it with resistance, then try to recreate that sensation without resistance. It's hard, so I'd be patient.
 

Oily Dragon

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extending the arm against resistance. If you want to learn how to activate the muscle without any resistance present, you should first do it with resistance, then try to recreate that sensation without resistance. It's hard, so I'd be patient.
Here's a drill anyone can do.

Find a standing pole or other vertical surface that can support your weight. A wall works, but something narrower works better.

Lean into the object with the outside of your forearm. Once your body weight is on the forearm, you should feel your tricep engaged (it has to, to keep you from falling). The bicep is sort of sitting around waiting for something fun to happen.

Sit there for 5m, you'll feel it later.

twelve-bridges-of-hung-ga-kyun.jpg
 

Tony Dismukes

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The instructor in the video isn't explaining what he's doing accurately, or perhaps it's just a translation issue with the subtitles.

Activating the triceps isn't hard. Straighten your arm in front of you. You just activated your triceps. Curl your hand up to your shoulder. You just activated your biceps. Keep your arm still and flex like a bodybuilder. You just activated both your biceps and triceps at the same time.

What's being illustrated in the video is an exercise for cyclical pushing and pulling which is powered from the legs and the back. The biceps and triceps are being used just in an auxiliary fashion as stabilizers to hold the arm in the correct position to transmit the force being generated from the back and the legs. The instructor is trying to get the student to stop using the biceps as the driver for the pulling by curling the hand to the chest. That much is correct. What's not correct is stating that the pulling power is being generated by the triceps. If that was the case, he would be straightening his arm and lowering his hand. What he's actually doing is using his legs to rotate his hips and pulling with the muscles of his lower back. The biceps and triceps are activating just enough to keep the arm in the right configuration for transmitting that energy.

As far as how to achieve that effect for yourself in this exercise, one possibility would to be focusing on feeling the push and pull in your elbow rather than in your hand. I don't mean bending or extending your elbow. I mean feeling your elbow moving forwards and back.
 

Tony Dismukes

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In the video, you can see him pressing down (and away) on the opponent: expressing force by attempting to straighten the arm at the elbow joint. If the opponent did not resist, and the teacher kept going, his arm would become straight at the elbow.
I think the OP's confusion comes from the fact that the instructor seems to be stating that he is using his triceps for the pulling part of the action. As I explain in my comment above, this is incorrect.
 

mograph

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I think the OP's confusion comes from the fact that the instructor seems to be stating that he is using his triceps for the pulling part of the action. As I explain in my comment above, this is incorrect.
He's holding the opponent in place with his triceps, isn't he ... against the opponent's bicep-contraction force upwards?
 

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I think the OP's confusion comes from the fact that the instructor seems to be stating that he is using his triceps for the pulling part of the action. As I explain in my comment above, this is incorrect.
Yeah... you can't really do that. You pull with flexor muscles. The triceps extends the elbow and abducts the shoulder. Neither of which is useful when pulling.
 

Tony Dismukes

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He's holding the opponent in place with his triceps, isn't he ... against the opponent's bicep-contraction force upwards?
To the extent that this is happening, I include it under my description of using the biceps and triceps to stabilize the arm position so that the pulling power of the back and legs can be transmitted through the arm.
 
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Fall of Titan

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All muscles work in contraction: they get shorter. So the triceps also work by getting shorter. Because they're on the outside of the joint, when they contract, the joint extends: the arm straightens.

So, in order to activate the triceps, you need to straighten the arm: to extend it against resistance. It's like banging your fist on the table, or tenderizing meat. Whack! Outside of the gym, you could try raising yourself out of a chair using only (or mostly) your arms.

In the video, you can see him pressing down (and away) on the opponent: expressing force by attempting to straighten the arm at the elbow joint. If the opponent did not resist, and the teacher kept going, his arm would become straight at the elbow.

You can look up tricep exercises, but they are all based on the idea of extending the arm against resistance. If you want to learn how to activate the muscle without any resistance present, you should first do it with resistance, then try to recreate that sensation without resistance. It's hard, so I'd be patient.
Interesting, thank you. I pressed my fist down on my desk (while keeping a bend in my arm) and felt my tricep contract. I guess the part I missed in the video was that he was pressing down, whereas in my earlier attempt I was pushing laterally.
 
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Fall of Titan

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Here's a drill anyone can do.

Find a standing pole or other vertical surface that can support your weight. A wall works, but something narrower works better.

Lean into the object with the outside of your forearm. Once your body weight is on the forearm, you should feel your tricep engaged (it has to, to keep you from falling). The bicep is sort of sitting around waiting for something fun to happen.

Sit there for 5m, you'll feel it later.

twelve-bridges-of-hung-ga-kyun.jpg
I think I got it now. Thank you.
 

Buka

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Function and development of the biceps/triceps should start at white belt. Like right after learning to tie your belt, learning how to bow and learning a basic stance.
 

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