This is the single best tip that you can apply to your triceps that will allow you to get them to gain more muscle mass without costing you extra time in the gym.
First, it helps to start with some anatomy. The triceps muscle is composed of three heads, the long, medial and lateral head. The long head of the triceps is the one that provides the most bulk to the belly itself and is the one that helps to fill up the shirt sleeves the best. In order to work the long head and get it to fully contract you must take your arm behind your body at the end of the rep and get the complete extension of the elbow.
It is important to note that not every exercise has you finish with your arm behind your body, however. This is ok. What it does underscore is how important it is not to forget to complete the extension of the elbow so you can maximize the contraction of the other two heads of the triceps. Here is where we tend to miss the mark. Mostly, this is because we have been taught that it is a bad thing to “lock out” our joints into extension.
That is simply not true. Taking a joint to full extension is never a bad thing as long as you don’t have any pre-existing condition that would preclude you from doing so (like bone chips in the elbow). The only time locking out is a bad thing is when you add velocity to the process and lockout forcefully without a controlled contraction. In the case of the triceps muscle, as long as you are smoothly completing the extension and taking the elbow through its full range of motion you are not at risk for doing damage to the joint and are actually putting your triceps in their best position to respond to your training.
The master tip ensures that you complete every rep of every triceps exercise by extending your elbow fully. This can be applied to the dip, triceps extension, pushdowns, or even close grip bench presses. If the exercise allows for the arm to also be extended back behind the body as well, then you should take advantage and make sure you do that too. Full contraction of the long head of the triceps is always going to give you a complete triceps squeeze because of the highest involvement of all three heads of the muscle.
If you are not sure if you are extending enough, you can always do the technique that I share with you here. Back off about an inch at the end of every repetition and then contract again and attempt to take your elbow into even more extension than you just had. This is a great way to get as far as your joint is going to allow you while also making sure not to overextend or jeopardize the health of the elbow because the speed has been removed.