Virtually every routine or exercise in gymnastics incorporates the tricep muscles to some degree, so a high quality gymnastics tricep workout can have a significant impact on your competition success. Of course, these exercises should not take the place of your regular gymnastics training. After all, that training will strengthen your triceps significantly on its own. However, if incorporated properly, these extra routines can have a very positive impact.
- Weight vs. reps. Whatever the specific exercises and routines you incorporate into your supplemental gymnastics workout, you will have to decide on the proper balance between weight and reps. Put simply, that means the heavier the weight you lift, the fewer the reps (repetitions) you will be able to complete, and vice versa. Of course, exercises done with your body weight alone are not adjustable except by adding weighted vests, etc. But, exercises performed with a weight bar, kettlebells, etc. can certainly be adjusted. Some gymnasts may wish to focus primarily on heavy weights and low reps for a period of time in order to increase raw strength, while others may wish to focus primarily on somewhat lighter weights and higher reps in order to increase muscle endurance. Generally speaking, a balance between the two, adjusted periodically, will provide the best results.
- Dips. One of the simplest tricep exercises for gymnasts is dips. Using the parallel bars or rings, jump up and hold yourself off the ground with your arms stiff at your sides. Bend your elbows past a 90 degree angle, lowering your body, then straighten your arms again. Rings will provide a better workout to your arms' stabilizer muscles in addition to your triceps, although parallel bars work fine as well. If you wish to make this workout more difficult, wear a weighted vest or ankle weights while performing it.
- Overhead extensions. Overhead extensions can be performed with a weighted bar, a single dumbbell held vertically, or a kettlebell. Start with a simple overhead press; with the weight held overhead, keep your elbows facing forward and in tight to your head. Slowly lower the weight behind your head by bending your elbows, keeping your upper arms steady. Once your arms are bent past a 90 degree angle, use your triceps to press the weight back up until your arms are straight again.
- Skullcrushers. A flat, level surface (preferably a bench) is required for skullcrushers, as well as a weighted bar (a z-bar is ideal, although a normal straight bar will also work). Grip the bar with your hands spaced only a few inches apart and press the weight straight up. Once it is held overhead, slowly lower it towards you until the back of your hands touches your forehead. Now lift the weight back to its starting position by straightening your arms. Only your forearms should move in this exercise; the upper arms should remain stationary and your elbows should be kept tight together. Skullcrushers are particularly valuable as part of a gymnastics workout since they build a lot of control and stability, in addition to pure tricep strength. Be careful when first trying them, though, since using excessive weight could mean you accidentally drop it on your own forehead (hence the exercise's name).