How to Get the Horseshoe Effect on Your Arms When You Work Out

How to Get the Horseshoe Effect on Your Arms When You Work Out

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Isolate the triceps with pushdowns.

Chris Clinton/Photodisc/Getty Images

Regularly lifting weights can get you big bulky arms, but attaining the horseshoe effect on your triceps requires a careful plan of action. The horseshoe look -- a bodybuilding term derived from the popped look of a fully contracted bicep -- comes from definition, not bulk. Performing exercises that specifically target the three heads of the triceps - the long, lateral and medial - can help to maximize the muscle development. The result is balanced, strong yet aesthetically pleasing triceps.


Engage in at least 10 minutes of cardiovascular activity to warm your body and muscles, such as jogging, climbing stairs or using an elliptical trainer. Follow the cardio with one set each of pushups, stationary lunges and abdominal crunches.


Focus on your form while executing the exercises to maximize muscle development and minimize injuries, and aim to perform them two or three times a week. Aim for three sets of each triceps exercise. Choose a resistance level that allows you to complete eight to 12 repetitions with proper form.


Perform rope pushdowns, which effectively isolate the triceps. Attach a rope to a high pulley and take hold of the handles with an overhand grip. Separate your feet to hip-width and lean your torso slightly forward. Pull your abs in toward your spine and slide the shoulder blades down your back. Tuck your upper arms in close to your torso; extend the forearms in front of you. Keep the upper arms stationary as you push the ends of the rope down and out to the sides. Hold the contraction for one count and then allow the rope to rise back up to starting position.


Increase the difficulty of dips by using two benches instead of one; this challenging variation places a greater amount of stress on the triceps. Separate the benches by 3 to 5 feet. Sit on the edge of one bench and place your heels on the other. Keep your abdominal muscles engaged and your shoulders pressing down away from your ears. Place your hands on either side of your hips; press your palms into the bench and lift your butt so it hovers in the air. Bend your elbows and lower your butt toward the floor, stopping when your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Push through your hands to straighten your arms.


Stretch your triceps after your strength-training workout. Stand tall with your shoulders stacked over your hips and feet separated by hip width. Lift your right arm toward the ceiling. Bend the right elbow and drop your hand behind your head. Take hold of the right elbow with the left hand and push the right hand down your back. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

Things Needed

  • Pulley machine
  • Rope attachment
  • Workout bench


  • Consult with a health care professional before starting a new workout program for the first time or if you have been away from fitness programs for a while. Tell the physician if you have any chronic health issues or recent injuries.


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