Professional bodybuilders spend hours in the gym throwing up as much weight as possible and target every conceivable angle of every muscle. What’s more, they hit every muscle as hard as they can, and for the successful ones, it shows. Their careers depend on size, definition, and symmetry, and they are more often than not the envy of the average gym goer.
Unfortunately, most of us aren’t afforded the time or energy to lift as long and as hard as competitive bodybuilders. That being said, who says we can’t steal a page or two from their book and modify it for time and efficiency.
Enter the Tripcom
Tripcom stands for Triple Compounding Set. Traditional compound sets are a great way to overload a muscle. They can be done a number of different ways and can help you achieve massive strength gains in the gym. The tripcom takes compound sets to a new level and helps you lift more weight more times resulting in even bigger and better gains.
How it’s done
The key to the tripcom is to perform three sets (or one round) of the same or three very similar exercises, lift the same amount of weight, and keep rest times minimal. How do you do that? There are two simple ways and I’ll explain in a sec.
First it’s important to note, tripcoms work best when doing upper-body compound movements or exercises that target more than one muscle group. It’s also best to do these early in the routine while the assisting muscles are fresh. Strong assisting muscles will allow you to continuously lift the heavier weights.
Let’s take a look at one of my favorite ways to do a tripcom, the dumbbell bench press. To do this, you need access to an incline, flat, and decline bench and a set of dumbbells. Taking a page out of the old school lifting manual, I like to lift heavy with tripcoms. Use enough weight where you are struggling around 5-6 reps on the incline dumbbell press. If you prefer you can use lighter weight and a higher rep range to target different muscle fiber groups.
After warming up, perform the incline dumbbell press till you struggle to perform another rep with good form. Immediately move to the flat bench dumbbell press and repeat. Lastly, move to the decline bench and complete as many reps as possible. The time between switching benches should be no more than 30 seconds.
If you’re lifting heavier weight and going for lower reps rest for three minutes and then repeat 1-2 more times. If you’re using lighter weight and higher reps, rest about one minute and repeat one more time for a total of two rounds.
It’s simple but effective.
Let’s look at another exercise that is great for the Tripcom, the low cable row. To do this, you will need the wide-grip bar from the lat pulldown machine. Similar to the one pictured. Select a weight where you will struggle on the last rep of your target range with the widest grip possible using the lat pulldown bar.
Perform the wide-grip row for as many reps as possible and then let the weight stack rest for 20-30 secs. Move your grip to about shoulder width and repeat. Lastly, switch to an underhand or reverse grip and perform as many reps as possible.
This can also be done with the lat-pulldown or pull-up/chin-up combo. Simply use the same grips as we did for the low cable row; wide, narrow and then finish with the reverse grip.
Remember, don’t adjust the weight! The objective is to lift as much weight as possible for as many reps as possible all while targeting the primary muscle group.
If you can’t complete the set number of reps that becomes your goal. Once you can complete the set number of reps increase the weight accordingly.
How it works
By adjusting the angle or the grip of the exercise, we can manipulate the difficulty to perform that exercise. By making these adjustments, we can continue to overload the muscle repeatedly creating more muscle tension for a longer period of time. This is similar to decreasing the weight in compound sets.
What the tripcom allows us to do is lift more weight which creates a greater overload of the target muscle group. This in turn leads to more strength and more size.
Does it still effectively target the primary muscle group?
By switching the angle or the grip for the exercise you are recruiting more or less of the different assisting muscles. This is how we are able to continue lifting the heavier weight. That being said, the emphasis of the exercise is still on the primary mover. In fact, using the assistors should be seen at as a good thing. You are activating more muscles fibers while at the same time hitting different angles of the primary muscle. Something most bodybuilders are religious about.
When to do it.
As stated above it should be done early in the workout routine. This will allow your stabilizers and assisting muscles to be able to lift more weight.
When doing tripcoms I recommend 1-3 rounds depending on your rep range of any tripcom-friendly exercise. You should also do it as your first exercise to emphasize a particular muscle group for any upper-body workout.
For example, I’ll do the cable row tripcom as my first movement if my emphasis is on upper back for that day. You can then follow it up with some supplemental movements that focus on pushing muscles such as the push-up and/or the push-press.
Then switch the equation. For the next upper-body routine emphasize the chest with the tripcom dumbbell presses. Focus the rest of the routine on supplemental pulling exercises like the invert-row or rear lateral raises.
The key here is balance. Doing one tripcom per major muscle group per week is plenty.
To get help with a custom training plan check out my Personal Training page.
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