The triceps brachii (triceps) is a three-headed muscle on the back of your upper arm. It attaches to the shoulder joint and upper arm in three sites, so it has three heads, hence the name tri-ceps. The three heads are known as the long, lateral, and medial heads. The long head in the back of the arm is largest and thus defines the overall look of triceps. In other words, “big triceps” refers to big long heads. That said, if you want the full “3D” look, you want to make sure all three heads are well developed.
The triceps function by allowing the extension of the elbow (move the forearm away from the bicep) and help stabilize the scapula and shoulder during most upper body exercises like lat pulldowns, push-ups, and flyes. Your triceps contribute significantly more to your upper arm size than your biceps.
The forearms are the calves in the arms that comprises of several smaller muscles, collectively known as flexors and extensors. The flexors are responsible for flexion (bending palm inward) and pronation (rotating the palm down); extensors are accountable for extension (straightening) and supination (turning the palm up). In short, one set of muscles flexes the wrist and fingers and pronates the arm, while the other routine extends them and supinates the arm. Work all ranges of motion for a balance forearm development, and therefore help with your grip strength.
Incorporate two compound exercises (that emphasize the triceps and chest), followed by one isolation exercise (for the triceps).
If you choose for either two or three-day workout routine, make sure to incorporate at least one day of rest between the arm workouts (either by taking rest days or training other muscle groups).
Building triceps is one of the little-known secrets to building big arms. Most people need to incorporate triceps training to get arm development and definition they yearn.
Various triceps exercises emphasize different heads of the triceps muscles. The best workouts are pushing movements that heavily involve the triceps and allow you to move heavy loads safely.
Massive compound movements are best for adding strength and size.
What makes a good triceps workout?
- Train triceps directly to get the ideal size and definition.
Yes, heavy pushing and pulling are going to help develop your arms, but it’s not enough to get the triceps development we want.
It’s going to require workouts that specifically target the triceps.
The workout should include a combination of compound exercises that heavily involve the arms as well as isolation exercises that target them.
- Includes workouts that emphasize each of the triceps’ three heads
You’re going to get the most mass out of triceps workouts that emphasize the medial and lateral heads. Examples include close grip bench press, push down, and drip.
Don’t neglect the long head of your triceps, however.
Focus on exercises that involve multiple muscles and joints as opposed to isolation exercises.
- It emphasizes heavy weightlifting
Progressive tension overload is essential for building muscle – this is why your primary goal as a natural weightlifter is to get stronger, and especially crucial compound exercises like the squat, deadlift, and bench and overhead press.
So long as you make massive compound exercises your primary focus in your training, you’ll have no trouble gaining the size and definition you want in your triceps – this is because while you may gain muscles initially without gaining much strength, once you graduate to an intermediate lifter, size and power become closely correlated.
That’s why natural weightlifters need to do more heavy compound weightlifting – i.e., vertical and horizontal pushing and pressing – to gain significant amounts of muscle and strength.
Work with weights in the range of 75 to 85% of your one-rep max (1 RM), or the field of 4 to 10 reps. Take each set to about one to two reps shy of technical failure, which is the point at which you won’t be able to complete another rep without a breakdown in form. In other words, finish each set with one or two reps in energy reserve.
If you’re new to weightlifting, focus exclusively on the 4-to-6 rep range and just one or two compound exercises. You can then gradually incorporate higher-rep isolation work into your routines.
- One heavy triceps workout per week will suffice
The volume, or the total amount of reps you do each week, is especially important when you’re doing much heavy weightlifting. The heavier your weights are, the fewer reps you can do – especially compound movements like the bench and overhead press – each week without overtraining. Give your body enough time to recover from the workouts.
Remember that your triceps are heavily involved in pushing and pressing. If you’re doing 60 reps of massive chest per week for your chest and 20 reps of massive overhead pressing for your shoulders, then an additional 60 reps of heavy triceps training is going to be too much. If you drop that to 30 heavy reps for the triceps per week, though, you’ll find that it stimulates further growth without causing overtraining.
That said, if your triceps are very stubborn, even when lean bulking, you should train at least two to three times per week. Try six sets of massive chest and shoulder pressing plus three sets of triceps isolation exercises in the 8-to-10 rep range – this helps to break through stubborn muscle growth plateaus.
The five best triceps workouts
The mechanisms that govern muscle growth are similar in men and women, and the exercises work equally well for both sexes.
- Dumbell or barbell or close-grip bench press
The bench press is usually a chest exercise, but it’s also useful for building triceps.
Research shows that triceps activation is highest during the flat bench press (1).
The barbell is more cumbersome than a dumbbell, which means you could benefit from more progressive overload and muscle gain if you opt to use barbells. However, either dumbbell or barbell is excellent. Alternatively, if you don’t have the equipment, you can use the close-grip motion instead (1).
How-To: Lie on your back on the flat bench. Lift to shoulder height, palms facing away from you. Exhale as you press up with both arms so that you end with your arms fully extended. Squeeze your chest and lock out your arms, before returning to the start position. Repeat. In the case of a close grip, keep it at shoulder’s width apart.
Rest: 60 seconds
- Upright dip
In general, a narrower grip focuses more on the triceps, and a wider grip focuses more on the chest.
How-To: Start facing away from a bench, grab it with both hands at shoulder width. Extend your legs. Slowly lower your body by flexing the elbows until your forearm creates a 90-degree angle. Lift yourself back to the starting position.
Rest: 60 seconds
- Two-handed dumbbell/cable overhead triceps extension
This workout targets the long head of the triceps and allows you to press heavyweight and overload the muscles safely. It isolates the triceps muscles, maximizing the outcome of every rep.
You can either use cables (with ropes) or dumbells. Cables offer constant tension on your triceps throughout the full range of motion. The dumbells, on the other hand, is more natural at the top and more difficult at the bottom.
Two-handed triceps presses allow you to overload more weight than one-handed triceps press.
How-To: Hold one end of the weight with both hands behind your head, arms bent at 90 degrees. Keep your back flat and elbows tucked. Slowly push the weight up, stopping just short of a full extension. Pause, before returning under control to the start position. Keep your torso straight throughout the exercise and resist the urge to lean forward.
- Lying triceps extension (skull crusher)
Skull crusher doesn’t only help you build Popeye’s triceps; the press action would also activate your shoulder muscles.
How-To: Grip the EZ bar on the inner side using an overhand grip. Extend your arms straight up. With your elbows locked and tucked in, slowly lower the bar until its an inch above your forehead. Gradually extend your arms back to the starting position without locking your elbow. Try not to let your elbows flare out to the sides much, as this tends to make the exercise easier on your triceps and harder on your chest.
1-day per week triceps workout
|Dumbbell bench press|
2-day per week triceps workout
|Day 1||Day 2|
Barbell bench press
|Dumbbell bench press|
Overhead triceps extension
3-days per week triceps workout
|Day 1||Day 2||Day 3|
|Close-grip bench press|
|Barbell bench press|
Close-grip bench press
Overhead triceps extension
|Dumbbell bench press|
Overhead triceps extension
Biceps may not be the biggest of the most active muscle group in your body, but its arguably the best “show” muscles. The biceps muscle flexes your elbow. We don’t just want our biceps to work; we want it for display!
Top 5 best biceps workouts
- Overhead Cable Curl
Primary target: Biceps brachii, with emphasis on the peak
Strengths: Continuous tension is maintained throughout, from the arm fully extended to the elbow fully-flexed position. Performing this move allows you to sharpen your focus on each arm further.
How-to: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Grab a D-handle attached to the high-pulley cable. If you prefer, you may also use a staggered stance for balance. With your upper arm elevated and parallel to the floor, curl the D-handle toward your ear and squeeze your biceps hard. Then slowly extend your elbow until it’s slightly bent, without letting the weight stack touch down. Alternate this version with the two-arm move for variety.
- Incline dumbbell curl
Primary target: Biceps and brachialis, emphasizing the full length of the muscle
Strengths: A hardcore free-weight movement that puts the biceps under stretch, thus activating the stretch-shortening cycle. When your arms are at the start of the incline curl, it enables the stretch-shortening period. At this position, it allows a powerful concentric concentration by releasing the stored energy. This exercises also emphasizes the extended outer head of the biceps because it’s positioned in a pre-stretch motion.
How-To: Adjust an incline bench to 45 degrees and sit against the pad, feet flat on the ground. Hang your arms straight down, palms up. With your upper arms in a fixed position to the floor and your shoulders shifted back, curl the weights. Squeeze your biceps hard before slowly returning to the start position.
- Seated concentration dumbbell curl
Primary target: Biceps and brachialis, with emphasis on the full length of the muscle
Benefits: The rhythmic nature of alternating dumbbell curls – curling on weight up as you lower the other, switching for reps – makes it a great add-on to barbell and EZ bar curls. Here, a dominant side can’t compensate for a weaker one as it can when using an EZ bar. Do them seated to avoid rocking your body as you swing the dumbells upward. Furthermore, concentration curls place the arm in front with a bent elbow and a rotation in the shoulder, which potentially increases biceps peak and thickness by better recruiting the surrounding muscles. The positioning of the resistance against gravity also allows for extra emphasis on the short, inner head of the biceps.
How-To: Sit at the edge of a flat bench. Bend over and grasp a dumbbell in each hand. With your chest up, curl one weight toward the same-side shoulder, squeezing your biceps hard, then return to the starting position. Repeat with the other arm. You can either condense the set by lowering one dumbbell as you lift the other, or take it slower by moving through one full rep per side, going all the way up and down with one arm before switching to the other. Arnold Schwarzenegger has famously recommended imagining that your biceps are huge mountains as you flex, and such mental imagery can help accentuate the concentration.
- Standing Cable Curl
This curl exercise involves a cable and rope.
Primary target: Biceps brachii with brachialis activation
Strengths: Constant tension and total resistance
How-To: Stand holding a rope attached to a low pulley cable with an underhand grip, elbows extended. Keeping your abs tight, chest up and head straight as you curl the bar towards your chest. Hold and squeeze the contraction at the top of your biceps, then slowly return to starting position. Repeat without letting the weight stack town down between reps.
- Barbell Curl
Primary Target: Biceps brachii from origin to insertion and peak
Strengths: Sheer primal power – the chance to lift a profound amount of weight, putting the biceps under maximal tension and pushing them into the growth zone.
How-to: Stand holding a barbell with an underhand grip, arms extended. Keep your abs tight, chest up and head straight as you curl the bar from your hip towards your chest. Pause and squeeze your biceps at the top, then slowly return to starting position.
Thick, full forearm serves more than just vanity. Building muscular forearms is especially crucial for weightlifters. You can lift more if you have a stronger grip. It strengthens your grip strength, which is necessary for pulling movements like the row and deadlift. It can also help you improve faster in your chest and shoulder pressing.
The science of building big, muscular forearms involves:
- Heavy pushing, curling, pulling
- Other forearm exercises, as needed
Here, we are going to show you what you need to do to get forearms that would make Popeye jealous.
Top 5 best forearm workouts
- Dumbbell wrist flexion
Benefits: It targets and strengthens your wrist flexors, which are crucial in building grip strength.
How-to: Sit on the edge of a bench. With a dumbbell in right hand, place your forearm on the right thigh, and the back of your right wrist on top of the right kneecap. By moving only your hand, slowly lower the dumbbell as far as possible, maintaining a tight grip throughout the movement. Without lifting your arm off your thigh, curl the dumbbell up toward your bicep, and slowly lower the dumbbell back to neutral. Repeat to fatigue, then switch sides, performing equal reps on each.
- Dumbbell Wrist Extension
Benefits: This is the inverse of the wrist flexion move. It helps add size and strength to your wrist extensor muscles.
How-To: Sit on the edge of a bench. With a dumbbell in the right hand, place right forearm on the right thigh, palms down, with the right wrist on top of the right kneecap. Without lifting your arm off your leg, curl the dumbbell up towards your bicep, and maintaining a tight grip throughout. Slowly lower the weight back to starting position. Switch sides.
- Dumbbell Reverse Curl
Benefits: You’ll be working two main forearm muscles, the brachioradialis and pronator teres, as well as the brachialis.
How-To: Stand feet hip-width apart. With a weight in each hand, elbows tucked, slowly curl the weights slightly above 90 degrees. Return to the starting position. Repeat.
- Dumbbell Farmer Walk
Benefits: This is an old school strongman exercise that builds the finger and wrist flexors. It also engages other muscles in your bodies. It’s a beneficial move and will give you a new appreciation for how many groceries you can carry at once.
How-To: Stand hip-width apart. Hold a pair of heavy dumbbells at your sides, palms facing in. With your spine straight and core braced, walk in a straight line with your shoulders engaged. Rest and repeat.
- Pull-Up Bar Hang
Benefits: This exercise builds not just your wrist and finger flexors, but it’s a great lead-in to tackling pull-ups.
How-To: Grab a pull-up bar with a shoulder-width grip, palms facing forward. Hand at arm’s length for 30 seconds with your arms straight, and your ankles crossed behind you. Rest and repeat.
Tips for an effective workout
- When you hit the maximum rep range for each set, increase the weight.
“Double progression” is one of the most effective ways to ensure that you’re progressively overloading your muscles.
For instance, if you bench press six reps for 140 pounds, add 5 pounds to each side of the bar for the subsequent set.
If you can get at least four reps with 150 pounds on the next set, that’s the new weight you should work with until you hit a limit.
If you fewer than four reps, though, reduce the weight and see how the next rep goes. If you still get fewer than four reps, lower the weight to the initial load until you can do three 6-rep sets, and then increase.
- Between each set, rest two to four minutes.
It will help if you feel adequately prepared to give your best on each set. Resting is an essential element of the workout – this is the time where your muscles recoup their strength, so you give maximum effort each set.
- Make sure you’re eating enough food.
You probably know that abs are built in the kitchen.
You need to eat a fair amount of protein to build muscle. The total calorie intake also plays a significant role, as well.