If youre in the gym chasing big arms, theres a good chance youve spent plenty of time doing biceps curls. And hey, you cant be blamed. After all, when most people think of big arms, they definitely think big biceps.
But if you want big arms, thats not the only muscle group you need to grow. Yes, building full, thick biceps helps, but you also need to seriously develop your triceps, too. Why? Because your triceps are actually a larger muscle group, and they visually complement your biceps. A perfect, well-sculpted set of arms includes big, strong biceps, and well-defined triceps, too.
Triceps training isnt always the most natural, though, partly because you cant always see the muscle youre working. Part of the reason a lot of guys love training biceps is they can instantly see progress. You cant always see that with your tris, but thats where this program comes in.
The trick with triceps training is attacking the triceps from a variety of different angles so you can hit all three of its heads. Do this right, and youll craft well-rounded tris and in the process, youll build the truly massive, powerful arms youve always wanted.
First an Anatomy Lesson
Before we dive into your twice-a-week triceps workout, lets understand the muscle a bit more. The triceps is a three-headed muscle running mostly along the back of the arm. The three heads (the medial, long, and short head) attach to the olecranon process, better known as your elbow. They also all connect to the back of your upper arm bone (the humerus). The long head of the triceps is unique in that it connects to your shoulder blade.
The medial and lateral heads of the triceps are the outer and central piece of whats known as the horseshoe look of your triceps. The long head, meanwhile, connects to the scapula and to build it, youll need to do different motions. When you do a triceps pressdown, for example, youre mostly attacking the medial and lateral heads. Once your upper arm starts moving overhead (known as shoulder flexion), youre going to start attacking the long head.
A good set of tris can account for roughly two-thirds of the muscle mass in the upper armmore than the biceps. And really, your triceps are more involved in your day-to-day life than your biceps. From driving to typing to handling money to a cashier, you spend more time every day pushing your arm away from your body than you do pulling. All that pushing is part of the triceps responsibility.
Your triceps are a secondary mover in just about every upper body pushing movement because theyre responsible for straightening your arm at the elbow. That means they dont just get work when you do triceps-specific exercises with them. Theyll also get plenty of work when you bench press and shoulder press.
That also means training your triceps isnt just about packing on muscle. It could be the difference between a new bench press career-high and a missed max lift. Most of the time, in my experience, the triceps are the reason you cant progress past a certain weight on the bench. If you cant extend your elbows, youll have a hard time finishing an overhead press, chest press, or any other upper body press.
Your Ultimate Triceps Workout
Constructing elite triceps requires taking a multi-angle approach, and it also means doing the right moves. Details matter with this too: You have to keep your elbows tight on all motions and work to really isolate your tris. Dont just use massive weights with sloppy form.
You can do this triceps workout up to two times a week. Rest two days between triceps workouts, but aim to train other bodyparts on those days, hammering legs one day and attacking your back on another day. You can train your triceps by themselves, or train them after chest. Go as heavy as you can with good form, but focus on form first and foremost.
If you train only triceps, make sure to warm up before doing this workout: Do at least one minute of jumping jacks, then do this rotator cuff warmup with resistance bands. Then dive into the action.
Close-Grip Bench Press
This is one of the more difficult triceps moves out there, because your triceps faces not only the dumbbell but also gravity. Youre also training multiple triceps responsibilities. You know the triceps straightens your arm; it also stabilizes the shoulder, and here it handles both tasks. Try the kickback variation below. Do 4 sets of 8-10 reps, resting 90 seconds between each.