When you are asked to “show off your muscles” most people are looking for you to flex your biceps, however, most of your arm mass is due to the size of your triceps.
With this thought fresh in your mind you may be wondering how best to build those triceps?
In the following article, we will look at what you should be doing to increase the size of your triceps. What exercises to perform, along with a few tips to ensure you see the biggest muscle gains possible.
What Are The Triceps?
The triceps brachii, which is otherwise known as the triceps has three heads – horizontal, medial, and long.
Each one of the three heads of the triceps is joined with the humerus and scapula bones. These heads go down the arm and are connected onto the ulna of the lower arm.
The medial head of the triceps is found on the external section of the humerus. The medial head of the triceps is found at the back bit of the upper arm. Finally, the long head of the triceps is the biggest part of the triceps and is found running down the upper part of the arm, along the body.
You will use your tricep to help extend your forearm upon your elbow joint, in opposition to your biceps.
They also help with the stabilisation of your shoulder and scapula while performing various upper body exercises. Such as the lat pulldown or push-up.
How To Increase The Size Of Your Triceps?
If you have decided that you want to do presses as part of your routine then you have to do them correctly.
Many people hold the bar like cruiser handlebars, this makes you push with the fingers.
The problem with this is that it does not just place strain on the hands and wrists, but it also decreases the amount of energy you can apply to the bar.
The key is to push with the heel of the palms.
You'll know when you have this procedure down when you don't even need to wrap your fingers around the bar.
You'll also be able to figure out how much more weight you can handle as well.
As you increase the weight, you will start to see more triceps development.
The flip side to the above advice is to flip your hold and take an underhand grasp to force the weight down when doing triceps presses.
While the overhand rendition puts the best push on the horizontal triceps head, the underhand form better pushes the oft-disregarded vertical head.
Since the best way to build general triceps mass is to expand the mass of every one of the three triceps heads, you have to commit time to the medial head also.
Attempt the converse hold press-down utilising a specialised bar connection with a turning neckline.
This will eliminate the stress and strain that can occur to your wrists if you do it improperly.
The more the arms are placed in front of the body and then overhead, the more the long head of the triceps is stressed.
When you do skull-crushers on an even seat, the arms are perpendicular to the body.
Therefore both the long head and horizontal head are getting exerted and strengthened, and there’s even a bit of contribution to the medial head.
When you do them on a slope seat, the arms move all the more overhead. This puts more emphasis and strain on the long head.
Also, when you do them on a decline seat, the arms move down more towards the sides of the body, like a triceps press.
This places a larger amount of pressure and stress on the medial head than the long head, with some assistance from the horizontal head at the highest point of the rep.
Tips for Bigger Triceps
Here are some things you should do to build bigger triceps:
#1: Perform Isolation Exercises
Of course, compound exercises are a great way to build muscle across your entire body.
However, if you are looking to build a particular muscle then you need to do a few isolation exercises too.
My suggestion to you would be the following:
- Close-grip bench presses
While these are basic exercises, as you are also using your chest and delts you can add plenty of weight so that you can push your triceps to the max.
#2: Include Overhead Lifts
The long head of your tricep is what gives it the bulk of its mass. Focussing on overhead lifts will activate this part of the muscle.
#3: Lift Heavier
If you want big arms it can be tempting to work your biceps harder than your triceps, however as stated already this is a mistake.
Not only is the tricep a bigger muscle, but a more complex one too. For example, the bicep has 2 heads compared to the tricep, which has 3 heads.
Not only should you lift heavier when building triceps, but the volume (sets and reps) should also increase.
To see those gains you need to push the muscle to exhaustion.
#4: Don't Flare Your Elbows
Do you flare your elbows when performing pushdowns or extensions? If so you are not making the most of those exercises.
The reason for this is that when you flare your elbows you will be making your shoulders and chest do the work.
Keep your elbows tight and you will engage the tricep more during these movements.
#5: Lock Out
If you do not lock out when performing your isolated tricep exercises (pushdown, press and extensions) then you will not be fully engaging your tricep.
This will mean that you are not seeing the full benefit of these exercises. It is this last 1/3 of the lift that engages the muscle fibres the most.
When performing these movements it is important to contract the tricep fully. To put it another way “squeeze to lockout”.
Best Tricep Exercises
The following are exercises that you should add to your workout regime that will work your tricep muscles:
#1: Close-Grip Bench Press
The bench press is more commonly used to train your chest, but a simple grip change can work the triceps.
Simply move your hands closer together. This will lead to more muscle growth and strength as you will need to work your triceps much harder to perform the exercise.
#2: Rope Tricep Pushdown
For this exercise, you will want to attach a rope handle to the high pulley of a cable station.
You should bend your arms, and using an overhand grip, push the bar down until your arms are locked.
It is important that you keep your hand's shoulder-width apart, and that you tuck your arms into your sides.
You should not go too heavy as this will turn this exercise into one that focusses on your back instead of your triceps.
#3: Tricep Dips
As you are lifting your body weight you are using a much heavier load than most isolation exercises.
To perform this exercise you will need to hoist yourself up onto some parallel bars. You should keep your torso perpendicular (leaning forward puts more emphasis onto your chest and shoulders).
Bend your knees and cross your ankles. You should then lower yourself until your shoulders are lower than your elbows.
You should then push back up until your arms are straight, but not locked.
#4: Overhead Tricep Extension
This particular exercise will isolate the long head, which is the part of the tricep that is often neglected.
To perform this exercise, sit on a bench. Using a single dumbbell form a diamond shape with both of your hands, gripping the top end of the weight.
Next, raise the dumbbell above your head, keeping your elbows up and your core tight.
You should lower the dumbbell down the back of your neck by bending at the elbow. It is important to maintain a tight core and to keep your shoulders stable.
The dumbbell should be returned to the start position. Squeeze at the top of the repetition.
There are different variations that work the individual tricep heads differently but the exercise itself is very similar.
Using an EZ bar with an overhand grip, grip the bar on the inner grips.
Extend your arms straight up. You should then slowly lower the bar until it is about an inch from your head. It is important to keep your elbows fixed and tucked in.
Slowly return the bar to the original position for one rep.
Diet for Bigger Triceps
For your muscles to develop you require the right food and dietary structure.
Without the perfect measure of protein, complex carbohydrates, simple carbohydrates, and large amounts of fat, you won't have the capacity to make your muscles develop.
How much protein is ideal for you and your goals? Well, you can read a number of different books and every one of them will tell you something else and they will give you different information.
This is the much the same as the inquiry of how frequently you ought to train each body part.
You have to attempt a number of different techniques in order to figure out what is best for you and what will give you the most progress.
The rule of thumb for protein, however, is around a gram and a half for every pound of your body weight. That means that, if you weigh around 175 pounds, you will require around 260 grams of protein in your diet every single day.
The carbohydrates are extremely important for you to build muscle. Without the carbs, you won't get enough vitality and energy to lift. And that is one of the most important parts of building muscle!
Concentrate on whole grains like rice, wheat pasta, wheat bread, and cereal.
Also, heap on the vegetables! The basic carbs (sugars, etc) are not the best for your whole diet, but you can eat them after your workout because they help with recuperation and renewing the glycogen level in your muscles.
So, between the way that you train and the way that you eat, you will find that there are a lot of ways for you to increase the size of your triceps.
Try out these tips for yourself and start to see the difference that it makes in your routine.