Bicep and Tricep Exercises

Bicep and Tricep Exercises

Bicep and Tricep Exercises Compilation to get the arm size you’ve always wanted.

One of the biggest goals fitness enthusiasts often look for is that the “gains” achieved, “with or without clothes”, are appreciated, and among these achievements, well-proportioned arms are possibly the most important.

The biceps and triceps are, without a doubt, the muscles that are often the most talked about, and the ones that are most often “shown off”.

Did you lift your shirt sleeve in the lift or take advantage of the changing room lights to do a “Double Bicep”?

In most cases, you train the biceps and triceps for an aesthetic purpose, hypertrophy, seeking maximum growth… but what many do not know is that, just like other muscle groups, this work has other purposes, beyond mere aesthetics.

What are the biceps?

The biceps brachii muscle is a muscle of the upper arm, located in the anterior and superficial region of the arm; it is long, cylindrical and made up of two parts or heads: the inner, shorter one and the outer or long one.

The short part inserts into the upper of the coracoid process by a common tendon with the coracobrachialis, and the long part in the external angle of the scapula.

Biceps - bicep and tricep exercises

On the underside, by a tendon common to the bicipital tuberosity of the radius.

Main Function of the Biceps

The main function of the biceps is to flex the shoulder joint, although, depending on the reference point we take for the movement, it performs other functions too:

  • With its fixed origin, it flexes the elbow joint, moving the humerus and supinating the forearm.
  • With its fixed insert, it flexes the elbow joint by moving the humerus towards the forearm as in lifting exercises.

Klokov doing Biceps, after a 200kg Snatch!

This muscle also helps to stabilise the glenohumeral joint.

What are triceps?

The triceps are located in the upper arm, along the humerus, between the shoulder and the elbow and work in combination with the bicep muscle to allow movement of the forearm:

  • When the triceps contract, the forearm extends and the elbow straightens;
  • On the other hand, while the triceps is relaxed, the biceps work, retracting the forearm and bending the elbow.

Understanding the triceps musculature is key to knowing which exercises to give more emphasis in the gym.

 

Triceps

The triceps muscle, also called the Triceps Brachii, is made up of three heads or vastus: lateral, medial and long.

The triceps mechanism involves movement of the shoulder joint, which is the joint with the greatest range of motion, and the shoulder depends on the triceps to allow it to maintain stability in any movement and direction.

Main Function of the Triceps

The primary function of the elbow is to allow extension of the elbow, or to help straighten the arm.

Alongside this, it shares functionality with the latissimus dorsi in adduction or lowering the arm towards the body.

It’s also implicated, in an indirect way, in other types of exercises.

Have a look at another great athlete, also a weightlifter, training with tricep dips (parallel dips):

If athletes of this calibre include bicep and tricep exercises in their training…

By understanding in depth the function and activation of each vastus muscle that forms the triceps muscle, we’ll know which exercise is most conducive to the development of each one.

How do you work the biceps and triceps?

From my point of view, it’s essential to perform the technique correctly and respect the range of motion so that we move the load to achieve full arm extension (eccentric biceps and concentric triceps).

At this point, note that a fully extended biceps goes hand in hand with the movement of the elbow, so don’t limit the full range by not extending the elbows properly

Curl

So, before starting the exercise, without loading the weight, observe the movement yourself in the air, and check how the arm should be in the flexed position and when it is contracted.

The same applies, of course, to your triceps, by looking at them in front of a mirror.

Applying the previous concept, essential for optimal development, we continue with another form factor, in this case the moment when we lift the bar or dumbbell and feel that we need to apply much greater force.

The point of greatest intensity!

Curl Z bar

It’s important to understand this aspect as it limits us when it comes to figuring out which load to use.

Time under Bicep and Tricep Tension

In order to achieve greater size in the biceps and triceps, or any muscle, you should consider stimulating the largest amount of fibres.

Pulley biceps curl

For example, in a pulley biceps curl with 5050 timing, we would take 5 seconds to perform the concentric phase, without any rest to switch to the eccentric phase, another 5 seconds for that phase, and without rest return to the concentric phase.

One of the variables is the Time Under Tension (TUT), which we can increase according to the cadence or tempo parameter, which refers to the time we spend in each of the phases of the exercise: initial, concentric, eccentric and final.

Bicep and tricep exercises

As we have seen, both the biceps and triceps are small muscles, so practically all the work we do will be isolation work.

However, I always like to include exercises with my own body weight, where you can increase the intensity with weight belts and by involving more muscle mass in turn.

Supine Pull-Ups

Supine Pull-Ups

Despite the fact that the bicep won’t be the priority muscle itself, it will be involved in the execution of the movement.

Muscles Involved in Supine Pull-Ups

Main MuscleLats (latissimus dorsi)
Synergistic MusclesBrachialis and brachioradialis muscle, Teres major, Posterior deltoid, Rhomboid, Levator scapulae, Middle and lower trapezius, Pectoralis major (sternal) and minor
Dynamic Stabilising MusclesBiceps brachii, Triceps (long head)

Bar Curl

Bar curl

The quintessential biceps muscle exercise, and probably the most performed in any gym on the planet 🙂 .

It’s a completely isolated exercise, and despite its simplicity, some still work it in such a way that what they exercise everything but the biceps.

Muscles Involved in the Barbell Curl.

Main MuscleBiceps brachii
Synergistic MusclesBrachialis and brachioradialis
Stabilising MusclesAnterior deltoid, upper and middle trapezius, levator scapulae, wrist flexors
Curl 21.

This is really just another type of barbell curl, either with a straight or EZ bar, although I prefer the latter. The aim here is to lengthen the TUT, and of course, muscle endurance, dividing the exercise into parts, 7+7+7.

Hammer Curl

Hammer curl

This exercise, known as the Hammer Curl, aims to maximise the work of the biceps brachii.

Muscles Involved in the Hammer Curl.

Main MuscleBiceps brachii
Synergistic MusclesAnterior deltoid, Pectoralis major (sternal) and minor, Romboid, Levator scapulae, latissimus dorsi
Dynamic Stabiliser MuscleBiceps brachii
Stabilising MuscleLower trapezius

Inclined Bench Curl

Inclined Bench Curl

Possibly one of the most isolating exercises, if worked correctly, that can be achieved for the biceps.

Muscles Involved in the Incline Bench Curl

Main MuscleBiceps brachii
Synergistic MusclesBrachialis and brachioradialis muscle
Stabilising MuscleAnterior deltoid, wrist flexors

Below are the best triceps exercises:

Tricep Dips

On parallels

Tricep Dips - bicep and tricep exercises

Depending on the width of the grip, we’ll put more emphasis on the triceps (tighter grip) or on the chest (more open grip).

With parallel triceps dips, we are essentially working the 3 tricep heads.

It’s hugely important to try and keep the elbows as close to the torso as possible, and of course, activate the scapular retraction.

Between benches

Dips between benches

We have the following variant: between benches or any other support, or for beginner level with just one.

It’s important to keep the hands as close together as possible in order to influence the activation of the triceps, especially the long head.

Muscles Involved in Tricep Dips

Main MuscleTriceps brachii
Synergistic MusclesAnterior deltoid, Pectoralis major (sternal) and minor, Romboid, Levator scapulae, latissimus dorsi
Dynamic Stabiliser MuscleBiceps brachii
Stabilising MuscleLower trapezius

Tricep Press

Tricep Press - bicep and tricep exercises

Also known as Close Press.

One of the main motivations for training the triceps with this exercise is that we can move quite high weights (of course not as high as in a conventional bench press), applying a lot of work to our target muscle.

We need choose a grip that allows us to execute the range of movement, because if we choose a very narrow grip, it will be very difficult.

Muscles Involved in Triceps Press

Main MuscleTriceps brachii
Synergistic MusclesAnterior deltoid, Pectoralis major and minor, Rhomboids
Dynamic Stabiliser MuscleBiceps brachii

Tricep Push-Ups

Tricep Push-Ups

We can do two things to facilitate the positioning of the hands.

A Closed Kinetic Chain (CKC) exercise will therefore have more “functional” connotations. During the execution of the exercise, you need to maintain maximum proximity of the hands, for greater emphasis on the triceps brachii.

For greater intensity we have two options:

  • Add a weight: by means of discs placed on the back.
  • Raise your feet: by placing them on a bench or support.

Muscles Involved in Tricep Push-Ups

Main MuscleTriceps brachii
Synergistic MusclesAnterior deltoid, Pectoralis major and minor, Anterior deltoid,
Dynamic Stabiliser MuscleBiceps brachii (short head)
Stabilising MusclesRectus abdominis, Obliques, Quadriceps

Unilateral French Press

Unilateral French Press

This is a variant of the French Press, but executed unilaterally with dumbbells.

It’s an exercise to isolate the triceps muscle, and if we add a high load, we can assist ourselves with the opposite hand to avoid any risks (dumbbell on the face).

Muscles involved in the Unilateral French Press

Main MuscleTriceps brachii
Dynamic Stabiliser MuscleBiceps brachii (short head)
Stabilising MusclesAnterior deltoid, pectoralis major (clavicular) and minor, Teres major, Extensor carpi ulnaris and Flexor carpi ulnaris

Tricep Extension with High Pulley

Tricep Extension with High Pulley - bicep and tricep exercises

This is an excellent exercise to isolate the 3 tricep heads.

Muscles Involved in High Pulley Tricep Extension

Main MuscleTriceps brachii
Synergistic MusclesNone
Muscle StabilisersLats, Teres major, Posterior deltoid, Pectoralis minor, Lower trapezius, Rectus abdominis, Wrist flexors
Antagonist Muscle StabilisersSpinal erector

Bicep and tricep exercises at home

If you don’t have much time to go to the gym, or if your time there is more often spent doing multi-joint exercises and you “miss” an arm training, you can always add arm training at home.

  • Among these, tricep curls or tricep dips using a support (chair…) are very effective.
  • For the biceps, having a set of adjustable dumbbells at home like these would be ideal.
Dumbbell training for bicep and tricep exercises at home is quite inexpensive. In our blog you can find our guide to Dumbbell Home Training

Biceps and triceps exercise routine

We can include these exercises according to our training schedule:

  • Whether we opt for a Torso-Leg or Full-Body distribution, we’ll train with a frequency of 2 or 3.
  • For a split routine, we would dedicate a full day to biceps and triceps exercises. In this case, the training volume would be higher.

The following proposed programme is shown for a 3-day distribution corresponding to a full-body effort:

  • Day 1

    A) Every 2min X8

    • Alternate: 12x Supine Pull-Ups / 15x Dips

    B) Every 90″ X6

    • Alternate: Close Press / Hammer Curl (both fail-1, increasing the load)
    Explanation:
    • For A) it would be 8 sets and for B) 6 sets in total.
    • In the odd sets we would do the pull-ups or close presses and in the even sets we would do the dips or close presses
    • We’ll work with time windows of 2min and 90s, that’s to say, the exercise has to be performed in this time and the remaining time would be rest.
  • Day 2

    A) Complete 2 Supersets (on both failure-1, increasing the load) with 75-90″ rest periods:

    • Unilateral French Press + Incline Bench Curl

    B) Complete 2 Supersets (on both failure-1, increasing the load) with 75-90″ rest periods:

    • Triceps extension on high pulley + Curl with EZ-bar
  • Day 3.

    A) Complete 20 15 10: Dips with added weights

    B) Complete 20 15 10: Triceps curls

    Explanation:
    • In A) we increase the load as we decrease the repetitions.
    • In B) we must manage to perform the repetitions prescribed in order to be able to rest.

    C) Complete 3 sets by increasing the load of the Curl 21.

Tips

Finally, we will leave you with a few notes on how to get the most out of these exercises:

Mind-Muscle Connection

Something as simple as it is effective, and which seems to be attracting interest, as shown by some studies.

Maintaining concentration when training period is something no one can ignore.

Dumbbell

But how about also focusing on how we are training, and visualising each muscle contraction…

The mind-muscle connection is tremendously important, as well as breathing in accordance with the exercise, noticing each gesture, movement, how the lungs open and contract with each breath of air at the same time as the bloodstream flows to the area in action.

Bicep and tricep exercises with added weights

As we have seen before, if you’re looking to add more intensity to your arm training, adding weights at the most suitable weight is a good idea.

I recommend a weight belt as a tool when using discs/dumbbells as it will save you from having to juggle with a weight between your legs…

Tricep added weight - bicep and tricep exercises

We can also use discs in other types of exercises

Want to know why you should include Bicep Curls in your routine? Have a look at this post where we tell you why.

Related Entries

  • Do you know the Platón Curl? This is an alternative biceps exercise… continue reading.
  • Be sure to include the chest dips in your routine as recommended here.
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About Javier Colomer
Javier Colomer
Under the motto “Knowledge Makes me Stronger”, Javier Colomer clearly expresses his intentions to share his knowledge and experience within the world of Fitness. His BPT training system is proof of this.
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