If you asked 100 gym rats if they'd like to have those horseshoe-shaped triceps, 99 would say yes. The one person who said no is obviously lying and didn't include tricep exercises in their routine.
The triceps make up over 2/3 of the upper arm and it takes time and patience to build a large set of pythons. But vanity isn't the only reason to do tricep-focused exercises. These three muscles, located at the back of your arm, also play a huge role in your health and performance.
This article looks at the anatomy and function of the triceps, the benefits of tricep exercises, and 4 great tricep exercises. Then we explain how to make them, the benefits and suggestions for set-and-rep. Are you ready to put on your flex? Let's go then.
Anatomy and function of the triceps muscles
The triceps, or triceps brachii, is Latin for the three-headed muscle of the arm, which is made up of three separate muscles — long, medial, and lateral head — with different origins, but they all converge at the same point at the elbow.
The long head of the triceps is the largest of the three muscles and originates at the infraglenoid tubercle of the scapula. Because the long head traverses two joints, the shoulder and elbow, it is involved in some overhead movements such as lat pulldowns and pull-ups.
The lateral head of the triceps is the horseshoe muscle that gives your triceps the look you want, and this originates on the back surface of the humerus (upper arm bone). Finally, the medial head of the triceps originates on the posterior surface of the humerus and, like the long head, contributes to the overall size of your triceps.
All three heads attach to the olecranon of the ulna and the fascia of the forearm, which is just below the elbow. The main job of the triceps is to extend the elbow and is involved in the last 1/3 of most pressing movements. When you do a variation of the bench press, the pecs work to push the barbell off your chest, but once your elbow breaks 90 degrees it's all triceps.
Because of this, the triceps play an important role in your lockout strength. More on that below.
Benefits of tricep exercises
Aside from making your arms look great in a fitted or sleeveless shirt, there are a few health and performance benefits of having a strong, well-defined tricep pair.
- Improved Elbow Health: The triceps tendons attach in and around the elbow, strengthening the muscle to strengthen the tendons and bones around the elbow joint. This goes a long way in keeping your elbow joint happy and healthy.
- Better shoulder health: The long head of the triceps, along with all of the other muscles attached to your shoulder blade, aids in the strength, movement, stability, and health of your shoulder. Strengthening the long head also strengthens your shoulders.
- Improved Lockout Strength: Ever struggled with the last part of your bench or overhead press? This is where lockout strength comes into play. Adding size and strength to the triceps will improve your lockout strength and help you overcome pressing plateaus.
- Better athletic performance: Any sport you play that requires elbow extension - you will benefit from strong triceps.
4 tricep exercises to improve lockout strength
To add size and strength to the triceps you need exercises that will load you up or reduce or increase the range of motion to feel your triceps working. Here are 4 exercises that will do just that.