Bicep Vs Tricep – Learn The Difference And The 5 Best Exercises For Each

Even if you’ve never been to a gym before, you have heard of both triceps and biceps.

Whether you know where they are actually located though is another story. Both muscle groups make up the majority of your upper arm muscles.

So if they’re both in such close proximity is it really a case of bicep vs tricep or do they work together?

Your biceps, or biceps brachii, are made up of two heads that form the front of the upper arm.

The biceps muscles are the ones you used to show off and flex as a kid when your uncle would as you to show how strong you are.

Your biceps are responsible for the elbow flexion.

Your triceps muscles, or triceps brachii, have 3 heads that form the back of the upper arm.

Your triceps are made for elbow and shoulder extension.

While your biceps make up the front of your upper arm both the long head and the short head of the bicep muscles originate at the scapula or shoulder blade and attach to a small bone just beyond your elbow called the radial tuberosity.

Whereas with the triceps only one head the long head originates at the rear of the shoulder blade, the other two heads, the medial head, and lateral head both come from the upper arm bone.

All 3 heads attach to a small protrusion of bone on the rear of the elbow called the olecranon process.

Both triceps and biceps feature in upper body workouts although they are mostly training with isolation exercises.

Isolation exercises are exercises that target one muscle, like bicep curls or skull crushers for the triceps.

But training with a compound exercise like a close-grip bench press, a major muscle group like your pec’s in your chest can move a lot heavier load, allowing your triceps to work with bigger heavier weights also.

A bent-over row or chin is going to have a similar effect on your biceps.

The primary movers in your back allow your biceps to work with heavier loads, getting a great workout in.

You can then finish your workout with isolated exercises to finish your triceps or biceps off.

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Is It Better To Work Biceps And Triceps Together?

I prefer to train this way.

But a bodybuilder would probably prefer not to.

I like to do full-body workouts, which is fine to do.

Where a bodybuilder typically trains in splits, a quite common split is to train push, pull, and legs.

So you train your pushing muscles, your chest, shoulders, and triceps together.

Your pulling muscles are your back, rear delts, and biceps.

Either way, it’s best to hit your muscles a few times each week to see the best results.

Another method I’ve seen bodybuilders do is to train the biceps on the same day as their chest.

And then their triceps with back 2 times per week.

This way you get a couple of extra half sessions on your triceps and biceps as well.

When you train your chest you get a bit of tricep activation as well, so when you go and hit your triceps the next day on your back day you’re almost double-dipping.

For me though, I train for performance rather than size.

So I try and get at least 3 full-body sessions in each week.

So every workout the collective muscles of the upper arm and getting some work done.

Some days I might do a mix of compound movements, other days I might finish off with a few supersets of back-to-back biceps exercises and triceps exercises.

Here’s a workout I post to youtube recently should be an arm workout you can do with resistance bands.

It’s basically a 10-minute superset of triceps and biceps!

Do Biceps Or Triceps Make Your Arm Bigger?

Supersets are a great way to build muscle mass and grow big arms.

But don’t make the mistake of focusing too much on the biceps.

Sure everyone notices big biceps.

But the tricep muscle makes up two-thirds of your upper arm.

So don’t just ignore the back of your upper arm.

If you want bigger arms you need to be doing tricep exercises also.

The tricep is definitely the larger muscle group out of the two.

So if big arms are you should aim to do more exercises for your triceps than your biceps muscle each workout.

Remember that your tricep is more for a pushing action so if you do bench press and then overhead press, are both effective exercises for your triceps also.

And any movement like a row or chin-ups that require a pulling action is also going to work your biceps.

I recently wrote an article on the best Tricep exercises with a TRX.

You see a TRX is a type of suspension trainer that is much easier to do any of your pulling exercises with.

bicep vs tricep - a-man-doing-rows-with-a-suspension-trainer

Can I Train Biceps And Triceps Everyday?

Honestly, it’s never a good idea to work any muscle every day.

I do 3 full-body workouts a week, along with some martial arts and cardio sessions throughout the week.

But the 3 strength sessions have a day in between to let the muscles recover.

You’re not going to get stronger arms if you don’t let the muscles rest and repair.

What Are The Best Bicep Exercises?

There are many bicep exercises that can be done to help define and strengthen your arms. But these are the best 5 for your biceps

1. Barbell Curl

The barbell curl is a very effective way of working out your arm muscles, especially the biceps.

It involves holding a weighted bar which you then use to lift the weight upwards in an arc motion.

You can do this exercise with both arms or one at a time, whichever pleases you more.

Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart with the bar resting across the front part of your shoulders on top of your chest.

Keep it close to your body as you lift it upward keeping your elbows tucked in to your sides until the hands are next to your chin then slowly lower the bar back down to starting position.

2. Incline Dumbell Curls

The incline dumbbell curl is exactly what the name suggests, a simple dumbbell curl done while lying on an inclined bench at about 45 degrees which targets your biceps more than regular dumbbell curls.

Sit down on the bench with your feet planted firmly on the floor and keep your back straight as you lift one arm upward keeping it close to your body until your hand is next to your shoulder then slowly lower it back down again without letting it touch the ground.

Repeat for another arm and continue alternating until all sets are completed.

3. Concentration Curls

The concentration curl works out your biceps slightly differently but is still very effective in isolating the muscles within your arm.

Sit down on an exercise ball with one knee bent and use that leg to rest your non-working elbow on which you will hold a dumbbell in your hand.

Keep your back straight as you lift the weight upwards keeping it close to your body until it is at shoulder level then slowly lower it back down again without letting it touch the ground, do this for another arm, and continue alternating between them till complete.

*Note: It can be difficult to get into position so start with light weights if needed

4. Hammer Curls

The hammer curl is very similar to the barbell curls except it works out your biceps slightly differently.

Hold a dumbbell in each hand making sure they are on either side of your body with palms facing towards you, don’t lock your elbows, and keep them tucked into your sides.

Curl one arm up at a time keeping it close to your chest until the dumbbell reaches shoulder height then slowly lower it without letting the weight drop.

Repeat for another arm and continue alternating between them till complete.

5. Zottman Curls

The zottman curl works out both heads of the bicep muscles while also engaging some of the other surrounding muscle groups for extra strength.

Start by holding 2 dumbells in each hand with palms facing away from your body.

Curl one arm up at a time keeping it close to your chest until it reaches shoulder height then rotate the hand so that the palm is facing towards you while lowering the weight.

Repeat for another arm and continue alternating between them till complete.

TRX Pro Suspension Training Kit
TRX Pro Suspension Training Kit

What Are The Best Tricep Exercises?

Now that we’ve seen the best exercises for your biceps let’s look at the best 5 exercises for building big horseshoe triceps!

1. Close-Grip Bench Press

Perform the close-grip bench press by lying on a flat bench with your hands about shoulder-width apart.

Lower the bar toward your upper chest, then push it back up to arm’s length.

2. Decline Close-Grip Bench Press

This exercise works the lower fibers of the triceps more than regular close grip bench presses.

You can do this exercise using an adjustable decline bench or two benches of equal height.

Set one at a 45-degree angle, lie on it with your feet resting on another horizontal surface and you holding onto a dumbbell in each hand under your thighs.

Keeping your elbows tucked to your sides, lower them as far as possible before pressing back up to the original position.

3. Overhead Close-Grip Triceps Extension

This triceps exercise works on the whole of the back of the arm, not just one section.

It’s important to keep your upper body straight while performing this exercise because leaning forward will cause excessive strain at the shoulder joint and can lead to rotator cuff tears.

To perform this exercise, stand upright with your feet hip-width apart then hold a barbell or EZ curl bar overhead using an overhand grip with arms fully extended.

Keeping your upper arms stationary, lower the weight until it is close to your head before pressing back up to full arm extension at the top.

Perform 3 sets of 10 reps for maximum muscle hypertrophy.

4. Skull Crushers

This classic triceps exercise is performed with a straight bar, not EZ-curl bars.

This is because it also works the muscles that are involved in gripping, which are used to curl the bar up into position at the start of each rep.

The lying version of this exercise targets more of the brachialis, but the forearms are less likely to tire before completing your set.

5. Cable Pressdown

This great triceps mass builder is an isolation exercise that allows you to perform higher reps with good technique.

To do them attach a straight or lat-pulldown bar to a high pulley and hold it with your hands shoulder-width apart.

Keep your elbows tucked tightly against your sides as you lower the weight to forehead level.

Extend your arms to full arm lockout at the top, squeezing your triceps for maximum contraction.

Final Thoughts

So now that you have a better understanding of training your arms, why not learn about what gym equipment is best.

After all, we are all different and have different goals.

I’ve got an article you can read here talking all bout how often you should be training and just how important rest is.

Before you go through make sure you download a FREE copy of my Ebook. train wherever the fuck you want.

It’s a complete guide to training with resistance bands.

I give you a huge list of exercises you can try plus a sample program for you to try!