If you asked 100 gym rats whether they’d love to have that horseshoe triceps appearance, 99 would say yes. The one person who said no to that is obviously lying and haven’t been including any 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 big set of pythons. But vanity is not the only reason to perform triceps-focused exercises. Those three muscles that sit on the back of your arm play a big role in your health and performance too.
This article will go into the anatomy and function of the triceps, the benefits of tricep exercises, and 4 great triceps exercises. Then we will explain how to do them, the benefits, and set-and-rep suggestions. Ready to get your flex on? Then let’s go.
Anatomy and Function of the Triceps Muscles
The triceps, or triceps brachii, is Latin for the three-head muscle of the arm made up of three separate muscles — long, medial, and lateral head — with different origins, but they all converge in the same place on the elbow.
The triceps long head is the biggest of the three muscles and originates at the infraglenoid tubercle of the scapula. Because the long head crosses two joints, the shoulder, and the elbow, it’s involved in some overhead movements like lat pulldowns and chinups.
The triceps lateral head is the horseshoe muscle that gives your triceps the look you want, and this originates on the posterior surface of the humerus (upper arm bone). Last, but not least, the triceps medial head originates at the posterior surface of the humerus and like the long head, it contributes to the overall size of your triceps.
All three heads insert on the ulna’s olecranon and the forearm’s fascia, which is located just below the elbow. The triceps’ main job is to extend the elbow and is involved in the last 1/3 of most pressing movements. When you’re performing a bench press variation, the chest muscle works to push the barbell off your chest but once your elbow breaks 90 degrees, it’s all triceps.
This is why the triceps play a major role in your lockout strength. More on this below.
Benefits of Tricep Exercises
Besides your arms looking great in a form-fitting or sleeveless shirt, there are a few health and performance benefits of strong, well-defined pair of triceps.
- Improved Elbow Health: The triceps tendons attach in and around the elbow and strengthening the muscle strengthens 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 will all the other muscles attached to your shoulder blade, assist with strength, movement, stability, and health of your shoulder. Strengthening the long head strengthens your shoulders too.
- Improved Lockout Strength: Have you ever struggled with the last part of your bench or overhead press? This is where lockout strength comes in. Adding size and strength to the triceps will improve your lockout strength and help you bust through pressing plateaus.
- Better Sports Performance: Any sport you play that requires elbow extension — you’ll benefit from having strong triceps.
4 Triceps Exercises To Improve Lockout Strength
To add size and strength to the triceps, you need exercises you can load up or reduce or increase the range of motion to feel your triceps working. Here are 4 exercises that do just that.