The triceps brachii, often simply referred to as the triceps, is a crucial muscle group located on the back of the upper arm. While perhaps not as glamorized as its counterpart, the biceps, the triceps play a significant role in both aesthetics and functionality. Understanding the anatomy, function, and effective training methods of the triceps can greatly enhance one’s overall fitness journey and arm development.

Anatomy of the Triceps:

The triceps brachii is composed of three heads: the long head, lateral head, and medial head. Each head originates from different points on the scapula and humerus bone and converges to form a common tendon that attaches to the ulna bone of the forearm. This complex arrangement allows the triceps to perform various movements, primarily extension of the elbow joint.

The long head of the triceps originates from the infraglenoid tubercle of the scapula, running down the back of the arm. The lateral head originates from the posterior humerus above the radial groove, while the medial head originates from the posterior humerus below the radial groove. Together, these heads create the distinctive horseshoe shape associated with well-developed triceps.

Function of the Triceps:

The primary function of the triceps brachii is extension of the elbow joint, which involves straightening the arm from a bent position. This action is essential in numerous daily activities such as pushing, lifting, and throwing. Additionally, the triceps play a crucial role in stabilizing the shoulder joint during overhead movements, providing support and control.

Beyond basic elbow extension, the triceps contribute to more complex movements such as pressing exercises (e.g., bench press, overhead press) and functional movements involving the upper body. Strong and well-developed triceps not only improve performance in these exercises but also aid in preventing injuries by maintaining joint stability and balance.

Training the Triceps:

To maximize triceps development, it’s essential to incorporate a variety of exercises that target all three heads of the muscle.

Some effective exercises include:

  1. Close-Grip Bench Press: This exercise primarily targets the lateral and medial heads of the triceps while also engaging the chest and shoulders. Using a narrow grip on the barbell places more emphasis on the triceps.
  2. Tricep Dips: Dips are a compound exercise that targets the entire triceps muscle group, along with the chest and shoulders. Performing dips with the torso leaning forward emphasizes the triceps even more.
  3. Overhead Tricep Extension: This isolation exercise targets the long head of the triceps. Using dumbbells or a cable machine, extend the arms overhead while holding a weight, then lower the weight behind the head while keeping the elbows stationary.
  4. Tricep Pushdowns: This isolation exercise targets the lateral head of the triceps. Using a cable machine with a rope or bar attachment, push the weight down by extending the elbows while keeping the upper arms stationary.

Incorporating a combination of compound and isolation exercises, along with varying rep ranges and intensity techniques, will ensure comprehensive triceps development and strength gains.


The triceps brachii may not receive as much attention as the biceps, but its significance in arm strength, aesthetics, and functional movement cannot be overstated. By understanding the anatomy, function, and effective training methods of the triceps, individuals can optimize their workouts and achieve well-rounded arm development. So, next time you hit the gym, remember to give your triceps the attention they deserve for a stronger, more defined upper body.

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