The Essential Guide To Building Monster Triceps


There is simply nothing better than a great set of jacked arms. That is why training your triceps is of the utmost importance. However, there is always a lot more to it than just banging out set after set of push ups. You have to be a lot more scientific than that when training triceps to build mass. In this post we will outline all you need to know when it comes to building great triceps.


As with all muscle groups it makes sense to have at least a basic understanding of the basic anatomy and physiology of the muscle as this will go some way towards helping you build your triceps effectively .

The largest and indeed longest of the heads is called, unsurprisingly,the long head, and this runs down the inside of the arm towards the humerus, or funny bone. The medial head is a smaller muscle group that is found in the centre of the tricep muscle. Finally, there is the lateral head, which is located on the outside of the arm. The lateral head is responsible for the horseshoe shape that you see on really well developed triceps, such as the ones in the picture above.

The tricep muscles play two fairly key roles in your regular workout routine, both as primary and secondary muscle groups. When you perform any kind of pushing motion or exercise such as bench press, shoulder press or dumbbell press your triceps will play a secondary role. However, when performing isolation exercises such as tricep pulldown or close grip bench press then you will be working the tricep as the primary muscle group.

You will find that you will be using your triceps in pretty much every day to day activity you perform. With that in mind it is vitally important that you remember not to overtrain the triceps. They are subject to the same rules as every other muscle group and should not be worked any more or less than any other body part.

The Basics:

1. Stimulus

Some form of rigorous exercise is needed to make the muscles work, use energy and then cause some form of microscopic damage to the muscle fibres. For maximum gains in muscle size and strength, the biceps and triceps require only a very small amount of direct stimulation! So why is it that every time I enter the gym I see the same misinformed people, week in and week out, slaving away on endless sets of bicep curls and tricep extensions?

It’s very important to understand that the biceps and triceps receive a very large amount of stimulation from all your chest and back training. In fact, a lot of the time when you reach muscular failure on a chest or back movement, it is actually your biceps or triceps that give out first! Couple this with the fact that your biceps and triceps are already small muscle groups to begin with and it becomes quite clear that direct triceps training is of minor importance.

If you’re looking to achieve serious arm growth, you must stop placing so much emphasis on direct arm movements. Forget about performing endless sets of concentration curls and tricep pressdowns. Strong, muscular arms tend to be a by product of heavy chest and back training. If you are able to accept this basic truth and place the majority of your focus on building up the muscle size and strength in your major muscle groups, you will prevent yourself from overtraining your arms and will therefore yield greater overall gains in bicep size and greater benefits from your triceps training.

2. Nutrition

Training TricepsA massively important part of the process. After intense exercise the muscles need to replenish their stores of fuel. Do not overlook the importance of this part of the process. I know there is always a temptation to take the odd shortcut in your triceps training and to occasionally eat the wrong things, however, there really is no way to avoid it. To get the best from your triceps training or indeed from any physical fitness program you will have to eat the right things, and that means plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.

The benefits are many and are not just confined to your training. You may well have seen the news recently that an FDA study revealed that increasing your intake of leafy green vegetables significantly reduces the risk of contracting type II diabetes.

If you are truly serious about your triceps training then you should already be incorporating plenty of vegetables into your diet. If not, then here are a few suggestions of some great vegetables along with some other quality fat burning superfoods you should be trying to take on board.

Apricots, artichokes, asparagus, beets, blackberries, blueberries, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cantaloupe, carrots, cauliflower, oranges, papaya, parsley, peaches, pears, peas, peppers along with many, many others.

Another aspect to bear in mind is that to really see results from your triceps training you will need to up your intake of protein.

Of the 3 major nutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fats) protein is without a doubt the most important for those who are looking to gain muscle size and strength. Protein is found in literally every single one of the 30 trillion cells that your body is made up of and its main role is to build and repair body tissues. Without sufficient protein intake, it will be physically impossible for your body to synthesize a significant amount of lean muscle mass. If your body were a house, think of protein as the bricks. A general guideline is to consume 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day from high quality sources such as fish, poultry, eggs, beef, milk, peanut butter and cottage cheese.

To be honest, the best option is to stick to the basics and keep things simple. Try to eat as much natural produce as you can and make yourself familiar with your local health food store. Keeping things as simple as possible can be the easiest and most efficient solution to getting a lean body and will do wonders for your triceps training as well as building a great natural physique!

3. Rest & Recovery:

Always allow enough recovery time when training your triceps.

If you are training your triceps to failure, which of course you really need to be in order to see the real results you crave. Then you simply have to allow at least 48 hours between workouts before training your triceps again. The muscle fibres have to be given the chance to break down and recover before being worked again. The serious growth in your triceps occurs not while you are training but when you are resting. Try to focus as much on your recovery as on your training and you will see some huge tricep development.

If your training is intense enough, you will only need to train each muscle group once or twice a week. Your training schedule shouldn’t repeat muscle groups in the same week. This is especially true when you train a muscle group in isolation, such as your triceps. Every time you train, you do your muscles damage. Muscles need time to repair and it does so in the period just after your triceps training when you are resting. This means that if you lift weights on consecutive days, there isn’t sufficient time for the body to recover.

If your routine requires intensive weight training, remember to try not to prolong your gym time longer than an hour. This is because your cortisol, a hormone that we discussed in a previous post, will be elevated and thus will be counter- productive to your efforts. Let’s face it, if you can’t get your triceps training done in less than an hour then you really need to look at your intensity levels.

Most of all, you must sleep! Eight hours or even better, go for ten hours. Muscles do not grow in the gym; they grow when you sleep. When you sleep, you are secreting growth hormones for many bodily functions and one of those functions is to build muscles. That is why they called it beauty sleep! This should be an absolutely fundamental aspect of your triceps training.

Equally as important. It is during the rest or recovery phase that the muscles repair the microscopic damage and grow. Each aspect is as important as the rest. Far too many people place too high an emphasis on their weight training alone, assuming that they will automatically develop huge triceps as a result. Not true!

4: Track Your Progress In The Gym From Week To Week.

Our bodies build muscle because of an adaptive response to the environment. When you go to the gym, you break down your muscle fibres by training with weights. Your body senses this as a potential threat to its survival and will react accordingly by rebuilding the damaged fibres larger and stronger in order to protect against any possible future threat. Therefore, in order to make continual gains in muscle size and strength, you must always focus on progressing in the gym from week to week. This could mean performing 1 or 2 more reps for each exercise or adding more weight to the bar. Keep a detailed training log to track your progress as your strength increases over time. This will prove pivotal in your quest to develop huge lean muscle mass from your triceps training.

5: Avoid Overtraining.

Training TricepsOvertraining is your number one enemy when it comes to building muscle size and strength. When most people begin a workout program, they are stuck with the misguided notion that more is better. They naturally assume that the more time they spend in the gym, the better results they will achieve. When it comes to building muscle and developing huge triceps nothing could be farther from the truth! If you spend too much time in the gym, you will actually take yourself farther away from your goals rather than closer to them. Remember, your muscles do not grow in the gym; they grow out of the gym, while you are resting and eating. Recovery is absolutely vital to the muscle growth process. If you don’t provide your body with the proper recovery time in between workouts, your muscles will never have a chance to develop and all your triceps training will be for nothing.

6: Doing Too Many Sets

Similar to above, performing more and more sets does not necessarily mean that you will see more of a benefit. Do fewer sets performed with excellent form and technique, as opposed to more sets with bad form, and you will undoubtedly see the benefits. Focusing on each rep properly in your training will increase your size and strength much more quickly.

7: Using Bad Form and Technique

Using bad form and technique is the mother of all mistakes and ultimately will completely destroy your chances of seeing the full benefit of the exercise. Not lifting the weight all the way or not completing the motion is a cheat and your muscle will not gain the size or strength they should. Using poor form will also eventually lead to an injury of some kind, this is absolutely guaranteed. If you don’t believe me, then just give it a try!

8: Doing Too Many Sets

Similar to above, performing more and more sets does not necessarily mean that you will see more of a benefit. Do fewer sets performed with excellent form and technique, as opposed to more sets with bad form, and you will undoubtedly see the benefits. Focusing on each rep properly in your training will increase your size and strength much more quickly.

9: Stay Hydrated

This is an amazingly simple, yet often overlooked piece of advice. Put quite simply if you don’t take enough fluid on board while training your triceps, or any other body part for that matter, will lead to muscle fatigue, dizziness and in some extreme cases fainting and insomnia. The bottom line is that without the necessary fluids your training will suffer, you will not be able to maintain the intensity required to build your triceps and ultimately your body will fail. This has the added potential to lead to injury, which is of course the worst case scenario for anyone who is serious about their training.



10: The Technical Stuff

Muscle size increases due to what is known as hypertrophic adaptation and an increase in the cross section area of individual muscle fibres. Intensive exercise impacts more on the strength influencing fast twitch type II fibres, therefore the increase in muscle size is accompanied by greater strength.

This will deplete the muscle’s energy stores and cause microscopic damage to the muscle tissue. During recovery, these stores of glycogen and phosphocreatine will replenish from carbohydrates and creatine ingested as food or supplements. Amino acids supplied in the diet will trigger the protein synthesis that repairs the damaged muscle and lead to the creation of bigger muscle fibres.

To achieve continuous improvement you will need to keep reaching for higher levels of training intensity otherwise the improvement process will grind to a halt. Fortunately, this is relatively easy to plan for provided certain basic principles and rules are clearly followed.

This may all seem fairly technical and for some beginners it may sound like complete gobbledygook. However, the 3 basic principles are remarkably simple. Train hard, eat right and rest, it really is as simple as that. You can, and will see some great results from your triceps workout, and indeed any type of muscle building regimen if you follow these basic principles rigidly.

The Best Tricep Workouts:

The Bench Press:

Training TricepsA good solid bench press is absolutely vital when it comes to training, not only your chest, but also your triceps. Of course with any exercise that requires some kind of pushing motion then the triceps will get a good workout as the secondary muscle group. This is especially true when it comes to the good old bench press.

It has been stated by many fitness professionals that building your triceps is most effective when you focus on isolating them in your routine, parallel bar dips, push-ups, etc. However, you simply cannot overstate the importance of a decent bench press. It will really help in building super strength and lean muscle mass and the better your bench press then the more of a workout your triceps will get.

Focus on form and technique at first and less on the weight and reps as that will come in time. 6 sets of 6 reps will suffice. Work your muscles to failure and build the weight gradually. Never ever be tempted to sacrifice your form for added weight. This will only end badly and your muscular development will come to a shuddering halt. Train your triceps a maximum of 2-3 times a week and always allow plenty of recovery time.

Another tip to bear in mind when training triceps using bench press is to make sure you have a reliable training partner on hand to spot you. The added confidence and motivation from having a buddy there will add a good 10-15 lbs to the bar. Stay focused and disciplined when training triceps and you will start to see huge results in no time. Work hard on your bench press and watch that tricep development go through the roof.

The Push Up:

One of the greatest exercises of all time when it comes to training your triceps is the good old push up. However, there are countless variations on the theme, not all push-ups are created equal, some are far more effective thanTraining Triceps others when it comes to working your triceps.

Your triceps training will be far more effective if you concentrate on narrowing the hand placement. The closer you can get your hands together then the more intense your exercise will be, the more you will work the triceps and the greater your muscular development will be.

Try this one for size. It really works the triceps hard!

Assume the standard push up position then gradually move your arms back towards the middle of your chest and move your hands until they are as close to each other, preferably touching, as you possibly can. Then perform a slow controlled push up, 3 sets of 6-8 reps should suffice.

The further back under your chest, and the closer you can get your hands together the better. It’s such a simple exercise but will absolutely turbo-charge your arm development. Give it a try today and then incorporate it into your normal routine and watch those triceps go!

The Close Grip Bench Press:

We have already discussed the role of a good bench press when training your triceps and when building overall strength and muscle mass. However, there is a way that you can really turbocharge your triceps training when using the bench, and that is by closing the grip.

The close grip bench press really focuses in on the triceps, and here is how it’s done. Lie flat on the bench, making sure you have a lower weight than you would normally have, and grip the bar with your hands about 6-8 inches apart. Lift the bar nice and slowly and bring it down to about 3 inches from your chest. Lift the bar back up again nice and slowly, making sure to keep your form and technique. Repeat for 8-12 reps for 3-4 sets.

One other tip to bear in mind when training triceps is to make sure you warm up correctly. You can do yourself some serious damage if you ignore this fundamental piece of advice. Also try to avoid training your triceps more than 2-3 times a week as you will run the risk of an overtraining injury. We have already outlined the risks associated with overtraining, so ignore this at your peril.

In short then, use the close grip bench press as an integral part of your triceps training and you will start to see some serious gains soon.

Triceps Training Tips:

1: Keep It Consistent:

arnold-10One of the most basic errors made when working on how to get muscular is the lack of consistency. Consistency really is everything. This mistake is made by newcomers and experienced trainers alike. The simple fact is that those who make the greatest gains in muscular size and strength and ultimately get the best results from their training are the ones who are able to implement the proper techniques on a highly consistent basis. Simply knowing is not enough, you must apply!

Building muscle and developing massively ripped biceps, triceps and abs is a result of the cumulative effect of small steps. Sure, performing just 1 extra rep on your bench press will not make a huge difference to your overall results, and neither will a single meal. However, over the long haul, all of those extra reps you perform, and all of those small meals you consume will prove to be the difference to your overall success.

If you work hard and complete all of your muscle-building tasks in a consistent fashion, all of those individual steps will equate to massive gains in overall size and strength, ultimately leading to a great ripped body in the fastest possible time.

While consistency is key to your training you must also be prepared to adapt and increase your weight and rep range on a weekly basis.

Our bodies build muscle because of an adaptive response to the environment. When you go to the gym, you break down your muscle fibres by training with weights. Your body senses this as a potential threat to its survival and will react accordingly by rebuilding the damaged fibre larger and stronger in order to protect against any possible future threat. Therefore, in order to make continual gains in muscle size and strength, and to really build a lean ripped body fast you simply have to focus on progressing in the gym from week to week. This is a basic scientific fact and one that all committed lifters are aware of.

Progressing could mean performing 1 or 2 more reps for each exercise or adding more weight to the bar. My personal favourite form of progression is to actually reduce the time taken for your workout. Believe me you will notice huge gains if you commit to taking less recovery time between sets.

Make sure to keep a detailed training log to track your progress as your strength increases over time. This will prove pivotal in your and will allow you to see the greatest results from your natural bodybuilding program.

2: Keep It Natural

I am a huge advocate of a natural approach when it comes to my triceps training. Not just for the obvious health reasons, more of which we will discuss shortly, or indeed from a moral or ethical point of view. No, my motivation for following a natural approach comes from within.

I believe you should never underestimate the importance of the role psychology has to play when it comes to perfecting your physique the natural way. The joy you experience when you add an inch to your arms or break a weight barrier is 100% genuine because you earned it. You worked your butt off for it and you did it for you!

I constantly strive to be the best I can be, both physically and mentally, and my ultimate goal is to realize my true potential, to push myself to the very boundaries of my physical abilities. I know I can only truly appreciate my efforts if I know I have done it by myself, without any form of outside assistance. The bottom line is that I have to know it was down to me and not the drugs! Only then can I achieve total satisfaction from my triceps training and in reaching and exceeding my goals.

The fact is that just simply using steroids does nothing to guarantee building a great physique. There is no pill on earth that you can pop that will reduce your body fat by 10% and help you to develop huge triceps overnight. The mainstay of your strength training program will always be a well devised training plan and a rigid diet. If your training and nutrition are right on the money, then you will achieve a fantastically defined and much bigger physique and you will also have the added benefit of staying within the law!

As well as the possible legal ramifications there are also some considerable physical side effects of steroid abuse that should be taken into account. The following is by no means an exhaustive list, but should certainly provide some food for thought.

High blood pressure and heart disease

Liver damage and cancers

Stroke and blood clots

Urinary and bowel problems, such as diarrohea

Headaches, aching joints, and muscle cramps

Nausea and vomiting

Sleep problems

Increased risk of ligament and tendon injuries

Severe acne, especially on face and back

Testicular Shrinkage (Ouch!)


Erectile Dysfunction

Breast Development

However, as scary as the list above might be I believe the most startling problems associated with the use of steroids are the psychological problems that are created. Steroid use can cause paranoia, seeing things that don’t exist, severe mood swings, anger, and depression.

Of course these are only in extreme circumstances but it is a slippery slope and one that should be avoided if at all possible.

Supplements certainly have their place when it comes to getting the most from training your triceps. They should however, be natural supplements so try to make yourself familiar with these. Building a huge physique will require quite a significant increase in your intake of a number of minerals, nutrients and multivitamins, and while you can theoretically get everything you need from your regular diet, it can be difficult to get the correct levels of proteins and carbohydrates so supplements can be an essential tool in your training programme towards your ultimate goal.

The benefits of staying natural are there for all to see. The natural way of building your physique will not only give you the body you deserve but also heighten your self-esteem, strengthen your character and provide you with an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction.

I have to stress that this is just a personal opinion and it is certainly not my intention to judge anyone who chooses to take the assisted route. We all have our choices to make and our own motivators. On saying that however, my advice would be to stay focused, disciplined, and try to keep your triceps training natural. You will be glad you did.

3: Use Compound Exercises

Training TricepsCompound exercises require at least two joint movements. Big compound exercises are the squat, bench press, wide grip pull up and seated row. These movements use many more muscles fibres to move the weight. This means more muscle groups are worked, the exercise is more challenging and the potential for muscle growth is much greater. As the triceps and biceps are worked as secondary muscles they will develop in line with the rest of your body.

One other point to bear in mind when working with compound exercises is that the length of any training session should not exceed one hour. And you only need to train one muscle group once per week. This means a split routine should only need to be three days per week. In fact, most professional bodybuilders only train four times per week. Remember, it’s quality not quantity.

4: Keep It Tough

One of the biggest factors that separates those who make modest gains from those who have developed huge triceps is their level of training intensity. In order to stimulate your muscle fibers to their utmost potential, you must be willing to take every set you perform in the gym to the point of muscular failure. Now just for the record the definition of muscular failure is: The point at which no further repetitions can be completed using proper form.

I am constantly amazed when I am at the gym and I hear a couple of guys talking about the huge weights they are about to lift and the massive gains they are just about to see in their tricep development. Guys, I have one little suggestion. Stop talking about it and just get on with it. I have yet to see anyone succeed in their tricep training plans just by talking about it.

Try to remember, sub-maximal training intensity will leave you with sub-maximal results, plain and simple.

5: Change It Up

Every now and then I catch myself stuck in the same routine and my workout starts to get a little boring. So over the course of the next few posts we are going to give you a few ideas that I use from time to time just to spice up my workout. Give them a try, and I’m sure you’ll find some new motivation to your workout as well which will definitely help to your triceps training.

Change your Grip!

This is a small change compared to most of the others you can do, but one way to spice up your workout from time to time is to change the way you’re gripping the bar when doing barbell or machine exercises. One of my favourite grips is the palm grip. In fact, I’ve read several articles from fitness trainers and other professional athletes that suggest that on exercises like the bench press, an essential part of our triceps training, you should only be using a palm grip.

So what is a palm grip? Let’s use the bench press as an example for the palm grip. Many of us have been guilty of using a standard grip on this exercise, myself included. A standard grip would be where you wrap your hand around bar as if you were holding a baseball bat. If you want a more effective bench press, try not wrapping your thumb around the bar. You might think that you’ll lose some stability by doing this, but I’ve never had that problem.

You might have to bend your wrist a little more to compensate, or lower the weight just a little bit. The main benefit to using a palm grip on this type of exercise is that by putting your thumb in this position, you are reducing the amount of effort that your forearms will put into the exercise. Therefore, you chest and triceps will have to work even harder to do the lift. Try this, and I’m sure you’ll notice a difference the next time you perform a bench press.

It’s such a simple little tip but over the years it has proven to be extremely effective when it comes to getting some great gains from your triceps training. So give it a try.

6: Speed It Up

This is a great little tip to take your triceps training to a new level and at the same time develop your lean muscle mass. Quite simply, take less time! If you can perform more work in less time you will be upping the intensity level and improving your cardiovascular conditioning. This leads to an increase in your metabolic rate and an increase in lean muscle mass.

Do more reps with more weight in less time and just watch your lean muscle mass and muscular development go through the roof. If your triceps training is currently taking maybe 10-15 minutes then speed it up. Work towards cutting your workout time by 50%. Try to take much shorter rest periods and don’t worry if you feel totally shattered to begin with, that’s exactly how you are supposed to feel!

If your workout is currently taking over an hour then take a step back and examine just how much of that time is spent in recovery. If you can halve your recovery time you will massively increase the intensity of your workout and supercharge your metabolism, thereby leading to much more effective triceps training. This is such a simple tip, but one that has proven to be massively effective. Try it today.

7: Arm Yourself With Knowledge

Working to build massive triceps, or indeed any kind of physical undertaking is a scientific process. You will need to educate yourself on a number of matters. For example, what is your body type? Do you understand your metabolism, your anatomy and your own personal physiology? Have you taken the time to understand how muscle is actually built, how the muscle fibres are broken down and then replenished?

As we mentioned, natural bodybuilding is a hugely physical undertaking but it would be ridiculously naïve to overlook the importance of education and knowledge when it comes to developing the perfect physique. It should come as no surprise whatsoever to learn that nearly every single successful natural bodybuilder is also highly intelligent. The myth of the meathead bodybuilder is exactly that, a myth!

Finally, I have a couple of facts that I am confident cannot be denied. In order to develop your perfect physique and to get the most from your training you will need to have a plan. Without a specific goal in mind and a carefully thought out plan in place you will have absolutely no chance of achieving your ultimate objective. Make sure to review your program on a weekly or monthly basis and revise it accordingly, gradually increasing your weight and rep range. Have a set plan and stick to it rigidly and you will succeed – Fact!

8: Choose The Correct Rep Range

Repetitions are the basic building blocks of any strength or muscle building program, including your triceps training, but it is something that many lifters take for granted. How often do you see people at the gym speed through their reps, breathe haphazardly or fail to complete each rep correctly from a technical perspective? There is much more to the simple rep than meets the eye.

The first thing to note is that a repetition consists of three elements – namely lower, pause and lift. The speed at which this is achieved depends on the desired outcome, but to maximize muscle growth a slow, controlled tempo is required. The process should never be rushed, jerky or bouncy but instead should be controlled and smooth.

The second consideration relates to how many reps need to be performed. Once again, this depends on what you hope to achieve but you can use the following as a basic rule of thumb:

1. A single repetition maximum (1RM) increases muscle strength.

2. A six to eight repetition maximum increases muscle size.

3. A higher number of repetitions will have more effect on muscle endurance and little impact on size or strength.

Your aim therefore should be to complete six to eight reps of a load equivalent to 75-80% of your 1RM. This will maximize your muscle building potential, provided you complete each lift with perfect form in a smooth controlled manner.

The bottom line here is this. Your triceps training will only be truly effective if you concentrate fully on the correct form and technique and make sure each repetition counts. Keep training those triceps

And Finally….

Let’s get one thing straight, there are just two fundamental building blocks to developing a superior body and they hold the key to you getting the most from your triceps training, and they are: “motivation” and “persistence”. This basic truth cannot be emphasized enough. As long as you are sufficiently motivated in the first place and are 100% committed, you cannot fail to get the great results from your triceps training and will get the body you want.

Set yourself a goal and work out exactly how you are going to get there. For example, if you see yourself developing another inch of lean muscle mass on your triceps by the end of the year, break it down to the finer details of how you are going to get there.

Devise your diet and tailor it specifically to your goal. What will you eat, how many times a day and when? What is your training plan? How many reps, how much weight, what types of exercises and how many sets? You can even break it down into what grip you will use on your bench press. Have you factored in your recovery time exactly and also have you allowed for some time off to fully recharge your batteries?

In order to get the most from your triceps training you simply have to be goal orientated and 100% specific. We will never ever apologise on this site for going on about the need for a positive mindset in order to reach your physical goals. It is a simple fact that without a plan you will simply never succeed.

To help you with your motivation and in fact develop a more positive attitude in the rest of your life I would suggest you invest in a couple of books. “Psycho-Cybernetics” by Maxwell Maltz, and “The Magic Of Thinking Big” by David Schwartz. You should be able to get them both at your local library or bookstore and also at

Invest in yourself right now and you will begin to see some fantastic results from your triceps training, guaranteed!

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