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Biceps vs. Triceps: What’s the Difference?

Biceps vs. Triceps: What's the Difference
Learn about biceps vs. triceps differences and effective exercises for both

Your biceps and triceps are major muscle groups that play key roles in moving your upper extremities. In order to build and develop your arm muscles properly, it is important to understand what they are and how they differ from each other.

Learn about biceps vs. triceps differences and effective exercises for both.

4 biceps vs. triceps differences

1. Physiology

In anatomy, the term "ceps" refers to "heads" or the origin of a muscle:

Biceps means "two heads," and the muscle's main activity is to bend the lower arm (flexion). 

Triceps means "three heads," and the muscle's main action is to stretch (straighten) the lower arm (extension). 

2. Location

Biceps are located on the front of the upper arm (ventral compartment), with the two heads that start from the scapula and end in the elbow.

Triceps are located on the back of the upper arm (dorsal compartment), with the long head originating from the scapula and into the elbow joint.

3. Function

The primary functions of the biceps are elbow flexion and wrist supination (wrist movement that makes the arm face upward).

Primary functions of the triceps are elbow extension (straightening of the arm), arm adduction (bringing your arms closer to your body), and shoulder stability.

4. Size

The triceps is a larger muscle, accounting for about two-thirds of the volume of the upper arm, whereas the biceps accounts for roughly one-third of the total volume. 

5 exercises to strengthen your biceps and triceps

Biceps and triceps are in opposition to one another, meaning that the biceps shorten whenever your triceps lengthen and vice versa. As a result, triceps respond to pushing exercises such as bench presses, push-ups, dips, and shoulder presses, whereas biceps respond to pulling exercises such as curls, rows, and pull-ups.

1. Bicep curl

  • Place your feet on the bottom of a preacher bench and your chest on the higher side.
  • Bend your elbows and lower the bar in a controlled action with your upper arms pressed onto the preacher bench pad (triceps placed against the pad).
  • Do 8-10 reps.

2. Bicep extension

  • Stretch your arms without locking your elbows and raise a barbell above your head with both hands. 
  • Raise the dumbbell by lowering it behind your head, between your shoulder blades.
  • Do 8-10 reps.

3. Dumbbell curl

  • Lie back on a 45-degree incline bench, place your shoulders against the bench pad, and hold a pair of dumbbells with a reverse grip, letting them hang at your sides. 
  • Make sure that your elbows are close to your torso and that your shoulders are parallel to the ground.
  • As you exhale, bend your forearms. Then, as you inhale, slowly return the dumbbells to their starting position. 
  • Do 8-10 reps.

4. Triceps extension

  • With a hammer grip, take hold of the bar on both sides. Extend your forearms to lift the weights.
  • Bend them to lower the weights, and when lowering the weights, keep your forearms perpendicular to your torso. 
  • Do 8-10 reps.

5. Triceps dips

  • The only difference between this exercise and standard dips is that you support yourself on the rails and maintain an upright posture. 
  • Inhale, slowly lower yourself down by bending your elbows, and then straighten them as you push your torso back up while exhaling.
  • Do 8-10 reps.
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