That’s the ultimate battle that we see unfold every single day in the gym.
On one side, you have young fitness buffs crushing their biceps set after set hoping to get bigger, thicker arms.
On the other, you have bench-pressers who seem to thrive solely by lifting as heavy as they can on the bench. Some of them don’t even hit biceps.
Yet, they seem to have bigger, meatier arms than the former category of athletes.
What gives? Which muscle among the two really give you the Thanos-like arms that you seek?
Let’s demystify the biceps and the triceps once and for all.
Biceps Vs Triceps – What Are The Differences?
There are three muscle groups that make up your upper arm.
The Triceps Brachii is the largest one that makes up for almost 2/3rd of your upper arm. It has three heads, the lateral, the medial and the long, all of which work in synergy to help you straighten your arm.
On the other hand, there are just two heads in the bicep and as surprising as it sounds, it is the smaller muscle. It helps you curl or rotate your arm.
The third muscle is the brachialis which lies deep within the bicep and is associated with flexing the arm at the elbow.
Both of these, the biceps and the triceps are opposing muscles and in an ideal scenario, there must be a balance in how you train them.
That’s because both play a critical part in helping complete more difficult, compound lifts to perfection. Biceps typically come into play during pull workouts whereas Triceps predominantly affect your push workouts.
Biceps Vs Triceps, Which is Stronger?
That depends on how you train each muscle group.
Some guys are born with thick, strong triceps. Training with an emphasis on these muscles only make them stronger and subsequently, the arms begin to appear a lot bigger. These guys usually have a long bellied bicep with a weak bicep peak though. That’s USUALLY the case. Not always.
Others may be born with naturally bigger bicep muscles that a shorter belly and an enviable peak. When looked from the side, the arms may appear thinner mind you as the side view is dominated by the triceps. But when they hit a front double bicep pose, that peak will make you go weak in the knees.
If you’d like to know what we mean here, just try to recollect Arnie hitting that front double bicep on stage.
From a strength perspective, the triceps are connected to bigger and more important muscle groups than the biceps. But that doesn’t mean that the biceps can be ignored.
Let’s take a look at the involvement of both these muscles in performing compound lifts for the upper body.
- Bench press – Triceps
- Overhead & Shoulder Press – Triceps
- Barbell rows – Biceps
- Upright rows – Biceps and Brachialis
- Dips – Triceps
- Deadlifts – Triceps & Biceps (Long heads depending on the grip you choose)
There you have it. Both muscles are extremely important for an overall strong upper body.
However, if you have been guilty of neglecting the triceps in favor of the biceps like a lot of people, then now is the time to take remedial action.
Which Muscle group is Bigger, Biceps or Triceps?
Now you might be wondering just which muscle group is bigger and has the most potential to grow. Well that’s an excellent question and it comes with a very easy to explain answer.
I want you to think about this for a second. Biceps, has the word “bi” which is the prefix of the word biceps, has the latin meaning of two.
On the other hand “tri” in the word triceps, mean three in latin and greek.
Triceps have three muscle bodies the Lateral, Medial and Long heads. While the biceps only have two muscle bodies, the biceps brachii and the biceps femoris.
Given this, we know that the triceps are larger than the biceps by default. The triceps also have a larger potential to grow into bigger size while the biceps are limited in growth potential by less muscle bodies.
This leads us to the next frequently asked question…
Which is more important for building big arms? Biceps vs triceps
If you got shafted with junk genetics and are stuck with naturally skinny arms then you are probably wondering how you can start to pack some size on those little arms.
Now that we know the triceps have more potential for muscle growth we also know that the triceps are going to be the major muscle group when it comes to packing on sheer size and bulk to your arms. You will want to train triceps heavier and more often than biceps if your only goal is to put on size.
But something to keep in mind, is that this also depends on which way you look at the arms.
If you look at it from the sides, it’s the triceps that will make your arms look bigger. But if you look at it from the front, you need them biceps to stand out on their own.
So, I would recommend that you follow a one-to-one training ratio for both these muscles to develop massive guns.
I would also say that bigger biceps give the illusion of making your arms look bigger than big triceps do. Keep that in mind.
Triceps Vs Biceps Vs Forearms
Should I Train Biceps or Triceps First?
There’s a simple but effective training methodology that you should incorporate into your training.
It’s called the ‘Priority Principle’. It just means that you prioritize the body part that’s the weakest.
So, among the two, if you feel that your triceps are weaker, start your training by hitting the tris.
If you have been paying equal attention to both, then continue with a one-to-one training ratio. But emphasize on the triceps more, particularly if you are looking to go heavier with the bench.
Can I Train biceps and triceps on the same day?
You can. But is it ideal? Not really.
The biceps and triceps come stacked with the larger muscle groups anyway. So if you hit some barbell or underhand dumbbell rows, your biceps are already getting a hell of a workout from working out your back.
Ditto with the bench press which will give your tris a mean workout anyway.
So if you combine both these muscles on the same day, there’s always the risk of exhaustion setting in prematurely.
Besides, Triceps are a push workout whereas biceps are a pull workout.
It makes more sense to work them out on different days rather than on the same day.
But if you are working them out on the same day, start with your triceps and then hit the biceps.