Recently, I got asked this question, “why do I have triceps bigger than biceps?.” This question intrigued me. I had to stop myself from giving the most obvious answer, i.e., naturally, triceps are bigger than biceps muscles.
I stopped myself from giving the most obvious answer because I sensed a genuine desire to know. I figured the person was not looking for something obvious. Also, there is a good chance that the person is not working out his triceps way more than the biceps muscle or the upper back.
After that, I went back to basics, determined to get the right and complete answers. I enquired with my trainers. I found the answer, and here it is.
First, do not worry. Triceps muscles are supposed to be bigger than bicep muscles. We will explain the reason behind it.
This could be due to many different reasons. Genetics, muscle imbalances, and training focus. While it is difficult to alter genetics, muscle imbalance or incorrect training focus can be altered to fix the issue.
Upper Arm Anatomy
Before we jump into the intricate details, let me present the upper arm anatomy. Understanding this anatomy would help you to differentiate between the biceps and triceps. It is also best to be clear about how these ceps-muscles work together.
As the names imply, there are two heads in bi-ceps and three in tri-ceps.
The biceps (short for Biceps brachii) is responsible for arm flexion. The triceps (short for Triceps brachii) is responsible for arm extension. In simpler words, the biceps are engaged when a turning of the arm is needed, and the triceps are engaged when an arm extension is needed. Biceps muscles are your pull muscles and triceps are push muscles. The triceps are the opposing (antagonist) muscles of the biceps muscles and vice-versa. So, when you use one set of muscles, the other gets engaged.
Fun fact: In both the trained and untrained people, the triceps brachii occupies about 55% of the upper arm, and the biceps brachii occupies about 30%. Brachialis takes the remaining 15%.
So, it is normal that triceps brachii occupies a larger portion of the upper arm.
In the above image, you will also see the brachialis, the most important flexor muscle in the upper arm.
As previously mentioned, triceps muscles are naturally bigger than bicep muscles. However, if you are concerned that your triceps are bigger than your biceps, continue to read to understand the reasons as well as what you can do to rectify them.
Let us check out some of the reasons for bigger triceps than biceps. We start with the most probable reasons.
5 Reasons why triceps bigger than biceps
In an attempt to gain muscle mass quickly, most people make the mistake of over-training. Most of the time, this happens unintentionally. Even for those experienced bodybuilders, it is so easy to make this mistake. It could be because of improper workout plans.
In simple words, overtraining is just that training too hard for too long. A beginner might say, wait for a second, isn’t doing something good for a long time supposedly beneficial? No, it is not beneficial after a certain point of training.
Rest assured, and it is generally difficult to overtrain. However, having big arms is desired by many. Who does not like to have massive arms and show them around?
Training arms every day to gain mass in the upper arm muscles would be a mistake as you will not give enough rest to your arms to recover and thus muscle to grow.
Beware as some of the most prominent bodybuilders inadvertently recommend over-training.
Just don’t work out bicep and tricep muscle groups every day.
Focusing on the wrong exercises
Are you doing the right exercises? Most beginners and even experienced gym goers tend to concentrate too much on isolated exercises than compound movements. While isolated and isometric exercises have their purpose, compound movements are the best for overall fitness. Especially, if you are training at home, and do not have access to expensive machines, it is highly recommended to do compound exercises.
Isometric exercises: Isometric exercises are contractions (tightening) of a specific muscle or a group of muscles. During this type of exercise, the muscle doesn’t change length much.
Isolation exercises: An isolation exercise is, by definition, an exercise that targets one muscle group and involves the movement of one joint (ex: biceps curl), as opposed to an isometric exercise, the joint moves in an isolation exercise.
As you can see above, concentrating on a single muscle group is not a good choice for beginners. It is possible to train one muscle group significantly more than any other muscle group.
Are you concentrating too much on the triceps-specific isolation exercises, such as dumbbell skull Crushers and rope pushdowns?
To rectify a situation where the triceps are bigger than the biceps, we shall recommend some isolation exercises for the biceps below. However, we strongly recommend compound exercises such as squats, barbell hip raises, and pull-ups. At fitbodii, we are a big proponent of bodyweight exercise and getting fit at home.
Not lifting heavy enough.
Alright, alright, you are doing compound exercises. And you say, what now?. Maybe you are doing compound exercises, then are you lifting heavy? Wait for a second, and we are not saying you should double the weights tomorrow. Remember, safety is the most important thing. You would want to have injury-free training.
That being said, if you are not progressively increasing your weights and constantly lifting the same weights, you may not see the gains you would want to see.
Not using compound movements.
When it comes to gaining big arms, everyone’s default recommendation is doing isolation exercises such as bicep curls; however, nothing is said about the supporting muscle groups. While concentrating on doing isolation exercises, it is equally important to take care of developing the support muscles. The supporting muscle groups are the foundation of a strong upper body carrying big triceps and biceps.
You must add compound exercise movements to your daily routine to achieve this goal. Compound exercises such as weighted dips, bench press, and barbell overhead press help you target the supporting muscles such as forearms, shoulders, chest and back.
As much as anyone like to focus on one certain muscle group, such as the biceps, the reality is that the human body is built to grow proportionately.
Not eating enough
If you are doing compound exercises and also lifting heavy, you will get the right results in due time. However, if you are not seeing any results, one potential cause could be that you are not eating enough.
At Fitbodii, we can not stress enough about the need to eat enough and eat the right type of food. You may be a bodybuilding enthusiast or someone looking to gain huge arms, and you should eat a good amount of protein. Proper protein intake is a must if you want to grow a muscular body.
The recommended protein intake is between 0.8-1 gram per kilogram of body weight. The lower end of the recommendation (0.8 grams/1 KG of body weight) is for a sedentary lifestyle, and the higher end of 1 gram/1 KG of body weight is for amateur bodybuilders or people who exercise regularly.
Not training your legs
Want to gain bigger arm muscles, then blast your leg workouts.
In a randomized, controlled 11-week study, researches from Norway found that the elevation of endogenous hormones results in superior strength training adaptation. In simple words, doing leg exercises before doing arm exercises helps tremendously. This help comes from the increased levels of serum testosterone and growth hormone. In the study, the group that performed leg exercises before working out the arm fs had greater results than the group that only did arm exercises.
The hormones mentioned above are the most critical hormones responsible for muscle growth. Compound leg exercises such as squats, deadlifts, and lunges help your body create more of these hormones and thus help your arm workouts. Try it, and you will see the difference.
Training requirements for Biceps and Triceps
Both biceps and triceps are similar muscles, in that, you would need similar training to grow these muscle groups. And often, when you work out one group of muscles, the other group of muscles is also indirectly worked out due to these muscle groups being antagonistic muscles, i.e., one muscle group opposes the action of the other muscle group. Remember, pulling movements engage biceps and pushing movements engage triceps.
Both biceps and triceps muscles are relatively small, and they recover quickly. So they are best worked out at least 2 times per week and with a rep range of 6-12. If you are a beginner, start with 2-3 sets. You can go for 4-6 sets to see muscle growth if you are advanced.
Since we are answering the question of the triceps being bigger than the biceps, we recommend a few of the bicep exercises below.
How to fix having triceps bigger than biceps?
The most effective way to address a muscle imbalance between your biceps and triceps is to use isolation exercises. Although we stressed the importance of compound movements above, this is to prevent an imbalance from happening. To solve an imbalance that has already occurred, isolation exercises like bicep curls are necessary.
If there is a muscle imbalance between the biceps and triceps, the best way to fix it would be to use isolation exercises for the weak muscle group. We always recommend compound exercises; however, as previously stated, isolation exercises have a role to play, which would be one of those occasions.
If the triceps are bigger than the biceps (unnaturally, because naturally, triceps are bigger than biceps), isolation exercises like bicep curls are necessary and would be the best option.
Muscular hypertrophy or muscle hypertrophy is one of the effective ways to increase muscle mass and strength. You would need to increase the resistance training frequency along with progressive overload. Good Nutrition is a must.
Do not add the triceps exercises into the workout; do only curl exercises for a few weeks until you are happy with the growth of the bicep muscle.
Curl exercises would be the best choice as they engage the muscle as the primary mover with minimal engagement of other muscle groups.
Before we suggest a few curls exercises, please check out how to get bigger biceps at home. The following recommended exercises are best to concentrate solely on the bicep muscles:
Doing bicep curls at home would need some minimal equipment to be used as the weights. You may already have a home gym set up; if not, we can recommend the following alternatives.
This exercise is something that anyone can do at home. You are fully equipped to do these types of curls using a household bucket and water. This exercise is exactly like bicep curls:
Sit Down Curl
This is another type of bicep curl exercise that you can do at home with only a towel. Find a beach towel type (a short one), and do a sit-down curl exercise.
Standing Towel Curls
A variation on the above sit-down curl is standing towel curls. Choose a strong and long towel if possible.
Remember to keep your wrists and forearms supinated, stretching outwards, and your palms upwards when holding the bucket of water or ends of the towel. Keeping your elbows tucked in and shoulder joints relaxed would be best.
Naturally, the triceps are slightly bigger than the biceps; if they are abnormally bigger, you can find the reason could be any of the reasons discussed in this article. You could also fix such an issue by doing isolation exercises for your biceps.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are triceps harder to grow than biceps?
Without factoring in genetics, between biceps and triceps, it would be the biceps that you could develop easily. This is because the triceps brachii has 3 heads where, whereas the biceps brachii has only two heads. Another reason is also that bicep heads can be isolated and worked out with small changes to the movements allowing them to develop fully.
How do I build bigger biceps?
A combination of compound exercises (such as chin-ups and rows) and isolation exercises (such as bicep curls) can help build bigger biceps. Progressive overload and progressive resistance, as well as proper form and technique, are also important for muscle growth.
How many sets and reps should I do for the biceps and triceps?
The number of sets and reps will vary depending on your fitness level, goals, and the specific exercise you are doing. A general guideline for muscle growth is to perform 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps.
Considering that both biceps and triceps belong to smaller muscle groups, the above recommendation would help anyone gain bigger arms.
Can I train the biceps and triceps on the same day?
Yes, however, there are a couple of points to note here. The importance of rest and recovery can not be overstated. All the while, if you do compound exercises as recommended here at Fitbodii, you will be working out both the biceps and triceps.
If you choose to do isolation exercises, it is better to do compound workouts before doing isolation workouts.
Can I get big biceps and triceps with just bodyweight exercises?
One can certainly get big biceps and big triceps just by using bodyweight exercises. Check this out: Bigger Biceps at Home.