How to Build Impressive Triceps – Bodybuilding Anatomy 101

How many of us who regularly lift weights pay any attention to the structure and function of the muscle group we are training? Yes, you can get results by blindly doing exercises but if you truly want an impressive physique you need to learn basic anatomy principles. Here is why:

1. Learning about the structure and function of a muscle group will give you a clear understanding how to properly train that muscle for maximal strength, size and power.

2. Knowing muscle anatomy gives you a clear picture of what that muscle looks like. This allows you to picture in your mind exactly how that muscle is working during a particular exercise.

How to Build Impressive Triceps

3. Many muscles have multiple functions. You need to know this so you do not over train a particular muscle.

In this article I am going to break down the triceps brachii and present its origin, insertion and function. Next, I will give you a list of special exercises that target the entire muscle group. It would be very helpful if you have access to an anatomy book so you could look along as you read. If you do not have a book just refer to my blog link at the end of this article.


The triceps brachii is actually composed of three heads which connect the humerus (upper arm bone) and scapula (shoulder blade) to the ulna (forearm bone). These heads are known as the lateral, medial and long heads.

The lateral head is located on the outward facing side of the humerus. It has the classic look of a horseshoe shape.

The medial head is located towards the midline of the humerus.

The long head is located along the back side of the humerus and is the largest of the three heads.


The triceps muscle originates along the humerus bone and inserts on the ulna (one of the two bones of the forearm).


The primary function of the triceps is to extend the elbow (straightening the arm).

The secondary function of the triceps is fulfilled only by the long head of the muscle, which is to bring the arm down towards the body (adduction). This is accomplished due to the attachment of the long head to the scapula. The tricep shares this function with the large back muscle the latissimus dorsi. How many of you who regularly exercise the triceps knew about this secondary function? See, you are learning something already!


Any movement that extends the elbow will work the tricep muscle, however, there are certain exercises that I feel give you the most benefit in terms of building all three heads of the muscle. For ultimate strength, power and size try these:

1. Bodyweight Tricep Extensions

2. Lying Tricep Extensions

3. Close Grip Bench Press

4. Bench Dips

There are two reasons these exercises are more effective than others. First, these exercises put the tricep muscle in a stretched position. When the muscle is placed under tension in the stretched position, a quick change in direction causes more muscle fibers to activate than normally would, something you definitely want when building strength, power or size.

Secondly, you help stretch the fascia surrounding the muscle. Stretching helps loosen the fascia and make room for the muscles to grow.


The triceps muscle makes up about 2/3 of total arm mass. That is significant in terms of the overall anatomical structure of the arm. By learning basic anatomy principles you have given yourself the knowledge to not only train HARD but SMART as well. The human body is an amazing work of art and I challenge you to learn more about muscle anatomy.