Tricep Curls: Do Them like a Pro!

All arm workouts should include a triceps-busting exercise, otherwise, it sucks. There’s just no way on this planet any self-respecting bro can build sleeve-shredding pythons without them.

If biceps are the big guns that bring everyone to the show, then triceps are the fifteen-tonne tanks they’re riding to battle on. It’s these muscles that block out the most sun and cast a shadow over inferior beta-males.

Well-developed tris turn an average set of arms into colossal giants. That’s why tricep curls are one of the essential exercises every single guy needs to have on lock.

Uneducated basic Insta wannabes will tell you only bicep burls get the girls. But they’re just as dumb as their pathetic pistols look, so don’t listen to that ridiculous bullsh*t.

It’s the mountainous mass of muscle that your biceps perch on that’ll have you drowned in dripping panties – trust us. And there’s no better way to thrash those triceps into the middle of next July quite like a powerful curl.

Key Bro Points

  • The triceps comprise three muscles. In Latin, their name means three-headed muscle of the arm (musculus triceps brachii).
  • Both type 1 and 2b muscle fibers can be found divided between the muscles
  • They are the antagonist of the Bicep Brachii
  • Many exercises can be used to hit the triceps such as the free weight curl, cable curl, cable pushdowns, and dips
  •  When developed the triceps make the entire upper arm appear bigger

About the Triceps

image showing a bodybuilder with big triceps built using tricep curls

Chances are if you’ve ever tried to throw on a shirt created for regular beta-males you’ve felt that tight stretch on the back of your arm. If you’re like us, this happens with pretty much everything except our trusty stringers.

It sure as hell feels good to know our godly superior shape is far from “normal”. Those three muscles mirroring our precious biceps say it all. We live to be larger than life in every way, especially with our monster physique and attitude.

When we flex our way to another girls’ phone number it’s not our rippling abs or wheels of steel that seal the deal. It’s our pair of bulging tris she has both hands on. Gasping as every other dude in the bar nervously glares at the alpha effortlessly taking his pick from the pack.

We don’t really need to say this to the bros who exited the womb smashing their third set of skull crushers. It’s more for the inevitable dweebs who’ve come to SpotMeBro in an attempt to fix their pathetic frame and non-existent sex lives. Stick with us and you’ll go far, kid!

Tricep Muscles

illustration showing muscles of the triceps impacted by curlsSo we’ve established that tearing our triceps to shreds is an absolute must. Anything less is a waste of our limited time on earth and strictly goes against the alpha-life code.

That means we’ve got to get to grips with what the hell we’re going to train. Simply put; as its name suggests, the triceps are made up of three muscles.

They’re not as intense to understand as those in the hamstrings though, so no excuses for not getting this down.

On the back side of the upper arm opposite the bicep you’ll find the:

  • Long head (Origin: infraglenoid tubercle of scapula)
  • Lateral head (Origin: above radial groove)
  • Medial head (Origin: below radial groove)

Functions of the Triceps

muscle functions of the triceps

    The main functions of the triceps are:
  • Elbow extension
  • Retroversion and adduction of arm
  • Shoulder stabilization

Our triceps play a huge part in any movement that requires extension in the elbow joint. This is because as a collective they mainly act as extensors, straightening the arm when called upon.

This common motion is an important action in many sports. Especially when force is required for throwing a lightning-fast baseball pitch or netting a game-winning hoop.

Alternatively, in everyday life, we need to employ similar movements. Even though it’s probably our favorite ever posing position we’d hate to be trapped bicep flexing 24/7.

[infobox] Key point: The tricep is made up of three muscles. We use them to extend the arm, support the shoulder, and counteract the flexing duties of the bicep. [/infobox]

Head Specific Actions

The long head can also be called upon to generate force when a synergist is needed to support the shoulder joint. As shoulder problems are one of the most common injuries against athletes, tricep strength is an obvious advantage for staying game-ready.

It’s the long head that also gets involved with retroversion and adduction of the arms. Which, as we’ve just mentioned, helps keep those boulders strong and under control.

For movements that only call for high-intensity force occasionally, the lateral head is mostly used. Therefore, all of the less forceful and more precise actions are left to the remaining medial head.

Creating a Three-Headed Monster

arnold schwarzenegger showing large trained triceps

If we’re going to turn wimpish wings into terrifying three-headed monsters, we have to have a plan of attack. By seeing how the triceps move and function we can ultimately understand how to train them.

What we’ve learned so far is that their primary function is as extensors for the arm. So using this knowledge we know that we should select exercises where this movement takes place.

This includes gym staples such as:

  • Tricep curls
  • Pushups
  • Cable Pushdowns
  • Dips
  • Presses (Bench, Overhead, Military, etc.)

Notice how we stuck tricep curls firmly at the top of the list. That’s because they’re undeniably the king of all tricep exercises.

Because of their utilization of free weights, they’re great at building solid stable strength. They require the lifter to maintain total control throughout the movement, which gets the CNS firing and ignites the stabilizing muscles.

Also, you better hope that your core is as solid as steel. Without it, any bro thinking about hitting a heavy set will be on the floor quicker than a henchman in a Bruce Lee movie.

Fortunately for you bro, training tri curls with free weights indirectly increase inner core strength (and saves embarrassment).

[infobox] Key point: There are many specific tricep dominant exercises perfect for hitting the back of the arm. [/infobox]

Looking Into the Belly of the Beast – Tricep Muscle Fiber Types

bodybuilder showing highly developed triceps

Residing inside the triceps are a mixture of muscle fibers:

  • Long head = Mixture
  • Lateral head = Type 2B
  • Medial head = Type I

Each individual fiber type tells us a lot about the muscle typically acts and may grow.

Type I muscle fibers are usually what is known as “slow twitch”. As their name suggests they aren’t the fastest to react when it comes to employing force and are mainly used during low-intensity exercises over extended periods. Think long-distance running etc.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, you’ll find type 2B fibers. These guys are what’s known as “fast twitch” and are the ones you fire-up to hit sky-high box jumps and sprints. Unfortunately, because of their reduced blood flow, they can’t sustain their output like type I.

muscle fibers of tricepsThese babies are split into two groups: 2a and 2b. Type 2a are used in more sustained power activities, like 400 m running or repetitive below max effort lifts. On the other hand, 2b are utilized during short-duration power activities such as box jumps, close to 1RM lifts, or explosive sprints.

Type 2 muscle fibers have a greater growth potential than type I. Therefore, we should use proper resistance training mechanisms to build our physique.

[infobox] Key point: As a collective, the three muscles of the tricep contain a mixture of type I and type 2 muscle fibers. [/infobox]

Curls for the Girls: How to Tricep Curl like a Pro

bodybuilder dennis wold tricep curls

So now you’ve got the knowledge it’s time to put it into action. What we will look at here is how to hit the tricep with the standard curl and other variations.

When hitting the tricep it’s an awesome idea to keep your mind in the muscle.

This isn’t just broscience dogma, it’s a legit technique for maximized gains. By concentrating on the muscle you are working, you’re ensuring total activation and also keeping tabs on the effect of the exercise.

In all of the following movements contract the triceps once you reach the summit. Although it may not feel like it initially, you will, in fact, be optimizing range of motion and tearing extra muscle fibers.

You’re quite literally squeezing every last drop of gains from the rep.

Time to get t-shirt tearing tanked up bro…

Standing Tricep Curls

standing tricep curls example image

  • Stand with feet shoulder width apart, eyes forward, and spine neutral.
  • Grab hold of a dumbbell and hold it in both hands under the plate.
  • Under control, lift the dumbbell over your head and lower behind it. This starting position should look like you’re about to draw a samurai sword.
  • Palms of the hands should be facing the roof and holding the weight from falling.
  • Keeping your arms upright and close to the ears, extend the elbow. The dumbbell should raise up in a controlled arc until the arms are straight.
  • Without moving the upper arm, flex at the elbow and lower the weight to the starting position.
  • You’ve just destroyed one rep! Now hit as many as your routine requires.

This exercise can also be performed one-handed. Just make sure to do an equal number of reps on each side to create a well-balanced physique.

one arm dumbbell tricep extension example

[infobox] Tip: You don’t always have to use a dumbbell. Feel free to branch out with an EZ Bar, Kettlebell, or even a weightlifting plate. [/infobox]

Seated Tricep Curls

example of seated tricep extension

  • Same as the above except this time you are seated.
  • Keep spine in neutral alignment and maintain a forward gaze with the eyes.

Just as before these can be switched to the one-handed variation if designed. Doing exercises one-handed is a great opportunity to challenge your balance and core.

[infobox] Tip: Again, you don’t always have to use a dumbbell. Change things up a little with an EZ Bar, Kettlebell, or even a weightlifting plate. [/infobox]

Incline Tricep Curls

incline tricep extension demonstration by bodybuilding competitor

  • Find a bench capable of inclining and set it up to around 45-75 degrees.
  • Grab a weight and position yourself safely onto the bench.
  • Raise the bar over your head and towards your shoulder blades.
  • Your biceps and triceps should remain stationary next to your ears, with elbows extended. This is your starting point.
  • Lower the weight down towards the ground in a smooth curve while flexing the elbow joint.
  • Once you reach full flexion, reverse the movement and head back to the starting position.
  • That’s one rep in the bag, now go and smash the rest!
[infobox] This diverse exercise can be carried out with everything from a dumbbell to a kettlebell or barbell. Mix it up but remember to be sensible and stay safe. [/infobox]

Skull Crushers (Lying Tricep Curls)

lying skull crushers performed by bodybuilder

Speaking of staying safe, let’s take a look at skull crushers. They’re actually supposed to be called lying triceps curls but that is neither gnarly or intimidating.

We like to know there’s a significant risk of danger whilst tearing up our tris. So, throw on some Slayer while hitting these and maybe grab a spotter just in case you crush your skull.

Disclaimer: SpotMeBro accepts no responsibility for you dropping weights on your face.

  • Select some pretty intense music like an extreme metal band or a hyped up angry hip-hop track.
  • Get yourself down on the bench in the supine position (on your back).
  • Pick up your preferred load and raise it above you with the elbows extended. At this point, your arms should be at 90 degrees to the floor with the elbows in close.
  • Slowly and safely lower the load until it touches your forehead.
  • Then engage the triceps to extend the elbow back into the starting position.
  • Congratulations, you didn’t cause cranial damage. Now do it again and remember not to die.

Just as with all the other curls you can select your preferred type of resistance. Barbell and dumbbells are the safest, but plates can be used too. For further progression try this exercise on a decline.

[infobox] Top tips for staying alive: Remember to grab a spotter for heavy lifts! Don’t be a hero danger boy. [/infobox]

Single Arm Skull Crushers (Single Arm Lying Tricep Curls)

single arm lying dumbbell tricep curl demonstration by bodybuilder

You know what’s gnarlier than a heavy set of skull crushers? Throwing out a bunch one-handed! Sorry bro, couldn’t hear you over the sound of our huge balls of steel clanging together. Here’s how to do ’em…

  • Position yourself on a flat bench in the supine position.
  • Raise a dumbbell out in front of you so your arm is straight and at a right angle to the bench.
  • You should be holding the weight with a hammer curl style grip. Think of holding a beer and pouring it over your face.
  • Lower the dumbbell towards the forehead by flexing the elbow joint. Slowly!
  • Contract the triceps, extend the arm, and return the weight to the starting position.
  • Do it again and again until your tris are throbbing and swollen like a heavily pregnant buffalo.
[infobox] Bro tip: Remember to hit an equal number of reps on each side bro! This will help ward off any physiological imbalances and stop you looking/feeling strange. [/infobox]

Lying One Arm Tricep Curls (Pronated Grip)

one arm tricep curl pronated grip demonstration by athlete

  • Same as the above except holding the dumbbell with a pronated grip. Imagine you’re holding the handlebars of a chopper to get the picture.
[infobox] Key point: Support the working muscle just under the elbow joint with the opposite hand. This will help you keep proper form. [/infobox]

Summary: “Bask in the glory of your impeccable curling performance…”

bodybuilder with perfect tricep training performance and form

So now you’re fully equipped to hit the weight room and bask in the glory of your impeccable curling performance. You know the science behind the entire muscle, how to train it, and most importantly how it should be done.

There are obviously many other methods for targeting the triceps besides curls. However, few are as basic, primal, or accessible, as lifting a free weight from A to B.

One of the great things about using free weights is there’s always room for new challenges and improvements. Instead of letting a machine keep us safe whilst we scroll Insta, we have to actively engage with our bodies.

It’s this kind of total engagement that brings results to the real dedicated few will ever know. By seeking out the burn and connected feeling of hard-working muscle, we’re tuned into our bodies. Then, and only then, can we sculpt ourselves into swole-ass specimens of human greatness.

Now go train, bro! Tear those triceps a brand new one with a perfect set of crushing curls.


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