Strong man doing triceps rope pushdowns on of the secret to huge arms.

The Secret To Huge Arms – Arm Exercises For Mass At Any Age

Many people think building picture perfect arms is easy and can be quickly accomplished by lifting weights. For some, this may be true, but for most, you are forever chasing the secret to huge arms.

We will discuss the physiology of your arms. Then based on this knowledge give you some tips and pointers that work based on your physiology.

The Physiology Of Your Arms – The Secret To Huge Arms

Your Biceps

The biceps are made up of two groups of muscle fibers, a long head, and a short head. Although both are activated during bicep exercises, you typically will work one more than the other with most exercises. Additionally, your biceps are responsible for elbow flexion, forearm supination (turning your arm in and out) and are also involved in shoulder flexion to a small degree.

Your Triceps (Triceps Brachii)

The triceps brachii (Latin for “three-headed” muscle of the arm) is the large muscle on the back of your arm. It is the muscle principally responsible for extension of the elbow joint (i.e. straightening of the arm).

The proper plural form of the adjective triceps is tricipes, a form not in general use; instead, triceps is used in both singular and plural (i.e., when referring to both arms).

The triceps three heads have the following names and origins:

  • The “Long head”: infraglenoid tubercle of the scapula
  • The “Lateral head”: posterior shaft of the humerus, lateral and superior to the radial (spiral) groove.
  • The “Medial head”: posterior shaft of the humerus, medial and inferior to the radial (spiral) groove.

Because the bicep is in the front and as it develops becomes more of a hump, people think the biceps are the key to big arms. Aesthetically, you may notice the bicep more in the mirror, but others will notice your massive arms based on your tricep growth. Your triceps will put more inches on your arms faster than your biceps.

Tricep Action

Your triceps are an extensor muscle of the elbow joint and is an antagonist of the biceps and brachialis muscles. It can also fixate the elbow joint when the forearm and hand are used for fine movements, e.g., when writing.

What About Your Forearms

Since your forearms are more about grip strength than anything else you can work them while building your triceps and biceps.

The Biggest Mistake When Trying To Build Huge Arms

Many people believe the secret to building big arms is blasting their biceps. Which for most inexperienced lifters means mega sets of bicep curls. This is the wrong approach for building picture perfect arms! Doing lots of sets of bicep exercises can increase your arm size, but it is not the most efficient way to get those arms you dream about.  Doing lots of sets for the biceps, while ignoring the triceps will leave you will arms not only unbalanced but smaller than they could be. Additionally, training your arms in this manner can result in overtraining the biceps, which compared to other muscles is a small muscle.  Focusing on the biceps for big arms also shows a total misunderstanding of the physiology of the arms.

The Solution To Building Your Arms

Your arms, as mentioned earlier are comprised of both bicep and tricep. The tricep is a larger muscle and can actually contribute to over 60% of your total arm size. Failure to train your triceps as hard, if not harder than your biceps will result in arms that will not reach their full-size potential. When you train your triceps correctly, you will find arms that have amazing sweeps, great separation from the front and back, as well as much more overall size. When your triceps are worked correctly, in conjunction with correct bicep training you will develop great peaks, great triceps sweeps, better arm separation, and those picture-perfect arms.

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What Tricep Exercises Are The Secret To Huge Arms

The triceps can be worked through either isolation or compound elbow extension movements. Additionally, you can contract statically to keep the arm straightened against resistance.

Examples of good tricep isolation movements include:

  • Cable Push-Downs
  • Skull-Crushers
  • French Curls
  • Standing or Sitting Tricep Extensions

Examples of compound elbow extension include pressing movements like:

  • Close Grip Push Up
  • Close Grip Bench Press
  • Tricep Dips

Working your muscles in a static position will help increase the strength and overall size of the muscle. However, due to the increase in internal muscular tension, this method should be avoided by persons who suffer from high blood pressure. Static contraction movements for the triceps include:

  • Reverse Tricep Pushdowns
  • Tricep Pushdowns Using Rope
  • Pullovers
  • Straight-arm Pushdowns

How Often Should You Train Your Triceps?

Like all muscles in your body, you can perform triceps exercises up to three non-consecutive days a week. If you’re lifting heavy weights, where you fail at 8 reps or less, you’ll need at least two days of rest before you perform the exercise again. For this reason, you should only work your triceps once or twice a week. If your goal is endurance or lean muscle, stick with one to three sets of 12-16 repetitions and at least one day of rest before you perform the exercises again. Keep in mind that you will use your triceps when performing chest exercises as well.

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Tricep Workout Tips

  • With all triceps exercises, keep the back of the wrists flat.
  • Keep your elbows at your side when doing pressing movements.
  • Keep your elbows alongside your ears when doing overhead extensions or “skull crushers”.
  • Do not rotate your elbows.

Secret To Huge Arms Triceps Training

You should workout your triceps twice a week with three days rest between triceps workouts.

  • The first time work triceps on your chest day.
  • The second time you work your triceps is by their selves while not being used in other upper body exercises. When working out triceps alone they are at their strongest without being fatigued by my chest workout.
  • All reps to all exercises are to failure.

The Secret To Huge Arms Triceps Workout (Chest Day)

Because your triceps are used as secondary and stabilizing muscles, on chest day they are already fatigued. With this in mind, you should complete 3 sets of lighter weights of 10 reps each for V bar pushdowns, reverse cable pushdowns and cable rope pushdowns. All reps are to failure.

Triceps Parallel Bar Dips

  • Main Muscle Worked: Triceps
  • Other Muscles Worked: Chest, Shoulders
  • Equipment: Dip Bar
  • Mechanics Type: Compound

Tip: If you have a previously existing shoulder problem, you should avoid doing the parallel bar dip.

Performing Triceps Dips

  • Many people will find a spacing of about 22″ to be most comfortable. Women and men with small frames may find bars spaced closer together to be better, while large men will find a wider spacing works better.
  • Stand on a bench or box so you can easily get into the starting position.
  • Be sure the bars you’re using are securely fixed so they don’t wobble or tip.
  • Place your hands on the parallel bars. Your palms should be facing each other.
  • Straighten your arms and lockout the elbows. This is your starting position.
  • Lift your feet from the bench or box.
  • Take a deep breath, bend your elbows and slowly lower your body towards the floor.
  • Keep your elbows on the same plane or in-line with your wrists. Your elbows should not move very far outside your wrists.
  • Stop your descent when your upper arm is just above parallel with the floor. Note: If you are flexible enough through the shoulders, you may be able to descend to the point where your upper arms are parallel to the floor but you should not go any lower as it would place your shoulders under great stress.
  • Immediately begin pushing to return to the starting position. Exhaling as you go. Do not pause at the bottom position.
  • Pause briefly at the top position, squeezing your trips for a maximum contraction.
  • Repeat.
Man performing tricep dips with MuscleMagFitness logo background.

Tips For Tricep Dips

  • While performing the dip, keep your head up and shoulders back. Do not slump the shoulders forward or drop the head.
  • When you reach the bottom position (of the parallel bar dip) your lungs should be full of air. Do not attempt pushing from the bottom position with empty lungs. You’ll find that having a full chest of air provides structural support and allows you to generate more power.
  • Maintain an upright body position and avoid “tipping” your body forward.
  • As you become stronger, add weight to your dip using a weighted vest or by attaching weight to a dip belt.  

Reverse Grip Triceps Pushdown

  • Main Muscle Worked: Triceps
  • Other Muscles Worked: None
  • Equipment: Cable
  • Mechanics Type: Isolation

Performing Reverse Grip Tricep Pushdown

  • This exercise is performed from a high cable attachment, using a bar. 
  • Grasp the handle with a supinated (palms up) grip and pull yourself into position using your lats to extend your shoulders until your elbows are against your sides.
  • Next, fully flex and extend your elbows while keeping your elbows to your sides. 
  • With heavier weights, it will become necessary to lean forward somewhat; athletes will also tend to place one foot ahead of the other to stabilize their position.
  • Main Muscle Worked: Triceps
  • Other Muscles Worked: None
  • Equipment: Cable
  • Mechanics Type: Isolation

Performing Triceps V Bar Pushdown

  • Position your forearms so they are parallel to the floor.
  • Position your body so that your feet are shoulder-width apart
  • Bend your knees slightly.
  • Keep the upper arms close to the body.
  • During the movement remember to keep your elbows locked in close to your body and your wrists straight.
  • Never move your elbows or torso! Stay standing straight up.
  • Push the bar down as far as possible towards your legs, while keeping the body steady.
  • Once your arms are fully extended, lock out your arms and squeeze the tricep muscle (this causes a strong contraction of the muscle and should force the blood, which feeds the muscle, into the muscle).
  • Return to the starting position using the same motion. 
  • Repeat

Triceps Pushdown – Rope Attachment

  • Main Muscle Worked: Triceps
  • Other Muscles Worked: None
  • Equipment: Cable
  • Mechanics Type: Isolation

Performing Triceps Rope Pushdown

  • Grab the rope.
  • Position your body so that your feet are shoulder-width apart
  • Bend your knees slightly.
  • Keep the upper arms close to the body.
  • During the movement remember to keep your elbows locked in close to your body and your wrists straight.
  • Never move your elbows or torso! Stay standing straight up.
  • Pull the rope towards your legs, while keeping the body steady, and your elbows against your side.
  • At the bottom of the movement, you should pull the rope “apart” to get the best contraction in your triceps.
  • Once your arms are fully extended, lock-out your arms and squeeze the tricep muscle (this causes a strong contraction of the muscle and should force the blood, which feeds the muscle, into the muscle).
  • Return to the starting position using the same motion. 
  • Repeat

The Secret To Huge Arms Triceps Workout (on non-chest day)

On this day I will go heavy because my triceps are fresh and not being used in other upper body exercises. I will complete 4 sets each with 6-8 reps of close grip bench press and lying triceps press. Then complete 2 sets with 6-8 reps of triceps pushdowns and 2 sets with 10 reps of triceps push down with a rope attachment. All reps are to failure. The following exercises can be done in any order to increase variety and muscle confusion.

Close Grip Bench Press

  • Main Muscle Worked: Triceps
  • Other Muscles Worked: None
  • Equipment: Barbell or Smith Machine
  • Mechanics Type: Compound

Performing Close Grip Bench Press

  • Raise your ribcage, lock your lats into one position and keep them locked so that they are isolated OUT of this exercise. This forces you to use your triceps without any assistance from your lats at the top of the movement. 
  • Hold a barbell with both hands with a close grip, about 8 – 12 inches apart.
  • Keeping your arms close to your sides, unrack the bar.
  • Lower the bar until it touches your chest, about 1 inch below your chest.
  • Press back up to the starting position
  • At the top of the movement, without locking out your arms, squeeze the triceps.
  • Repeat.

Man performing barbell narrow grip bench press with MuscleMagFitness logo background.

Lying Triceps Press (aka “Skull Crushers”)

  • Main Muscle Worked: Triceps
  • Other Muscles Worked: None
  • Equipment: Barbell
  • Mechanics Type: Isolation

Performing The Lying Tricep Press

  • Lie back so the top of your head is even with the end of the bench. Many people lie too far back and then their neck is not properly supported.
  • Extend your arms over your head so the bar is directly over your eyes. 
  • Holding your upper arms in a fixed position (this is key) slowly lower the bar until it almost touches your forehead.
  • Press the bar back up in a slow, sweeping arc-like motion. 
  • At the finish, lock your elbows.
  • Squeeze (contract) the tricep.
  • Repeat.
  • Remember, ALWAYS keep your elbows tight and your upper arms stationary throughout the exercise.

Triceps Pushdown (V bar or rope) 

  • Main Muscle Worked: Triceps
  • Other Muscles Worked: None
  • Equipment: Cable
  • Mechanics Type: Isolation

Performing Tricep V Bar Pushdown

  • Position your forearms so they are parallel to the floor.
  • Position your body so that your feet are shoulder-width apart
  • Bend your knees slightly.
  • Keep the upper arms close to the body.
  • During the movement remember to keep your elbows locked in close to your body and your wrists straight.
  • Never move your elbows or torso! Stay standing straight up.
  • Push the bar down as possible towards your legs, while keeping the body steady.
  • Once your arms are fully extended, lock out your arms and squeeze the tricep muscle (this causes a strong contraction of the muscle and should force the blood, which feeds the muscle, into the muscle).
  • Return to the starting position using the same motion. 
  • Repeat

Triceps Overhead Cable Extension

  • Main Muscle Worked: Triceps
  • Other Muscles Worked: None
  • Equipment: Cable
  • Mechanics Type: Isolation

Performing Triceps Overhead Cable Extension

  • Position your forearms so they are parallel to the floor.
  • Position your body so that your feet are shoulder-width apart.
  • Elbows should be even with your ears (your head should be between your two elbows).
  • Bend your knees slightly.
  • Keep the upper arms close to the body.
  • While keeping your arms tucked to the side of your head (elbows “framing your head) push out until your arms are fully extended.
  • During the movement remember to keep your elbows locked in close to your head and your wrists straight.
  • Never move your elbows or torso! Stay in the same position that you started the movement with, just extend your arms.
  • Once your arms are fully extended, lock out your arms and squeeze the tricep muscle (this causes a strong contraction of the muscle and should force the blood, which feeds the muscle, into the muscle).
  • Return to the starting position using the same motion, just moving slightly slower.
  • Repeat 

The Secret To Huge Arms Bicep Workouts

We focused mostly on your triceps for this secret to huge arms, but you must also work your biceps. You shouldn’t work your biceps more than twice a week, just like your triceps. You can do train your biceps during a back day and then on there own one day. The final secret to huge arms is to train your biceps as well. Check out this article for the Best Biceps Exercises For Growth.

Pin image of strong man doing triceps rope pushdowns on of the secret to huge arms.

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