The triceps don’t get as much love as the biceps because they’re slightly less visible but the biceps actually make up the bulk of your arm muscles. Working them out is important for looks but also performance on other exercises. But you don’t want to spend every day training them. Is two workouts enough for your triceps? Here’s what you want to know.
Two workouts with direct triceps work a week is plenty to see muscle growth provided the resistance, amount of sets and repetitions is enough to give a growth impulse to the body. 3 exercises done for 3 heavy sets each should give good results.
For more information on how to train your triceps to grow them efficiently, keep reading below.
Is Training Triceps Twice a Week Enough For Muscle Growth?
So let’s say you want to grow your triceps. That is why most people target their triceps directly anyways. Most people want to have the impressive physique and big arms are a big part of that. Nothing wrong with that just don’t forget the other muscles. Anyways, is two workouts a week enough to grow your triceps?
Two workouts with direct triceps a week is enough to see muscle growth provided the resistance, amount of sets and repetitions is enough to give a growth impulse to the body. 3-4 tricep workouts a week could lead to slightly more growth but you start seeing diminishing returns.
With more than 2 dedicated tricep workouts a week, you will also start cutting into the training time you can give to other body parts. You don’t want to be the person with big arms but nothing anywhere else.
You also have to take into account that the triceps are used for many other exercises besides direct triceps exercises. Pretty much all pushing exercises use the triceps to complete the movement. For pushing exercises, the target muscles might be the chest or shoulders but you can’t do them without using the triceps. That means they do get some stimulation if you follow a full body workout routine, even before targeting the triceps directly.
In absolute beginners, doing pulling exercises is often enough to grow the triceps even without having to do any direct tricep exercises. However, after you’re not an absolute beginner anymore, some direct tricep work is necessary for gaining muscle because the pushing exercises don’t provide enough of a training impulse to the body.
Since you’re already using the triceps for pulling exercises, you can add on a triceps workout after a workout where you train back/ do a lot of pulling exercises. That way you can skip the warm up sets and save some time. I would recommend doing it at the end of the workout otherwise you might not be able to properly do the pushing exercises.
Is Training Triceps Twice a Week Enough To Build Strength?
While training volume is very important for muscle size, it’s not as important for building strength. Working out the triceps once or twice a week is plenty if training for strength. You do need the right training methods to actually build strength though.
To train for strength, you have to use low repetitions and high resistance. For triceps a weight you can do 5-8 times a set is good to build strength. 6-9 sets per week is enough which is easily done in one workout.
After that, you can recover for a week and you’ll be slightly stronger the next week.
Amount Of Workouts And Training Volume
As you might understand from above that two tricep workouts (with tricep isolation exercises) is enough to build muscle. One more workout a week might help you grow more but you’ll notice diminishing returns and potential recovery issues. More than 3 workouts a week is going to be problematic for many people if you do a decent amount of volume per workout.
One thing to understand is that the amount of workouts doesn’t say much. Compare two people working out the same body part in any gym and there will be big differences in amount of sets, repetitions, weight and effort. Working out a body part twice a week by doing two push ups twice a week isn’t going to be enough for anything. Even doing that every day of the week isn’t going to do anything because that’s not something your body isn’t used to so there is no need to adept. However, if you use heavy weights (for you), perform 8 heavy tricep sets aside from warmups and do that twice a week, you’ll see results.
So what do you actually need to grow your triceps?
There are four main factors you should get right;
- Exercise selection
- Amount of sets
- Amount of repetitions per set
As said above, there are many exercises that use the triceps. Most pushing exercises will use the triceps. But to really grow the triceps, you have to do some isolation exercises on top of that. So things like bench pressing and dumbbell presses don’t count. Look at exercises like skull crushers and overhead triceps extensions.
The triceps bend the elbows so that’s exactly what you have to do to isolate the triceps. There are still a ton of different ways to do that though. Use a selection of 3-4 different exercises that directly target and isolate the triceps. You don’t have to do all four exercises every workout. 2-3 exercises per workout is good.
Also be aware that the triceps consist of different muscles. Different exercises will hit the different parts of the triceps so make sure to get a good combination of exercises that targets the different parts.
6 heavy sets per week (spread out over the workouts) is considered the minimum effective dose of volume for triceps. That’s the minimum amount to see some growth. On the other hand it’s also not recommended to do more than 12 heavy sets per workout. With two workouts a week, you should probably do about 8 heavy sets for optimal growth. With three workouts limiting the amount of heavy sets to 8 per workout is better. If you do more than that, recovery could become a problem. If you don’t recover fully before the next workout, the extra work can be detrimental.
Triceps should be trained with 5-20 repetitions per set, like most other muscles. Lower repetitions (with higher weight) tends to build more strength while higher repetitions (with less resistance) build more muscle.
Most people work out in the 10-15 rep range. This provides a balance between strength and muscle building. Of course you have to adjust the weight used for the rep range.
What you can do is to do two different workouts: One workout with heavy weights and low repetitions and one workout with lighter weights but high repetitions.
The last part of the puzzle is the weight or resistance to use. Most people will use dumbbells or barbells to work out the triceps but DIY solutions, bodyweight or resistance bands are also an option. In the end it doesn’t matter that much what you use, it’s all about how difficult it is for your to move that weight.
You want to use a resistance level/weight that you can complete the wanted amount of repetitions in a set with while keeping about 2-3 repetitions in reserve. Don’t go to failure on every set or even the last set of every exercise.
This means you have to balance between the weight being heavy enough to be challenging but not too heavy so you can’t finish all the sets. It’s a fine line that will take a while to find.
Possibly the most important thing for getting sustained muscle growth is progression. Muscle growth is the bodies way of adapting to the stress of the last workouts. That means the next workout should be a bit heavier than the last one to give the body a new level to adapt to.
The easiest way to do that is to add a small amount of weight to the exercises every workout. In the beginning, this will be pretty easy although after a while, adding weight becomes more difficult. Trying to increase the amount of repetitions can also be a good way to progress if a weight increase isn’t possible.
What’s Your Goal?
“Enough” is very subjective. Enough for what? Enough to grow the triceps? Enough to maintain muscle? Enough to get stronger?
It’s a good idea to think about what your training goals are. What your goals are does impact how you should train. You can train for athletic performance, strength or size and the training styles for all the goals will be different.
For most people, the goal of working out a specific muscle is to grow it so that’s what I’m going to assume from here on out. What’s best for muscle growth isn’t always best for strength but that is mostly addressed through the amount of repetitions in a set and not the amount of workouts.