If you’re someone who is unfamiliar with the names of the muscles in your body, even then, you must have heard of the terms ‘biceps’ and ‘triceps’.

Biceps and triceps make up the majority of the muscles in your arms and aid in performing daily life activities.

These muscles are responsible for the bulk of the muscle mass in your upper arm.

Typically, in the majority of the arm workout routines, these muscles are targeted. These routines incorporate exercises that focus on strengthening the elbows and the shoulders connected to these muscles.

It might seem like the two muscles are alike, however, there are plenty of differences between these two arm muscles.

The main difference between the two muscles is in regards to their origin. As the name suggests, ‘bi’ means two, suggesting that the bicep muscle has two origins. ‘Tri’ on the other hand means three, implying that the tricep muscle has three origins.

Many people, especially those involved in sports, require and depend upon strong arms for excellent sports performance. Hence, they go for biceps and triceps exercises.

biceps vs triceps

The upper arm which is present between the shoulder joint and elbows joint contains four muscles, three in the anterior compartment and one in the posterior compartment.

These muscles include biceps brachii(biceps), brachialis, coracobrachialis, and triceps brachii (triceps).

Biceps and triceps are located on opposite sides of each other. When you pull with your biceps, your triceps are not in action, and the same goes around the other way.

These muscles have a very simple relationship, i.e., when one flexes or extends, the other relaxes and vice versa.

This relationship makes up what is commonly known as an antagonistic muscle pair i.e. when one muscle is being pulled, the other isn’t.

The bicep muscles which are located on the front portion of the upper arm have two muscle bundles; the ‘short head’ and the ‘long head’ that work as a single unit.

These muscles are responsible for the forearm rotation as well as the movement of the elbow and shoulder.

Their primary function is that they play the role of a flexor, which makes them responsible for the pulling action along with reducing the angle between the forearm and the upper arm.

This muscle is also responsible for the supination of the forearm.

The bicep muscles are attached to the arm bones with the help of tough connective tissues known as tendons. These tendons are responsible for attaching the muscles to the bones.

Contrastingly, tricep muscles belong to a large muscle group and are present on the back of the upper limb of many vertebrates.

This muscle is also known as triceps brachii which is Latin for “three-headed muscle of the arm”, suggesting that triceps have 3 origins.

It is made up of 3 parts: the medial head, the lateral, and the long head. This muscle is essentially responsible for the extension of the elbow joint which results in the straightening of the arm.

The triceps muscles are made up of three muscle bundles and help in performing many functions of the upper arm.

These muscles aid in extending the elbow, moving the elbow, and the shoulders, basically, performing all the actions that biceps perform, but in the opposite direction.

This muscle also functions as an extensor i.e. it performs the pushing action, as well as, increasing the angle formed between the forearm and the upper arm.

Some Key Differences between Biceps and Triceps:

  • Biceps contain two muscle bundles commonly known as heads. These bundles include a long head and a short head.
  • Triceps have three muscle bundles which include the long head, the lateral and the medial head. 
  • Biceps are also known as flexors as they are responsible for pulling actions
  • Triceps are also known as extensors as they are responsible for pushing actions.
  • If you flex your biceps, it will bend your elbow which will thus pull your forearm closer to your upper arm
  • If you flex your tricep, it will extend your elbow, resulting in pushing your forearm closer to your upper arm.

How can I feel my biceps and triceps?

For Biceps:

You can easily feel your biceps by extending your right arm and pulling it upwards. While doing so, place your left hand on the front part of your upper arm. You’ll feel the flexing motion of the bicep.

If you move your forearm upwards, towards your shoulder, you can feel your bicep moving with your left hand.

For Triceps:

You can feel your triceps by pushing on any surface with your right hand while placing your left hand on the outer side of the upper arm. You’ll feel a muscle extending. This muscle is your tricep.

Another way to differentiate between your biceps and triceps is to simply put your left hand on the front side of your upper arm. The side that feels solid is the bicep, whereas, the side that feels soft is the tricep.

If you’re an athlete or someone who enjoys playing sports, you’re most likely using your triceps way more than your biceps.

Every single time you push anything away from you, your triceps come into action. Sports like throwing a basketball, serving a tennis ball, spiking a volleyball, and swinging a baseball bat require the use of triceps.

Contrarily, Biceps help you in sports which require pulling things towards you. Sports like football, hockey, throwing a baseball, all require the use of your bicep muscles.

Some Common Bicep and Tricep Exercises:

Majority of the people pay special attention to biceps and triceps exercises at the gym. Some effective bicep workouts include close-grip chin-ups, dumbbell hammer curls, and preacher curls.

For building tricep muscles, people like to go for dumbbell overhead extensions, tricep dip as well as tricep pushdown.


We can conclude that biceps and triceps are the upper arm muscles, located on the opposite side of each other.

The bicep muscle has two muscle bundles, whereas the tricep muscle is made up of three muscle bundles.

Biceps and triceps do not work at the same time, i.e.when one is in function, the other relaxes and vice versa.


An avid fitness geek, who is mostly lifting in the gym. A computer junkie on the side. Started ClassikaFitness to teach people what I learned over the years.

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