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What are Triceps?

MVSAT Dec 2023

The triceps, also known as the triceps brachii, is a big muscle found on the back of many vertebrates' upper limbs.  It is the muscle that is primarily responsible for elbow joint extension (straightening of the arm). The tricep muscle is also known as a three-headed muscle. These tricep muscles are divided into three sections: the medial, lateral, and long heads. Despite the fact that the triceps surae, a muscle with a similar name, is placed on the lower thigh, the triceps brachii is frequently referred to as the triceps. 


Since there are three bundles of muscles, each of separate sources merging together at the elbow, the word triceps originates from Latin, literally meaning three-headed, tri - three, and ceps, from caput-head. Tricipites was the plural form of triceps in the past, but this is no longer the case; instead, triceps is both singular and plural now (i.e., when referring to both arms).


What are Triceps Made up of?

The infraglenoid tubercle of the scapula gives birth to the long head. It extends anterior to the teres minor and posterior to the teres major on the distal side. The medial head develops from the dorsal (rear) surface of the humerus, the medial intermuscular septum, and the lateral intermuscular septum. Its distal section also arises from the lateral intermuscular septum. The lateral and long heads obscure the medial head, which is only visible distally on the humerus. From the larger tubercle down to the region of the lateral intermuscular septum, the lateral head emerges from the dorsal side of the humerus, lateral and proximal to the groove of the radial nerve.


The fibres converge to form a single tendon that attaches to the ulna's olecranon process (though some research suggests there may be more than one tendon) and the posterior wall of the capsule of the elbow joint, where bursae (cushion sacks) are common. Parts of the common tendon extend into the forearm fascia, nearly completely covering the anconeus muscle.


The radial nerve is thought to supply innervation to all three heads of the triceps brachii. However, a 2004 research found that the long head was innervated by a branch of the axillary nerve in all 20 cadaveric specimens and 15 surgical dissections on participants. The origin of the long head of the latissimus dorsi tendon is typically a tendinous arch. The long head can come from the lateral border of the scapula and the capsule of the shoulder joint in rare situations.


The biceps, which are also known as the biceps brachii, is a big muscle that runs from the shoulder to the elbow on the front of the upper arm. The muscle's two heads emerge from the scapula and combine to form a single muscular belly that attaches to the upper forearm. While the biceps spans both the shoulder and elbow joints, its primary purpose is to flex and supinate the forearm at the elbow. When using a corkscrew to open a bottle, both of these actions are used: first, the biceps screws in the cork (supination), then it pulls the cork out (flexion). The tricep muscle diagram is given below:


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Why are Triceps Required?

The triceps muscle is an elbow extensor muscle that works against the biceps and brachialis muscles. Thus, in some manner biceps and triceps work opposite to each other. When the forearm and hand are utilised for delicate movements, such as writing, the tricep muscle can also fixate the elbow joint. The long head fascicle is thought to be used when prolonged force production is required, or when synergistic control of the shoulder and elbow, or both, is required. The lateral head of the organ is then used for movements that require high-intensity force on a regular basis, whereas the medial fascicle allows for more precise, low-force movements.


The long head, which originates on the scapula, acts on the shoulder joint as well as retroversion and adduction of the arm. It aids in the stabilisation of the apex of the humerus shoulder joint. The triceps reflex, which is evoked by striking the triceps, is frequently used to assess the function of the arm's nerves. This examination examines the C6 and C7 spinal nerves, with the C7 being the most important.


The long, lateral, and medial heads account for 84%, 15%, and 3% respectively of the total triceps muscle weight in horses. The auxiliary head is seen on many species, including dogs, cattle, and pigs. It's located in the middle of the lateral and medial heads. The anconeus is sometimes referred to as "the fourth head of the triceps brachii" in humans.


Training of Triceps

The triceps may be exercised with isolated or complex elbow extensions, and they can contract statically to hold the arm straight against resistance. Cable push-downs, lying triceps extensions, and arm extensions behind the back are examples of isolation exercises. Push-ups, bench presses, close grip bench presses (flat, incline, or decline), military presses, and dips are all examples of compound elbow extension. Closer grips work the triceps more effectively than broader grips.


Pullovers, straight-arm pulldowns, and bent-over lateral raises are examples of static contraction activities that are used to strengthen the deltoids and latissimus dorsi. Triceps muscle ruptures are uncommon and usually only occur in anabolic steroid users.

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FAQs on Triceps

1.Are triceps better than biceps?

Pushing and pulling functions are dependent on the biceps and triceps muscles. The triceps is the bigger muscle, although the biceps is regarded to be the stronger. In order to operate effectively, the two muscles require each other. These muscles can be injured in the same way and treated in the same way.

2.What are triceps good for?

The triceps are important for developing upper-body strength and assisting in shoulder and elbow mobility. Increased triceps strength improves shoulder and arm stability, as well as the flexibility and range of motion.

3.What is the smallest muscle in the body?

The smallest skeletal muscle in the human body, the stapedius muscle, plays an important function in otology. The stapedius muscle is an intratympanic muscle that regulates sound.

4.What is the weakest muscle in the body?

The stapedius is the human body's smallest skeletal muscle. Its job is to maintain the tiniest bone in the body, the stapes or stirrup bone of the middle ear, which is little over one millimetre long.

5.Why is it so hard to build triceps?

The triceps will not grow as much as they should even using large compound movements like the bench press and close grip bench press because the triceps' lateral and medial heads are largely important for extending the elbow under stress. This is precisely what these pressing workouts do.


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