Should You Workout Biceps & Triceps On The Same Day?

Many lifters understand that muscle groups are connected, and many muscles rely on one another to perform certain movements.

Therefore, it makes sense to break up your workout routines into separate days.

There is still a lot of confusion on which muscles can or should be worked out together, including the triceps and biceps.

These muscles make up the upper portion of our arms and work opposite each other to perform a host of daily functions.

Should you train biceps and triceps on the same gym day or even in the same workout? We will answer that and a lot more of your questions below.

In fact, you can work every muscle group on the same day (known as full-body workouts).

The real question should be asking yourself, though, is, should you work the biceps and triceps on the same day?

For that answer, we have to dive a little deeper.

We need to learn the muscles and how they work together and compare the pros and cons of performing gym sessions that target both on the same day.

What Are Biceps?

The biceps are the long muscles on the front side of your upper arm. When you flex your arm, they are what make the bump between your elbow and shoulder.

These muscles are called biceps because they have two heads. A muscle head is an origin.

Essentially the biceps brachii is a small group of two muscle bundles that begin with their own heads near the front of the shoulder and end with a common point near the elbow.

The biceps' muscles functions is to rotate the forearm (turn hand palm up), flex the elbow, and support the arm bones during lifting, squeezing, and carrying functions.

What Are Triceps?

The triceps, then, is a muscle bundle with three heads. They are located on the back of the upper arm between the elbow and shoulder blade.

The triceps brachii has three main heads starting at the shoulder and ending at a single point near the back of the elbow.

The primary function of the posterior group is to extend the elbow and assist in bone protection from lifting and carrying functions.

They also aid in shoulder flexion support for overhead movements. Compared to the biceps, the tris are about 50-60 percent larger on average.

How Do They Work Together?

The bis and tris work together in what is known as agonist and antagonist movements because they are opposite one another.

When the biceps touch the forearm (or contract), the triceps extend, for example. Essentially, your bis and tris are either always engaged or always at rest, depending on what you are doing.

See Related - Why Is One Arm Bigger Than The Other?

man in black shorts doing a single tricep pushdown

Pros Of Working Out Biceps & Triceps Together

Working out the triceps and biceps together has plenty of benefits. Let's look at some of the pros of working both groups together.

For a rapid increase and different stresses on the groups, training triceps and biceps together on your next workout has many benefits.

Perfect For Bodybuilding Supersets

Fitness coaches, bodybuilders, and professional athletes will attempt to perform supersets as often as possible.

A superset essentially performs one set targeting one muscle group followed by another set targeting a second muscle group.

As you can probably guess, this makes workouts go faster, specific muscle targeting easier, and you can combine weights, racks, and cable machine exercises to train your arms.

Known as reciprocal inhibition, you will generally work one muscle, rest it while working another, and repeat until your sets are done.

Because the biceps and triceps are already opposite each other, reciprocal inhibition is already initiated, you just need to lift the weights.

The functional anatomy of two different muscle groups, such as training biceps and triceps together, has more benefits than training biceps and triceps separately.

Many different muscle training programs work the same muscle group. Biceps and triceps are no different, and both biceps and your tris can show vast improvement from same-day arm training.

Considerable Muscle Pump

The coveted muscle pump is achieved faster and better when performing supersets or alternating muscle group workouts of the arm.[1]

Even though you are resting your posterior when training biceps, you are still flushing the upper arm with metabolites, blood, hydration, and creatine at all times.

A few sets of day workouts where you focus on strength exercises for building muscle will help you push past any plateaus, and the two muscles will be able to recover at the same time.

See Related - Best Bodyweight Bicep Exercises

Different Primary Functions Allowing For More Training

The two muscle groups oppose each other while they still work together to protect the arm, provide mobility and range of motion, and help in lifting, carrying, and overhead movements.

However, when you work out the bicep, with a bicep curl, for example, the triceps are almost fully at rest. Even though they do get contracted, there is no real strain.

This gives your triceps time to rest and recover for their next set without slowing down your fitness routine.

Related Article - Best Tricep Exercises With Dumbbells

No Interference

Neither muscle interferes with the other. This is good news because, on a muscular level, you aren't giving up strength or ability from one group to work out the other.

Unlike working your legs, where you may need to isolate your core, the bis and tris have no direct interference with one another.

woman in gray tank top stretching her triceps

Cons Of Working Biceps & Triceps On The Same Day

Not everything is always great when working both groups out, though. Let's take a look.

Potential Cardiovascular Interference

When dealing with bodybuilders or competition power lifters, very little cardiovascular work is done. All training is put into making the muscles strong, large, and bulky.

These athletes often have limited cardio capabilities that can interfere with their workouts.

For example, if you perform a set of curls and are gassed from the lifts, you may not have the cardio capabilities to immediately perform triceps exercises.

Of course, this is a drastic example, but because your cardio may not be as high as it should be, you might not get the best results from the second set.

Doesn't Always Support Powerlifting Training

Powerlifting requires that your joints and grip are strong but rely very little on the biceps and triceps movements.

They are needed for support, but because the muscle groups are much smaller than most, there isn't a lot of attention given to them.

Sure there are workouts done to increase the size and shape of the muscles, but their actual strength is minimized to focus on overhead lifting, powerlifting, and more explosive movements from the larger muscles.

Because of this, working both groups together can be a waste of time and effort.

Longer Workouts

Most gym enthusiasts want to get in, do their workouts, and get out. Lingering in the gym isn't for everyone, and working out multiple groups can lead to longer gym sessions.

Instead of focusing on one group per day and getting your workout done and over with, you may find that adding a second set for each movement to focus on a different group will extend the session at least by double.

Can Be Counterproductive

In many instances, you will separate your chest and back workout days. Biceps and triceps same day workouts can be counterproductive to these workout days.

When you work out your chest, you also do a tricep workout; when you run through back day, you also engage the biceps.

If your biceps and triceps are recovering from their workout, you may not get the full pump and lift capabilities on other days when they are needed more.

The recovery time of these muscle groups can affect the lifting power and performance of other groups, and you need to plan your workout routine accordingly.

Junk Volume

Comparatively speaking, your biceps and triceps are small. You won't see upper arms as large as thighs or backs (unless there is a problem) when you work out properly.

Because of their smaller stature, many think they need to work out much more to increase their natural size.

However, this isn’t the case. When going for a uniform and aesthetic appearance, you don’t need to perform every arm workout there is.

Not only would your gym sessions be 5 hours long, but the results wouldn't show much difference.

Instead of adding junk volume or junk sets to your routine, just work out normally. Follow a 4 to 6 sets routine of various lifts on arm day to get the most out of the muscle groups.[2]

One exercise won’t be enough, but too many can be counterproductive.

man in blue shorts doing ez bar preacher curls

How To Train Both Muscles Together (Tips & Techniques)

Let's find out some of the best ways to maximize your muscle growth and potential with same-day training.

Target Different Heads on Different Days

One method is to target different muscle group heads on different days. The most common method is a split routine, or push-pull split.

Essentially the muscles you are working on that day are separated in your routine based on the function they perform (pushing or pulling).

So you would do all pushing exercises first, followed by all your pulling exercises.

The long head and short head of the upper arm can be worked on the same day.

But varying which one you work through various compound arm exercises will aid in muscle growth when you train arms on a dedicated arm day.

Use Seated and Standing Exercises

Another method is to utilize the stand-sit split. This will isolate other muscles that may help you lift the weight, such as using more of your core when performing a bicep curl.

Splitting your routine between exercises where you are sitting (preacher curls, cable rows) and where you are standing (triceps pull-downs, standing bicep curls) will help you focus your attention on the muscle group in question.

Also Check Out - Best Lateral Head Tricep Exercises

Don't Work To Failure

Because the triceps and biceps are recruited by other muscle groups (primarily chest and back), it is important not to work to failure on arm day. They will need time to fully recover.

This means that the next gym session where you are working on your chest, your tris won't be fully engaged and will break down faster, resulting in fewer lifts or lower-weighted reps on chest day.

Keep in mind when you train arms so that your other upper body days can benefit, too.

Change the Order

You also want to think about changing the order of your sets and reps.

If you perform bicep workouts first for a few weeks, you want to change it up and perform a triceps workout first for a few weeks.

This will prevent muscle memory from plateauing and keep your body performing and growing as much as possible.

You can also mix up the exercises so you aren't performing the same workout every time. Instead of kickbacks, try a reverse curl, or instead of performing a hammer curl, try a preacher curl. 

Different movements will help you prevent plateauing or growing tired of the same arm day routine over and over.

woman doing straight bar cable curls

Sample Workout For All Levels

An example of one workout, as shown below, will help you combine your efforts to get a great workout on both the posterior and anterior upper arm groups and have you in and out without wasting time. You don’t need new exercises.

The tried and true routines will work perfectly for biceps and triceps workouts.

  • Warm-up
    Stretch and heat up muscles for at least 1 minute before beginning to help avoid injury.
  • Triceps dips 
    Using a bench or chair, perform as many full tri dips as you can in 45 seconds. Maintain form and control throughout the movement, and don't rush. Rest for 15 seconds.
  • Triceps extension
    Grab a barbell with both hands overhead and drop it behind your head, bending only the elbow. Raise the weight from this starting position until your arms are straight in an overhead position. Return to the starting position. Repeat 12 to 15 reps for one set, rest 30 seconds. This exercise is also a great alternative to tricep pushdowns.
  • Triceps kickbacks 
    Hold a dumbbell in each hand at your side. Bend forward at the waist, making your chest parallel to the floor, with a slight knee bend. Keep your elbows aligned with your spine and extend your arms behind you, straightening the elbow. Allow the weight to fall back to the starting position without moving the shoulder. Repeat 12 to 15 reps with a 30-second rest after each set. You can also use a cable machine and bench for this movement.
  • Cross chest curls 
    Holding a dumbbell in each hand, in a standing position with legs shoulder width apart and straight, curl your arm forward and bring the dumbbell across your body to the opposite shoulder. Drop the weight back to your side and repeat on the other side. Continue 8 to 10 reps per set with a 30-second rest between.
  • Concentration curls 
    From a seated position, bend forward at the waist, placing your elbow inside your knee. Curl the dumbbell up to your chest, pressing your elbow into your knee for support. Repeat 12 to 15 reps, per side, per set—15-second rest between sides.
  • Hammer curls 
    Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and one foot slightly in front of the other. Holding a dumbbell in each hand, bring both hands up to the shoulders and gradually lower them back to your sides for a single rep. Maintain both weights at the same speed and distance, always under full control. Rest 20 seconds after 12 to 15 reps for each set.

Remember, this is only one training arms workout option, and there are plenty of others to try out.

Always include a cooldown cycle after any body parts are worked out to help the different muscles relax and recover, and you will soon be on your way to muscle mass gains.

Other exercises to consider:

Standing dumbbell triceps curl, standing triceps press down, bench press (or other chest workouts), incline curl variants, and compound exercises that target the two different groups.

Man Doing EZ Bar Drag Curls

Frequently Asked Bicep & Tricep Training Questions

Who should and shouldn't work their biceps and triceps same day?

Depending on your experience level, how long you have been lifting, and your individual goals, anyone can and should work out both muscle groups together. However, resistance training beginners and those looking for faster results will want to train bis and tris separately.

How many total exercises should you do for biceps and triceps?

The ideal number will vary from individual to individual. However, research shows that the magic number of exercises is six. This can be a combination of three biceps and three tricep exercises when working the same day or together, or six of each when working out separately.

How often should you work out your arms each week?

The number of days you work out your arms isn't as important as the number of reps and sets per week. You want to achieve an eventual goal of about 20 to 30 reps for each muscle group over the course of a week, but this can be done in a single session or spread out over each gym day.


Conclusion

When you train biceps and triceps on the same day or simultaneously with one workout, the signs indicate better muscle functions.

Therefore, it is highly recommended for most fitness enthusiasts, especially those looking for larger gains and faster results.

How you perform your workouts and the number of total reps per week is more important than when you do them.

Try various tactics and sets or exercises to find out which works best for you, and then stick with that.

References: 

1. https://journals.lww.com/nsca-scj/Fulltext/2014/06000/The_Muscle_Pump__Potential_Mechanisms_and.11.aspx
2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27433992/

Last Updated on December 18, 2022