Improving your tricep width will make your arms look bigger and more imposing, especially when viewed from the back or the side.
Now, you can’t choose whether to make a muscle wider or longer; you just have to grow it in general (which will make it look wider).
If you want to get wide triceps, however, then there are some special considerations that you need to take into account.
Related: How to get ripped triceps
How to get wider triceps
If you want to know how to get wider triceps naturally, then make sure to check out these crucial tricep training tips.
Prioritize long head development
If you want to transform your triceps and make them wider, then you absolutely have to focus on the long head, which is the large tricep muscle that’s located on the inner part of your upper arm.
To give you some idea of how much width the long head contributes to the triceps brachii, it’s physically bigger than the lateral and medial heads combined.
While a well-developed lateral head can make it look like you have good triceps due to its location on the outside of your arm, the lateral head doesn’t contribute that much mass toward the triceps as a muscle.
So, you need to develop the long head of your triceps. And for that, you need to do exercises—overhead extensions, lying tricep extensions—that put your shoulders into flexion because the long head is the only tricep muscle that acts on the shoulder joint.
Therefore, when you bring your arms behind your head, most of the tension gets biased toward the long head, which gets put under a really deep, growth-stimulating muscle stretch.
Don’t rely on compound presses
While close grip bench presses and the like can definitely improve your triceps width, they don’t work the all-important long head to the same extent as overhead and lying extensions.
So, while you definitely shouldn’t rely on compound exercises for all of your tricep width needs, there’s nothing wrong with including them in your routine. Indeed, heavy presses are great for targeting the many fast-twitch muscle fibers in your triceps.
Plus, when you get stronger on the close grip bench press, for example, then you know that it’s likely because your triceps are getting bigger and wider (a larger muscle can output more force).
Lock your elbows out during tricep exercises
Many lifters avoid locking their elbows out during tricep exercises to “keep the tension on the muscle.” However, what they don’t realize is that by doing this, they’re actually reducing their triceps stimulation because elbow extension—locking out the elbows—is the main function of the triceps.
So unless you’re doing metabolite training (in which case you could go 80% of the way up), always lock your elbows out during your triceps exercises so that you can get a full range of motion and a complete contraction.
You can practice this now: Extend your elbow close to lockout and then fully extend your elbow—while keeping your spare hand on your triceps.
I’ll bet that your triceps were way more contracted when you achieved a full elbow lockout. This is a classic case where muscle theory translates perfectly into hypertrophy training practice.
Why is it beneficial to improve your tricep width?
Improving your tricep width is highly beneficial for bodybuilding and aesthetics because having wide triceps makes your arms look much less skinny, especially when viewed from the back and, to a lesser extent, from the side.
Many lifters have good triceps when viewed from the side due to the visibility and definition of their lateral head, which you can easily develop via pushdowns, presses, and any other exercise that has an elbow extension component.
However, when viewed from the back, many people’s triceps seem to disappear. In other words, their triceps look narrow and skinny rather than wide and muscular.
This is because the long head of their triceps is underdeveloped. And so, by bringing up the long head, you can make your triceps look much bigger and fuller and get that horseshoe triceps development that every bodybuilder craves.
Additionally, by making your triceps wider, you’ll also be making them stronger because, as mentioned, larger muscles have more force output potential than smaller muscles.
The verdict on getting wide triceps
No muscular pair of arms is complete without a pair of wide triceps. The biceps give you your size from the front, the lateral head gives you size from the side, but it’s the long head that really gives you that upper arm and triceps width from behind.
So make sure to do plenty of overhead extensions and skull crushers to really add mass to the long head of your triceps.
Other than that, there’s nothing that you can do to selectively get wider triceps as opposed to longer triceps. Just keep training with good form, progressively increase the resistance, and, ideally, eat in a small to moderate calorie surplus so that your body can gain muscle at the optimal rate.