If you want big arms, then you best build yourself a big tricep hang. Not to be confused with excess arm fat, the triceps hang is literally where your triceps muscle hangs off your upper arm when your arms are outstretched.
What is a tricep hang?
So, what is a tricep hang exactly? The tricep hang refers to the “hanging” of the long head of the triceps when your arms are stretched out to your sides. Unlike other tricep poses, you don’t actually flex your triceps during the tricep hang; you move your arms out to the sides and just let your triceps muscle hang off the bone.
The tricep hang was popularized by bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger, and it has some useful applications. The main benefit of the tricep hang, in my opinion, is that it lets you gauge your tricep development in relation to your bicep development.
During a tricep hang, your triceps should look much bigger than your biceps—roughly twice as big. So, if you don’t have much of a visible triceps hang, but you have good biceps, then that could be a sign that the long head of your triceps needs more mass.
People with excess arm fat don’t really have hanging triceps because the fat is all over the backs of their arms. But since the tricep hang is due to the long head of the triceps, it becomes bigger toward your shoulder. In other words, you won’t have a triceps hang near your elbow.
How can you get a good tricep hang?
While you don’t need the biggest triceps ever in order to have a good triceps hang, you definitely need plenty of long head mass if you want hanging tricep muscles.
Since the lateral head is located on the outside of your upper arm, it’s not visible in the triceps hang pose. As such, the long head of the triceps is completely responsible for the “muscle hanging off the arm” effect that you see.
Knowing this, you need to really bulk up the long head of your triceps. Exercises like overhead extensions and skull crushers should be your bread and butter because they train the long head in a stretched position, which really breaks down the muscle fibers and causes large-scale triceps hypertrophy.
You should also do tricep kickbacks because they train the long head in its contracted position. While kickbacks won’t build slabs of mass, they will train your triceps from a unique angle and give you extra growth than what you’d get from overhead extensions alone.
Exercises like pushdowns, while good for the triceps, don’t get you those hanging triceps because they mainly work the lateral and medial heads of the triceps.
The verdict on building hanging triceps
Whether you have a high or low tricep insertion, you can still get hanging triceps if you build enough long head mass.
Even though the triceps get worked in every kind of compound press, these exercises don’t do much for the long head, so you definitely need to do plenty of overhead and lying tricep extensions if you want to get that often elusive triceps hang.
When doing the tricep hang pose, remember to not flex your triceps (it sounds counterintuitive, I know) so that you can let the muscle hang freely rather than bunch up in a tightly contracted position.