This guide contains a series of tricep transformation case studies with before and after results to show you what's possible if you train your triceps regularly and with enough effort. I'll also show you how to transform your triceps from skinny to muscular (or from muscular to jacked) so that you can grow your arms and build a better upper body.
Related: Forearm transformation
Tricep transformation case studies
See if these people were able to transform their triceps in 30 days or less.
The man behind the YouTube channel trainingwithbill did a challenge to see if he could improve his triceps in only 2 weeks. He did 50 rope pushdowns, 50 single-arm pushdowns (per arm), and 50 skull crushers every day for 14 days.
Although he didn't achieve a massive triceps transformation (his arms were already big), I'd say that his triceps looked a bit more defined. This could well be due to the lateral (outer) head of the triceps becoming more prominent, which is especially likely considering that the lateral head—although highly visible—doesn't account for that much triceps size.
Anyway, Bill noted that skull crushers weren't a great exercise for him. Specifically, he said that he didn't feel a good mind-muscle connection, which is surprising considering that he was doing 50 reps.
I think when you're trying to transform (or even just improve) your triceps in a short space of time, pump-based exercises like pushdowns are your best bet because they're much more suited to high reps, and they don't irritate your elbows.
Fitness Samurai Warriors
The man behind the YouTube channel Fitness Samurai Warriors did 100 triceps extensions every day for 30 days and made some pretty decent gains.
Although this guy is still quite skinny (he's a calisthenics beginner), the lateral head of his triceps popped out much more after his tricep transformation challenge. If he made an effort to gain some weight and kept up the training, I think that his arms would make some really fast and impressive gains.
I liked this case study because it shows that you can get fast results when you're beginning at a skinny starting point. On the other, if you already have a lot of muscle like Bill in the previous case study, your results will be less pronounced because you've already built the majority of your triceps mass.
This guy also did single arm overhead extensions, which are a great exercise for preventing uneven triceps because you get to work each arm separately.
The guy behind the YouTube channel Fil 3000 trained his biceps and triceps every day for 30 days, and he definitely made some noticeable improvements and has a good tricep before and after picture to prove it.
His triceps looked a lot bigger and even a bit leaner. The lateral head really popped out and had visible separation from his shoulder.
Yet, thanks to the overhead extensions that he was doing on a daily basis, the long head, which is the biggest tricep head, made some significant progress as well. He definitely has much wider triceps than before.
Although he didn't measure his arms before and after the challenge, I'd say that they went up by at least 0.5 inches. And that's probably a low estimate.
Anyway, nowadays, this guy is jacked (the challenge was a good few years ago), so it just goes to show that even relatively skinny guys can add slabs of mass if their training and diet are on point.
How to transform your triceps
Now that you've seen some real-life triceps transformations, it's time to learn how you can transform your own triceps by training them optimally. If your biceps are bigger than your triceps, then these tips will really help you out.
Bring up your weak head
Although you might not add inches of triceps size in a few weeks, you can definitely make quick gains if you have lagging triceps.
For example, let's say that your lateral head is lagging. Since this is the outer head—the first one that people see—your triceps can look completely transformed if you add even a modest amount of mass to your lateral head.
Of course, everyone has their own weak point. You might have a weak lateral head, whereas others might need more long head mass. Either way, the best way to get fast results is to bring up your weak tricep head because lagging muscles have the most growth potential.
Bulk up your long head
It's well-known that the triceps make up two-thirds of your arm mass. But what's less well-known is that the long head of the triceps makes up around two-thirds of your triceps size.
In other words, the long head is a very big muscle that has a ton of growth potential—more than the lateral and medial heads put together.
This is one reason why two of the guys in the case studies did overhead extensions; they're one of the best mass builders for the long head of the triceps.
While the lateral head can really make your triceps look defined and muscular, it's the long head that makes your triceps look big and bulky when it's well developed. So make sure to do plenty of skull crushers and overhead extensions (but not necessarily every day) if you want to transform your triceps.
Eat in a calorie surplus
If your triceps won't grow, then it could be because you're not eating enough protein or enough calories. To be sure, you can build muscle without bulking, but you'll definitely make faster gains when your body has a small to moderate surplus of energy that it can use to create new muscle tissue.
Eating more can be as simple as having extra rice with your meal or a bowl of oatmeal or yogurt after dinner. You don't need to stuff your face, and you shouldn't aim to gain as much weight as possible.
Your body can only build muscle so fast, so as long as you're slowly gaining weight, then it's likely that your body has the optimal internal environment to make gains.
Build your bench press
While overhead extensions, pushdowns, and skull crushers will definitely build your triceps, heavy compound presses are actually really good tricep-builders as well.
The reason for this is that every time you do a bench press, you're performing an elbow extension, which is the main function of the triceps brachii.
Additionally, the triceps brachii is a very fast-twitch muscle. So since the bench press is ideal for lifting heavy (unlike, say, skull crushers), you can really target the fast-twitch muscle fibers when you do heavy compound presses.
The close grip bench press is a particularly good exercise for transforming your triceps because it takes some of the tension off your chest and shoulders, which forces your triceps to do more work.
Conclusion: How long does a true triceps transformation take?
It depends on your starting point, your work ethic, and how optimal your training and diet are. In general, a true tricep transformation where there are massive before and after results can take around 3-6 months.
The skinnier that you are now, the more pronounced your triceps before and after transformation will be. This is simply because when you're skinny, you're further away from your genetic potential and thus have more muscle to gain.
Additionally, if you're eating in a calorie surplus and doing multiple tricep exercises, then you'll make gains faster than someone who's cutting and only doing compound presses.
- Geiger, B. (2021, May 26). Lateral Head Triceps Strategies To Build Bigger Arms. Bodybuilding.Com. https://www.bodybuilding.com/content/6-strategies-to-target-your-triceps-lateral-head-and-build-bigger-arms.html
- Bach, E. (2021, December 14). The Ultimate Body Transformation Mindset. T NATION. https://www.t-nation.com/alpha-life/body-transformation-mindset-tips/