'Biceps' vs 'Triceps': What's the Difference?

By Amy Gilmore, updated on September 1, 2023

Are curious about the difference between 'biceps' and 'triceps?' I can help!

Here is the short answer: 

  • 'Biceps' is a noun that means a muscle with two heads, for example, 'biceps' brachii and 'biceps' femoris. 
  • 'Triceps' is a noun for a muscle with three heads, like the extensor muscle on the back of your arm. 

However, people use these terms in different ways. So, stick around to learn how to use, pronounce, and define these terms.

What is the Difference Between 'Biceps' vs. 'Triceps?'

'Biceps' and 'triceps' are both nouns for muscles. They describe different muscle types.

Any muscle with two heads could be called 'biceps,' and any muscle with three heads can be called 'triceps.'

However, there are specific muscles that people typically refer to when they use these terms.

  • For example, when people use the term 'biceps,' they usually refer to the muscle on the front of your upper arm.
  • When they are referring to the 'triceps,' they probably mean the long muscle that runs along the back side of your upper arm.
  • Nevertheless, 'biceps' can refer to 'biceps' brachii and 'biceps' femoris, the two main muscles in this group or smaller bicep muscles.
  • And 'triceps' refers to any three head muscles, but it especially refers to the 'triceps' brachii.

A good way to remember the difference between 'biceps' vs. 'triceps' is that the prefix bi means two, and the prefix tri means three.

When and How to Use 'Biceps' vs. 'Triceps'

Now that you understand the difference between these terms let's look at when and how to use them.

  • Use 'biceps' when you are talking about the muscle on the front of the arm from the shoulder to your forearm.

For example, you might say:

You can find videos with targeted 'bicep' workouts 

  • Use 'triceps' to refer to the muscle on the back side of your upper arm that runs from your shoulder to your elbow.

As an example, you could say:

Working out your triceps can be challenging if you do not know the right exercise to target them. 

  • Use 'biceps' and 'triceps' when talking about the anatomy of the upper arm.

So, I might say:

To improve the appearance of your upper arms, you should work out your biceps and triceps.

Definition of 'Biceps': What Does 'Biceps' Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster, 'biceps' is a noun that means:

  • A muscle with two heads

It can also mean:

  • The 'biceps' brachii, or the flexor muscle on the front of your arm
  • The 'biceps' femoris, or the large flexor muscle on the backside of your upper leg

Definition of 'Triceps': What Does 'Triceps' Mean?

According to the same, 'triceps' is a noun that means:

  • A three-headed muscle

It can also mean:

  • The large extensor muscle on the back of the upper arm

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Biceps' vs. 'Triceps'

In addition to learning the meanings of words, learning how to pronounce words can help you remember their meanings and spellings.

So, here is a pronunciation guide you can follow: 

  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'biceps':


  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'triceps':


As you can see, both of these terms contain the ending ceps, which sounds like seps. However, they have different prefixes. 'Biceps' starts with the bi prefix, which sounds like by, and 'triceps' starts with the tri prefix, which sounds like try. 

Sample Sentences Using 'Biceps' vs. 'Triceps'

When it comes to remembering the difference between 'biceps' vs. 'triceps' and other pairs of words with similar spellings and sounds, reading or writing them repeatedly helps you commit them to memory.

So, here are some sample sentences using 'biceps' and 'triceps.'


  • My biceps are so sore today after the grueling workout we did yesterday.
  • The orthopedic doctor was concerned about damage to the humerus bone behind the bicep on the patient's left arm.
  • The surgeon had to reattach the man's bicep because the muscle separated from the bone.
  • Did you see his biceps? They are enormous.
  • There are plenty of bicep workouts you can do at your house.


  • Tricep dips are the best exercises for strengthening the muscles on the back of your arms.
  • If your triceps are weak, you should focus on strengthening them.
  • To do tricep dips, sit on the floor with your feet in front of you and put your hands palms down on the ground by your hips. Then, lift your butt off the ground.
  • If you want to develop your triceps, it is best to use a variety of exercises that strengthen those muscles.
  • A personal trainer can help you strengthen muscles like your triceps if they are challenging for you to target on your own.


  • I find it easier to work out my biceps than my triceps.
  • In the bodybuilding world, the best of the best work out their biceps and triceps regularly.
  • After their PE teacher taught the class bicep exercises, she taught them how to target their triceps. After all, it is essential to work out both muscle groups.
  • We worked out our biceps and triceps yesterday. So, we are working out our legs today.
  • I always feel better after my workout if I do bicep and tricep exercises.

Recap of the Difference Between 'Biceps' vs. 'Triceps'

We covered a ton of information. So let's do a quick review of the difference between 'biceps' vs. 'triceps':

  • 'Biceps' is a noun for muscles that have two heads, especially the biceps brachii and biceps femoris.
  • 'Triceps' is a noun for muscles that have three heads, especially the triceps brachii.

After reading this entire post, you should remember the difference between these two words, but if you get mixed up in the future, you can always return to this post to review this lesson.

You can also verify the meanings of other English words that are commonly misused in the confusing words section here. Each post will help you expand your vocabulary and learn essential grammar rules.

So, they are perfect if you are learning English as a second language or trying to improve your writing skills.

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Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

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