What Is a Torn Biceps or Triceps Muscle?

Torn bicep and triceps muscles are common in strength training and resistance exercises.

A biceps strain, or a pulled biceps, occurs when there is a partial tear in one or more of the small fibers that make up your biceps muscle. The bicep muscle, biceps brachii, is located in the front of your upper arm. Your biceps is responsible for bringing your arm up in a forward motion, bending your arm at the elbow, and rotate the forearm.

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A triceps strain, or a pulled triceps, occurs when there is a partial tear in one or more of the small fibers that make up your triceps muscles. The triceps muscle, triceps brachii, is located in the back of your upper arm. Your triceps is primarily responsible for extending your arm at the elbow.

Most commonly, muscle strains and tears of all types occur because of what is called an eccentric contraction. This happens when you tense your muscle in one direction while at the same time a force is opposing this tension. When this outside force battles against your tensing or contracting force, a muscle tear or strain can result.

Bicep and triceps tears are both caused by the same issue: when the resistance applied against your muscles (e.g., by a weight) is more than the force your muscles can provide in return. In this instance, your muscle actually lengthens (or tears) as it is contracting. So, for example, if you are doing a preacher curl with too much weight isolated on your biceps, there is a good possibility you will tear your muscles because they simply do not have the strength to resist the weight you are curling.

Imagine a rubber band. At normal levels, it can spring right back and provide adequate resistance to the force applied against it. But, if it’s pulled past its breaking point, the fibers in the rubber stretch, weaken, and ultimately snap. This is a similar result in a torn bicep or triceps muscle. Usually you don’t break all the fibers at once, but you may strain a damage a few.

Mild to severe arm pulls are extremely common in strength training and sports that involve stressing the upper arm. These sports include:

  • strength training
  • football
  • basketball
  • baseball
  • martial arts
  • boxing
  • track and field events
  • rugby
  • tennis


Related Bicep Articles:
Torn Biceps, Triceps – Causes & Symptoms
Severity of Torn Bicep or Triceps Muscle
Torn Bicep, Triceps Treatment & Therapies
Preventing Torn Bicep & Triceps