12 Best Lateral Head Tricep Exercises For Bigger Arms

Published by Roshan S Pillai on

Lateral head tricep exercises

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The tricep is one of the major muscles of your arm which covers about 2/3rd of your arms. If you want bigger arms, then biceps alone will not give you that as it is 1/3rd of your arms. So training your triceps is very important. The tricep is comprised of three heads and If you want to develop horseshoe-looking triceps, then you must properly train each head, and most preferably the lateral head of the tricep.

So in this article, I will share with you some of the best lateral head tricep exercises which you can include in your tricep workout if your lateral head is weak or is not developed properly. Also at the end, there will be a tricep workout specifically designed for those who want to develop and strengthen their lateral head. But before that, let’s first discuss quickly each head of the tricep in brief.

Triceps Anatomy

Tricep brachii is located at the backside of your arms and their main function is to extend the elbow. Here tri stands for 3 which means that tricep has three heads-

  • Long head
  • Medial head
  • Short head or lateral head

Long Head

The long head of the triceps is the largest part of your triceps and is found at the back of your arm. The long head is different from the medial and lateral heads, as it crosses the shoulder joint and assists in shoulder extension.

Lateral/ Short Head

The lateral head is found at the outermost part of the humerus which is visible mostly from the side view. This gives you a tricep that horseshoe look from the side.

Medial Head

The medial head is found in the mid part of the tricep muscle which is present just below the long head. The medial head is responsible for providing stability during heavy compound movements like the bench press.

Lateral Head Tricep Exercises

1. Close-Grip Bench Press

This is an awesome compound exercise for your triceps. You can kickstart your tricep workout with this awesome strength-building compound exercise. All the pressing movements with a close grip engage s the lateral head the most. So if you want to build the size of your triceps you should start doing the close grip bench press.

How to do

1. Lay down on a flat bench with your feet placed on the floor. Your feet should be under the knees.

2. Grab the barbell with both hands at about 1-2 feet away from each other. Have a spotter behind you to lift the weights for you.

3. Lift the barbell up and hold it at the top. The barbell should be in line with your chest. This will be your starting position.

4. Bring the barbell down towards the lower part of your chest. Breath in as you go down.

5. Pause at the bottom and then push the weights up, back to the starting position.

You can go heavy on this exercise! You can do this at the beginning of the workout after some warm-up sets with lighter weights.

Other Option

Close Grip Dumbbell Bench Press

You can also do a close grip bench press with dumbbells. One of the advantages of dumbbells is that your wrist is not fixed at one position. You can rotate your wrist on the way down or can change your wrist position according to your mobility.

Some people have bad wrist mobility due to which close grip barbell press will become uncomfortable or it may hurt your wrist. So for them, the dumbbell option is better.

You can change the grip angle by holding at a neutral underhand or an overhand position but make sure that you keep the dumbbells close to each other during the exercise. Otherwise, you won’t be able to focus on your triceps.

2. Floor Barbell Skull Crushers

This is another great exercise for your triceps. Here you can perform the skull crusher without any bench. You just need a floor to perform the exercise. This exercise will target the lateral head to a greater extent and will give you the sharp look.

Here, you will fully lower the bar down on the floor, relax the triceps, and then squeeze your triceps from the relaxed position. This gives a different stimulus to your muscles which will avoid you from the plateau.

How to do

1. Lay down on the floor while keeping the bar behind your head. Grab the bar with a close grip and bring it up.

2. Tight your abs and keep your arms up with your elbows extended. This will be your starting position.

3. Start by bringing the bar down while controlling the weight and stop until it reaches the floor.

4. Pause at the bottom when the bar is on the floor and then bring the bar up by pressing with your triceps and extend the elbows at the top.

One of the advantages of floor skull crushers is that you don’t need a spotter to hand over the bar to your hands. You can easily lift from the floor without any trouble. Also, you won’t require anyone to spot you because if you fail any rep, then you can drop the bar down easily on the floor without any fear.

3. Dips

This is a great bodyweight strength exercise for your triceps. Many people perform this exercise to build the size and thickness of your tricep. According to the Ace Study, the average EMG of the lateral head was 89 compared to the long head which had 88 scores. This shows that dip is a great exercise to target the lateral head of the tricep.

As there were fewer differences in the number between lateral and long heads, therefore dips will be an awesome exercise to kickstart your tricep workout as it engages the entire triceps and is a powerful upper body exercise.

How to do

1. Place both hands on the bar while holding it tight and then lift your body balancing it in the air.

2. Now start lowering your body by slightly keeping your elbows out and reach the bottom position where your elbows are at a 90°

3. From there, start pushing the body up by squeezing your chest muscles and extend your elbows at the top.

Recommended Reps- 10-12

If you are a beginner, then you can do some other alternative exercises for dips as there are many other options available to you.

4. Diamond Push-ups

This is a bodyweight exercise for your triceps. This will be a great strength-building exercise apart from the dips.

According to the ACE study, diamond or triangle push-up ranked no. 1 as the best tricep exercise which hits long and short heads at an equal level. So with this study, it is clear that diamond pushup has to be there in your workout program to target all the heads of the triceps.

You should never underestimate the power of a bodyweight exercise. You should do these exercises quite often to increase the overall strength of your upper body.

How to do

1. kneel on to the floor and place your hands on the floor with both the tips of your thumbs and forefinger touching each other. It should look like a diamond!

2. Now take both the feet back and keep them together. Your legs should be straight and your hands should be under the

3. Now slowly take your body down and keep your torso straight. Your elbow should be in and your shoulder should be pinged back.

4. Pause at the bottom and then push back to the starting position.

Recommended Reps- 10-12

You can increase the intensity of the exercise by placing a bumper plate on your back. This will challenge you to lift more than your body weight.

Pro tip – After a few reps, if you start getting fatigued, then bring your knees down and then continue with the reps.

5. Bodyweight Tricep Extension

This is a bodyweight version of skull crushers. This will make your triceps strong and will help you in adding some size. You can very easily do this on a squat rack. The key thing to keep in mind is the full extension of the elbow at the top.

How to do

1. Place a barbell on a squat rack and hold the bar with both hands placed slightly under shoulder-width apart.

2. Place both feet back and be in a push-up position with your back straight and core tight. This will be your starting position.

3. Now start bringing your head towards the barbell while keeping your elbows in and bring your body down.

4. Stop until your triceps are fully stretched and then push the bar and completely extend your elbows at the top.

Recommended Reps- 10-12

You can also do this exercise on a bench but it might hurt your wrist. Therefore barbell would be the best option because you can hold the bar completely. You can do this at the beginning of the exercise to charge up your triceps.

6. Side-Lying Tricep Dips

This is another great bodyweight exercise you can do easily at home. It is a unilateral movement, so you can separately work on each side of your tricep. It works similar to dips and will target the lateral head perfectly.

How to do

1. Lay down on a flat surface with your sides on the floor. You can use a yoga mat if the floor is not clean!

2. Place the above hand on the floor, just in front of the chest. Your other hand should be placed at the back of your head. This will be your starting position.

3. Start pushing the ground with your hand and bring your body up. Your leg and torso should remain still.

4. Pause at the top when your elbow is fully locked and then slowly return to the starting position and then repeat.

Recommended Reps- 12-15

You can very easily do this exercise at home. But keep in mind that you should not feel any pain on the joints during the exercise. Stop the exercise whenever you feel pain.

7. Lying Single Arm Tricep Extension

This is another great unilateral exercise to target the lateral head. Here, you need to focus on the correct form and technique and use a lighter weight in this exercise. You can also do this exercise at home on the floor by keeping your knees folded.

How to do

1 Lay on the bench by holding a dumbbell in one hand. Your feet should be on the floor.

2. Now raise your left arm and place the other hand on the left elbow to keep your arms stable. This will be your starting position.

3. Start the exercise by moving your left leg down without moving your elbow. Stop at the bottom when the dumbbell is just above your chest.

4. From the bottom position, push the dumbbell with the help of your arm and then extend your elbow at the top.

5. Now switch and repeat the same movement from the other hand.

Recommended Reps- 12-15

Always remember to breathe in on the way down and breath out while you move the dumbbell up. Also, don’t use heavy dumbbells here as this is an isolation exercise where you should focus on proper form and technique rather than swinging with heavy dumbbells.

8. Triceps Pushdown

This is the most common exercise you will find people doing in the gym. This will be a great exercise to pump up your lateral head. You must make sure to completely extend your elbows to get the most out of exercise.

How to do

1. Attach a bar at the upper end of the cable machine and hold it with both hands are slightly less than the shoulder width.

2. Lean slightly forward and keep your elbows closer to the waist. This will be your starting position.

3. With your shoulders pinged back, start pushing the weights down and completely extend your elbows right at the bottom. Your chest should be up as you move.

4. Slowly return to the starting position without rolling your shoulders forward.

Recommended Reps- 12-15

You don’t have to add too much weight which puts you in an improper form. Your form and technique are key during this exercise.

9. Cable Horizontal Tricep Extension

Many of you might have not tried this before as this is not a popular exercise. I would like you to try this one out and I bet you will love it. This exercise will put an exact tension on your triceps at a different angle.

So if you want to try something new, then consider this move. You will feel a huge burn in your lateral head after this exercise.

How to do

1. Attach a handle at a pulley which is at about your chest height. Stand in between the cable machine while holding the handle.

2. Keep your arms parallel to the floor with your elbows flexed. This will be your starting position.

3. Move your hand to the side and extend completely at the end. Then slowly return back to the starting position while keeping your arms parallel to the floor.

Recommended Reps- 12-15

You should never go heavy on this because its an isolation exercise that should be done with a proper form and technique. This will strengthen your elbows if done correctly. So add this once in a while as an accessory exercise.

10. Crossbody Cable Tricep Extension

This is a unique way to do tricep extensions. This will completely burn your triceps brachii muscles. This is also a great exercise for those who want to work on the upper part of their tricep, especially the lateral head.

Targeted muscles – lateral head of the tricep

How to do

1. Attach both sides of the pulleys at the top end of the cable machine. Grab each end of the cables and stand in between the cable machine.

2. Keep your chest up and shoulders back and start moving the hands to the sides by holding the cables. Your shoulder should not move up or come forward.

3. Fully extend your elbows at the bottom and then return to the starting position.

Recommended Reps- 15-20

You can do this exercise at the end after performing main compound exercises like dips and close grip press. Make sure that your form is right during the movement.

11. TRX Tricep Extension

This is one of the most effective TRX exercises for your triceps. This is the TRX version of skull crushers. This will engage your core and other stabilizer muscles which makes it a perfect bodyweight exercise. If you want a tricep workout to strengthen the lateral head of the tricep, then add this to your workout.

How to do

1. Attach a TRX Suspension at the top and hold each end of the TRX.

2. Now move your legs back and lean forward while holding the handles. Keep your arms straight in front and this will be your starting position.

3. Start the exercise by lowering your body such that your forearms move back. Your elbows should not move much.

4. Pause at the top when your triceps are fully stretched and then use your tricep muscle to push yourself back to the starting position.

Recommended Reps- 12-15

Remember to breathe in on the way down and breath out on the way up. Also, keep your knees extended and core engaged.

Tips For Beginners

If you are a beginner, then don’t go too down or in other words, reduce the range of motion. Stop when your elbows are flexed at a 90° angle.

12. TRX Close Grip Press

This is a pressing movement to increase the strength and size of the tricep. When performing a pressing movement with a close grip, it activates your triceps more especially the lateral head.

How to do

1. Attach the TRX suspension at the top and hold each end of the handles. Move your legs back and lean forward.

2. Keep both arms down and straight. Both hands should be close to each other. This will be your starting position.

3. Start the exercise by slowly lowering your body while keeping your hands close to each other. Stop until your hands reach the abdomen.

4. Now push with your arms to bring the body back to the starting position.

Recommended Reps- 10-12

Make sure that your core is engaged throughout the movement. If you are a beginner, then start with more of an upright position. Once you get comfortable with it, then perform with a lower-body position.

Lateral head Tricep Workout

So as we discussed some best lateral head tricep exercises. Now let me share with you one of the sample workout program specifically to target the lateral head. So here we go!

Warm-up

One of the most important things to do before starting any workout is a warm-up. You must do some kind of aerobic exercise like walking or cycling for about 5 minutes. After that, do some dynamic stretching and then perform 2 sets of close grip bench press with the plane barbell.

ExerciseRepsSetsRest
1.Close Grip Bench Press842 min
2.Dips10390 sec
3.Lying Dumbbell Tricep Extension12360 seconds
4.Cable Horizontal Tricep Extension + Tricep Pushdown15 each345 seconds

Note that the last exercise (4) in this list is a superset where you will perform two exercises simultaneously and that becomes a complete set.

Disclaimer- It is always recommended that before starting any workout, you should consult your physician or fitness professional.

Final Review

So here we are at the end of the article. I have shared all the best lateral head tricep exercises with you along with a sample workout program that you can follow and can start seeing results. Make sure that you add some variations in your workout program by replacing some exercises or by changing the intensity and volume of the exercise.

You have many options when it comes to training a single body part but it’s the knowledge and experience of the trainer or fitness coach to plan and select the best exercise for you according to your goals, strengths, and limitations. So it is always helpful to consult your coach before starting any workout program. We can also help you by designing your workout program according to your goals and requirements. You can contact us here.

Categories: Tricep

Roshan S Pillai

Roshan Pillai is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer with more than 6 years of experience in lifting weights and guiding people to get fit. He is the owner and editor of fitnessproworkout.com, and has worked as a fitness coach in gyms and is passionate about fitness and helping people to get in shape.

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