If there is one most important muscle you need to target to get bigger arms, then that is the triceps. The triceps cover about 2/3rd of the arms and the long head is the major contributor to its overall size. So training the long head is very important if you want fuller and bigger arms.
So what are the exercises you should do to target the long head? What are the different tricep heads and which exercises hits all three heads? You will find all the answers here.
At the end of this blog, you will find an amazing tricep workout specifically to target the long head. But before talking about the exercise, first, let’s know about each head of the tricep and its functions.
Tricep brachii is located at the backside of your arms and their main function is to extend the elbow. Tricep covers about 2/3rd of your arms which means that to get bigger arms, you must train your triceps.
Triceps has three heads-
- Long head
- Medial head
- Short head or lateral 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.
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.
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.
Keep in mind that no matter what exercises you pick, the tricep muscle as a whole will work and all heads will be active. There are some positions or angles where you can activate one head more than the other but anyhow, the whole tricep head will be active during any tricep exercises. So by keeping this in mind, let’s talk about some best long head tricep exercises!
Long Head Tricep Exercises
Some of the best long head tricep exercises are skull crusher, dips, and overhead tricep extension with dumbbells or barbells. We will talk about more exercises here.
1. Skull Crushers
This is a great exercise to train your long head because you can put your triceps in an extra stretch position at the bottom which will create more tension on the long head of the tricep.
How to do
1. Hold a barbell or an EZ bar and lay down on a bench. Hook your feet under the pegs of a bench for balance.
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 without dropping your elbows and fully stretch your triceps at the bottom.
4. Stop at the bottom and then bring the bar up with the help of your triceps and extend your elbows at the top.
You can go heavy on this exercise as it is a strength-building exercise. But don’t mess your form too much for the sake of lifting heavyweights. You can also do the same exercise with dumbbells.
2. Diamond Pushups
This is a bodyweight exercise for your triceps. This will be a great strength-building exercise that will work all the heads of the triceps. According to ACE study, diamond or triangle push-up is the number 1 best tricep exercise which hits long and short head at an equal level.
You should never underestimate the power of a bodyweight exercise. You must do these exercises quite often to increase the overall strength of your upper body.
How to do
1. kneel onto 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 chest.
3. Now slowly moves your body down while keeping your back straight and breath in as you go down. 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 while breathing out and extend the elbows at the top.
Pro tip– After a few reps, if you start getting fatigued, then bring your knees down and then continue with the reps.
3. Bench Dips
Another best way to hit the long head. Dips are one of the top strength-building exercises for your triceps. It not only hits the long head but also works the medial and lateral head of the triceps too.
How to do
1. Place your hands on the edge of the table with your back facing the table. Both hands should be at a shoulder width apart.
2. With the help of an arm, take your legs forward and take your body in front of the table without moving the arms.
3. Keep your legs straight with both feet together. Your shoulders should be rolled back and you chest should be up.
4. Now start moving your body down by flexing your elbows. Reach the bottom and then come back straight up.
You can make this exercise easy by bending your knees rather than keeping it straight forward. Remember to keep your neck neutral.
You must do dips at the beginning of the workout to activate all three heads and then perform isolation exercises to focus on the long head more.
4. Cable Overhead Tricep Extension ( low pulley)
This exercise will completely stretch your triceps. If you can’t feel your long head during tricep exercises, then doing this will help you in improving the mind and muscle connection on those inner tricep muscles.
How to do
1. Attach a rope at the bottom of the cable machine. Hold each end of a rope and twist your body such that your back is facing the machine.
2. Take your hands back such that your triceps are facing the ear and keep your arms straight up. Your stance can be staggered or together. For beginners, the staggered stance is preferred.
3. Start moving your hands down by flexing your elbows. Reach the bottom and stretch your triceps.
4. Now pull the weights up without moving your elbows and extend your elbow at the top.
Your hands should go out naturally as you go back, but make sure it’s not going too far out. Furthermore, your elbow should not come forward as you move the ropes upward.
To put extra tension on the long head, you should take your elbows back rather than keeping them straight at a 90° angle. This puts constant tension on the triceps.
5. Decline Triceps Extension
Do this on a decline bench. This is a good exercise to train the long head of the tricep. A decline bench will create constant tension on the muscle therefore it’s a good tricep exercise to bring some variations into your workout program.
How to do
1. Hold the dumbbells on your hands and lay down on a decline bench. Hook your feet under the pegs of a bench.
2. Keep your elbows up at a 90° angle. By maintaining a neutral grip, take your arms down and stretch your triceps at the bottom.
3. Stop at the bottom and then push the dumbbells up and back to the starting position.
Your elbow should stay back slightly rather than keeping it at a 90° angle as this will engage your long head more. You can also do it with your elbows straight up but your long head will not get the most activation.
6. Overhead Dumbbell Tricep Extension (Single-hand)
Another good exercise to hit those big inner muscles of your triceps. It’s good for those who have one side weaker than the other because you can train each part separately.
How to do
1. Stand straight and take one dumbbell on your hands. Lift the dumbbells and hold them with your elbows extended.
2. From that position, start lowering the dumbbell until your triceps are fully stretched at the bottom.
3. Move the dumbbells up by bringing your hands up and extend your elbows fully at the top.
Your elbow should point up towards the ceiling. Go back up and repeat the movement. Breathe in when you go down and breathe out when you go up.
Don’t swing the weights. Use weights according to your strength to fully control every single rep. Don’t compromise your form to move heavy weights.
Its always better to move your body in a full range of motion. It will make your muscles do the most work in each rep. Also, it will help you in improving mobility and range of motion.
7. Tricep Kickbacks
This is a great isolation exercise for your triceps which you should include in your triceps workout. This exercise hits all three heads of the tricep. Here, you can focus on each side separately which will help you to build symmetrical arms.
Also, according to an ACE study, kickbacks are the second-best tricep exercise compare to many other tricep exercises. Also, it targets the long head slightly more than the lateral head according to its EMG report. This shows how effective it is to build your back tricep muscles.
How to do
1. Hold a dumbbell on one hand and place the other hand on a bench. Your one leg should be on the bench for support.
2. Take your hands up behind the back such that arms are parallel to the ground. This will be your starting position.
3. From that rowing position, kick your hands up without lifting the elbow. Come back to the same position and go up again.
You should choose lighter weights for this exercise. If you go heavy, you may end up swinging the weights without engaging the triceps. Perform the movement slowly while feeling the right muscles.
8. Band Overhead Tricep Extension
Bands are good at creating constant tension on the muscles when performed correctly. The more you stretch the bands, more will be the resistance. So here, your triceps will be working the most during the end phase of the extension.
You can also stretch your long head during this exercise which will allow your long head to work more.
How to do
1. Take a resistance band and attach it at the top of the pillar or bar.
2. Hold the band from each hand and step a few steps forward and stand at a split stance. Bend slightly forward and keep your hands parallel to the floor.
3. Being your wrist behind the body while keeping your arms straight. Your triceps will be stretched and this will be your starting position.
4. Start moving your hands forward while keeping your straight and fully extend the elbows at the end.
5. Now slowly bring your wrists back to the starting position and stretch your triceps at the end.
9. Bodyweight Tricep Extension
This is a bodyweight version of the barbell skull crusher. We should never underestimate the power of bodyweight exercises as these are more functional and activates more stabilizers and core muscles. Also, it hits the long head perfectly if done with the proper range of motion.
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 to bring the body back to the starting position.
You can also do this exercise on a bench but it can hurt your wrist. Therefore barbell would be the best option. You can do this at the beginning of the exercise to charge up your triceps and then proceed with some other compound exercises like close grip presses or dips.
10. Double-hand Tricep Extensions
This is similar to the single-hand overhead extensions. Here you will grab one dumbbell with both hands. Here you can lift more weights and is good at building strength.
How to do
1. Take one dumbbell and hold it with both of your hands. Take it back and behind the head and keep your elbows extended. This will be your starting position.
2. Start the exercise by lowering the dumbbell while keeping your elbows in. Stop until your triceps are fully stretched.
3. From the bottom position, push the dumbbells up with both your hands, extend the elbows at the top and then repeat the movement.
It’s ok if your elbows are going out but make sure it’s not going too far out. Everyone has a different level of flexibility so don’t go too far down if you are not comfortable with it. Don’t go too heavy as it can lead to injuries if you mess your form.
You can do this exercise either by standing or sitting. Remember that you engage more core when you stand.
11. Rope Pushdown
Rope pushdown is another best exercise to target the long head! Here, you can completely focus on your muscles and can build a very good mind and muscle connection.
How to do
1. Attach a cable rope at the top of a pulley. Hold the end of the rope and step 2 inches away from the cable machine.
2. Keep your should back and bring your chest forward. Your elbow should be at a waist line.
3. Start pushing the ropes down with your triceps without moving your elbows. Bring your hands down and completely extend your elbows.
4. Slowly move your hands up without moving your elbows. Reach the top and then repeat the movement
You should not swing the weights up and down. Rather do each rep slowly and maintain your proper form. Also, remember to keep your shoulders retracted and neck in a neutral position. Keeping your shoulder retracted and pinched in will activate the long head at its best.
12. Incline Kickbacks
According to the EMG study, it was among the top long head exercise when compared with the other tricep exercises.
We don’t take out hands back behind the body in our day-to-day life and that’s why our triceps get weaker. This exercise will put your body in that position which will make your weak muscles work.
How to do
1. Take a dumbbell on each hand and lay prone onto an incline bench. You can place your feet on the peg for support.
2. Take both your hands up and behind the back such that your arms are parallel to the ground. Elbow should be at a 90-degree angle.
3. Move your hands up and extend the elbow. Don’t swing the weights and slowly bring your hands back to the starting position.
Here, make sure that your arms are almost parallel to the bench while performing this exercise. Also, don’t use heavy dumbbells here otherwise you will just swing weights without feeling the right muscle.
Long Head Tricep Workout
So we have already discussed the exercises and now I will share with you an amazing workout designed specifically to target the long head of the tricep. All exercises included in this workout are already discussed above in detail. So if you have any doubt regarding any exercise, you can scroll up to get more information. So without wasting your time, let’s jump into the workout!
|1||Decline Bench Tricep Extension||8||3||90 seconds|
|2||Bench Dips||10||3||90 seconds|
|3||Double-hand Overhead Tricep Extensions||12||3||60 seconds|
|4||Rope Pushdown + Cable Overhead Tricep Extension||15 each||3||45 seconds|
Note that the last exercise in this list is a superset where you will perform two exercises simultaneously and that becomes a complete set.
It is advisable that before starting any workout, you should consult your physician or fitness professional.
So these were some of the best exercises to target the long head. The tricep muscle is mostly fast-twitch (about 67%) so make sure that you start the exercise with heavy weights and do compound movements like weighted dips or a diamond push-up with plates. After that, you should add some isolation exercises like overhead tricep exercises which will completely isolate the long head.
If you found this blog helpful, then do share it with your friends or on social media so that more people can get the information. Also, if you like to share your knowledge on this topic, then do share it with all of us in the comment section below.
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 has worked as a personal trainer in gyms and is the owner and editor of fitnessproworkout.com. He is passionate about fitness and helping people to get in shape.