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The 10 Best Lateral Head Tricep Exercises

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The Best Lateral Head Tricep Exercises

What are the best lateral head tricep exercises? 

If your arm goals include building sculpted, massive triceps (and they should!), this post is for you. The triceps are crucial in achieving bulky arms, so don’t neglect them!

We’re covering all the best lateral head triceps exercises that you can do in and out of the gym.

There’s no point in standing around… let’s get into it.

 

The Best Lateral Head Tricep Exercises

Our exercise lists are created by determining the best exercises for muscle growth, core strength, and overall health and well-being. 

Here’s our list of the 10 best lateral head tricep exercises:

 

10. Bench Dips

Best Lateral Head Tricep Exercises - Bench Dips

Great for:

Beginners who want to train the triceps but need to build more strength for regular dips.  

How to do it:

  1. Take a seat on the side of a weight bench with your hands on the edge, facing away from your body
  2. Slide to the edge of the bench, move your legs forward with your knees bent, so your arms are supporting your bodyweight
  3. Slowly lower your body until your arms are at 90 degrees, with your glutes nearly touching the floor 
  4. Using your tricep muscles, push yourself back up so your arms are almost straight
  5. Repeat as desired 

Why:

To modify the classic dip, bench dips are a solid choice. 

The beauty of the bench dip lies in the fact that you can train the same muscles in this move without risking straining a muscle or injuring yourself. 

Bench dips are the preferred movement for beginners and those just getting their feet wet with strength training. 

The bench dip is one of the best isolation exercises — as you push your bodyweight up from the lowest position, the triceps are doing all the work to get you back to the starting position. 

When:

Thanks to their effectiveness, bench dips are a recommended exercise for nearly any strength training program. 

From a warm-up move to get the heart pumping to an intense finisher after a grueling arm workout, bench dips provide a burn no matter what. 

 

9. Overhead Tricep Presses

Best Lateral Head Tricep Exercises - Overhead Tricep Press

Great for:

Combining a shoulder movement with a tricep activation to work both muscle groups simultaneously. 

How to do it:

  1. Grip the barbell and let it rest on your upper chest, with your elbows tucked in front of the bar 
  2. Activate the core and take a deep breath in 
  3. Move your head back and drive the weight of the bar over your head, with your elbows fully extended
  4. Slowly control the bar back down into starting position 
  5. Repeat as desired 

Why:

We live for compound exercises, ones that work with multiple muscle groups at once — the convenience of that kind of versatility is everything!

The overhead press improves pressing strength (powerlifters, we’re looking at you!), and it improves shoulder mobility through repetition and the extension of the shoulders and elbows. 

When:

If you’re in a rush at the gym to get a tricep burner in but don’t have time for an entire workout, the overhead press is a great way to engage the triceps while also training the shoulders. 

Whether you pair this with a shoulder program or add it to a traditional arm workout, your triceps will feel it.

 

8. Dumbbell Floor Presses

Best Lateral Head Tricep Exercises - Dumbbell Floor Press

Great for:

Building grip strength while working the lateral triceps head. 

How to do it:

  1. Lie on the floor with a dumbbell in each hand, with your palms facing inward
  2. Bend your knees and press your feet firmly into the floor 
  3. Lower the weights until your elbows touch the floor, keeping them close to your sides to activate the lateral triceps properly 
  4. With your triceps engaged, drive the weights up over your head 
  5. Bring them slowly back down to starting 
  6. Repeat as desired 

Why:

The shorter range of motion involved in the floor press is what makes each tricep muscle work.

When trained at a higher volume (more reps), the floor press can help to achieve hypertrophy, build power, and improve upper body strength. 

When:

This exercise is great for those who work out at home because all you need are two dumbbells!

Add floor presses to any tricep-focused strength training or as a great warm-up for any arm workout.

 

7. Overhead Tricep Extensions

Best Lateral Head Tricep Exercises - Overhead Tricep Extensions

Great for:

Emphasizing the lateral head, promoting shoulder mobility, and working all three heads of the triceps brachii. 

How to do it:

  1. Hold onto one side of a heavy dumbbell with both hands
  2. Bring the dumbbell overhead with your upper arms stationary and your forearms parallel to the floor, with the dumbbell behind your head 
  3. Extend the forearms slowly up and behind your head, making sure your elbows never fully extend
  4. Lower the dumbbell back behind your head
  5. Repeat as desired 

Why:

With the motion of the overhead extension, all three heads of the triceps are activated.

This is one of few moves that effectively target all three heads; it’s one of our favorite exercises to wake up and strengthen the arms.

If you’re looking to strengthen your triceps, this is one of the top strength moves you should be doing. 

When:

Incorporate overhead triceps extensions into any existing arm workout you’re doing. 

For elbow extension and elbow joint safety, train with moderate weights first, instead of going right for the heavy weights. Ease your arms into this move to prevent injury or strain.

 

6. EZ Bar Skull Crushers

Best Lateral Head Tricep Exercises - EZ Bar Skullcrushers

Great for:

Exclusively targeting the lateral head through elbow flexion and extension.

How to do it:

  1. Hold the inside handles of the EZ bar with both hands 
  2. Lie back on a bench and raise the bar above your head, elbows fully extended
  3. Lower the bar till your elbows are at 90 degrees — the bar should be nearly touching your forehead
  4. Press the bar back up into full tricep extension 
  5. Repeat as desired 

Why:

As far as triceps training goes, skull crushers are key. Not only do they train the lateral head, but the medial head is also working throughout this movement, and the upper arms feel it quickly. 

Additionally, skull crushers build grip strength, which comes in handy as you spend more time in the gym.

When:

Any long head triceps exercise worth doing will tire out the upper arms and leave the supporting muscles feeling depleted.

Skull crushers can be rough on the forearms. While they do build grip strength, they’re also putting stress on the wrist and forearms.

If you begin to notice this strain, take a rest day for your upper body’s sake.

 

5. Diamond Push-Ups

Best Lateral Head Tricep Exercises - Diamond Push-Ups

Great for:

A bodyweight exercise that effectively builds muscle and strength in the lateral head and upper arms.

How to do it:

  1. Form a diamond on the floor with your index and thumbs
  2. Place your hands under your lower chest for this push-up and keep your elbows tucked
  3. Lying on the ground, push the ground away from you while keeping your hands pressed in the diamond shape on the floor
  4. Push up until your elbows are completely extended, then lower back down to the floor
  5. Repeat as desired

Why:

This triceps workout is beneficial regardless of fitness level. Forming the diamond with your hand creates a bigger contraction in the upper arm and wakes the triceps up. 

The diamond push-up is one of the best triceps exercises, but the form is important; activating the long head and medial heads is essential to working the muscle group effectively.

When:

If you’re looking for a lateral head tricep exercise that you can do anywhere, diamond push-ups take the gold.

All you need is some space on the floor. You can complete this move while traveling, in the office, or at home.

 

4. Close Grip Bench Press

Best Lateral Head Tricep Exercises - Close Grip Bench Press

Great for:

A triceps workout that isolates the three heads while lifting heavy weights.

How to do it:

  1. Lie back on a bench and grip the barbell with your hands shoulder-width distance apart and your elbows tucked
  2. Unpack the barbell, slowly inhale, and lower it down halfway
  3. Press the barbell upward as you exhale until your elbows are almost fully extended
  4. Repeat as desired

Why:

For one of the best lateral head triceps exercises, the close grip bench press isn’t as complex as you’d expect it to be. However, I said it was simple, not easy!

The close grip in this exercise is what targets the triceps and makes it our go-to long head triceps exercise. You can even perform this exercise with dumbbells if you prefer.

When:

Since this is a heavy lifting move, you can incorporate it into your arm workouts, 2 to 3 days a week.

To do this move in the gym, ensure someone is nearby to help you if you need it. It may hurt your pride in the moment, but you’ll be thankful after.

 

3. Tricep Kickbacks

Best Lateral Head Tricep Exercises - Tricep Kickbacks

Great for:

An isolation exercise that builds muscle mass and power through resistance.

How to do it:

  1. Hold a dumbbell in your left hand with a neutral grip
  2. Stand with your right leg forward and your left leg back
  3. Hold onto something for balance in your right hand, and lean your torso forward, so your chest is almost parallel to the floor
  4. Bend the arm with the weight to 90 degrees
  5. Engage your triceps and extend the left forearm until your arm is parallel to the floor
  6. Bend your left arm back to a 90-degree angle
  7. Repeat as desired, then switch arms and complete the movement on your right arm

Why:

Our humble opinion is that tricep kickbacks are not only a triceps workout, but they are arguably one of the most effective lateral head triceps exercises you can do.

This exercise has some excellent variations and modifications, making it an ideal exercise for any fitness level.

You can use cables instead of dumbbells, you can complete the move with both arms going at once, and you can do it kneeling with one leg on a bench.

When:

We try to add kickbacks to as many triceps workouts as we can.

Incorporate them into any arm programs you’re doing, or start adding them to your repertoire ASAP and see how it benefits the lateral head and medial head.

 

2. Tricep Pushdowns

Best Lateral Head Tricep Exercises - Tricep Pushdowns

Great for:

One of the best lateral head triceps exercises to emphasize elbow extension while working all three triceps heads.

How to do it:

  1. Face the cable machine and hold the horizontal cable bar with an overhand grip at chest level
  2. Engage your core, keep your elbows tucked, and drive your feet into the ground
  3. Push down on the bar until your elbows are almost fully extended, but not fully
  4. Keep your back straight and strong against the resistance of the weight
  5. Using a slow and controlled movement, return the bar to the starting point
  6. Repeat as desired

Why:

The best triceps exercises are the ones that build on overall strength and stamina, not just the upper body and arms.

Pushdowns engage the core, back, and shoulders while training the tricep muscles.

Building muscle mass in the arms takes time and dedication, and pushdowns can help you get there.

When:

If you haven’t already, get on the cable machine at the gym ASAP to try pushdowns.

Set a low weight to start. These may seem easy for a rep or two, but you’ll learn quickly that they burn!

Try 3 or 4 sets of 8 to 10 reps, and enjoy that tricep wake-up.

 

1. Weighted Dips

Best Lateral Head Tricep Exercises - Weighted Dips

Great for:

Working the triceps, chest, shoulders, and arms improves upper body strength and builds muscle mass.

How to do it:

  1. Get the chain side of your dip belt in the front and tighten the belt
  2. Attach your weight to the belt
  3. Mount the dip bar facing outward while holding your body at arm’s length. Your arms and elbows should be locked
  4. Slowly inhale and lower your body, with your elbows flaring to the sides
  5. When you feel tension in your chest, let out your breath and push yourself back up to starting position
  6. Repeat as desired

Why:

Weighted dips have an impressive list of modifications and variations, making this exercise one for any person who steps into the gym.

We say this because this move may feel like something you should wait to do once you’re stronger. This couldn’t be farther from the truth — anyone can do it, and that means you.

When:

Aim to complete weighted dips twice a week in the gym to build strength without any muscle strain.

Recovery is equally as important as the exercise itself; give yourself a minimum of 48 hours of recovery before getting back on that bar.

 

FAQs About Lateral Head Tricep Exercises

Ready to train those triceps to get the horseshoe look in your upper arms?

We’re sharing more information about the best lateral head triceps exercises that you should be adding to your repertoire.

 

Q: Where is the lateral head located?

The lateral head of the tricep is located on the posterior surface of the humerus, and it comes together with the medial head and the long head to form one single tendon.

From the outside, the lateral head makes up the outside portion of the horseshoe-like shape the tricep makes on the upper arm.

 

Q: How do you isolate the lateral tricep head?

While it’s impossible to fully isolate the lateral tricep head (due to its location on the arm), there are ways to emphasize this head over the others.

The lateral head is best worked with the arms at your sides with an overhand grip, typically done in exercises like press downs and bench dips.

 

Q: How do you develop the lateral head of the tricep?

Developing the lateral head of the tricep can be achieved by moderate weights and high reps in exercises like press downs, bench dips, push-up variations, and weighted dips.

 

Q: How many tricep exercises should I do?

In a standard arm or tricep workout, aim to complete a minimum of three different exercises to train all three of the heads effectively.

Maximum exercises per workout should be between 6 and 7.

 

Q: How many times a week should I train triceps?

Triceps should be trained at least twice a week to build muscle mass while avoiding injury. Within those workouts, you should aim to complete between 8 and 12 sets.

 

Summary

Now that you’re armed (see what I did there?) with all this information about lateral head tricep exercises, get out there and start lifting!

Check back for other exercise guides soon, including our favorite moves to train the long and medial heads.

Here’s a quick recap of the 10 best lateral head tricep exercises:

  1. Weighted Dips
  2. Tricep Pushdowns
  3. Tricep Kickbacks
  4. Close Grip Bench Press
  5. Diamond Push-Ups
  6. EZ Bar Skull Crushers
  7. Overhead Tricep Extensions
  8. Dumbbell Floor Presses
  9. Overhead Tricep Presses
  10. Bench Dips

What’s your favorite lateral head tricep exercise? Leave a comment below. 

Hanna has been a fitness fanatic for most of her life. She grew up on the soccer field and volleyball court and credits those sports with her determination, passion for fitness, and leadership off the field. She is currently studying to become a personal trainer and hopes to begin coaching in 2022.

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