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The 10 Best Long Head Tricep Exercises

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The Best Long Head Tricep Exercises

What are the best long head tricep exercises? 

The triceps make up nearly two-thirds of the upper arms, so training them is key to achieving the bulky arms you’re working hard for.

Of the three heads that make up the triceps (the long head, lateral head, and medial head), the long head is the biggest.

Not only does the long head help with elbow extension, but it also plays a pivotal role in shoulder extension and stabilization.

In this post, we’ll discuss the importance of targeting the long head through triceps exercises and how you can build bigger arms.

 

The Best Long 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 long head tricep exercises:

 

10. Close Grip Bench Press

Best Long Head Tricep Exercises - Close Grip Bench Press

Great for:

Targeting all three tricep heads while developing strength in the chest, shoulders, and biceps.

How to do it:

  1. Lie flat on a bench and arch your back while keeping your back and shoulders on the bench
  2. Grab the barbell with a less than shoulder-width grip and hold it directly above your chest
  3. Slowly lower the barbell towards your lower chest with your elbows tucked at a 30-degree angle
  4. Touch the bar to your chest, then press the bar back up to the starting position, with a nearly full elbow extension

Why:

Undoubtedly, the bench press is one of the best tricep exercises to target all three heads of the tricep muscle.

Because you can safely scale up your weights as you build strength and proper form, the bench press is an ideal movement for working the upper arms and upper body while building stronger arms.

When:

Train your arms with this triceps exercise whenever you’re planning to complete any arm program.

You can add it to a standard full-body strength training workout or incorporate it into a triceps-focused routine.

 

9. Behind The Neck Overhead Presses

Best Long Head Tricep Exercises - Behind the Neck Overhead Press

Great for:

Working the shoulders, triceps, upper back and the serrates anterior to improve upper body strength.

How to do it:

  1. Sit with a barbell on your back, resting on the trap muscles, and your knees bent at 90 degrees
  2. Grip the bar with your hands wider than shoulder-width apart and your palms facing forward
  3. Squeeze the shoulder blades, elbows under the bar, and press the bar straight up. Try to line the bar up with your head
  4. Slowly lower the bar back to the starting position
  5. Repeat as desired

Why:

The behind the neck overhead press successfully targets the entire upper body in one exercise, increasing shoulder stability while building stronger muscles in the back.

Training your shoulders has many health benefits for the upper body; avoiding injury, improving posture, and increasing mobility in the back and arms.

This movement does place a lot of stress on the shoulder joints, so be aware of that.

If the shoulder extension motion doesn’t feel right, make sure you dial back on the weights or wait until your back and arms are stronger for this one.

When:

Incorporate this exercise into your upper body, arms, or back and shoulders programs.

It’s versatile enough to join almost any upper body workout and still provides a heavy lift for all muscle groups.

 

8. Close Grip Push-Ups

Best Long Head Tricep Exercises - Close Grip Push Ups

Great for:

Building upper body muscle strength, improving core strength, and perfecting plank form.

How to do it:

  1. Get into high plank position with your hands a few inches apart, hips over knees, shoulder blades outward, and legs hip-width or closer
  2. Tuck your chin, engage the core, then bend your elbows to lower your chest towards your hands. Lower down until your upper arms are parallel to your back.
  3. Pause at the bottom of the push-up, then start pushing back up by straightening the elbows
  4. Complete the push-up by squeezing the triceps for an additional burn
  5. Repeat as desired

Why:

To build upper body strength, push-ups are a simple addition that can simultaneously target the shoulders, chest, and triceps brachii.

You’ll also work the stabilizer muscles in the core to improve posture and work the abdominals.

When:

Push-ups, in general, are such a versatile move to add to any strength training workout plan.

Because you can do them anywhere, try out a few different variations of this move to learn how to target the three heads of the triceps muscle.

 

7. Weighted Dips

Best Long Head Tricep Exercises - Weighted Dips

Great for:

Working the triceps through time under tension to build new muscle tissue and develop upper arm strength.  

How to do it:

  1. Wrap the chain around your waist and select your weight, then fasten the carabiner
  2. Hold both handles of the dip bar and push yourself up by straightening your arms to support your bodyweight
  3. Bend your knees to keep from touching the ground, then slowly bend your elbows to lower your body into a controlled dip
  4. When your upper arms are parallel to the floor, push your body back up to the starting position by squeezing the triceps and pressing into the handles

Why:

Dips are a solid exercise for the long head and are one of the most effective bodyweight exercises you can do in the gym.

As you build strength, you can wear a dip belt and add hanging weights to really get the triceps working.

When:

Because of the heaviness of this exercise, dips should be carefully planned into your workout routine to protect your muscles from overuse or strain.

Try to complete a set of 4 to 5 dips per set, adding weight after a few sessions that you feel your strength improving.

Build up the resistance slowly so your joints and muscles can adjust to the new challenge.

 

6. Cable Tricep Pushdowns 

Best Long Head Tricep Exercises - Cable Tricep Pushdowns

Great for:

Providing resistance for the entire range of motion and isolating the triceps brachii.

How to do it:

  1. Set a cable machine with the bar’s height equal to your head
  2. Stand tall with your elbows tucked at your sides and feet hip-width apart
  3. Grab the cable handle with both hands and pull down until the bar touches your thighs, squeezing the triceps at the bottom of this movement
  4. Slowly raise the bar back up to the starting position
  5. Repeat as desired

Why:

The pressing movement is one of the best ways to sculpt and tone all three heads of the triceps.

It also trains the muscles involved in any pressing type of exercise, like bench press, push press, push-ups, and dips.

When:

Pushdowns are a great compound exercise to train the upper body in the gym and are without doubt one of the best long head tricep exercises.

Add pushdowns to any arm workout, starting twice a week. Focus on proper form and getting high reps with a moderate weight.

 

5. Seated Dumbbell Overhead Extensions

Best Long Head Tricep Exercises - Seated Dumbbell Overhead Extensions

Great for:

Improving posture and achieving hypertrophy in the triceps through the activation of all three heads.

How to do it:

  1. Sit on a weight bench with your feet flat on the floor, posture strong
  2. Hold one moderately heavy dumbbell in both hands directly above your head
  3. Slowly lower the weight behind your head, squeezing your elbows and keeping your upper arms still
  4. Extend your arms back up to the starting position
  5. Repeat as desired

Why:

The extension is the “secret sauce” for tricep activation. With this motion comes hypertrophy, or an increase in muscle mass, to the three heads.

Overhead extensions are popular for weightlifters because they don’t stress the wrist or elbow joint as many arm movements do.

When:

Add tricep extensions of any variation to your current arm workout regime, or incorporate them in the days you lift heavy and need a solid warm-up.

 

4. Incline Dumbbell Tricep Extensions 

Best Long Head Tricep Exercises - Incline Dumbbell Tricep Extensions

Great for:

Isolating the triceps to improve strength and build muscle mass.

How to do it:

  1. Sit on an incline bench at around 30 degrees with a dumbbell in each hand
  2. Press the dumbbells overhead, with your arms fully extended
  3. Slowly lower the weights towards your shoulders by bending your elbows
  4. Once the dumbbells are adjacent to your ears, drive them back up to the starting point by squeezing the triceps
  5. Repeat as desired

Why:

Isolation exercises are beneficial for the triceps because they force the upper arm muscle groups to work without relying on the chest or shoulders for support.

Movements involving a shoulder extension effectively target the three heads because they get a much deeper stretch in that motion.

Heavy dumbbells are not recommended in this move because of the stress they can put on each elbow joint. Try to focus on form and use a moderate weight to perform this exercise correctly.

When:

This variation in the tricep extension can be paired with other arm workouts, including pressing, pushdowns, and kickbacks.

Try to train your triceps three times a week. Complete 3 to 4 sets of 10 to 15 reps of this exercise for optimal results.

 

3. Dumbbell Tricep Kickbacks

Best Long Head Tricep Exercises - Dumbbell Tricep Kickbacks

Great for:

Building upper body strength, stability in the shoulders, and improving range of motion.

How to do it:

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your knees bent
  2. Hinge forward at the waist, so your torso is parallel with the ground
  3. Keep your arms tucked close to your sides and your chin tucked down
  4. Squeeze your triceps as you straighten the elbows, so the weights are extended out behind you, only moving your forearms
  5. Once your arms are extended out, hold for one second, then return the weights back to the starting position
  6. Repeat as desired

Why:

Kickbacks are one of the best isolation exercises you can do to strengthen the long head of the triceps.

This exercise can help prepare you for movements you do every day, including lifting and pushing.

When:

If you split your workouts into upper and lower body routines, it’s best to perform tricep kickbacks as a movement in your upper body program twice a week.

Kickbacks can provide a great burn and will help you achieve the upper arm tone you’re looking for. You may be tempted to grab for heavier weight to perform this move, but don’t.

Using heavier weights on the triceps can lead to improper form or injury, so choose a weight that challenges you but isn’t the heaviest part of your workout.

 

2. EZ Bar Overhead Tricep Extensions

Best Long Head Tricep Exercises - EZ Bar Overhead Tricep Extensions

Great for:

Building muscle and power in the long head while activating the lateral and medial heads.

How to do it:

  1. Hold an EZ bar over your head with your hands about shoulder-width apart
  2. Slowly lower the bar down behind your head with your elbows tucked in
  3. Once your forearms are parallel to the floor, extend them back up to the starting position as you squeeze the triceps
  4. Repeat as desired

Why:

This movement works all three tricep heads for a slow burn that will get your heart rate up.

The key is to keep the tension in your triceps by squeezing them during the upward motion.

If you need a bigger range of motion for this exercise, grab a pair of dumbbells instead.

When:

Overhead tricep extensions are a killer move for the three tricep heads and sculpt the muscle groups in the upper arms.

Incorporate this exercise into your arm workouts two days a week, with moderately heavy weights.

 

1. Cable Overhead Tricep Extensions

Best Long Head Tricep Exercises - Cable Overhead Tricep Extensions

Great for:

An isolation exercise that stretches the triceps while building mass in the upper arms.

How to do it:

  1. Grip the handles on the cable overhead and hinge forward at the hips, with the cable machine behind you
  2. Assume a split stance, with one foot forward and the other foot behind you for balance
  3. Hold the elbows close to your head
  4. Slowly extend your elbows forward by engaging the triceps, then bend your arms until you feel the triceps stretch
  5. Repeat as desired

Why:

As one of the most effective isolation exercises you can do for stronger arms, overhead tricep extensions are the full package.

They help with muscular development, and offer some great variations if you don’t have a cable machine, want to use dumbbells, or are completing the movement while seated.

Variations in any exercise can lead to muscle thickness and maximum strength, so don’t hesitate to add variety to your workouts.

When:

Try to incorporate the triceps extension movement into your standard triceps exercises, including pushdowns, presses, and more.

 

FAQs About Long Head Tricep Exercises

If this post has you convinced that training the triceps brachii is the key to achieving bigger arms, you’re spot on.

Here are our answers to a few questions you may have about training the three tricep heads.

 

Q: What does the tricep long head do?

The long head of the triceps muscle is attached above the shoulder joint in the upper arm.

The long head is stretched when the arms are raised overhead.

 

Q: How do I activate my triceps long head?

Activating the triceps long head is done through overhead movements, like the overhead tricep extension.

 

Q: What are the benefits of tricep extensions?

Extensions help to strengthen the triceps brachii, which makes up all three of the tricep heads.

Tricep extensions build and sculpt the muscles in the upper arm.

 

Q: What is the best triceps exercise for size?

To build bigger triceps, you can incorporate exercises like dips, pushdowns, presses, and extensions into your arm workouts.

The combination of these moves on a consistent schedule will build muscle mass and strength in the triceps.

 

Q: Do skull crushers work the long head?

Skull crushers target all three heads of the triceps.

When the bar is lowered to the forehead, the medial and lateral heads are worked.

When the bar is lowered past your head, the long head is activated.

 

Summary

Think you’ve got a good idea of what the best long head tricep exercises are?

Well, let’s put that knowledge to the test! It’s time to hit the gym and get your pump on.

Your triceps will be sore, but nobody ever regrets a workout.

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

  1. Cable Overhead Tricep Extensions
  2. EZ Bar Overhead Tricep Extensions
  3. Dumbbell Tricep Kickbacks
  4. Incline Dumbbell Tricep Extensions 
  5. Seated Dumbbell Overhead Extensions
  6. Cable Tricep Pushdowns
  7. Weighted Dips
  8. Close Grip Push-Ups
  9. Behind The Neck Overhead Presses
  10. Close Grip Bench Press

What’s your favorite long 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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