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The 10 Best Medial Head Tricep Exercises

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The Best Medial Head Tricep Exercises

What are the best medial head tricep exercises?

Of the three heads that make up the triceps brachii, the medial head seems to be the ugly stepsister.

The long head and lateral head are the largest of the heads and have more potential to gain muscle.

All that said, the medial head is still an integral part of the muscle group.

It acts as a bridge between the lateral head and the long head, so strengthening the medial head means strengthening the muscles as a whole.

In this post, we’re sharing the best tricep exercises to incorporate into tricep workouts to train the three heads, improve muscle strength, and get those gains in the upper arms you’ve been working so hard for.

 

The Best Medial 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 medial head tricep exercises:

 

10. Cable Rope Pushdowns

Best Medial Head Tricep Exercises - Cable Rope Pushdowns

Great for:

Targeting the lateral and medial head at the same intensity.

How to do it:

  1. Grab the rope attachment from the cable machine with an overhand grip
  2. Hold the rope at your chest, with your feet slightly apart
  3. Engaging your core, tuck the elbows in and start pushing down on the rope until the elbows are extended.
  4. With your back straight, exhale and slowly bring your arms back up to the starting position
  5. Repeat as desired

Why:

To get the tricep heads burning, the cable rope pushdown is one of the best tricep exercises you can do!

When:

High reps are most effective in a pushdown to get the maximum amount of effort from the triceps, so aim for anywhere from 15 to 30 reps per set.

Add these to the end of your arm workouts to get a strong finish and effectively burn out the upper arms.

 

9. Diamond Push-Ups

Best Medial Head Tricep Exercises - Diamond Push-Ups

Great for:

Effectively targeting the lateral and medial tricep heads through a simple change in hand positions.

How to do it:

  1. Get into a standard pushup position and form a diamond shape on the floor with your hands, right under your chest
  2. With your elbows at 45 degrees, squeeze the glutes and core, then lower yourself up off the floor by pushing down through your palms (still forming a diamond)
  3. When your chest nearly touches the floor, push back up to starting position without flaring your elbows
  4. Repeat as desired

Why:

Because they’re a variation of the standard push-up, diamonds may come across as an easier exercise for the triceps.

But don’t them fool you; they’re much more difficult than they seem.

By simply changing your hand positioning, you’re making this push-up much more difficult for your triceps and upper arms.

When:

Your goal with this exercise should be total muscle failure by the end of each set. Meaning, your muscles are burnt out and toasted by the end.

Whatever this number looks like for you, do that!

 

8. Tate Presses

Best Medial Head Tricep Exercises - Tate Press

Great for:

Tricep isolation to build muscle mass and strength, helping to achieve hypertrophy in all three heads.

How to do it:

  1. Keep your feet flat on the floor with your shoulders down and your core engaged
  2. Position the dumbbells directly above your shoulders, then bend your elbows and rotate your wrists to move the ends of the dumbbells down to your chest
  3. When you reach your chest, slowly extend your elbows to push the dumbbells back up to the starting position
  4. Repeat as desired

Why:

To get a solid, deep stretch in the triceps, Tate Presses are highly effective in building mass and improving your upper body strength.

Tate Presses are an effective tricep workout that hit the lateral head, medial head, and long head.

Targeting the heads of the triceps while providing a steady burn in the upper body is what this press variation does best.

When:

Hitting the heads of the triceps from a different angle is best done at least twice a week for optimal results.

The Tate Press may take you a moment to get used to, but once you do, try to complete 10 reps per set and then scale up as you see fit.

 

7. Palms Out Bench Dips

Best Medial Head Tricep Exercises - Palms Out Bench Dips

Great for:

An effective bodyweight exercise that targets the triceps as a whole and the medial head through a small variation.

How to do it:

  1. Take a seat at a weight bench and arrange your hands so they are horizontally aligned with the bench
  2. Walk your feet out in front of you until your legs are fully extended, lifting your butt off the bench so your arms are extended as well
  3. Lower your body slowly down as far as you can, til your arms form a 90-degree angle
  4. Power up through your palms to get back to the starting position
  5. Repeat as desired

Why:

By simply turning the hands horizontally to the bench, you’re emphasizing this movement for the medial head.

Not only do Palms Out dips train the triceps, but they also build strength in the core, chest, and upper body.

Your body position is important in the bench dip; make sure your core is strong, and your posture remains tall as you lower yourself down and back up again.

When:

All you need for this exercise is a flat, sturdy bench or another surface.

This move should not feel very difficult, but if you want to up the ante, you can add weight by holding a dumbbell or weight plate securely in your lap.

In doing so, you don’t have to burn out doing endless reps, and you will work against the resistance from the weights.

 

6. Lying Reverse Grip Tricep Extensions

Best Medial Head Tricep Exercises - Lying Reverse Grip Tricep Extension

 

Great for:

One of the most effective medial head exercises to build strength while targeting all three heads and the upper arms.

How to do it:

  1. Lie flat on a bench with your shoulder blades pinched together
  2. Grab a barbell or EZ bar with an underhand grip, about shoulder-width apart
  3. Hold the bar at arm’s length over your head
  4. With your upper arms stationary, bend the elbows and lower the bar down till it is near your forehead, almost behind your head
  5. When you feel resistance in the triceps, power the bar back up to starting position
  6. Repeat as desired

Why:

For building tricep strength and mass while targeting the chest and upper body, lying reverse-grip tricep extensions are a solid choice.

The reverse grip activates the medial head as you lower the bar to your forehead and the long head and lateral head when moving the weight behind your head.

When:

It’s likely you will need a spotter to hand you the barbell for this exercise, so plan accordingly.

Try to complete anywhere from 8 to 10 reps, and then rest.

 

5. Skull Crushers

Best Medial Head Tricep Exercises - Skullcrushers

Great for:

A core movement to sculpt and strengthen the tricep heads.

How to do it:

  1. Lie back on a weight bench and hold the barbell in your hands, palms facing up
  2. Lower the bar until your elbows are at 90 degrees — they should be almost touching your forehead
  3. Press back up into full tricep extension 
  4. Repeat as desired 

Why:

Lowering the bar near your head (and nearly crushing your skull!) targets the medial and lateral head, the two muscles on the interior and exterior of the back of your arm.

There are many efficient variations of this movement; you can work with dumbbells for an isolation exercise or use a bench at an incline to increase tricep stretch and many more.

When:

Thanks to all those variations mentioned above, you can add skull crushers to an at-home exercise if you can’t hit the gym.

Get those triceps burning; you won’t regret it!

 

4. Dumbell Overhead Tricep Extensions

Best Medial Head Tricep Exercises - Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extension

Great for:

Achieving hypertrophy of the tricep muscles through the extension motion.

How to do it:

  1. Hold a dumbbell with both hands (or use two lighter dumbbells, one in each hand), keep your feet firmly planted and your posture strong
  2. Lift the dumbbell overhead, fully extending your arms and palms facing the ceiling. Your elbows should be pointing forward
  3. Bend your elbows and slowly lower the dumbbell behind your head, squeezing the triceps as you lower
  4. Raise the dumbbell back up behind your head
  5. Repeat as desired

Why:

The triceps extension actively forces all three heads to work in conjunction to extend the arms overhead and lower them behind the head.

Why should you incorporate extensions into your upper body programs? The entire triceps muscle will gain strength and look bigger in the process.

What more reason do you need?

When:

Armed with dumbbells, overhead tricep extensions can be done anywhere you have the room to stand.

Many weightlifters and athletes experience wrist pain from added strain on the joints and ligaments during heavy lifts.

In this exercise, very little movement is required of the wrists, and the stress of the weight isn’t heavily carried by them.

 

3. JM Presses

Best Medial Head Tricep Exercises - JM Press

Great for:

Working the chest, delts, and triceps to increase the strength and size of the upper body.

How to do it:

  1. Lie on a weight bench with your feet flat on the floor
  2. Grip a dumbbell with your hands around shoulder-width apart
  3. Unrack the bar and tuck your elbows in at your sides, with the bar resting on your chest
  4. Push the bar up, fully extending your arms above you
  5. Bend the elbows and bring the bar back down towards your chest, relying on control through your forearms
  6. Repeat as desired

Why:

Not only do JM presses help build strength in the upper arms and body, but they can also help you lift heavier in other movements, like the bench press.

Compound movements like the press train multiple muscles at once, making them ultra-productive and efficient.

It’s a win-win… more reason to start doing this ASAP!

When:

JM presses prioritize the grip strength and strong form above all else. Weight doesn’t matter as much as good form does, so keep your ego out of the exercise.

Each set should contain anywhere from 8 to 10 reps.

 

2. Dumbbell Reverse Grip Tricep Presses

Best Medial Head Tricep Exercises - Dumbbell Reverse Grip Tricep Press

Great for:

Compound movements to train the upper body, emphasizing chest and triceps strength.

How to do it:

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand in a reverse grip
  2. Sit on the end of a workout bench with the dumbbells resting on your knees, then slowly lay back on the bench
  3. Push the dumbbells straight up by extending your arms above your chest. Your palms should be facing your shoulders
  4. Slowly lower the dumbbells to around chest height, and pause for one second to squeeze the triceps
  5. Raise the dumbbells back to starting position
  6. Repeat as desired

Why:

A tricep exercise that targets multiple muscle groups at once will always be high on our list!

You probably know by now that the secret sauce for targeting the medial head lies in the reverse grip.

This grip eases tension in the elbows while still allowing you to lift a heavy load, and this move gets pretty heavy!

When:

Because of the strength that pressing requires, it’s best to perform this movement towards the beginning of your workout, when your arms and chest are fully energized.

 

1. Reverse Grip Tricep Pushdowns

Best Medial Head Tricep Exercises - Reverse Grip Tricep Pushdowns

Great for:

Emphasizing the medial head through an underhand grip and the elbows tucked.

How to do it:

  1. Attach a bar to the high cable machine
  2. Facing the machine, hold the bar with your palms in a reverse grip, hands shoulder-width apart and elbows tucked in at your sides
  3. Lower the bar, extending your arms fully at your sides. Your forearms should be the only thing moving throughout this exercise
  4. Slowly raise the bar towards your chest, back to the starting position
  5. Repeat as desired

Why:

One of the reasons we love this movement so much is because it prevents strain in the elbows while working the entire triceps muscle.

By tucking your elbows in, you are protecting the joints there from heavy weights and simultaneously activating the medial head in the process.

When:

Since you need a pulley or cable machine to complete this exercise, plan to complete pushdowns twice a week in the gym.

Use a weight that challenges you but still allows you to complete 20 reps with perfect form.

 

FAQs About Medial Head Tricep Exercises

Since you can never be too prepared, here are our answers to some frequently asked questions about the best medial head tricep exercises.

 

Q: What does the medial head of the triceps do?

The main function of the triceps brachii is the extension of the forearm from the elbow joint, and the medial head is the only head active in all forms of this movement.

The other heads, the long head, and the lateral head are only active during any extension at the elbow against any resistance.

 

Q: How do you target the medial head of the triceps?

Targeting the medial head of the triceps is achieved by the grip used and specific exercises performed.

The grip most effective at targeting the medial head of the triceps is the reverse grip.

 

Q: How do I grow my triceps medial head?

While the reverse grip is the most effective at targeting the medial head, the best way to build mass is by performing exercises like press downs, bench press, and skull crushers (lying extensions).

These moves are the best options to build muscle mass and strength in the medial head.

 

Q: How many tricep exercises should I do per workout?

Beginners should aim to complete four triceps (and chest) exercises per workout.

This number will help you build endurance via strength training as you gain power in your upper arms.

If you’re an intermediate lifter and want to train more, aim for 6 to 7 per workout.

 

Q: How many sets should you do for triceps a week?

Beginners should strive for around 10 sets of triceps each week. Intermediate lifters try to complete around 15 sets of tricep exercises per week.

These numbers can fluctuate depending on your fitness goals.

These numbers focus on lifters trying to build muscle mass, not just maintain their current tricep muscles.

 

Summary

There you have it!

If training the triceps is one of your focuses in the gym right now, this post is all you need to build strong upper arms that make you feel confident anywhere you go.

Remember that the triceps are built through consistency, so keep grinding!

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

  1. Reverse Grip Tricep Pushdowns
  2. Dumbbell Reverse Grip Tricep Presses
  3. JM Presses
  4. Dumbell Overhead Tricep Extensions
  5. Skull Crushers
  6. Lying Reverse Grip Tricep Extensions
  7. Palms Out Bench Dips
  8. Tate Presses
  9. Diamond Push-Ups
  10. Cable Rope Pushdowns

What’s your favorite medial 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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