Man with strong arms facing slightly away.

Triceps Lateral Head Development

The tricep muscle is (obviously) quite important in our every day lives. It works together with other arm muscles to help you carry, lift, and push things. Powerful triceps play an oversized role in making your arms enormous. The triceps are actually made up of three different parts. One of those parts is called the lateral head tricep. And if there’s one part of the tricep muscle that really needs our attention, it’s the lateral head.

Targeting the lateral head in our arm workouts with specific exercises will give you that awesome horseshoe shape on the outside of your upper arm and really pop out the tricep.

But, how do you actually grow it? There are some pretty fantastic exercises that target the tricep lateral head.

Benefits of Growing your Lateral Head

Like anything else in the gym, there are some benefits to working out the lateral head. Anyone who has ever competed on stage or in a powerlifting competition can attest to the advantage well trained lateral heads can bring along. Let’s talk about them.

Aesthetics: Triceps Are A Money Maker

Everyone loves a good set of arms. They make you feel good. Men and women both chase them, just with different goals. Aesthetically, arms are the top priority for most people for a few reasons.

For starters, even though they are extremely coveted abs are hard to maintain. You have to give up a LOT of things to have and maintain them. Legs are great but not always visible even when you have a good set. Backs really tell the world a person works out hard but are also not the most visible. Arms, though?

Arms are attainable AND visible far more often than most other muscles which makes them extremely attractive goals to have. Throw in the effect it has on other people and it’s a golden opportunity. Walk into a room with the best set of arms and people automatically think about how well you take care of yourself. Your confidence grows, and you carry yourself differently which adds to the effect you have on other people. It’s all win-win.

Triceps make up the bulk of the arm, and the lateral head makes up most of the visible parts of the arm when viewed from the front or side. That is why they are important.

When our lateral head triceps are well-developed, it gives our arms a nice, defined look. Who doesn’t want that?

Performance: Make the Days Easier

Some jobs require lifting objects over your head or throwing objects as hard as you can. Other times throughout the day you might need to push things away or lift yourself off of objects. How efficiently and easily you perform those actions is where the word ‘performance’ comes into play.

No one wants to put a lot of effort into daily activities that should be easy to do.

The more we exercise our lateral head triceps, the stronger they grow (obviously). Want to throw a ball farther than all the other dads or middle-aged people in your league? Push more weight than your gym buddy? Have fewer injuries as you age? Stand out from your peers with whatever upper body action you do? Grow those arms, and if it is push related, grow that lateral head.

Best Exercises for Lateral Head Triceps

Ready, set, let’s exercise! Here we bring you the 10 best workouts to take your lateral head triceps from zero to hero. Get ready; you’re about to become the fitness expert at your school!

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1. Close Grip Bench Press

This is like a regular bench press, but with your hands closer together. This puts more focus on your triceps.

Follow the steps below to perform the close grip bench press, a great exercise for working your triceps:

  1. Lie Down on the Bench: Start by lying flat on a bench press. Your feet should be flat on the ground, and your back firmly against the bench.
  2. Grip the Bar: Reach up and grab the barbell with your hands closer together than in a usual bench press — about shoulder-width apart. This is what is called a “close grip”. Ensure your palms are facing away from you.
  3. Start the Initial Lift: With a firm grip on the bar, lift it off the rack. Hold it straight over your chest with your arms fully extended. This is your starting position.
  4. Lower the Bar: Inhale and slowly lower the bar down to your chest, keeping your elbows close to your body (they shouldn’t flare out to the sides).
  5. Press the Bar Up: Exhale while pushing the bar back to the starting position. This motion should be slow and controlled — no sudden moves! Focus on contracting those triceps.
  6. Repeat: Repeat the lowering and lifting for the desired number of reps. Each time, make sure your form stays correct and your movements remain slow and deliberate.

You will need to go lighter than regular bench press since this will really target the smaller triceps than the overall pectoral muscles.

2. Tricep Pressdowns

Just like pushing something heavy down to the ground.

Follow these simple steps to perform tricep pressdowns, an effective exercise that targets your tricep long head:

  1. Set Up the Machine: Find a high pulley cable machine. Attach a straight or v-shaped bar to the high pulley.
  2. Get Ready: Stand straight facing the cable machine, with your feet hip-width apart and a slight bend in your knees.
  3. Grip the Bar: Adjust the pin or weight stack to the desired resistance. Grab the bar with a palms-down grip (your palms should be facing the floor), and position your hands shoulder-width apart.
  4. Starting Position: Begin with your elbows close to your body and bent at a 90-degree angle. Your forearms should be parallel to the floor, and the bar should be at about chest height.
  5. Perform the Pressdown: Keeping your upper arms and elbows fixed by your sides, exhale and press the bar down until your arms are fully extended. Your triceps should be doing all the work during this motion. Keep the motion of the rest of your body to an absolute minimum.
  6. Upper Motion: Inhale and slowly, in a controlled manner, return the bar to the starting position, maintaining the position of your elbows and upper arms.
  7. Repeat: Perform the desired number of reps and sets, focusing on proper form and engaging your triceps with each pressdown.

Remember to start with a manageable weight and progress over time.

3. Diamond Push-ups

Create a diamond shape with your hands and do push-ups. Seems easy, but it can be deceiving.

Follow these straightforward steps to perform diamond push-ups, an excellent bodyweight exercise for targeting your triceps and chest:

  1. Find a Clear Space: Look for a flat and clear area with enough space for you to fully extend your body if you laid on the floor.
  2. Get into Position: Get down into a standard push-up position, with your body forming a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles.
  3. Form the Diamond: Instead of the typical wide hand placement, bring your hands close together so thumbs and index fingers touch. This forms a diamond shape (hence the name of the exercise).
  4. Start the Push-up: Lower your body towards the ground by bending your elbows. Keep your elbows close to your body as you descend and keep your hands close to the center of your mid or lower chest.
  5. Perform the Push-up: Push your body back up to the starting position by straightening your elbows, exerting force through your hands and engaging your triceps and chest. This completes one repetition.
  6. Repeat: Do the desired number of reps, always focusing on keeping your form correct.

Remember, diamond push-ups are more challenging than traditional push-ups due to the close hand placement. Start with standard push-ups, if necessary, and work your way up to the diamond version as your strength improves.

4. EZ Bar Skull Crushers

Don’t worry, no actual skulls are crushed here (hopefully)! But, be careful and don’t go too heavy too soon or there might be.

How to do some EZ Bar Skull Crushers. A fantastic exercise for strengthening your triceps:

  1. Gather Your Equipment: For this exercise, you’ll need an EZ curl bar with the appropriate weights. Make sure you select a weight that allows you to perform the movement with good form safely.
  2. Lie Down on the Bench: Start by lying on a flat bench with your feet on the floor. Make sure your back and head are comfortably resting on the bench.
  3. Grip the Bar: Take a medium, overhand gripping the EZ bar. Ensure that your palms are facing towards your feet and your arms are perpendicular to the floor.
  4. Starting Position: Begin with your arms fully extended and the EZ bar hovering above you. This is your starting position.
  5. Lower the Bar: Keeping your upper arms still, bend your elbows and gently lower the EZ bar towards your forehead – thus the name “Skull Crushers”.
  6. Return to Starting Position: Once you reach close to your forehead, push the bar back up to the starting position by extending your arms.
  7. Repeat: Perform your desired number of reps, while maintaining the stability of your upper arms and focusing on moving your forearms.

Safety is crucial when doing EZ Bar Skull Crushers because of the close proximity of the weights to your head. Be sure to use a spotter when attempting the heavier weights.

5. Dumbbell French Press

Hold a dumbbell over your head and extend at the elbow.

Follow these step-by-step instructions to perform a Dumbbell French Press:

  1. Prepare Your Equipment: For this exercise, select a dumbbell with a weight that allows you to perform the exercise with good form.
  2. Lie Down on the Bench: Start by laying flat on a bench, feet firmly on the ground and back pressed against the bench.
  3. Grip the Dumbbell: Grip the dumbbell with both hands and raise it over your chest at arm’s length.
  4. Starting Position: Keeping your elbows stationary and close to your head, lower the dumbbell in an arc behind your head until your elbows are at about a 90-degree angle. This is your starting position.
  5. Execute the Exercise: Using only your forearms, slowly lift the dumbbell back to the starting position while exhaling. Ensure you focus on flexing your triceps as you go back up.
  6. Repeat: Perform your desired number of reps and sets while keeping your upper arms stationary throughout the exercise.

Always remember to use a weight that’s manageable for you and progress as your strength increases. Performing the Dumbbell French Press with correct form is crucial to isolate and engage your triceps effectively. Enjoy your workout!

6. Dips

Chuck Norris pushes the Earth down when he tries to dip.

Follow these steps to perform dips, a great bodyweight exercise for strengthening your triceps and chest:

  1. Find Dipping Bars: Look for parallel dipping bars. These are typically found in most gyms.
  2. Get into Position: Stand between the bars, placing each hand firmly on a separate bar. Your palms should be facing inwards and grip should be about shoulder-width apart.
  3. Starting Position: Jump or lift yourself up to straighten your arms. Cross your ankles for better balance (optional). This is your starting position.
  4. Lower Your Body: Bend your elbows and slowly lower yourself down. Aim to descend until your upper arms are parallel with the floor.
  5. Push Back Up: Push yourself back up to the start position, focusing on using your triceps and chest to drive the upward motion.
  6. Repeat: Perform the desired number of repetitions, always focusing on correct form.

Dips can be challenging when starting out. Begin by using an assisted dip machine if necessary, or do bench dips, and progress to full dips over time. Always ensure your form is correct—better to do fewer repetitions correctly than lots with poor form.

7. Tricep Cable Kickbacks

Like pushing something behind you with lots of power – just using a cable at the gym!

Follow these step-by-step instructions to perform tricep cable kickbacks, a great tricep-isolating exercise:

  1. Setup the Cable Machine: Start by adjusting the cable machine to a low setting, near the bottom of the machine. Attach a single handle to the cable pulley.
  2. Position Yourself: Stand next to the cable machine and grab the handle with the hand that is closest to it. Take one step away from the machine to create some tension while the arm is extended.
  3. Form the Stance: Bend forward at your hips: You want your torso to be almost parallel with the floor. Slightly bend your knees for stability and keep your back straight.
  4. Grip the Handle and Find the Position: Grab the handle with your palm facing your body. Your arm should be bent at a 90-degree angle and be close to your side. This is the starting position.
  5. Perform the Exercise: Keeping your upper arm stationary, extend your forearm back and up while contracting your triceps. Exhale during this phase.
  6. Return to Starting Position: Pause for a second at the top of the movement, then slowly return the handle to the starting position in a controlled manner while inhaling.
  7. Repeat: Perform the desired number of repetitions on one arm, then switch sides and repeat the exercise with the other arm.

When doing tricep cable kickbacks, focus on keeping your upper arm stationary and only moving your forearm. The controlled movement is key to properly isolate and engage your triceps. Enjoy your workout!

The Importance of Correct Form and Safety Precautions

Exercising is fun and brings us loads of health benefits. But, just like everything else in life, it’s important to do it right. Using the correct form and taking safety precautions can save us from career ending (or unexpected breaks from the gym) injuries that may or may not require medical attention. Let’s dive into why this is super important.

Planes of Movement

When we do exercises, especially our tricep exercises, our body must move in a particular way. That’s what we call the ‘form.’ Doing exercises with the correct form is like painting within lines – we get a beautiful picture without any smudges!

Any joint is meant to move in specific directions. Our shoulders can move in (nearly) any direction with some angles more powerful than others. Our hips are a close second when it comes to overall mobility. Since our triceps are connected to the shoulder and the elbow we need to make sure we are working within the proper planes of motion to grow them which include movements when our arm extended behind us and when we extend our elbow.

Any movement outside of those areas isn’t going to target the triceps to a large degree.

When it comes to the lateral head specifically, any exercises that extends the elbow with a neutral or overhand grip is going to be your best bet for growing your tricep. Stay there.


No one likes to get injured. It takes you out of your routine, can cost a lot of money to fix if you need to visit the doc, and it generally just hurts. If we don’t use the right form or safety precautions during any exercise, we may end up hurting ourselves.

Safety first. Always remember these golden rules:

  • Always warm up before any exercise. Focus on the muscles you will be using.
  • When using gym equipment, always use it as it is intended. Using a hack squat machine for overhead presses or a machine chest press for leg presses won’t turn out well so don’t try.
  • If something doesn’t feel right or hurts, stop the exercise immediately. Know your body and the difference between discomfort and actual injury.
  • Never try to lift more weight than you can handle. If you want to go heavy, have a capable spotter that will help you recover if you fail.

By using the correct form and following safety precautions, you ensure that your journey is not only successful but also safe.

Incorporating Tricep Lateral Head Exercises

Now that you know the general idea here and have some awesome tricep exercises and safety rules, it’s time to do them. How do you add them into your daily training and create a balanced, effective workout plan? Here’s how.

Switch Things Up: Tempo Variations and Rep Ranges

You ever get stuck in the monotony of your job? Making the same burgers or editing the same spreadsheets is boring. It can be maddening to feel like you are spinning your wheels. Things have to stay interesting to keep us on track.

Don’t get stuck in a boring routine! Changing how fast and how many times you do exercises keeps things exciting (tempo variations) and helps keep your body on track to build muscles (rep range adjustments) without stagnation.

  • Hypertrophy: Want bigger muscles? Aim for 6-12 reps at a medium to slow tempo at 60-65% of your 1RM.
  • Strength: Looking for raw power? Work with 1-5 reps at a slower tempo and higher weights (70%+ of your 1RM).

A Workout Plan Just for You!

Plan your exercise week to balance all your workouts. Don’t forget to:

  • Include exercises for all muscle groups: arms, legs, chest, back, and trunk.
  • Growth requires 10+ sets for a muscle group each week of decent difficulty.
  • Add both cardio and strength exercises to your plan. Keep things lively!
  • Your muscles need rest too. Don’t work out the same muscle group on back-to-back days. Give at least 48 hours in between when working the same muscle group.

Wrapping It Up

Let’s finish up our awesome workout adventure and remember the important things.

Strong Lateral Head Benefits

Our arms do so much for us every day, like picking up our school bag or throwing a ball. So, they deserve our love and care. Properly exercising the lateral head helps our arms become stronger and look more defined.

Incorporate exercises designed specifically to target the tricep lateral head and watch them grow.

Keep It Exciting But Safe

Learning about tricep lateral head exercises, the correct form, safety precautions, and even how to plan your workouts is important:

  • Keep the correct form.
  • Swap up tempo and workload to keep your arms growing.
  • Focus on growth.

Let Us Help You Out

I want to help you achieve better physical and mental health through exercise. Check out the plans I offer to my clients and see if you could benefit from working with me. If you have questions, you can always contact me through the Contact Us page

Personal trainers, like myself, can help guide you on your pathway towards reaching your fitness goals, whether that is getting bigger, stronger, faster, more lean, or just generally feeling better.

If you choose to join one of my programs I’ll get you setup with a periodized workout plan, supplement information, and advice on nutrition to help you reach your goals. I also do advisory services that guide you along and answer questions you have if you don’t want a fully customized service.

The only thing you need is some motivation and a willingness to change some old habits.

Get into contact with me to find out what, if any, membership is right for you.

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