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When fully developed, the triceps are one of the most impressive muscle groups of the entire body. The three heads of the muscle group form a horseshoe shape at the back of the upper arm that looks awesome, especially when your body fat level is low enough to bring out striations. The key to an impressive horseshoe triceps is the long head. In this article, I’ll focus on four exercises to develop the long head of your triceps muscle.
The triceps consist of three heads:
- Long head
- Medial head
- Lateral head
While the three heads have different points of origin, they all insert at the base of the humerus at the elbow joint. Because of that, it is impossible to completely isolate any of the three heads. However, you can emphasize a certain head by your exercise selection.
The main function of the triceps is elbow extension. In order to preferentially emphasize the long head of the triceps, you should do exercises that place your arms above your head. The reason is simple; the overhead position puts the muscle in a pre-stretch position, leading to a greater level of muscle fiber recruitment.
The 5 Best Exercises for the Long Head of the Triceps:
I will provide both home and gym versions of these exercises. For the home version, you will need a resistance band.
Overhead Triceps Extension
Stand with a dumbbell held in both hands by its endplate and held above your head at full arm extension. Keeping your elbows in at the sides of your head, lower the weight behind your head to fully contract the triceps. Reverse the action to extend the triceps and return to the start position.
Stand with a resistance band looped under your left rear foot. Hold the other end of the band in your left hand, knuckles facing forward. Lift the arm to shoulder level. Now extend your arm to full extension. Keeping your arm in at the side of your head, bend at the elbow to bring your hand down behind your head. Extend your arm back up to the start position, squeezing the triceps tightly in the fully extended position.
Position yourself in the middle of a pair of dip bars, grab the handles and propel yourself up so that your arms are fully extended. Your body should form a straight line with no forward torso bend. Keep your legs straight rather than folded over. Now lower directly down by bending at the elbows to full triceps contraction, Do not allow your elbow to flare out to the side. Push through the triceps to return to the start position.
Position yourself in front of a sturdy chair. Put your hands on the chair behind you at shoulder level distance. Now place your feet out so that your body is at an angle of around 45 degrees to the floor. Perform a tricep dip by bending the elbows to bring your body down to the floor. From the bottom position, push through the triceps to return to the start position. Be sure not to pulse with your body to provide momentum.
Overhead Cable Extension
Set the pulley on a single cable machine at shoulder level and out a rope handle on it. Now stand in front of the machine, facing away from it. Grab the rope handle in both hands and lift it above your head. Now bend your elbows to lower the cable behind your head to full triceps construction. From here extend the arms up and out on a slight angle to full arm extension. Focus on keeping your elbows in at your sides. Reverse and repeat.
Secure a resistance band to a secure upright at waist level. Stand about four feet in front of the upright, facing away from it with the band held overhead in both hands. Keeping your elbows at the sides of your head, bend at the elbows to lower your hands behind your head. Push through the triceps to return to the start position.
Close Grip Bench Press
Lie on a bench press bench with a loaded barbell on it. Plant your feet firmly on the floor and grab the bar with an overhand grip and your thumbs and eight inches apart. Unrack the bar and hold it above your chest level. Now, keeping your elbows in at your sides, bring your hands down to chest level. From here, push through the triceps to power the bar back up.
Get down on all fours in the top push-up position, now position your hands about six inches apart. With your feet together and body straight (don’t allow your butt to rise), lower down to the bottom push-up position. In the bottom position, your chest should be about two inches from the floor. Now push through your triceps to return to the start position.
The four exercises detailed above all put the emphasis on the long head of the triceps. Obviously, you don’t want to just hit that part of the muscle in your triceps workout. You should do three exercises to work all three heads. If your long head is a weak point, do the exercise that targets that portion of the muscle first.
Here is a sample workout that works well for most people:
- Overhead Cable Triceps Extension – 4 sets of 15/12/10/8
- Triceps Pushdown – 4 sets of 15/12/10/8
- Triceps Kickback – 4 sets of 15/12/10/10
This article was last updated on November 2, 2021 .