Work on your triceps if you desire bigger arms. After all, the majority of the mass in your upper arm is comprised of your triceps.
Oh, and bodybuilders can’t do without mean-looking triceps – irrespective of the weight class they compete in.
Tricep exercises add stability, increase growth, and serve as the basis for compound exercises like the bench press. Although all three tricep heads are crucial for both strength and appearance, the long head is the largest and has the greatest room for growth.
Given that the long head triceps make up the majority of the tricep muscle, concentrating on exercises targeting the long head will help you gain mass. In addition, the long head promotes health and shoulder extension.
Ok, so there should be no doubt that the long head of the triceps does deserve a little extra attention. On that note, we’ll go over all you need to know about the long head of the triceps, including the top 9 exercises for developing it. But first, let’s have a look at triceps anatomy – particularly the long head as that’s what we are focusing on today.
The triceps include three muscle heads, as has been described countless times. This indicates that at their insertion at the olecranon process of the ulna, three separate muscle bellies that originate from various locations combine to create one muscle. These heads unite and have the same insertion, therefore it is physically impossible for them to not cooperate. This also implies that the fundamental triceps function, elbow extension, is a joint action involving all three heads.
The Long Head of the Triceps
The arm’s back is where the long head is. This muscle has a lot of room to grow and can make your body look better if you work on it.
The name “long head” comes from the fact that the origin of the long head triceps is on the infraglenoid tubercle of the scapula. This means that the long head of the triceps muscle crosses both the elbow joint and the shoulder joint (a muscle that crosses two joints). Again, like the other two heads, the long head of the triceps attaches to the ulnar olecranon process.
Because of how it is designed, the long head of the triceps muscle is used in a very unique way. That is, it has something to do with moving the shoulder forward. When the humerus moves backward, like in the freestyle swim stroke or with retroversion, the shoulder moves forward. It also helps bring the arm closer to the body and keeps the arm stable at the shoulder joint. This is why when you do movements like swimming you will “feel it in the triceps.”
Lastly, the long head of the triceps still helps the elbow joint move forward.
When figuring out what arm angle activates the long head the most, studies have shown that the long head is most active when the arm is either straight up (180 degrees shoulder elevation) or straight down (0 degrees shoulder elevation). This makes sense, since we know that the long head is the only part of the triceps that has anything to do with extending the shoulder (a decrease in shoulder elevation).
You will also want to train the long head for one more reason. The long head is a big part of the triceps muscle, along with the lateral head. This means you’ll need to build up the muscles in your long head if you want your arms to really get big.
Top 10 Best Long Head Triceps Exercises
1. Triangle Push-Ups
Let’s start with a great exercise for your long head that you can do anywhere: a long head tricep bodyweight exercise! But the triangle push-up might be the best exercise to do if you want to build muscle in your arms. In fact, Bohler’s (2011) study showed that this is the case.
In this study, Bohler looked at 8 different pushing exercises and took EMG readings of the long head and lateral head of the triceps. The best workout? Turned out to be a triangle push-up.
When you do these, you will have a much narrower grip than when you do a regular push-up. The word “triangle” comes from the fact that your hands will form a triangle. Put your hands together so that your thumbs and the tips of your fingers touch. In some bodybuilding circles, it’s also referred to as a diamond push-up.
Anyway, the push-up is done the same way from there on. Since your arms are close together, the pectorals will do less work, so the triceps will have to make up for it. Also, there will be a larger amount of elbow flexion to increase the triceps movement’s range of motion.
2. Close Grip Bench Press
Another exercise looked at in the Bohler study was the close-grip bench press.
The best thing about a close-grip bench press is that you can load the muscle since you can put as much or as little weight on a barbell as you like.
It goes without saying that you should take a closer grip on the bar than you would for a standard bench press. Your hands should be just a little narrower than shoulder-width apart as you grasp the bar. Essentially, you want your arms to be slightly angled inwards as you grip the bar. As you lower yourself, your elbows will be much closer to your torso than they would be during a standard bench press.
Your hands should be just on either side of your rib cage at the bottom. If your grip is too tight, you’ll have trouble balancing. The activation will return to the chest if your grip is too wide.
It’s worth noting that lockout is crucial for maximizing triceps activation. so, ensure that every rep is fully locked out and take a brief pause before starting the descent again.
3. Dumbbell Triceps Kickbacks
Triceps kickbacks aren’t typically thought of as mass builders, but they’re hard to beat for highlighting your triceps long head. Because it has to work hard to maintain your upper arm extended during this exercise, the long head of the triceps is particularly active.
Light to moderate weights and medium to high reps are ideal for this workout. With heavy weights or few repetitions, it doesn’t work well. Kickbacks are a good finishing exercise if you want to get a good pump.
Additionally, you may perform kickbacks while seated and bent over with two dumbbells by using a cable to keep your triceps constantly under tension.
4. Triceps Dips
Another bodyweight exercise for the long head of the triceps!
Dips are the next exercise you absolutely must perform. While it is impossible to claim with certainty that dips specifically work the long head of the triceps, you can be confident that they will train the long head as well as the medial and lateral heads. To put it another way, dips will obliterate everything.
There are many different variants of the dip. However, you should perform triceps dips, sometimes referred to as vertical dips, to target the triceps. Vertical dips have been demonstrated to significantly increase triceps activation compared to other variants because of the way the body is positioned.
In fact, when people hear the word “dips,” they typically picture triceps dips. When you reach the top of the dip, you should try to come down as straight as possible. Just enough forward motion should be allowed to finish the maneuver comfortably.
5. Overhead EZ Bar Triceps Extensions
Although you may perform this overhead triceps workout with a barbell, an EZ bar will make it much easier for you. Your wrists and elbows are relieved of stress when using an EZ bar. You can choose to do it sitting down or standing up.
Keeping your biceps close to your ears will help you focus on long head while doing this exercise. What should be a triceps isolation workout could become more of an overhead pressing exercise if your arms swing out and away from your head.
Because of this, you require sufficient shoulder mobility and flexibility to perform overhead EZ bar triceps extensions properly.
6. Seated Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Extensions
The sitting dumbbell overhead triceps extension is a very efficient approach to target your triceps long head, provided you have the upper body mobility to do this exercise correctly and safely.
This exercise is perfect for drop sets because it involves a dumbbell. Put a few dumbbells in a line at your feet, perform the reps until you reach failure, then pick up the smallest weight and repeat. To exhaust all of your muscle fibers, start out hard and keep going until you can hardly lift a dumbbell which is one-third of the weight you began with.
You can perform this exercise while standing, but be careful not to sag backward. And it’s always a good idea to keep your core engaged and your knees slightly bent in order to relieve the strain on your lower back.
7. Dumbbell Incline Triceps Extensions Or Skull Crushers
One of the most effective triceps mass builders available is the skull crusher. They fairly equally work each of the three heads. To really bulk up your triceps, superset them with close-grip bench presses.
You can perform skull crushers with dumbbells and a neutral or palms-inward grip as well as with a straight barbell or an EZ bar.
However, all you have to do is lift your bench to a 30 to 45-degree angle to highlight the long head of your triceps. The main benefit of this exercise is that it is a suitable compromise for lifters with limited shoulder mobility because it demands less shoulder flexibility than more upright overhead extensions.
While a straight or EZ bar might be used to perform this exercise, employing dumbbells enables you to use a wider range of motion, which will aid in producing better results.
8. Bentover Triceps Kick Back
As your arm will once again be in a retroversion posture with the arm pushed back past your back, the triceps kickback is a fantastic exercise to use for targeting the long head. The long head will be more activated as a result of this action alone, and you will also be adding elbow extension on top of that.
The Bohler study demonstrated that kickbacks were the second-most successful exercise for the long head. Now, this translates to the fact that dumbbell kickback is the ideal isolation exercise for the long head.
You should begin with light weights when doing the bent-over triceps kickback. A little weight goes a long way because you are mechanically at a big disadvantage. Your torso should be just slightly above parallel when you stoop.
Bend over and extend your arm as far as you can comfortably. Extend your elbow while keeping it still so that your arm is straight. Squeeze it a little before descending slowly.
9. Cable Overhead Triceps Extensions
Your triceps’ long head is stretched when you perform cable overhead triceps extensions, which enhances your range of motion and activates more muscles. Although you can perform this exercise with a straight or EZ bar, a rope handle is typically more convenient and comfortable.
The only drawback of this workout is that considerable shoulder mobility is needed. It will be painful and more difficult to complete this exercise correctly if you can’t maintain your arms upright with your biceps close to your ears.
10. Cable Triceps Pushdowns Or Rope Pushdowns
The most popular triceps exercise is cable triceps pushdowns. It is simple and practical to complete. This movement is a staple of triceps exercises. However, you may use this action to specifically target the long head of your triceps by making a small adjustment.
Take one or two steps backward before pulling your upper arms back and into your sides to achieve this. This improves shoulder extension, one of the long head’s roles.
Experiment to see which feels the most comfortable when performing triceps pushdowns utilizing a straight bar, a V-shaped bar, or a rope grip. Instead of using two arms, you can perform triceps pushdowns with just one.
Pro Tips: Targeting the triceps, long head, or any other muscle requires a proper form. Before putting more weight on, be careful how you move and increase the repetitions. You may develop stronger long head triceps and larger arms by combining compound motions with isolation exercises.
Even though all triceps exercises work the long head, paying a little more attention to this muscle will help you build bigger arms. Since it makes up about two-thirds of the mass in your triceps, it’s important not to ignore it.
But it’s more than just an important muscle for looks; it’s also very important for keeping the shoulder stable. Getting stronger in your triceps long head could help you do better with the bench press and the overhead press. It is also a key part of exercises like chin-ups and T-bar rows, which use pulling.
Remember that if you want to work on a certain part of your body, you will need to give it some priority. This means that you need to change something about the way you are doing things now. Well, you have more than enough now to build a great long head AND a strong set of triceps. Now all you have to do is use the information above to train.
Rahul is a sports and performance consultant. Over the course of his 15-year career in the fitness sector, he has held positions as a strength and conditioning instructor, gym owner, and consultant.
He is deeply committed to assisting people in finding happiness and feeling good about themselves.
Rahul has a master’s degree in exercise science and is a certified NSCA CSCS and CISSN.