Here’s the thing- if you want your arms to look massive, you actually need to work your triceps- not your biceps.
A common misconception is that most people think doing curls will make your arms look massive when in reality it’s the muscle on the other side of the arm- your triceps.
This leads to a ton of people undertraining their triceps, which are truly the muscles that make you look huge.
Did you know that triceps make up 70% of the size of your arm?
The Triceps have three heads that form the massive muscle group. And one of the best ways to make your arms get bigger is by working the tricep long head. The tricep long head is the biggest muscle of your triceps, so it is sure to make you look bigger.
Personally, I LOVE working out my triceps, and my triceps are huge. I want to share some of my favorite tricep long head exercises with you guys so you guys can also start growing your arms massively.
So, let’s talk about the 12 Best Tricep Long Head Exercises.
Dumbbell Overhead Extensions
Dumbbell Overhead Extensions are one of the best tricep long head exercises out there. In fact, you might’ve seen someone doing these at the gym already – even if it isn’t the most common exercise out there.
According to Rohan Arora, personal trainer, “A tricep exercise that focuses on keeping the shoulder flexed during the movement will directly affect the long head of the triceps brachii muscle.
Simply put, the greater degree of shoulder flexion provides a better stretch for the long head, effectively targeting basically only the tricep long head during the exercise.
“In order to do it right, instead of starting the exercise with arms directly overhead, move the arms slightly back on an incline bench and lock them, and then gently perform the exercise to effectively target the long head”.
Dumbbell Overhead Extensions are actually fun to do, too. Personally, the stretch on the tricep just feels really good- and seeing yourself in the mirror lifting that weight behind your head makes you look jacked. And, there’s just something about the position your triceps are put in that makes your triceps look huge.
Cable Overhead Tricep Extensions
I’m telling you guys, cable machines are CRAZY for muscle growth. The constant tension those ropes provide can do wonders when you’re trying to put size on your body.
It’s no different here. Cable Overhead Tricep Extensions are one of the best tricep long head exercises out there. The cable part really adds to it, let me explain why.
Most people just do their dip exercises, repeat the motion, and call it good. But, it is very rare that people put their triceps under constant tension. When you do the cable overhead tricep extension, you are constantly pulling on your tricep- there is no time where your triceps aren’t activated. This massively stimulates muscle growth on your triceps.
Matthew Paxton said, “Cable Overhead Tricep Extensions are a simple yet very effective workout for isolating the tricep’s long head specifically.
It’s important to maintain proper form and have the rope at head level because you’ll want to push out without flaring your elbows to get that good tricep contraction.
Keep your elbows close to your head then drop your chest. You’ll want to start with the ropes together then push out and apart while rotating your wrists outwards. This is one of those exercises that, when done correctly, you’ll definitely feel in the muscle you’re targeting.”
I love this one and it’s one of my favorites. The burn you feel after rep 8-10 is just crazy and you’ll know that you’re putting on some serious size. Plus, it’s kind of a fun exercise to do, it’s on the cable machine and it’s really rewarding to get the cable over your head.
Diamond Push Ups
Diamond Push-Ups have always been known to be the hardest form of push-up you can do.
And to be honest, a lot of people can’t really do them. And part of that reason is because it specifically targets the long head of the tricep. That’s right, surprisingly enough, Diamond Push Ups are one of the best tricep long head exercises you can do.
Bruce Miller of Team GolfWell said, “Many of us can’t get to the gym- so let’s talk about something you can do anywhere.
You don’t need equipment as one of the most effective is the simple push-up altered to isolate the long head of the tricep and it is also known as diamond push-ups according to the American Council on Excercise.“
So, next time you’re bored, just pump out a few diamond push ups knowing that your tricep long head is growing!
Behind The Head Overhead Press
Now, I am an unbiased writer. I HATE the behind the head overhead press, and I think people shouldn’t do it, but it is one of the best tricep long head exercises you can do.
Recent studies have come out showing that the behind the head overhead press actually shows significant muscle activation within the long head of the tricep.
Honestly, this kind of makes sense. Think about all the movements on this list, a lot of them include pulling a weight from behind your head.
While this movement will typically have more shoulder activation, it is still mimicking a lot of the other movements on this list.
Personally, I do not recommend this exercise due to the risk of injury associated with it. However, I know some people love behind the head overhead presses, and I figured that if you love it, you might want to incorporate it into your workout- since it does target the long head of the tricep.
Here’s a video of it being performed:
Reverse Grip Bench Press
The reverse grip bench press is known as a savior for those that experience shoulder pain when bench pressing.
But, did you know the reverse grip bench press is also one of the best tricep long head exercises out there?
According to Rocky, from Rocky’s Personal Fitness Training Inc, “Any movement where the elbow is extending and the palm is supinated (facing forward or upward) will place concentration on the long head of the triceps.
Taking common gym exercises such as the Bench Press and performing them with the palms facing backward would target the long head of the triceps”.
So, not only is this a great way to reduce shoulder pain and grow your chest- but it’s also a great tricep long head exercise.
EZ Bar French Presses
EZ Bar French Presses are actually a crazy cool exercise to do in the gym. It’s almost as if you took skullcrushers and overhead tricep extensions and they had a baby.
This actually creates one of the best tricep long heads exercises out there. You’re basically taking an EZ Bar and doing an overhead tricep extension while sitting up.
This has some pros and cons compared to the cable overhead tricep press. In this version, you get much more control of the weight, so you can increase it by 2.5 lbs insteads of 10-15 lbs that a cable machine offers.
Also, there’s just something about having that barbell that doesn’t move like a cable might that almost forces your triceps into a specific range of motion that just really makes that tricep burn.
Reverse Grip Triceps Pushdown
I’m a big fan of the triceps pushdown exercise. It is a simple tricep exercise that is fun to do, you kind of just push down the cable over and over and boom- muscle growth, apparently.
But get this, using a reverse grip (underhand grip) on the triceps pushdown will actually give you one of the best tricep long head exercises out there.
Rocky, from Rocky’s Personal Fitness Training said, “hold the short bar handle attached to an upper cable pulley with palms up and perform the pulling down action until the elbows are fully extended, and be sure to not move your shoulders during the exercise”.
Here’s a video:
Cable Tricep Extensions
I do Tricep Extensions way way WAY too much. Look, I’m pretty lazy in the gym, and most of the time the tricep extensions machine is already set up and the weight is super easy to change.
But, it’s one of the best exercises you can do for your triceps.
Now, at first, I had no idea that tricep extensions targeted the tricep long head so well. It is generally understood that tricep extensions grow each tricep head equally.
However, while tricep extensions do grow all heads of the tricep, it places a large emphasis on the long head. This makes tricep extensions one of the best tricep long head exercises out there.
Kate Meier, USAA Weightlifting trainer said, “Tricep Extensions stretch out your long head triceps and increases activation across all heads.”
For most people, tricep extensions are already in their workout program- so they don’t even have to change it. But, if you’re not doing these, you’re missing out on a ton of muscle growth.
(P.S – Take the tricep extension cable and at the end of your set, try to do another rep and push as hard as you can with your triceps into the rope. The constant tension of the cable as your tricep is flexing will cause serious muscle growth!)
Bent Over Dumbbell Tricep Kickback
The Bent Over Dumbbell Tricep Kickback is one of the best tricep long head exercises you can do.
When you see somebody doing a tricep kickback, it is usually because they are specifically targeting that long head.
According to Seth Means, Chiropractor and Master of Science in Sports Medicine, “The long head of the triceps not only extends the elbow but also extends the shoulder. As the only triceps muscle that originates from the shoulder blade, forcing the muscle to work from the shoulder and the elbow is a great way to target the long head’s fibers to increase the muscle’s activity.
When bent over, the long head also has to work to stabilize the shoulder against the weight of the dumbbell and gravity. This makes the long head work the entire time you’re performing the exercise.
To perform the exercise, grab a dumbbell in one hand while you bend forward over a bench. With your torso near parallel to the ground, raise your upper arm until it’s parallel to the ground. Try to keep your shoulder and upper arm movements as minimal and quiet as possible while you extend and flex from the elbow.”
While this is a somewhat hard exercise to do, you will definitely see and feel the results. Go try it out!
Incline Dumbbell Tricep Kickbacks
Incline Dumbbell Tricep Kickbacks are one of the best tricep long head exercises out there, like probably one of the top 5.
Now, the are a little different than the Bent Over Dumbbell Tricep Kickbacks mentioned above. Here’s why:
With incline dumbbell tricep kickbacks you generally get a better range of motion, and you see less muscle activation from your shoulder.
Plus, I like being lazy a little bit in the gym, and laying on the bench is much easier than doing the bent-over dumbbell tricep kickbacks.
To be honest, it is somewhat of a preference. While incline dumbbell tricep kickbacks show more muscle activation than the bent over variation in most scientific studies, the difference is little and at the end of the day, you’ll still see the same muscle growth.
So, pick whichever one you want- as long as you’re doing them. No matter the form of kickback, rest assured that the long head of your tricep will be growing good.
Here’s a video of it being performed:
Dips are known for being one of the best tricep exercises in general. But, did you know that dips are one of the best tricep long head exercises out there?
Dips are also an incredible exercise on chest days because they work two of your biggest muscle group- your pecs and your tris. And in case you didn’t know, those are the two main muscle groups that build your bench press.
And since everybody and their mother bench presses apparently- dips are actually a pretty common exercise done for the chest! (Having pain when bench pressing? Read this!)
But modified version of the Dips, we will be trying to take away as much Chest activation as we can to maximize the tricep activation. So, we have to do 90 degree dips.
According to Alex Aksanov, a board-certified physical therapist, “The best exercise for the long head of the triceps brachii muscle is performing dips with the elbow not going beyond 90 degrees flexion. This exercise has demonstrated the highest EMG activity of the lateral head activation (Boeckh-Behrens & Buskies. 2000). This allows to build the most strength and power in the long head and leads to the overall improved upper body physique”.
So, what you want to do is avoid “leaning” and activating the chest- which is typically seen in dips meant to grow the petoralis major.
Here’s a video demonstrating how to do the version of dips that builds the triceps:
And honestly, dips are kind of fun.
Skullcrushers (The BEST)
It’s no surprise that skullcrushers are one of the best tricep long head exercises you can do. Everybody knows skull crushers are an absolute kingpin for Tricep growth- but truly their specialty are working the triceps long head.
This is because the skullcrushers generally have no shoulder involvement at all, which leads to more long head activation and muscle growth.
Richard Ruiz, Strength and Conditioning Specialist said, “Lying skull crushers are a great long head tricep exercise, but make sure you bring hands to crown of the head, not just to the forehead. Again this will afford you a longer range of motion.”
And I agree completely- I see people bringing the skullcrusher to their forehead, and this is just robbing you of muscle growth. I am telling you guys, bringing that skullcrusher to the crown of your head makes ALL the difference.
It’s that increased angle that not only vastly increases the range of motion, but locks your shoulders completely. But when you’re just focusing on the skullcrusher hitting your skull, the shoulder still has some activation.
Trust me, just try it. You will FEEL the difference, and you’ll see the difference in muscle growth too.
And- am I the only one that thinks skullcrushers are fun? Tell me in the comments below if you like them too or if I am just crazy.
Additional Tips to Supercharge Tricep Growth
Here are some of my favorite tips to supercharge that tricep growth:
- Focus on doing the exercise slow. I know it can be fun to do it fast, but focus on really making that tricep feel that burn- as that’s what will cause muscle growth.
- Do different things like burn out sets, supersets, repeated sets, etcetera.
- On the Cable Tricep Extension, I always go beyond the last rep and fight as hard as I can to keep the cable extended. This makes your tricep burn and work super hard, which gets you a ton of muscle growth.
- Try to turn your palms outward at the end of any cable tricep extension exercise, this will fully stretch your triceps at the end of the rep.
- Try to keep your shoulders locked during the movement, moving your shoulders will completely ruin the benefits. (Well, except for the overhead press variant)
Conclusion of the 12 Best Tricep Long Head Exercises
So, there are 12 best tricep long head exercises. I hope they helped!
If you have any exercises you use that target the long head, please let me know in the comments below and I will add it to the post! Let’s grow together, good luck in the gym!