Effective Training of the Triceps

Effective Training of the Triceps

Arm day at the gym usually means incorporating a tricep exercise variation. However, the triceps brachii muscle group consists of three separate heads. This begs the question, which exercises do we need to ensure that we stimulate sufficent hypertrophy for all three? Is there one exercise for all of them, or do we need to do three different exercises to work on each head?

The triceps brachii is a large fast-twitch muscle group with its primary function being to extend the elbow (straighten the arm). However, due to the different origins (where the muscle starts), different exercises will focus on different heads.

How to Target Specific Triceps Heads

You can target the long head (innermost head) with exercises that involving having your arms by your side such as standing triceps pushdowns or bent over tricep extensions.

The medial and lateral heads (inside and outside parts of the tricep respectively) are specifically targeted when we include exercises in a position of shoulder elevation such as overhead tricep extensions and skull crushers.


In conclusion, this means that to effectively train all heads of the triceps brachii muscle group, we need to incorporate at least one exercises with the arms by our side and one that includes shoulder flexion. As we have discussed in previous discussions, remember the most crucial aspect determining muscle hypertrophy is training with high levels of effort to muscle fatigue!

Llew tricep extension exercise
Example 1 - Rope tricep extension (long head)

Llew overhead tricep exercise
Example 2 - Overhead rope tricep extension

Additional information

For additional information refer to the Instagram post below originally posted by Braydon Vo it includes a reference to back up our claims. Another useful reference is this article by Chris Beardsley.




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TRICEPS WORKOUT TIPS -- I talk really fast so I'll elaborate on what I've said in the video below for more clarification 😊👍 -- Basically the triceps brachii muscle has three heads (long, medial, lateral). To get an effective workout in this muscle you want to ensure that each of these three heads gets an appropriate amount of tension during exercise. -- Recent research (see DOI) has demonstrated that certain positions may put more tension on certain heads than others. There are two particular positions that you want to focus on: -- (1) Keeping you arms at 0 degrees of elevation (by your sides) will work the long head of the triceps. This is shown in the first video when you swipe. -- (2) Maintaining an angle of elevation between 90-180 degrees (180 being overhead) will bias the medial and lateral heads of the triceps. Shown in the second video. Because the range sits within a 90 degrees difference for these heads there are other exercises that also bias this but the overhead triceps extension is my personal favourite and I feel that it gives me the most stability in the shoulders while performing it. -- You're more than welcome to add in additional exercises as you please, but going off this research I would suggest including at least one exercise with your arms by your side and one exercise between 90-180 degees of elevation to ensure an even triceps workout 👌 -- DOI: 10.1016/j.aott.2018.02.005 -- #physivo #schoolofphysivotherapy

A post shared by Braydon Vo Physiotherapy (@braydonvophysio) on


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