Lateral Head Triceps Exercise

Did you know that the majority of your upper arms, as far as muscles are concerned, consist of your triceps muscles. The triceps muscle is a three-part muscle, with the lateral head being one of the most important components.

The lateral head of your triceps is responsible for helping you straighten your arm at the elbow, push things, and more.

Not only that, but it also helps add a good deal of definition to your arms. If you want that big horseshoe-shaped triceps muscle, you'll need to do some lateral head triceps exercises, which is exactly what we're here to teach you today.

Let's get to and take a look at some of the very best lateral head tricep exercises that you can do to grow those arms much bigger and add some definition.


All About Your Triceps Muscle

Lateral Head Triceps Exercise

What many people might not realize is that the triceps muscle consists of three parts, with the lateral head being just one of them. The long head and the medial head are the two other parts of the triceps. Today we are focusing on the lateral head.

Related: Long Head Triceps Exercises & Medial Head Triceps Exercises

This is the part of the triceps muscle that sits on the outside of the triceps. It's one of the most important muscles in your upper arms if what you want is definition and size. It makes your arms look much wider and well-rounded.

It goes beyond aesthetic appeal though, because the lateral head of your triceps is also essential for overall performance and strength. Whenever you're doing any kind of bench press, push-up, or any kind of pushing action in your daily life, you need your lateral head.

With a well-developed lateral head on your triceps, your arms will look bigger, you'll be stronger, and you'll be able to push a whole lot more. The trick is of course to find the right exercises to isolate the lateral head.

Best Lateral Head Triceps Exercises

Here we have a long and comprehensive list of exercises that will all target the lateral head of your triceps.


1. Diamond Pushups

The first exercise on our list does not require any special equipment whatsoever. As long as both of your arms function, you can do push-ups virtually anywhere.

Pushups are great for training virtually all sections of your triceps. It's a body weight exercise, and it targets the lateral head of the triceps, but also the other two sections. What's also nice here is that you don't have to go to a gym or own any special fancy equipment.

How To Do Diamond Pushups

  1. To do diamond pushups, start with a regular push-up position. However, instead of having your hands at your sides, put your hands together right under your chest, and use your index fingers and thumbs to form a diamond shape or triangle. Having your arms close together like this makes this push-up ideal for targeting your lateral head.
  2. Just like with any other push-up, lower your body down until your chest almost touches the ground, take a quick pause, and then drive your body back up.
  3. While doing this exercise, ensure that your spine stays straight. Keep in mind that if a regular push-up is too much for you, you can always do the easier version where you are kneeling instead of on your toes.


2. Triceps Pushdowns

Triceps Pushdowns

Another great exercise to target the lateral head of your triceps muscles is the tricep pushdown using a cable machine. Using a cable machine is beneficial for this purpose, as it allows you to produce constant tension on your forearms, and it also allows for different grip types. You can use a bar handle, rope, or anything else of the sort. Keep in mind that to target the lateral head of the triceps, keeping your grip relatively close together is recommended.

How To Do Cable Triceps Pushdowns

  1. Using a cable machine, adjust the cable pulley so that it is well above your head.
  2. Depending on your preference, attach either a bar handle or a rope to the pulley.
  3. Stand facing the machine and keep your feet at shoulder width.
  4. Hold the bar or rope, with your starting position seeing your elbows bent, your upper arms in line with your upper body, and your back relatively straight.
  5. Slowly extend your arms downwards, until your forearms are almost perpendicular to the ground. Make sure that you don't move the elbow and that your forearms are the only parts of your arms moving. You shouldn't be moving your upper arms.
  6. Once your arms are extended, try to contract your triceps muscle as much as you can for two to three seconds, before slowly returning to the starting position.


3. Dumbbell Skull Crushers

Dumbbell skull crushers are a great way to grow the lateral head of your triceps. By having your arms bent slightly behind your head and angled so that they aren't totally vertical, you can put constant pressure on your lateral head, therefore allowing for increased tension and more growth over the long run. If you want to isolate the lateral head of your triceps, this is a great way to do it.

How To Do Dumbbell Skull Crushers

  1. Start by choosing a pair of dumbbells. If you're a beginner, they don't have to be overly heavy, even 7.5 or 10 lbs will do just fine.
  2. Get a bench and put it in its flat position, and then lay down on it face up, and make sure that your feet are on the ground in a good stance.
  3. Hold the dumbbells beside your head, right beside your ears, with your elbows bent. Your forearms should be virtually horizontal with the ground at this point.
  4. While maintaining a slightly backward angle with your upper arm, bend at the elbow and press the dumbbells up above your head. All of the movement here should be in your forearms and originate from the elbow. Your upper arms should stay stable and stationary.
  5. You can now lower the dumbbells back to your starting position, lowering them as far as you can before the next rep.

 Related: 5 Best dumbbell triceps exercises

4. Close Grip Bench Press

Close Grip Bench Press

As we mentioned above, to help target the lateral head of your triceps muscles the best, using a close grip on your exercises is ideal. What's beneficial about the close grip bench press is that while it does engage your lateral head, it also engages the long head of the triceps muscles, therefore allowing you to build more than one section of your triceps at a time.

If you want to increase the definition, size, and strength of your triceps, this is one of the best exercises you can do. Let's not forget that it is of course also a chest exercise, therefore making it a fantastic compound movement that allows you to grow more than one muscle group at a time.

How To Do Close Grip Bench Press

  1. To do a close grip bench press, lay down flat on a bench that has a barbell support, designed for bench pressing.
  2. How much weight you use here is totally up to you, although if you are a beginner, we'd recommend starting with just a few pounds. You can always increase the weight as needed.
  3. Hold the barbell so that your hands are relatively close together, much closer than shoulder width, and just far enough apart so you can balance the barbell.
  4. Unrack the barbell from the rack and lower the bar down to your chest while keeping your elbows tucked close to your body.
  5. For an added challenge, take a quick pause at the bottom, and then drive the bar back up to its starting position.


5. Kettlebell Overhead Triceps Extension

If you want to experiment with different pieces of equipment at the gym, one of the best weights you can use is the kettlebell. Here, we are talking about the kettlebell overhead triceps extension, which is ideal as it not only targets the lateral head of your triceps along with the other heads but also helps you train your stability and balance, because you're standing upright while doing the exercise.

How To Do The Kettlebell Overhead Tricep Extension

  1. To do the kettlebell overhead tricep extension, start by standing upright with your back straight, and your feet at shoulder width.
  2. Start by using a relatively lightweight kettlebell, no more than 15 lbs for your first set, until you can judge how heavy of a kettlebell is ideal for this exercise.
  3. Start by holding the kettlebell above your head with both hands so that your arms are fully extended and facing upwards.
  4. Bending at the elbows, but keeping your upper arms in the same position, lower your forearms and the kettlebell back behind your head. Pause for a second, squeeze your triceps, and feel that burn.
  5. You can now press the kettlebell back up to your starting position.


6. Bench Dips

Close Grip Bench Press

As long as you have a good bench, bench dips are a great bodyweight exercise to help increase the size and strength of your triceps, particularly the lateral head. It's a good starter exercise because it will quickly help you build strength and definition.

How To Do Bench Dips

  1. To do bench dips, sit down on a bench sideways and place your hands on the bench so your fingers are pointing forward and your palms fully on the bench.
  2. Lift yourself up above the bench with your arms and angle your upper body so that it is perpendicular to the floor.
  3. As for your feet, if you want this exercise to be easy, bend your knees at a 90° angle, if you want the exercise to be moderate in difficulty, straighten out your legs, and if you want the exercise to be extremely difficult, put your legs up on another bench or platform.
  4. While flexing at the elbow, lower your body down as far as you can go, ideally just before your butt touches the ground.
  5. Hold this position for one or two seconds, and then press yourself back upwards.


7. Tricep Dips

Here's a good exercise to target the lateral head of your triceps, as well as the other two parts of your triceps as well. This is the much harder version of bench dips, as here you're holding up 100% of your body weight, and you can even attach more weights to a belt to increase the challenge.

Not everybody will be strong enough to do this the first day. However, it's still a good option to try. You can either put your knees on the triceps dip platform it the machine you are using offers assistance, or you can use a resistance band looped around you and attached to a higher point, to assist you in lifting yourself up.

How To Do Triceps Dips

  1. To do triceps dips, start by facing the machine, put your feet on the rests, and hold the handles with your palms facing inwards towards your body.
  2. Lift up off of the footrests or the floor, and straighten your arms so that they are 100% vertical and in line with the rest of your body.
  3. Make sure to keep your back straight and vertical for this exercise, or in other words perpendicular to the floor. If you keep your back straight, it helps target your triceps much more, but if you lean forward, it targets your chest a bit.
  4. Bending at the elbow, lower your body down as far as your natural range of motion will allow, and then press yourself back up.


Lateral Head Triceps Exercises – Final Thoughts

Lateral Head Triceps Exercise

With the seven tricep exercises listed here, you should be able to target your lateral head and isolate it so that you can increase both its size and overall definition. Remember, it's all about form and concentration, rather than just lifting heavy.

Author's Photo

William Parrett

Will, co-founder of Home Gym Supply, launched the company in 2019 after 15-years in the fitness industry. His expertise stems not only from his professional background but also from his athletic pursuits. A former competitor in the World Beauty Fitness & Fashion (WBFF) and a competitive rugby player, Will has always been dedicated to health and fitness.