Long Head Tricep Exercises

People who want to grow their arms tend to focus on growing their biceps. Although this is of course a sound method to make your arms look much bigger, the fact is that the biceps only make up roughly one-third of the size of your arms.

If you truly want massive arms, it's your triceps muscles that you need to exercise. Your triceps make up two-thirds of your arm size, so focusing on them will help fill out those shirt sleeves of yours.

What is however important to note is that the triceps muscle, as you might be able to tell from the name, actually has three separate parts. The best way to get your arms as big as possible is to focus on one specific part of the triceps muscle, the long head tricep.

First, we'll take a look at the anatomy of the triceps muscles, just so you know what each of the three sections do, followed by a variety of exercises that we’ll teach you, so you can finally bulk up and gain serious muscle mass.


Triceps Anatomy

Long Head Tricep Exercises

If you're like about 90% of the people out there, you probably know that your triceps muscle is located on the backside of your upper arm, but most don't know that the triceps muscle consists of three separate parts.

The triceps or triceps brachii, along with its diamond shape, sometimes referred to as a horseshoe shape, consists of three parts. These are the long head, medial head, and lateral head. Let’s find out what each one is and what function it serves.


The Lateral Head

First, we have the lateral head, which starts at the upper portion of the arm, starting from the outer tricep. When compared to the other triceps heads, it attaches much higher up on the side of the arm, right by your shoulder. From your shoulder, it reaches down and comes together with the other heads of the triceps, particularly right where your elbow joint is.

The number one function of the lateral head is to help you straighten the arm at the elbow, making it essential for various movements such as throwing and pushing. When looked at from the side, the lateral head of the triceps also contributes to the muscular and defined appearance of the upper arm.

 If you want exercises for this muscle check out our lateral head tricep exercises guide.

The Medial Head

We then have the medial head of the triceps, and unfortunately, it doesn't get all that much attention. If you focus some effort on this part of your arm, you should be able to substantially size up. The medial head of the triceps starts at the rear of the upper arm at the radial groove and stretches down to the elbow.

If you plan on doing any pushing, the medial head is very important, as it helps you straighten your arm at the elbow. It's also an important muscle to help stabilize your arm while doing various activities, particularly for fine motor skill movements, such as writing. It's not quite as visible as the other parts of the triceps, although it's still very important.

 For exercises targeting this muscle, check out our medial head tricep exercises post.

The Long Head

Finally, we have the part of the triceps muscle that we are here to focus on today, the long head. What's interesting about the long head of the triceps muscle is that unlike the other two parts of the triceps which attach to the upper arm bone, the long head of the triceps connects to your shoulder blade and reaches down the back of your arms and comes together with the other two triceps head at your elbow. Specifically, it attaches to the olecranon at the tip of your elbow bone.

If you need to straighten your arm at the elbow, extend your shoulders, and perform various arm movements, particularly bringing your arm towards your body, the long head of the triceps is very important.

It's one of the most important muscles in your upper body as far as movement is concerned, but it's also important to help increase the size of your arm and define its shape.

What we want to do now is to take a look at a variety of long-head triceps muscle exercises that you can do to help grow that long head in size and help add definition to your arms.


Best Long Head Triceps Exercises

Let's not waste any time and take a closer look at the very best long-head triceps exercises out there, so you can add both definition and size to your arms.

1. Skull Crushers

Skull Crushers

Skull crushers, or lying triceps extensions, are fantastic for building that long ahead of the triceps muscles. What makes it so effective is that your arms are in a position over and behind your head which prevents you from raising the bar vertically up above your head and engaging your shoulder. This helps to focus the tension on your triceps, allowing for great muscle growth.

How To Do Skull Crushers

  1. To do skull crushers, start by laying on a bench and holding an EZ curl bar right above your chest. You can use a flat bench or a slightly inclined bench for this exercise, but a declined bench should be avoided. Also, make sure that you have a comfortable and secure grip on the bar.
  2. Make sure to angle your arms backwards a little bit, so that you aren't holding the bar right above your head. Once again, this will help maintain tension on the triceps muscle, therefore allowing for more growth.
  3. While keeping your upper arm stable, and your elbows in the same position, you're going to lower the bar behind your head. Bending at the elbow, lower the bar as far down as you can, pause for a few seconds, and lift it back up.
  4. Make sure that the backward angle of your arms is maintained throughout this exercise.


2. The PRJ Pullover

Here we have a very unique yet effective workout for your triceps, one that has you laying on your back and lifting a dumbbell up over your head, with the main focus being on the triceps muscles, although it also activates your lats, therefore making it a great compound exercise to target more than one muscle group at a time. Let's take a look at how to do the PRJ pullover.


How To Do The PRJ Pullover

  1. You'll want to choose a relatively heavy dumbbell, about twice the weight that you would usually use for regular triceps extensions because you will be using your lats here as well.
  2. Lay down on a flat bench facing upwards, and hold the dumbbell above your chest with both hands. At this point, your arms should be extended, just before locking out at the elbows.
  3. While keeping your arms straight, lower the dumbbell back and down over your head as slowly as you can, making sure that you feel the stretch in the long head of your triceps muscles and in your lats.
  4. When the dumbbell is horizontally in line with the rest of your body, and your arms are stretched out fully behind you, take a quick pause, and then prepare to press it back into the starting position. Instead of just using your arms, here is where your lats come into play as well, hence it being a compound exercise.


3. The Banded Lying Triceps Extension

The banded lying triceps extension is somewhat similar to the skull crusher exercise that we discussed above. However, instead of just using one heavy dumbbell, here you use two lighter dumbbells combined with resistance bands or just the resistance bands.

If the dumbbells weren't already enough, the resistance bands add a whole different level of intensity, therefore working out the long head of your triceps muscle just that much more. It adds a lot of intensity at the top of the movement, which forces you to be under tension the whole time. Let’s take a closer look at how to do the banded lying triceps extension.

How To Do The Banded Lying Triceps Extension

  1. You'll first need to gather a couple of dumbbells and a pair of resistance bands.
  2. Take the resistance bands and attach one end to the dumbbell, and securely attach the other end to a safe and stable point where they won't come undone when you start doing the exercise.
  3. Lay down on the bench with your face up and hold the dumbbells with your palms facing each other, known as a neutral grip. Start off by holding the dumbbells directly up above your chest with your arms extended. Now, angle your arms just slightly backwards, as this helps increase the tension on your long head.
  4. Bend your elbow joints to lower the dumbbells on either side of your head, while keeping your upper arms 100% stationary and in place. If anything about your forearm moves during this exercise, you're not doing it right.

 Related: Best Dumbbell Tricep Exercises For Maximum Growth

4. Overhead Triceps Cable Extension

The Overhead Triceps Cable Extension

Whereas all of the other exercises we've discussed so far have used dumbbells and benches, this one uses a cable machine, which could come in various forms.

What this exercise is so effective for, particularly if you do it properly, is to allow you to work to failure on each set, therefore allowing for the most triceps growth possible.

If you stand as upright as possible and lift your arms up until they are stretched out above your head with each Rep, you'll certainly work yourself to failure.

How To Do The Overhead Triceps Cable Extension

  1. To do the overhead triceps cable extension, adjust the cable pulley so that it's just behind and above your head, and use the rope attachment.
  2. Use both hands to hold your rope and keep them at shoulder width, with your palms facing inwards and at each other.
  3. Take a step forward from the cable machine so that there is a bit of tension on the cable. Place one foot slightly in front of the other so you will be stable when doing this exercise.
  4. Here, the aim is to maintain an upright and rigid posture, instead of hinging forward such as with other triceps exercises. The point here is to put as much of stretch on the long head of your triceps muscle as possible.
  5. When you start this movement, your elbows should be bent as much as possible while you're holding the rope behind your head. You'll now bend at the elbow and extend your arm until it's extended above your head. Just don't lock out your elbows.
  6. Make sure that your upper arm stays relatively stable. Once again, most of the movement should originate from your elbow.


5. Triceps Kickback

The Triceps Kickback

Here is one of our very favorite triceps exercises that helps build the size and definition of the long head. If you're looking to go through a full range of motion so you can add as much size to your triceps as possible, and help maintain flexibility and mobility, then this is a great triceps exercise to do.

How To Do The Triceps Kickback

  1. First, get a pair of dumbbells that you feel comfortable lifting. They should be relatively lightweight. If you're a beginner, start with either 7.5 or 10 lbs.
  2. In terms of your starting position, there are actually two ways to do this. The first option is to stand up with your feet at shoulder width, with the dumbbells in your hands using an overhand grip, bent forward at the hips, with a straight back, and your body almost horizontal with the ground. However, for beginners, standing up during this exercise may be a little too much. If this is the case, you can always use a bench in a flat or slightly inclined position to support your upper body, therefore allowing you to focus all of your efforts on your triceps.
  3. Either way, you'll now bend your elbows so that they are aligned with your body. At this point, your forearms should be nearly perpendicular with the floor. This is how you start the exercise.
  4. Bending at the elbow, straighten your arm out behind you so that it's fully extended. Once again, just like with all of the other exercises, the movement should all be in your forearm and originate from the elbow. Your upper arms should not move. Once you have extended your arms fully, contract your triceps as much as possible. Really give them that squeeze.
  5. After a couple of seconds, bend your elbows and return to the original starting position.


Reps and Sets for Long Head Triceps Exercises

An argument that many people get into is how many reps and sets you should do to build that long head on your triceps muscles. Well, as far as most people are concerned, anywhere between 8 and 12 reps should suffice, especially if you're using heavy weight.

However, if you're using moderate or lighter weights, go for up to 15 repetitions. Remember that the number one goal is for you to maintain proper form. It's always better to use lighter weights with proper form than it is to use heavier weights with improper form.

Aim for between 45 seconds and one minute of rest between sets, and aim to do anywhere between three and five sets. There is a bit of trial and error involved here, because if you feel like your arms aren't being activated enough, you might want to switch to a heavier weight or switch triceps exercises.


Rounding Up

Long Head Tricep Exercises

There you have it guys and gals, the five best long-head triceps exercises to help build that muscle and gain some much-needed definition. Remember, it's all about proper form. You don't have to lift massive weights to grow those triceps.

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.