Avid gym-goers are always looking for that extra edge to achieve perfection. So, they spend many hours on developing each muscle group. Triceps are no exception. In order to become Mr. Aesthetic, you have to make sure that each triceps head is symmetric and not lagging. Hence, I’ve selected five triceps medial head exercises, which will help you get your triceps to the next level.
Triceps medial head exercises
In order to find the best exercises, I looked for the information in three credible resources.
1. According to findings published in the study, “The different role of each head of the triceps brachii muscle in elbow extension,” the triceps medial head reaches its peak muscle force when participants performed them at 90 to 180 degrees of shoulder elevation. So, this would lend credence to the idea of mostly choosing exercises that expect you to set your arms at this angle.
2. Another interesting part of my research came from a physical therapist named Jeff Cavaliere, who hosts a well-known YouTube channel called “Athlean-X.” In one of his videos, he gives an in-depth analysis of how to better target each head of the triceps. To boost tension in the medial head, Jeff advocates using an underhand (reverse) grip and turning elbows out while setting for an exercise.
3. Lastly, I found a list of exercises for each muscle group, including triceps, in the professional fitness book, “NPTI Fundamentals of Fitness and Personal Training.”
After compiling all this information, I recommend the flowing five triceps exercises to build a medial head. The list can be extended in the future.
Reverse grip triceps pushdown (cable)
The first of five triceps exercises I introduce to you is the ever-effective reverse grip triceps pushdown. While working all areas of the triceps, this exercise does put much of its focus on the medial head. The key factor for this exercise to target the medial head is to use reverse grip!
- As you approach the cable and the attached bar, it’s often useful to place one leg slightly in front of the other to utilize balance.
- With your palms on the solid straight bar handle facing up, pull the bar directly downwards until both of your arms are fully lengthened. Pause at the peak.
- Bring your arms back up until both arms are at about a 90-degree angle before completing your next rep.
Ensure the cable setting is relatively high to make the most of muscle tension.
Throughout this exercise, only your forearms should move, with no movement to the top of your arms, elbows and the rest of the body. This will allow full focus for the triceps muscle and, in particular, to its medial heads.
Avoid exceeding a 90-degree angle, which will better help to keep tension in your triceps muscles.
For a beginner, I advise pushing the elbows back, tuck closely to the sides of the body, and don’t swing forward throughout the entire movement. Later, you can experiment with the elbow position and find out what works for you better.
Remember not to slouch the spine; otherwise, this could have negative implications on posture.
Dumbbell triceps overhead extension
With a single dumbbell, this is an exercise that can be performed anywhere from the gym to your own home. You just need one dumbbell for this exercise, ensuring you can grip both hands comfortably inside the end of the dumbbell. This exercise can be performed standing or sitting, though performing this sitting up straight ensures your seat allows for movement behind your head.
- Holding the dumbbell, raise your arms as high as you can while ensuring your elbows are in line with your shoulders.
- With fully extended arms, slowly bring the dumbbell behind your head until your arms are slightly lower than a 90-degree angle.
- Now, push the dumbbell back to the air until your arms are fully extended. This entire movement makes one complete repetition.
Again, keep in mind that it’s only forearm movement with extension through the elbows.
Alternatively, you can perform this exercise holding one dumbbell in each hand. Some find that it’s more comfortable for their shoulder joints and for maximal triceps medial head engagement.
This exercise requires care and precision, but when executed accurately, the skullcrusher is a great all-round growth mechanism for the triceps.
- Firstly, grab an EZ bar, as this is the most effective bar to use for skullcrushers.
- Using a flat bench, lay down and fully extend your arms as if you were about to do a bench press set.
- Place your hands on the narrow-grip section of the bar to maximize the stretch and tension of the triceps.
- To begin the first rep, bend your arms using flexion in the elbow only. Bring the bar approximately an inch away from your forehead (hence the name, skullcrusher). Keep the top section of your arms straight and stretch the triceps.
- Raise the bar again to a position where your arms are almost fully extended, so you are unable to rest in a fully extended position to utilize tension of the triceps. This is one complete rep.
During the exercise, keep your elbow as tight and narrow as possible. Allowing the elbows to drift wide will take focus away from the triceps.
Remember to start with a light weight and focus on tension. This will minimize the risk of injury and assist you in perfecting the correct technique.
Reverse grip dumbbell triceps press
This is a great compound exercise, which targets your pecs, front delts, and triceps. To get started, all you’ll need is a workout bench and two dumbbells. Follow the steps below, and please take caution when performing this exercise.
- Sit upright on a flat bench with dumbbells resting on each knee. Carefully lay back on a bench. Keep feet firmly planted on the floor.
- Raise arms straight in the air, holding one dumbbell in each hand. Keep your arms fully extended with palms facing each other. At this point, you should slightly rotate your palms outward. This will be the starting position.
- Now, lower your arms to the side of your body until elbows are in line with your torso. Keep your elbows tucked in.
- Use your triceps’ strength to push your weight back up to the starting point. Make sure you are breathing out when you do this. Hold at the peak for a better triceps contraction.
- Repeat slowly to your comfort level.
Alternatively, you can do this exercise lying on an incline bench.
Lying dumbbell triceps extension
This requires a little more coordination than the reverse grip dumbbell triceps press. With this exercise, you will need to maintain a firm grip on the dumbbells throughout the entire movement.
- Sit down on a flat bench. Grab two dumbbells and place them on top of your knees. Lay back on a bench.
- Bring your arms up with weights in hands. Turn dumbbells inward until your palms are facing in. Leave weight about shoulder-width apart. This is the starting position.
- Now, start bending your forearms while keeping your upper arm as motionless as possible. Lower dumbbells until they are to the sides of your ears.
- Using the triceps strength, extend arms back to the starting position. Do as many reps as necessary.
Remember to keep your upper arms stationary. This is the key to maximal triceps engagement. All the movement should be in your forearms.
If you prefer to work one arm at a time, you can reinforce your working arm by holding your elbow in place with your other hand. This will stabilize your arm while you are performing the exercise.
The triceps extension seems to be a bit more challenging for most people. However, you’ll have no problem doing this exercise with enough strength and coordination and not too much weight.
A word of caution here!
Be very selective with how much weight you are using when performing these exercises. Too much weight can result in injury. Avoid these exercises if you are experiencing any issues with elbow strength or any kind of pain in your elbows. If you are having any of these issues, it may be best to consult with your doctor and an experienced physical fitness trainer to determine your strength and capabilities.
Triceps medial head workout
In the end, I want to show you two triceps workouts focusing on the medial head.
- Reverse grip triceps pushdown: 3 sets of 8–12 reps.
- Lying dumbbell triceps extension: 3 sets of 10–12 reps.
- Triceps chair dips: 2 sets of 10–12 reps.
- Dumbbell triceps overhead extension 3 sets of 10–12 reps.
- Skullcrusher 3 sets of 10–12 reps.
- Triceps dips: 2 sets of 6–12 reps.