5 Best Long Head Tricep Exercises: Including Tips on How to Build Massive Triceps Fast


Developing strong triceps is essential for improving overall upper body strength, and the long head of the triceps plays a significant role in this process. The long head is the largest part of the triceps muscle and is not only involved in elbow extension but also shoulder extension and arm adduction. Focusing on exercises that target the long head of your triceps can help you achieve greater size and symmetry for both strength and aesthetics. Below are the best Long head tricep exercises. 

What Are the 3 Heads of the Triceps?

The triceps muscle in your arm is composed of three distinct parts, commonly referred to as heads. Each head plays a specific role in the overall function of the triceps, which primarily involves elbow extension. The long head is the only one that is involved in shoulder extension as it crosses the shoulder joint. In this section, we will explore the unique characteristics and functions of the long head, lateral head, and medial head of the triceps.

Long Head

The long head is the largest and most prominent of the three tricep heads. It originates from the scapula (shoulder blade) and is the only head that crosses the shoulder joint. As a result, it has a unique role in shoulder extension along with its primary function in elbow extension. Incorporating exercises that specifically target the long head can greatly improve your tricep development and overall upper arm strength.

Lateral Head

Located on the outer side of your arm, the lateral head is easily visible and contributes to the horseshoe shape of the triceps. Its primary function, like the other heads, is elbow extension. Focusing on exercises such as close-grip bench press and tricep pushdowns can help isolate and develop the lateral head for an aesthetically appealing tricep.

Medial Head

The medial head runs down the middle of your tricep, sitting between the long and lateral heads. Though it may not be as visually prominent as the other two, the medial head plays a crucial role in stabilizing the elbow joint and assisting in overall elbow extension. Including exercises that specifically target the medial head, like skull crushers and reverse grip tricep pushdowns, will contribute to a balanced and well-rounded tricep development.

What Are the Best Long Head Tricep Exercises?

1. Barbell Skull Crushers

Barbell Skull Crushers are an excellent exercise that targets the long head of the triceps. To perform these effectively, use a moderate weight and an EZ bar to reduce strain on your wrists.

How to Perform the Barbell Skull Crusher 

  1. Load the bar with moderate weight, somewhere in the 8 to 20 rep zone to avoid over-taxing the soft tissues of the elbow. Use the easy bar with a semi-pronated grip to put less strain on the wrists.
  1. Position the bar at the top end of the bench with a shoulder-width grip, using your lats to pull the bar up overhead. You can hoist the bar up from your lap, but if you can’t pick it up from overhead off the bench, the weight may be too heavy.
  1. Another option is the floor skull crusher, which allows for heavier loading and prevents dropping the bar off the bench if a rep is failed.
  1. Before beginning the first rep, ensure that your shoulder blades are retracted and depressed to enforce upper body tightness and shoulder stability.
  1. Initiate the first rep by moving the bar back over your face to pull tension into the long head and maintain constant tension throughout the range of motion.
  1. Lower the weight back in an arc rather than straight down to your forehead to increase overload on the triceps by increasing torque at the elbow joint.
  1. Initiate the concentric by squeezing your triceps to move the weight up and slightly forward while pressing the middle of your hand into the bar. Ensure that your shoulder stays reasonably locked into place during the concentric to isolate elbow extension and maximize triceps activation.
  1. Avoid common errors such as dropping the weight down to the forehead, excessive movement at the shoulder, and going too heavy, as these reduce tension on the triceps and involve other muscles, decreasing triceps activation

2. Dumbbell Skull Crushers

Dumbbell Skull Crushers are an alternative to Barbell Skull Crushers as they allow you to train each side individually, helping to prevent strength and size asymmetries and potentially improving shoulder positioning for internal or external rotation. Here’s how to perform the dumbbell skull crusher:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Hold a dumbbell in each hand parallel to your body.
  1. Press the dumbbells straight up with your palms facing in. Make sure your elbows are straight but not locked, and engage your core while pressing the lower back into the ground.
  1. Inhale as you bend from the elbow to lower the dumbbells to the side of your head, next to your ears. Keep your elbows pointed to the sky throughout the movement.
  1. Exhale as you press the weights up and straighten the arms, squeezing the triceps at the top.
  1. Return to the starting position and repeat for the desired number of reps. Maintain a mind-muscle connection with the triceps you’re targeting.
  1. Keep your elbows stacked above your shoulders throughout the entire range of motion to prevent them from flaring out to the sides.

3. Incline Dumbbell Kickbacks

Incline Dumbbell Kickback stands out as one of the best long head tricep exercises. According to a study by Boeckh-Behrens & Buskies, incline dumbbell kickbacks were found to elicit the highest activation of the long head of the triceps compared to other triceps exercises in the study.

Here is how to perform the exercise correctly: 

  1. Position: Lie chest-down on an incline bench, ensuring that your chest is supported and your lower back is not participating in the exercise.
  1. Grip: Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms extended overhead and your palms facing each other.
  1. Arm Movement: Move your arms back until they are parallel to your upper body. Keep your elbows locked in place at your side, maintaining the angle between your body and upper arm.
  1. Elbow Flexion: Fully flex your elbows, bringing the dumbbells as close to your head as possible without touching.
  1. Repetition: Perform the desired number of repetitions, maintaining proper form throughout the exercise.
  1. Variations: To increase the size and definition of your arms, you can perform a “tri-set” that includes underhand-grip, overhand-grip, and hammer-grip chest-supported triceps kickbacks. Perform each grip for 1 minute each, with no rest between exercises.

4. Incline Dumbbell Overhead Extensions

Incline Dumbbell Overhead Extensions provide a greater stretch on the long head of the triceps. Here is how to perform the exercise.


Select the desired weight from the rack and position an adjustable bench on a slight incline of 25-35 degrees.

Sit on the bench and raise the dumbbells vertically, holding them using a neutral grip (palms facing each other).


Lower the dumbbells behind your head by flexing your elbows while keeping your upper arms fixed.

Exhale as you push the dumbbells back up to the starting position by extending your elbows.


Keep your upper arms fixed, with your elbows close to your head. Only your forearms should move.

Utilize a slight incline, as extremes are not necessary.

Avoid overextending through the lumbar spine and keep your ribcage down by maintaining tension through the abs and glutes.

5. Bodyweight or Weighted Dips

Bodyweight or Weighted Dips are compound lifts that benefit multiple muscle groups and activate the long head of the triceps. To perform these exercises, follow these steps:

Bodyweight Dips:

Stand between parallel bars and grip each bar with your hands. (You can also use a bench)

Straighten your arms and lift yourself up, keeping your elbows slightly bent.

Lower your body by bending your elbows until your shoulders are below your elbows.

Push yourself back up to the starting position by straightening your arms.

Weighted Dips:

Attach a weight belt around your waist and add the desired weight.

Stand between parallel bars and grip each bar with your hands.

Straighten your arms and lift yourself up, keeping your elbows slightly bent.

Lower your body by bending your elbows until your shoulders are below your elbows.

Push yourself back up to the starting position by straightening your arms.

Final Words: The Best Long Head Tricep Exercises

That’s it for the best long head tricep exercises that you can consider adding to your workout routine. These exercises are Barbell skull crushers, Dumbbell Skull crushers, Incline Dumbbell Overhead Extensions, Incline Dumbbell Triceps Kickback, and Tricep Dips.

It’s important that you choose one primary long head activation exercise from these 5 exercises to focus on. This will help you develop the long head of your triceps effectively.

Once you have a primary exercise targeting the long head, consider incorporating additional exercises that target the lateral and medial heads of your triceps. This balanced approach will allow you to achieve the desirable ‘horseshoe’ look on your triceps and promote the overall growth of your arms.

Remember, the key to success is consistency, proper form, and a well-rounded workout routine targeting all the major muscles in your body; the back muscles, the legs and chest.

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