Lateral Head Triceps Exercises for Bigger, Stronger Arms

Triceps, are three-headed muscles opposite the biceps and responsible for 2/3 of the upper arm mass. The triceps muscle comprises three heads: the lateral head, the long head, and the medial head tricep.

So, it’s important to work all three tricep head muscles is important to make your arms bigger and grow faster.

Building up the lateral head of the triceps is an important step in the process.

A wide range of lateral head triceps exercises help you increase the size of your arms and strengthen your bench press, overhead press, dips, and other pressing movements.

In this article, I will discuss the following:

  • How To Build The Lateral Head Tricep
  • 12 Best Lateral Head Triceps Exercises
  • Triceps Anatomy
  • Workout Plan
  • FAQs

How To Build The Lateral Head Tricep

There are three main techniques to target the lateral head of the tricep:

1. Do Overhead Exercises

During overhead exercises, the lateral head of the triceps is more active.

A study has shown that at 180° shoulder elevation, the lateral head muscle increased its generation of muscle force and muscle activity.

Doing overhead tricep extensions or dumbbell overhead presses is great for this.

2. Use A Pronated (Overhand) Grip

A pronated (overhand) grip in tricep pushdowns targets the lateral head more effectively. This is because the lateral head is more involved in elbow extension when pronating the forearm.

3. Compound Exercises

Close-grip bench presses and dips engage the entire triceps and emphasize the lateral head significantly.

Although every triceps exercise hits all three heads to some degree, certain ones are better than others at stressing the different heads because of the biomechanics involved.

12 Best Lateral Head Triceps Exercises

All triceps exercises involve your triceps’ lateral head, but some are better than others for emphasizing this muscle.

Here are 12 of the best exercises for your lateral triceps.

1. One-Arm Overhead Dumbbell Triceps Extension

The one-arm dumbbell overhead triceps extension is a single-joint exercise that targets the triceps while increasing stability throughout the core and the shoulder regions.

By using dumbbells instead of an EZ-bar for the overhead extension, you can work each arm separately and ensure that the stronger side is not carrying the weaker one.

This lets you focus on perfect form in that one arm and allows for a greater range of motion.

One-Arm Overhead Dumbbell Triceps Extension

How To Do

  1. Stand shoulder width apart and lift a dumbbell overhead with your right hand.
  2. Hold it straight overhead with an overhand grip (palm facing forward).
  3. Keep your upper arm right beside your head.
  4. Lower the dumbbell behind your head and toward your left shoulder until your elbow forms a 90-degree angle.
  5. Then, slowly lift it back to full arm extension. Repeat for as many reps and sets as desired.


  • Weight should move in a controlled manner.
  • The chin should remain parallel to the floor and the core should brace during the exercise.
  • Keep your upper arms still, allowing your forearms to drive the movement.

2. Triceps Pushdown

Triceps Pushdown is the most popular tricep exercise to train the lateral head of the tricep.

  • Using the straight bar, a pronated grip (palms down) emphasizes the lateral head of the triceps.
  • A supinated grip (palms up) focuses effort on the long head.
  • An angled V-shaped bar switches the hands into a neutral grip (thumbs up), equally targeting all three triceps heads.
Triceps Pushdown

How To Do

  1. Stand in front of a high-pulley cable with a short straight bar attached to it.
  2. Slightly bend your knees, and your feet should be about shoulder-width apart.
  3. Grasp the Short bar with a pronated grip (palm down).
  4. Hold the bar at chest level with your elbows tight against your sides.
  5. Keep your elbows stationary, and straighten your arms until they are fully extended.
  6. Pause at full arm extension, flex your triceps, and slowly return the bar to the starting position.


  • You can do this exercise with a rope or EZ bar attachment.
  • Standing upright with the spine straight is the standard position.

3. Close-Grip Bench Press

The close grip bench press is a good exercise for building up your chest, shoulder, and tricep muscles.

It is a variation of the bench press in which the emphasis is placed on the lateral head of the triceps.

Close-Grip Bench Press

How To Do

  1. Lie flat on a bench-press bench with your feet flat on the floor. With your hands shoulder-width apart, grasp the barbell with an overhand grip.
  2. Unrack the bar and slowly lower it to your lower chest, keeping your elbows as close to your sides as possible.
  3. At the bottom of the movement, your elbows should be a little lower than your shoulders.
  4. Press the bar back up to the starting position.


  • Using anything closer than a shoulder-width grip increases triceps involvement.
  • Perform the exercise using a slow and controlled movement.

4. Diamond Push-Ups

Diamond push-ups are a more advanced variation of the classic push-ups. Practice diamond push-ups by bringing your hands too close together to form a diamond or triangle shape below your chest.

If you’re looking for a good bodyweight movement to train and work your tricep lateral head, then diamond push-ups are it.

This is a unique movement because it does a great job of developing the lateral (outermost) tricep head.

Diamond Push Ups

How To Do

  1. Get on the floor with your hands together under your chest.
  2. Position your index fingers and thumbs so they’re touching, forming a diamond shape.
  3. Now, extend your arms to elevate your body and form a straight line from your head to your feet.
  4. Lower your chest towards your hands, ensuring you don’t flare your elbows to the sides.
  5. Stop just before your chest touches the floor, then push back up to the starting position.


  • Keep your body straight and rigid.
  • To make the diamond push-up easier, do it on your knees.
Related Post: 15 Bodyweight Triceps Exercises: Beginner To Advanced

5. Bench Dip with Elevated Legs

The bench dip exercise is one of the most basic and best workouts for building bigger arms. It is a good exercise to train the lateral head tricep at home or on the road.

The bench dip is an effective exercise to build your triceps when performed with strict form. It will also target the shoulders (particularly the anterior delt heads), chest (pectorals), and serratus anterior.

Bench Dip with Elevated Legs

How To Do

  1. Place your hands on the side of a flat bench so that your body is perpendicular to the bench when you place your feet out in front of you.
  2. Sit on one bench and place your feet on the edge of the other bench so that your legs are suspended between the two.
  3. Your arms should be fully extended with your palms on the bench.
  4. Bend your elbows to lower your body down until your elbows reach 90 degrees.
  5. Now, lift your body back up using your arms and flexing your triceps at the top.


  • Really squeeze the triceps at the top of the movement to get the most out of this exercise.
  • Do not dip down too low, as it places unnecessary strain on the shoulder joints.

6. Lying Triceps Extension

The lying tricep extension (aka skull crusher) is one of the best tricep-building exercises.

Barbell skull crushers are a single-joint exercise that allows you to build a bigger tricep.

  • A wide grip emphasizes the long head,
  • whereas a narrow grip targets the lateral head of the tricep.
Lying Triceps Extension

How To Do

  1. Lie on a flat bench with your feet on the floor.
  2. Hold a barbell at full arm extension over your chest.
  3. Keeping your upper arms stationary.
  4. Slowly lower your lower arms to bring the bar down to your forehead, then push it back up.
  5. Do not lock your elbows out, and repeat for desired reps.


  • Keep the movement in your shoulders to a minimum. Most of the movement should be in your elbows.
  • This exercise should be done slowly and carefully under good control.
Read More: 7 Best Barbell Triceps Exercises For Mass And Strength

7. Dumbbell Kickback

The dumbbell tricep kickback is a versatile and effective exercise that targets the triceps muscles.

It is an isolation exercise that greatly activates the lateral head of the triceps.

This means that unlike other exercises, such as push-ups or bench presses, the tricep kickback specifically targets the triceps muscle.

Dumbbell Kick Back

How To Do

  1. Place your right knee and palm on a flat bench so that your torso is parallel to the floor.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in the left hand and keep the left foot flat on the floor.
  3. Press your left arm tight against your side with the upper arms parallel to the floor.
  4. Extend at the elbow until your arm is straight back and fully extended.
  5. Flex the triceps hard for a second, then return to the starting position.
  6. Complete all reps on the left arm and then repeat on the right arm.


  • Keep your body as still as possible, move only your forearms.  
  • Keep control of the weight as you slowly lower down.
Read More: 10 Best Triceps Workout With Dumbbells For Mass & Strength

8. Parallel Bar Triceps Dip

If you want to work on your lower chest, shoulders, and lateral head at the same time, then the tricep dip is the best exercise for you.

Parallel Bar triceps dips are one of the most effective compound movements for the upper body pushing muscles – the chest and triceps especially.

Parallel Bar Triceps Dip

How To Do

  1. Grasp the dip bars with your arms extended and locked.
  2. Keep your body as vertical as possible to keep the emphasis on the triceps and away from the chest.
  3. Keep your elbows as close to your sides as possible as you bend them to lower your body down until your upper arms are about parallel to the floor.
  4. Press your hands forcefully into the bars to extend your arms and raise your body back up.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.


  • Do not lock out your elbows at the top of the movement.
  • To focus effort on the triceps, keep your body upright and elbows tucked in.

9. Dumbbell Squeeze Press

The dumbbell squeeze press is one of the most effective pressing exercises you can perform to induce functional hypertrophy of the inner chest and tricep.

The dumbbells are always in contact with each other, and you’re actively squeezing them inward (against each other) as hard as possible.

Dumbbell Squeeze Press

How To Do

  1. Take the dumbbells in your hands and lie down on the bench.
  2. Place the dumbbells together side by side and lift them up over your chest.
  3. Lower them down together by touching each other, then push the dumbbells back up.
  4. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.


  • Breathe out on the way up.
  • Maintain more tension through the pecs by not locking out the elbows entirely.

10. Lying Triceps Extension

Lying tricep extension is a popular exercise for strengthening your tricep muscles. Bodybuilders and athletes have been doing it for a long time.

here are many other ways to do a lying extension to get the most muscle stimulation.

The One-arm lying dumbbell tricep extension is one of the best unilateral variations to train the lateral head of the tricep because it stretches the muscle and allows for a full range of motion.

One-Arm Dumbbell Lying Triceps Extension

How To Do

  1. Lie on a flat bench and hold a dumbbell in your right hand with an overhand grip.
  2. Extend your arm, so the dumbbell is straight from your right shoulder.
  3. Without moving your upper arm, bend at the elbow to bring the dumbbell down to the side of your head.
  4. Exhale as you extend your elbow and push the dumbbell back up to the starting position.
  5. Do 10–12 reps as desired, then repeat with the left arm.


  • Only move your forearms, not your upper arm.
  • Do not lock out your elbow at the top of the movement.

11. Incline Reverse-Grip Bench Press

The reverse grip incline barbell press is a compound lateral head tricep exercise.

An Incline bench barbell press with a reverse grip actually shifts the most focus to the upper chest and tricep.

Start out light and ensure your thumbs are hooked around the bar for safety.

Reverse-grip bench press

How To Do

  1. Lying on a flat bench, grasp the bar with a supinated (reverse) grip.
  2. The hands’ shoulders should be shoulder-width apart, and the thumbs should be around the bar.
  3. With your elbows tucked in close to your sides, slowly lower the bar down to your lower pecs.
  4. Press the bar back up to the start position in a slight backward arc without letting your elbows flare out.
  5. Don’t lock out your elbows at the top of the rep; keep a bend in your arms.


  • Perform press in a controlled manner.
  • Exhale on pushing movement, and inhale when returning to the starting position.

12. Dumbbell Tate Press

The dumbbell Tate press is a variation of the dumbbell tricep extension.

It is an advanced lateral head tricep exercise that moves the muscle differently, but still targets and builds the tricep muscle.

For bodybuilders, the Tate press will offer a unique range of motion to target the triceps. This will help in building a complete pair of horseshoe triceps.

Dumbbell Tate Press

How To Do

  1. Lie down on a flat bench, and your feet are firmly planted on the floor at the other end.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand so your palms face your feet.
  3. Engage your abs, keep your back on the bench, and raise the weights to the center of your chest.
  4. Slowly raise your arms up and down without moving your elbows by contracting your triceps.
  5. Repeat for as many reps and sets as desired.


  • Using a slow eccentric exercise can help improve tension and mind-muscle connection.
  • Don’t lock out at the movement’s top to protect your elbows.

Triceps Anatomy

The triceps is a large muscle on the back of the arm. It consists of 3 parts: the medial, lateral, and long head.

It begins just below the shoulder blade socket and at two distinct areas of the humerus.

triceps anatomy

The lateral head of the triceps is found on the outer side of the humerus. This is the horseshoe shape that shows on the upper part of the back of your arm.

The medial head of the triceps is found in the middle of the back portion of the upper arm. Originating from the humerus and finishing at the elbow, it lays opposite the long head.

The long head of the triceps is the largest part of your triceps and is found running down the back of your arm. The long head differs from the medial and lateral heads as it crosses the shoulder joint and assists in shoulder extension.

Tips And Techniques To Train Lateral Tricep Head

1. Prioritize the Lateral Head Tricep

If you want to prioritize your lateral head tricep in your workout, including different exercises like kickbacks or overhand-grip press downs in your routine will be essential.

It can be extremely helpful to train your triceps after a rest day.

With this strategy, you will need to arrange your training split to fit a new routine, but by taking a rest day before you work your triceps, you can prepare your body to work hard at the gym.

2. Start Your Triceps Routine with a Multi-Joint Movement

Multijoint or compound exercises are performed at best when your energy levels are high, usually at the beginning of your workout routine.

It will have two sets of joints working, such as a close-grip bench press where the shoulder and elbow joints move together.

3. Include Multiple Lateral Head Exercises in Your Routine

If you are trying to focus on your lateral head tricep, it can be helpful to incorporate multiple exercises into your routine that especially target this muscle.

Remember to mix it up and utilize exercises that differ from one another to make sure you are taking the proper steps to achieve your fitness goals. 

4. Try new lateral head movements

Avoid a mundane, boring routine—have fun with your workouts, try new things, and make your training sessions even more energizing and beneficial to your body.

It will take persistence, motivation, and resilience to work towards strengthening, stabilizing, and bulking up your lateral head tricep.

5. Use Various Exercises and Equipment 

Implementing different types of exercises and equipment into your workouts can be beneficial.

Mix things up or try something new to make sure your workout is productive and never boring.

The best equipment to use for the triceps are dumbbells, cable machines, barbells, kettlebells, and resistance bands.

6. Improve Form 

While doing lateral head tricep exercises, having the proper form will be crucial.

You can maintain the perfect form during your workouts by keeping your elbows tucked to the side and staying in control of your movements.

7. Allow Time For Rest and Recovery 

With intense training, you are breaking down your muscles so that they can grow even stronger.

But this can only happen if you allow your body adequate time to rest afterward.

Lateral Head Triceps Workout Plan

If your Lateral head triceps are lagging, and you really want to build a big tricep, you can prioritize it, but still, don’t forget about your medial and long head of the tricep.

Training Volume of Tricep

Of course, the number of sets and reps will be determined based on your fitness journey, but here is a great starting point:

Training LevelSets Per Week
Beginners~10 sets
Intermediate~15 sets
Advanced~20 sets
Rep RangeLoad
6–8 repsHeavy load
8–15 repsModerate load
15-20+ repsLight load

The load should bring you to or near failure within the given rep ranges. 

Beginner Workout Plan

Diamond Push-Ups4 8-10
Triceps Pushdown4 8-10
Dumbbell Kick Back3 15-20

Lateral Head Triceps Dumbbell Workout Plan

Overhead Tricep Extension4 8-12
Close-Grip Bench Press4 8-12
Tata Press3 8-10
One-Arm Dumbbell Lying Triceps Extension3 10-15

Intermediate Workout Plan

ExerciseSetsReps Range
Lying Triceps Extension4 6-8
Cable One Arm Reverse Grip Triceps Pushdown4 8-12
Parallel Bar Triceps Dip3 8-10
Dumbbell Squeeze Press3 8-12

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some frequently asked questions for the lateral head tricep exercises: 

What Do You Do If The Lateral Head Of The Tricep Isn’t Growing?

If the lateral head of your triceps is not growing, there are a few things you can try to improve muscle growth:

  • Make sure you do bodyweight exercises, like close-grip push-ups, tricep dips, and diamond push-ups.
  • Gradually increase the weight or resistance you use in your exercises to challenge the muscles more.
  • Add compound exercises like overhead and bench presses that work the triceps differently and increase the muscles.
  • Ensure you perform exercises with good form to target the lateral head tricep effectively.
  • Ensure you get enough rest and recovery time between workouts to allow the muscle to repair and grow.
  • Eating enough protein and caloric surplus can help support muscle growth.

How The Lateral Head Tricep Contributes To Performance

The bench press uses the triceps’ lateral head to achieve the exercise’s final phase. Therefore, a strong lateral head will contribute to a strong bench press.

Overhead movements such as the jerk, push press, and overhead press also require lateral head tricep strength. Again, mostly in the lockout phase.  

So, while the lateral head rarely acts as a prime mover in compound exercises, if it’s weak, you likely won’t be able to achieve full range of motion.

How can I build the lateral head of my triceps at home?

To build the lateral head of your triceps at home, you can perform exercises such as close-grip push-ups, tricep dips, and diamond push-ups.

You can also try using resistance bands or weight plates to add resistance to your exercises.

Do skull crushers work the lateral head?

Yes, skull crusher, focus on the lateral head of the tricep.

Skull crushers exclusively target the lateral head tricep by elbow extension (meaning straightening your arm from a flexed position) and flexion.

What exercise works the lateral head of the tricep?

Your lateral head will be activated whenever you engage in exercises in which you extend your elbow against resistance.

  1. Bench Dip 
  2. Triceps Pushdown
  3. Lying Triceps Extension
  4. Dumbbell Kickback
  5. Parallel Bar Triceps Dip

How do you hit the lateral tricep head?

To activate the lateral head of the triceps, focus on exercises that extend the elbow. That means dips, kickbacks, and overhand-grip press-downs are all good choices for targeting the lateral head.


Well-developed triceps will add a lot to the size and shape of your arms, which goes double for the lateral triceps.

Don’t neglect this part of your arms – hit it hard with the best lateral triceps exercises.

You can’t completely isolate any one tricep head, but you can emphasize a single head with certain exercises, arm positions, and grip positions, and you should be doing this if you want the best possible development of your triceps.


  1. Kassiano, W., Nunes, J. P., Costa, B., Ribeiro, A. S., Schoenfeld, B. J., & Cyrino, E. S. (2022). Does varying resistance exercises promote superior muscle hypertrophy and strength gains? A systematic review. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research36, 1753–1762. 
  2. Kholinne E, Zulkarnain RF, Sun YC, Lim S, Chun JM, Jeon IH. The different role of each head of the triceps brachii muscle in elbow extension. Acta Orthop Traumatol Turc. 2018 May;52(3):201-205. doi: 10.1016/j.aott.2018.02.005. Epub 2018 Mar 2. PMID: 29503079; PMCID: PMC6136322.
  3. American Council on Exercise: ACE Study Identifies Best Triceps Exercises (source)

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