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Health + Fitness

Tips for Training the Lateral Head Triceps

Strong toned arms are something everybody interested in fitness strives for. If you’re one of those people, you likely know many different tricep exercises and the fact that some can specifically target the lateral head tricep. In fact, some tricep exercises can also be modified to target the different tricep heads depending on your fitness goals. But what if you’re not making the progress you think you should be? 

If you’re reading this article, then you’re probably here because you wish to know how to improve your gains and maybe even learn what might be holding you back when trying to grow muscle in specific areas like the later head triceps. 

If so, then you’re in luck because that’s exactly what we’re going to give you. Let’s get into it.

What are the Lateral Head Triceps? 

First of all, the word “tri” translates to three. Just as the name suggests, this means that the lateral head is just one of three triceps heads, including the long-head triceps and the medial-head triceps. The lateral head tricep begins at the humerus and stretches out to the ulna bone in the forearm. It is the largest of the three tricep heads and is also considered to be the strongest, with a considerable portion of the upper arm strength employed when opposing resistance.

While it is important to train all three triceps heads in order to have a balanced aesthetic as well as upper body strength, it is actually quite common for many trainers to perform triceps exercises, thinking that they are focusing on the lateral head when in actuality, the short head tricep is the primary muscle being activated. In some cases, inexperienced lifters even wind up using improper form during a lift which can cause other muscles, like the rear deltoids or laterals, to overcompensate.


Having a wide expanse of tricep lateral head exercises is undoubtedly one of the most efficient ways to build muscle in your arms. It’s also a great way to improve and strengthen all the classic pressing movements, such as dips, overhead presses, and bench presses, as the lateral head tricep is responsible for forearm extension or elbow extension. 

This action of forearm extension takes place during overhead exercises and pressing movements. As such, a few commonalities you may have noticed among the exercises recommended for lateral head triceps training are that they all involve elbow extension. 

So, what else can you do to achieve better results when training the later head tricep? Let’s go over our best tips to help you along the way.

Train Your Lateral Triceps First 

If your primary goal is to grow your lateral head triceps, you should train those muscles at the beginning of your workout. This is because you will not yet be fatigued from previous exercises in your routine and should have ample energy to push harder during those lateral head tricep workouts. 

Be extremely selective with the tricep workouts you choose to include so you can lift as much as your body will also while still maintaining good form. In addition to this, include a variation of tricep workouts immediately following a rest day in order to ensure you are working each tricep head and increase performance. This will enable you to increase overall gains in your upper body. 

Hit Those Triceps At least Twice a Week 

It might sound a bit redundant, but if you’re trying to grow specific muscle groups or isolated muscles, then you need to train them more than just once a week. Especially if you are noticing a lack of progress in an area, you wish to build up. We recommend training your lateral head triceps at least twice a week in order to build up those muscles. 

It should be noted, however, that adding lateral head tricep exercises to every single workout throughout the week can lead to muscle burnout and stunt any progress you were hoping to achieve. Especially if you’re strength training more than three days out of the week. 

Don’t Forget Those Activations 

As with any workout routine, it’s important to utilize muscle warm-up exercises or activations before you begin your actual routine. These warm-up exercises activate the muscle fibers by getting the blood flowing and increasing the temperature so that they work more efficiently during your exercises. Warm-up exercises have been shown to increase muscle gain as well as to help you get in the zone during your exercises so you can push harder. 

A few excellent lateral head tricep activations include: 

  • Triceps Kickbacks 
  • Overhead Triceps Stretch 
  • Towel Stretch 
  • Bench Leaning Triceps Stretch

Warm-ups should also be done with light weights, if any. Remember, the goal is to wake up those muscle fibers so they are prepared for the real exercises. 

Never Underestimate the Power of Rest Rand Recovery 

Just like any other workout routine, rest days are paramount for building muscle and should be built into your schedule. Did you know that you are not actually building muscle in the gym? You’re breaking it down. Muscle fibers can only rebuild after they’ve been broken down from strength training, and this happens outside of the gym when you are resting. 

Sleep plays a huge role in the recovery process as well. It’s not enough to go to the gym every week and work your butt off without getting adequate sleep. On top of that, if you’re thinking of jamming your tricep workout days within a 48-hour window from each other, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice. It’s recommended to spread out your tricep workout days at least 48 hours from each other, so they have plenty of time to recover. 


In summary, the triceps have three heads. They are the lateral head, the long head, and the medial head. Although all three should be trained so you have a good balanced aesthetic as well as upper body strength, it is possible to focus on the later head with specific exercises.

Once you’ve chosen the best lateral head tricep exercises, a few tips that could help you improve your results are to train the triceps at the beginning of your workout routine, be sure to train them at least twice a week, include triceps muscle activations before your workout begins, and prioritize rest and recovery so the muscle fibers have a chance to rebuild ensuring you’re able to push yourself through every workout. 

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