11 Best Lateral Head Tricep Exercises Proven to Help Build Bigger Arms

Lateral head tricep exercises work and target the lateral head of the triceps.
It may not be easy to work the triceps muscles in isolation. But the right exercises can help you target those muscles and help you build bigger arms.

man holding dumbbells

I had been working out for many months but seeing zero bulk in my arms. And now I know why. It’s because I didn’t do lateral head tricep exercises. Sounds familiar?

Did you know over 60% of the arm’s mass is made of the triceps muscles?

dumbbell exercises - lateral head tricep exercises

A major part of working out the triceps lies in the lateral head triceps. These are responsible for most of the high-force actions, such as pushing. As such, they’re the most important muscles to target when planning any lateral head tricep exercises.

Building your triceps is all about picking the right exercises.

So, read on to find out whether lateral head tricep exercises are good for you. We will explain how to do each exercise we suggest to help you decide which of them will fit into your fitness plans to help you target and build bigger arms.

What Are Lateral Head Tricep Exercises?

Lateral head tricep exercises work and target the lateral head of the triceps.

It may not be easy to work the triceps muscles in isolation. But identifying and choosing the right exercises can help you target those muscles.

Thus, putting some effort into lateral head tricep exercises can help you tone and build your arms to give you the physique you want.

Benefits

  • Builds muscle strength
  • Better pushing ability
  • Improved elbow extension

Equipment

  • Preacher bench
  • Dumbbells
  • EZ bars
  • Cable machine

Top 11 effective lateral head tricep exercises to tone and strengthen your triceps to help you build bigger arms

Here are some of the top lateral head tricep exercises that can target your triceps and help you achieve your aim to build massive arms

Diamond Push-ups

diamond push up - lateral head tricep exercises

Diamond pushups are one of the 3 best triceps lateral head exercises recommended by the American Council on Exercise ACE).

Steps to Follow

  • Start with your palms and knees on the ground.
  • Then, slowly raise yourself and kick your feet back so that you’re in a high plank position. Your hands should be on the ground and shoulder-width apart. And your legs should be extended out and in.
  • Now, instead of having your palms flat on the ground, bring them together to form a diamond shape. The thumbs and index fingers of your hands should form a 4-sided diamond.
  • In this position, lower yourself until you’re about to hit the floor (or until it’s not comfortable anymore). Keep in mind that your hips should align with your body and not be protruded or sagging.
  • Now, raise yourself back up, maintain the same form in your body and the diamond shape in your hands.
  • Repeat these pushups for 10-12 reps.

Bench Dips

Dips can be quite challenging for people who have never done them. But they’re among some of the most beneficial exercises.

woman doing bench dips

Dips exercises are one of the 3 best tricep head exercises recommended by ACE. Dips work to target many important muscle groups, including the triceps.

Steps to Follow


You need a sturdy bench to stand in front of. Then, make sure the bench will not slip from under you as you perform the exercise.

  • Start by standing in front of the bench.
  • Then, position yourself very carefully on the very edge of the bench, such that both your palms rest on the bench.
  • Now, gradually lift your body weight off the bench and step off the bench. In this position, your palms should be at hip level and should be providing adequate support.
  • Make sure the legs are in front of you and completely straight. Also, your elbows are tucked to your sides and not jutting out.
  • Now, slowly lower your body down the side of the bench. Stop when your elbows start to make a 90-degree angle.
  • Then, raise yourself back up until the arms are fully extended. Your legs should remain pretty much in the same position as when you started the exercise.
  • Repeat until you feel that your core has been strengthened.

Close Grip Dips

man doing triceps dips exercise

Instead of performing the dips on a bench or chair, it can do it with the help of a dip bar. Dip bars are just two parallel bars that are slightly farther apart than your shoulder width.

Steps to Follow

  • Find two parallel bars that can be used as dip bars.
  • Stand in the middle of the two bars facing away from them.
  • Now, place your hand on either bar and grip it firmly.
  • Try to lift your weight upward. It may help to cross your knees or ankles to provide additional support.
  • Keep lifting yourself until your arms are fully extended.
  • Next, lower yourself again, but only until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle. Stop for a second and then repeat.
  • Keep repeating for as long as it feels comfortable. Aim for 10 dips at most in one set.

Narrow Push-ups

narrow push ups

A modification of the regular pushup, narrow pushups work out your triceps’ lateral head. These pushups require you to place your hands at a narrow angle and push yourself up and down.

Steps to Follow

  • Find a comfortable spot on the ground, perhaps on a carpet or exercise mat.
  • Get into the plank position. But instead of your palms shoulder-width apart, keep them at a width slightly narrower than that.
  • In this position, push your body down to just above the ground and try to push yourself back up. Keep the movements smooth and ensure that your hips neither sag nor rise.
  • Once down, push yourself up until your arms are fully extended.
  • Repeat for 10-15 reps.

Side-Lying Triceps Dips

Another variant of the dips is a better lateral head triceps exercise. It’s a unilateral exercise, which means that you get to work out one triceps at a time.

Steps to Follow

  • Lie down on the floor on your side. It helps to use an exercise mat or rug to reduce the impact against your ribs and hips.
  • Next, place the hand farthest from the ground on the floor, in front of your chest.
  • Place the other hand on the back of your head with your elbow sticking out.
  • Push your body up until you no longer can do so. Then push it back down to the starting position, maintaining the same posture. The rest of your body should remain perfectly still.
  • While doing the side-lying triceps dips, it’s crucial not to feel any tension on your joints. If you do feel any pain, stop immediately.
  • Repeat for 12-15 reps.

Bodyweight Triceps Extension

bodyweight triceps extension

The triceps extension is a great way to engage the lateral head of the triceps. And this is just one variant of it. It is one of the few lateral head tricep exercises where you use your body weight instead of any external weights or equipment.

Steps to Follow

You may need a bench or a horizontal bar with an appropriate height you find comfortable. Alternatively, you can use just the floor for this bodyweight exercise and you will still get similar results if you do it properly

  • Find a horizontal bar and place it somewhere where it can’t move. In the gym, this can be done by putting a barbell onto a squat rack. At home, any exercise bar can work.
  • Grab the bar with both your hands and place them slightly farther apart than your shoulder width.
  • Next, kick the feet back to extend out, and you’re in a pushup/plank position. Keep your back straight and hips in line with the rest of your body.
  • Extend your elbows fully so that your chest is higher than the bar.
  • Now, lower yourself down into the bar by bringing your head towards it. Your elbows should stay tucked in, and your body should maintain the same posture.
  • Keep going until you can feel that your triceps have been fully stretched.
  • Push up from the bar until you reach your starting position or until the elbows are fully extended.
  • Repeat for 10-12 reps.

Triceps Kickbacks

Triceps kickbacks are the hardest yet one of the most effective lateral head tricep exercises. When done right, this exercise will engage the lateral head of your triceps and make it stronger.

dumbbell-triceps-kickbacks with one hand

You can do this exercise with either 1 or 2 dumbbells if you are exercising from your home gym. Alternatively, you can use a low pulley cable machine if you have access to one.

You can see the dumbbell triceps kickbacks exercise details here

Steps to Follow with a cable machine

  • For this, you’ll need a weighted cable machine and a cable handle.
  • Using only one hand, hold on to the handle.
  • Bend your hips such that your torso is inclined and is almost parallel with the floor.
  • Now, bend your elbow such that it’s bent at about 90 degrees. In this position, your elbow should be in line with your torso, and your forearm and hand should be facing down.
  • Pull back on the cable, keeping your elbow in the same position and tucked into your body. Keep pulling until your elbows are fully flexed, and you feel the tension in your triceps.
  • Bring the cable handle back to its starting position, with the elbows flexed at 90 degrees.
  • Repeat for 20 reps during 4 sets.

Overhead Triceps Extensions

overhead triceps extension

The overhead triceps extension is one of the harder-to-do lateral head tricep exercises, especially, if you are a newbie. When done right, however, you’ll realize just how difficult and painful it can be.

Steps to Follow

  • For this, you’ll need a dumbbell of any suitable weight and a place to sit. Of course, you can do this exercise standing up too. But sitting on a preacher bench is quite possibly the best way to do it as it allows for a wider range of motion.
  • Start by pickup up the dumbbell in both hands and placing it behind your head. Your elbows should be tucked in, and the dumbbell should be at the base of your neck. Your palms and fingers should be beneath the weight of the dumbbell and not on the bar that connects the weights.
  • Next, while maintaining a straight posture and keeping the elbows tucked, push the dumbbell up. Keep pushing until you fully straighten your elbows or until you can no longer push it up.
  • Bring the dumbbell back and repeat for 8-12 reps.
  • You can perform this exercise with just one hand, too, if it feels more comfortable. But a double-handed overhead extension makes the posture easier to maintain.

EZ Bar Skull Crushers

skull crushers - alternatives to dips

Skull crushers are among the best lateral head tricep exercises to target the triceps muscles for bigger arms. Not only do they work out the lateral head triceps but also the long head triceps.

You can do this lateral head triceps exercise using a straight bar or an EZ bar.

Steps to Follow

  • Lie down on a bench with your chest facing up and hold the EZ bar with an overhand grip. Keep your hands shoulder-width apart on the bar and keep your back straight.
  • Now, extend your arms upward above your head until the elbows are fully extended. Keep the wrists stacked in a neutral position.
  • Tuck your elbows and keep them locked. Bring the EZ bar down to your head until the elbows make an almost 90-degree angle. Make sure your wrist and elbows stay in the same position as described earlier.
  • Stop for a while, then bring the bar back up and fully extend the elbows.
  • Repeat for 10-12 reps.

Dumbbell Crush Press

dumbbell chest press

The dumbbell crush press is one of the best lateral head tricep exercises that adds resistance to your triceps. Like other presses, it helps enhance your strength when pressing against an object.

Steps to Follow

  • Lie down on a preacher bench, grabbing a dumbbell in each hand. Use an overhand grip for maximum comfort.
  • Bring the dumbbells close to your chest.
  • Gradually push the dumbbells above your chest such that your elbows are fully extended. The dumbbells should be above your shoulders directly so that your arms are perfectly perpendicular. Keep the dumbbells close together even as you’re pushing them up.
  • Now, bring them back down to just above your chest.
  • Repeat for 10-12 reps.

Lying Single-Arm Triceps Extensions

Here’s another lateral head triceps exercise that can be done with just one hand. Proper form and technique are what make this exercise a success.

Steps to Follow

  • Find a bench and lie down on it with your feet flat on the ground on either side. You can do this on the ground, too, with your knees folded if you don’t hat a bench in your home gym.
  • Pick up the dumbbell and raise one arm above your head, extending the elbow. Place your other hand on the inner elbow to keep the arm steady and provide a pivot.
  • Push the dumbbell down sideways until it’s just above your chest. The rest of your arm and the other arm should not move at all.
  • Bring the dumbbell back up to the starting position

FAQs

What is the best lateral head triceps exercise?

There is no single best lateral head triceps exercise. But the one that people find the easiest to do is the EZ skull crusher. It’s best for beginners who want to get the hang of triceps exercises.

What is a good lateral head triceps exercise without equipment?

One of the best tricep lateral head exercises without equipment is the diamond pushup. It can be performed anywhere without any equipment and works out the whole body. This variant, in particular, works out the lateral head triceps too

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6136322/
  2. Boehler B, Porcari JP, Kline D, Hendrix R, Foster C, Anders M. ACE-sponsored research: Best triceps exercises. American Council on Exercise. 2011.
  3. Olav Gomo & Roland Van Den Tillaar. The effects of grip width on sticking region in bench pressJournal of Sports Sciences. 2016
  4. Landin D, Thompson M, Jackson M. Functions of the Triceps Brachii in Humans: A Review. J Clin Med Res. 2018;10(4):290-293. doi:10.14740/jocmr3340w
  5. Tiwana MS, Sinkler MA, Bordoni B. Anatomy, Shoulder and Upper Limb, Triceps Muscle. StatPearls. Updated 2020
  6. Lockie RG, Callaghan SJ, Moreno MR, et al. An Investigation of the Mechanics and Sticking Region of a One-Repetition Maximum Close-Grip Bench Press versus the Traditional Bench PressSports (Basel). 2017
  7. Bench dip — feet elevated. (n.d.).
    issaonline.com/exercise-videos/?exerciseid=760&musclegroupid=127
  8. Follow-up Q and A: Dangerous dips. (n.d.).
    acefitness.org/certifiednewsarticle/1657/follow-up-q-and-a-dangerous-dips/

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