Building big and strong tricep muscles is one of the most popular goals for people hitting the gym. After all, the triceps are just as important as the biceps if you want to achieve defined, 3D arms!
The triceps consist of three main muscles: the medial head, lateral head, and long head.
The medial is the smallest tricep muscle located just above the elbow bone, the lateral head is the second-largest tricep muscle located on the side of the arm, and the long head is the largest tricep muscle located at the back of the arm.
As the largest tricep muscle, the long head is a muscle worth training if you want arms that stand out.
So here are the 7 best long head tricep exercises for muscle gain and fat loss. The following exercises will build long head muscle, increase tricep strength, and help fat loss through burning calories!
1. Tricep Kickbacks
The tricep kickback is the most accessible, beginner-friendly tricep exercise there is for targeting the long head muscle. All it requires is a set of dumbbells (or even just one dumbbell) and some space to get to work.
How To Do A Tricep Kickback
- Bend forwards so that your back is at a 45-degree angle
- Keep your elbows bent at 90 degrees but bring them back so that the upper part of your arm is horizontal
- Using a neutral grip, lift the dumbbells up behind you until your arms are straight and fully extended
- Keep your upper arms horizontal as you lower the dumbbell until your elbows are bent at 90 degrees to complete one rep
To increase the effectiveness of the exercise, make sure to fully engage and squeeze your long head tricep muscles at the top of each rep. And for best form, make sure to keep your elbows locked in place.
You can also perform single-arm tricep kickbacks bent over a gym bench.
An alternative tricep kickback exercise worth mentioning is the ski kickback, which involves the same process but performed without bending the elbows.
2. Tricep Pushdowns
Tricep pushdowns involve the same arm movement as tricep kickbacks but with vertical resistance. The exercise is performed using a cable machine equipped with a handlebar attachment.
Like tricep kickbacks, tricep pushdowns are also beginner-friendly and simple enough to perform.
How To Do Tricep Pushdowns
- Set the desired weight on the cable machine (start with a lighter weight if you’re a beginner)
- Grip the handlebar attachment with your knuckles facing forwards and position the bar level with your ribcage
- Keeping your elbows tucked and locked in place, push the bar down until your arms are fully extended
- Return the handlebar level with your ribcage (so that your forearms are horizontal) to complete one rep
You can also perform tricep pushdowns with a supinated grip (palms facing you). In this case, they’re called tricep pulldowns, which also effectively target the long head triceps muscles.
3. Overhead Tricep Extensions
Overhead tricep extensions are a standing pushing exercise that can be done with dumbbells, a barbell, or a single weight plate. They’re effective for both increasing tricep strength and building long head tricep muscle.
How To Do An Overhead Tricep Extension
- Lift the weight directly above your head with your arms fully extended
- Keeping your forearms vertical and your elbows locked in place, lower the weight behind your head until your elbows are bent at 90 degrees
- Push the weight back up directly over your head, keeping your elbows locked in place, to complete one rep
For best form, make sure to keep your elbows tucked and locked in place throughout the exercise!
Overhead tricep extensions can also be performed with one arm (in alternation) using dumbbells. This can be beneficial for beginners who may find it difficult to control two dumbbells at the same time.
4. Close Grip Bench Presses
Close grip bench presses might strike you as a chest exercise (and they are) but, along with working the lower chest muscles, they also effectively engage the long head tricep muscle due to the narrow grip.
This places more load on the triceps, especially if the elbows remain tucked throughout the exercise!
If you’re a beginner who’s new to bench presses, make sure to ask someone to spot you before doing the exercise. This ensures there’s someone to help you in case you cannot lift the barbell back up.
How To Do A Close Grip Bench Press
- Lie back on a straight gym bench with the bar level with your eyes
- Grip the barbell with a close grip, making sure to tuck your elbows at your side
- Push your chest out
- Lift the bar off the rack and lower it to your chest
- Push the bar directly up to complete one rep
Since close grip bench presses place more load on the triceps, it’s best to start with a lighter weight. So even if you’re familiar with bench presses, you would typically use a lighter weight load for close grip bench presses.
Skullcrushers might sound intimidating, but they involve the same arm movement as tricep kickbacks and overhead tricep extensions, also targeting the long head tricep muscle to build strength and muscle.
The main difference, however, is that skullcrushers are performed lying down on a gym bench, typically with a pair of dumbbells.
How To Do Skullcrushers
- Lie down on a flat gym bench
- Raise the dumbbells up so that your arms are fully extended and straight
- Keeping your upper arms vertical and your elbows locked in place, lower both dumbbells at either side of your head until your elbows are bent at 90 degrees (your forearms should be horizontal)
- Push the dumbbells back up until your arms are fully extended and straight to complete one rep
For best form, make sure to keep your elbows locked in the same position throughout the exercise. You also want to make sure your upper arms remain vertical!
6. Diamond Push Ups
Diamond push ups are the bodyweight version of the close grip bench press – just performed on the floor. As a result, the best thing about diamond push ups is that you don’t need any equipment to do them!
Diamond push ups are performed the same way as regular push ups, except that the hands are placed close together in a diamond (or triangle) shape.
This provides more tricep activation while also targeting the lower chest muscles.
How To Do A Diamond Push Up
- Get into a regular push up position on the floor
- Bring your hands together and create a diamond shape by touching your thumbs and index fingers
- Keeping your elbows tucked at your side, lower your body until your chest comes close to the floor
- Push yourself back up until your arms are fully extended and straight to complete one rep
Diamond push ups are slightly harder than regular push ups. So if you find regular push ups difficult, you can decrease the difficulty of diamond push ups by placing your knees on the floor during the exercise.
7. Tricep Extension Push Ups
Tricep extension push ups are another effective long tricep head exercise that you can do anywhere without equipment.
These are harder than diamond push ups, however, so only attempt this exercise if you have relatively strong triceps!
Tricep extension push ups essentially involve pushing yourself up from a plank position.
So instead of lowering your shoulders forwards, like a regular push up, you are lowering your shoulders backwards and touching the floor with your forearms before pushing back up.
How To Do A Tricep Extension Push Up
- Get into a plank position on the floor with your palms flat and spread shoulder-width apart
- Push your palms into the floor and engage your tricep muscles to push your upper body up into a regular push up position (your arms should be fully extended and straight)
- Lower your upper body back down into a plank position with your forearms touching the floor to complete one rep
Similar to diamond push ups, the difficulty of tricep extension push ups can be reduced by placing your knees on the floor. This reduces the load, making the exercise easier for beginners.
And that wraps up our list of the 7 best long head tricep exercises for muscle gain and fat loss!
These exercises will build long head tricep muscle, increase tricep and pushing strength, and help fat loss by burning calories.
Just make sure to practice good form to increase the effectiveness of each exercise and reduce the risk of injury.
Include these exercises in your push day routine and don’t forget to rest and eat plenty of protein to fuel muscle growth!