The tricep is 2/3 of the arm – and the medial head fills out your upper arm thickness. If you neglect the medial head of the triceps, you’ll look small no matter your bicep size.
We’re going to look at the best medial head tricep exercises to blow up your arms, thicken your upper arms, and round out your triceps muscle group development. Let’s get into the basics, so you can target the medial head and get that medial head activated!
Tricep Muscles: What is the Medial Head of the Triceps?
The tricep muscle group is 3 muscles: the long head, medial head, and lateral head of the triceps. These have different roles, but they work together – and they’re important for almost every upper body pushing exercise.
The medial head of the triceps is located on the inside of the arm, where it faces the body. Just like the long and lateral heads, the medial head extends the elbow, especially with elbows tucked. This will be important in the future!
The medial head is also the most commonly used head of the triceps. It is packed with slow twitch muscle fibers and performs most unresisted tricep movements (and tricep exercises). The starting position of a neutral grip is important for the medial tricep head, which also feeds into all forms of forearm extension.
Add into this that the long head of the tricep works in extended, overhead, and externally rotated shoulder positions. This means the lateral head and medial head are the main workers in non-overhead exercises. This is important later on when we discuss exercises like bench dips and triangle push ups!
Tricep Exercise Keys: What Should You Do?
Good tricep exercises for the medial head involve full-range movement, with arms shoulder width apart and shoulder joints held stable. Medial head tricep exercises also perform better with longer sets, isometric holds, and eccentric exercise (which provide a brutal medial head tricep workout).
This means there are a few things that you should look for to get the most from your triceps workouts focusing on the medial head:
Slowly lower the weight: slow eccentric tricep exercises focus on the stabilizing role of the medial head and can make almost any movement into medial head exercises. You can also use reverse grip presses and reverse grip triceps pushdown for a great feel of this slow eccentric.
Hold the starting position: your starting position is a great place to spend more time building strength in the medial head and strengthening the elbow joint. This will help all of the triceps muscles, but specifically, the medial head, which is used for stability in elbow extension.
Hinge the elbow: at least some exercises need to keep the upper arms stationary, while others should keep the shoulder joints static throughout. These force strict medial head action.
Heavy compound exercise: use exercises like incline bench press, flat bench, bench dips, and other heavy compounds for mid-high reps to build the slow twitch muscle fibers of the medial head.
Underhand grip: use exercises like the underhand grip tricep extension on a cable machine to really target the triceps’ medial head. This is one of the best tricep exercises to isolate the medial head and remember: only your forearms should move – the upper arm needs to be stay put!
These are just some of the most important techniques to improve the way your tricep workouts hit the medial head. Medial head tricep exercises come from a combination of smart training methods, good triceps exercises, and executing with strict, deliberate form.
Keep your elbows tucked, keep your shoulder joint in one position, and try to feel the tricep heads moving. The triceps muscle is complicated, and it may take some time and practice to really isolate medial head triceps exercises.
The 8 Best Medial Head Tricep Exercises
The best medial head tricep exercises are reverse grip bench press and triceps exercises with cables, because these emphasise the external rotation of the shoulder joint. This shifts focus to medial and long heads, as well as using their straight-line stabilising role to get more from less.
Let’s look at some of our favourite options that you can – and should – add to your workout program for bigger arms.
1. Reverse Grip Flat Bench Press
The reverse grip bench press is simple but classic addition and has its roots in super-elite powerlifting from the 70s. This is a great choice for building external rotation bench press strength, something that really pumps up the medial head and the latissimus dorsi involvement in a bench press.
It’s also a great choice for the long head of the triceps brachii, which is a hard one to hit! This is a great complimentary exercise to your normal flat bench press, as well as building medial head muscle mass!
2. JM Press: A medial head specific head triceps exercise.
The JM Press is a great all-purpose triceps exercise, as it hits the elbow extension and shoulder hinging actions at the same time. You keep your shoulder width apart grip throughout, too, which is perfect for medial head triceps exercises, hitting the major role of the 2 hardest tricep heads.
3. Reverse Grip Triceps Pushdown
Reverse grip triceps pushdown is one of the best medial head triceps exercises – it has the reverse grip that’s so effective in the flat bench press, with even more focus on the triceps. It’s all elbow extension but pairs perfectly with ‘bigger’ exercises around the elbow and shoulder blades, like the dip or bench press.
This is a perfect choice to start feeling your medial head and building more mind-muscle connection. Try the reverse grip cable extension before your other exercises to get more from your medial head triceps training!
4. Seated Overhead Triceps Extension
We love the seated overhead tricep extension, because it hits the long head and medial head triceps very effectively. It’s also great for building strength and control around the shoulder blades, building extra flexibility in the long head, and strengthening your elbow’s whole range.
This is a good mid-point between the reverse grip press and the cable pushdown, in terms of loading and how it fits into a well-rounded workout. It’s perfect for supersets with bicep exercises or ‘smaller’ triceps medial head exercises.
5. EZ Bar Bench Press
Bench ptress with the EZ bar changes your grip inwards and puts more emphasis on the hinge of the elbow, loading the medial head heavily. It’s a powerful tool to add at the end of your workouts as a triceps medial head burner exercise.
The narrower than shoulder width position is perfect for lighter weights to strenghthen postiions you’re not as familiar with and really turns this into a triceps isolation exercise, unlike the normal becnh press which you can easily shift into the pecs or shoulders!
6. Tricep Dips
Dips are usually a chest exercise, but the shoulder width, ‘tricep’ dip is a perfect choice for the medial head. It’s a medial head triceps exercise on the way down and up – where it has one of the best medial head tricep isometric and eccentric loading patterns of any exercise.
This is one of the best ways to really beef up your upper arm with longer ranges, larger loads, and more control. This makes the tricep dip one of the best ways to heavily load your medial head and is a ‘big’ compound exercise for massive gains.
It’s also one of the best total upper body exercises, building the chest and shoulders to carryy over to other exercises.
Really emphasise a slow lowering portion during this exercise to burn the medial head triceps from start to finish.
7. Bench Dip
This is the tricep dip for people who can’t tricep dip. It hits the long head and medial head triceps particualrly hard and has the same eccentric stabilising focus of the normal dip.
This is one of the best total upper body workout options in a single exercise and blasts the medial head, chest, and shoulders. Control the descent and pause in the bottom with a flex in the triceps to really emphasize the medial head.
8. Overhead, overhand grip rope attachment triceps extension.
This is a common exercise for the medial head triceps, especially in the end position where the arms are fully extended overhead, lengthening the triceps medial head, long head, and protracting the shoulder blades.
This is a great option for really exaggerating the role of the medial head at total elbow extension. You can slow down the ‘lowering’ portion to make the most of isotonic cable resistance and force the medial and lateral head to work together more effectively.
This is a great upper body exercise for medial head development, but also mobility and elbow health. It’s a great way to stretch out the long head at the end of the exercise and boost your total range, meaning more resuilts per repetition, especially if you do slow it down.
The medial head of triceps is one of the most important ways you can add thickness to your arms and enhance their silhouette. The medial head triceps exercises we’ve talked about today provide some of the most efficient ways to do that, and in ways that strengthen your whole body and keep your elbows and shoulders healthy.
It’s not just as simple as bench press, and the combination f a range of these exercises to train all the tricep heads is key to getting best results. That means playing with reverse grip, with shoulder width, with wide grip, bodyweight exercise and weight lifting, and more.
Make sure you know what your real bang-for-your-buck compound exercises are – like the dumbbell bench press – and then the extras you want to add in afterwards. Good session structure, food, sleep, and rest are all just as important as your exercise choices!
- Bodyweight Tricep Exercises
- Isometric Tricep Exercises
- Lateral Head Tricep Exercises
- Medial Head Tricep Exercises
- Tricep Pushdown Alternatives
- TRX Tricep Exercises
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