Medial head triceps exercises for Bigger, Stronger Arms

If you’re looking to pack size onto your triceps and maximize the development of your upper arms. Building up the medial head of the triceps is an important step in the process, and these medial head triceps exercises will help you.

Triceps brachii, or simply triceps, are a three-headed muscle opposite of the biceps and are responsible for 2/3 of upper arm mass. So, it’s essential to focus on and work on different tricep head muscles for maximum gains.

There is a wide range of medial head triceps exercises to 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 what the medial head of the triceps is, how to target it, the triceps muscle, how it contributes to greater performance, and give you the best medical head triceps exercises.

Medial head triceps exercises for Bigger, Stronger Arms

Triceps Muscle (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 socket of the shoulder blade 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 is different from the medial and lateral heads, as it crosses the shoulder joint and assists in shoulder extension.

How To Target The Medial Head Tricep

The two types of medial head triceps exercises are compound movements and isolation movements.

Compound triceps exercises involve extension at the elbow and movement at the shoulder. These include reverse grip bench presses and diamond push-ups.
Isolation triceps exercises involve just extension at the elbow with no other joint movement, such as rope push down, dumbbell kickbacks.

On top of that, you need to think about the muscle fibers. The medial head is made up of more slow-twitch muscle fibers than fast-twitch, unlike the other two heads, which means it responds better to higher reps. So, by performing exercises in high rep ranges, you can better exhaust the medial head.

Why Is It Important To Isolate The Medial Head?

While you cannot target one tricep head over another, you can emphasize the medial head of the triceps through a variety of exercises. There are plenty of exercises that will help strengthen the medial head and help to improve the overall mass, strength, and look of your tricep muscles.

When it comes to targeting the medial head of the tricep, the biggest takeaway is in the position of your grip and your elbows.

The medial head acts as a bridge between the two heads. A stronger medial head will lead to a stronger lateral and long head, or stronger triceps in general, which means more growth. 

The medial head is usually more active at certain points in a tricep exercise or compound pushing movements, rather than the entire time. 

Best Medial Head Tricep Exercises

These are the 12 best tricep exercises to strengthen the medial head and aid in the overall strength and size of your triceps.

1. Barbell JM Press

The barbell JM press is a cross between a barbell skull crusher and a barbell bench press.

The JM press is a compound exercise that will target the triceps and work the pecs and delts. Not only will this exercise increase the overall size and strength of your triceps, but it will also help to increase the amount of weight you put in pressing variations such as the bench press and overhead press.

This is a great all-around tricep exercise, and one that keeps the medial head activated to a high degree. Must add this workout in your Medial head triceps exercises arsenal.

Barbell JM press
Muscles Worked

Primary: Triceps brachii

Secondary: Pectoralis Major, Anterior Deltoid, and Biceps Brachii

How To Do Barbell JM Press
  1. Lie supine (on your back) on a flat bench, spread your legs, and plant your feet flat on the floor for stability.
  2. Grasp the barbell about shoulder-width apart with hands and your thumbs wrapped around the bar.
  3. Unrack the bar. With your arms fully extended overhead, tuck your elbow 45 degrees from your sides towards your feet.
  4. Now begin bending your elbows and lowering the bar towards your chin/neck with control until your forearms and biceps touch.
  5. Exhale as you press the barbell back up to the starting position. Repeat for the prescribed number of repetitions.
Tips
  • This exercise requires practice. Start light and increase weight as you master proper form.
  • Keep your elbows high and approximately 45 degrees out to your sides. Prevent your elbows from flaring out to maintain proper form.

2. Reverse-Grip Triceps Push down

The reverse-grip tricep is one of the best medial head triceps exercises. It is a variation of the straight bar tricep push down. A reverse underhand grip focuses effort on the medial of the triceps.

Taking an underhand grip can minimize the involvement of the forearms and help to place less stress on the elbows.

Reverse-Grip Triceps Pushdown
Muscles Worked

Primary: Triceps.

Secondary: Deltoid and forearm.

How To Do Reverse-Grip Triceps Pushdown
  1. Stand facing a high-pulley cable with a short straight bar attached to it. Slight bend your knees and feet should be about shoulder-width apart.
  2. Grasp the short bar with a supinated grip (Palm up) and hold the bar at chest level with your elbows tight against your sides.
  3. Keeping your elbows stationary, straighten your arms until they are fully extended.
  4. Pause at full arm extension, flex your triceps, and slowly return the bar to the starting position.
Tips
  • If you want to keep more tension in the triceps, don’t lock the elbows entirely.
  • Prevent your elbows from flaring out to maintain proper form.
  • Focus on keeping your back straight and your chest high. 

3. Reverse Grip Press

This simple and highly effective shoulder-friendly pressing variation helps to build mass and strength in your triceps.

The floor press focuses on the end range of chest presses (bench press) which is when the triceps are most active. It is generally done to improve lockout strength and to hone in on tricep development.

The reverse grip simply allows you to alter how the triceps are hit (i.e. medial head). 

Reverse Grip Press
Muscles Worked

Primary: Triceps, pectoralis major.

Secondary: Anterior deltoid.

How To Do Reverse Grip Press
  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.
Tips
  • Using anything closer than a shoulder-width grip increase triceps involvement, but can increase stress on the wrists.
  • If you’re new to weight lifting and this exercise, use a spotter.
  • Inhale slowly as you lower the bar to your chest, and exhale during the push upward.

4. Bench Dip

A bench dip is a medium-intensity exercise that uses your own bodyweight to strengthen your triceps.

Bench dips are fairly simple to learn and can be done almost anywhere, making them a great exercise for home-workout.

Bench Dip
Muscles Worked

Primary: Triceps.

Secondary: Anterior Deltoid, Pectoralis Major, Latissimus Dorsi, Pectoralis Minor, Rhomboids.

How To Do Bench Dip
  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. Only your heels should be on the floor and your legs should be straight. Keep your knees and hips bent.
  3. Your arms should be fully extended, with just your palms on the bench.
  4. Bend your elbows to lower your body down until your elbows reach 90 degrees.
  5. Now, extend your arms to lift your body back to the starting position, flexing your triceps hard at the top.
Tips
  • 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.

5. Rope Triceps Extension

The rope tricep extension is another great exercise for your tricep workout for medial head. It is a variation of the cable tricep extension exercise. This exercise is used to build the muscles of the triceps.

Well-built triceps also have numerous positive carryovers into your pressing movements, such as bench press variations and shoulder press variations.

Rope Triceps Extension
Muscles Worked

Primary: Triceps.

Secondary: Deltoid and forearm.

How To Do Rope Triceps Extension
  1. Keep feet shoulder-width apart, face a high pulley machine enabled with a rope attachment.
  2. Grasp the ends of the rope so that your palms are facing inward and your elbows are by your waist.
  3. Keeping your body stationary, exhale as you lower the rope by completely extending your arms until they are straight down by your sides.
  4. Hold for a moment and then inhale as you slowly return the rope to the starting position.
Tip
  • Use only your forearms as you raise and lower the rope.
  • Standing upright with the spine straight is the standard position.
  • Contract your triceps as you lower the rope.

6. Dumbbell Close Grip Tricep Press

This is another great strength builder. If you want fully developed triceps, then you must perform heavy compound movements like this one. This is an exercise for those who want to increase size and strength.

Dumbbell Close Grip Tricep Press
Muscles Worked

Primary: Triceps, pectoralis major.

Secondary: Anterior deltoid.

How To Do Dumbbell Close Grip Tricep Press
  1. Lie flat on a bench-press bench with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Hands should be shoulder width apart with palms facing each other, elbows tucked into your sides.
  3. Raise the dumbbells by straightening your arms and squeezing your triceps, and then slowly lower to the starting positions
  4. Repeat the desired number of sets and reps.
Tips
  • You can also perform this on an incline bench. But make sure that you are going straight up and down.
  • Perform the exercise using a slow and controlled movement.

7. Diamond Push-Ups

Diamond push-ups, also known as triangle push-ups, are a more advanced variation of the classic push-up. 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 triceps, then diamond push-ups are it.

Diamond Push Ups
Muscles Worked

Primary: Triceps.

Secondary: Lower Pectoralis Major, Upper Pectoralis Major, Anterior Deltoid.

How To Do Diamond Push-Ups
  1. Get on the floor with your hands together under your chest. Position your index fingers and thumbs, so they’re touching, creating a diamond shape.
  2. Now extend your arms so that your body is elevated and forms a straight line from your head to your feet.
  3. Lower your chest towards your hands, ensuring you don’t flare your elbows out to the sides and keeping your back flat.
  4. Stop just before your chest touches the floor, then push back up to the starting position.
Tips
  • Keep your body straight and rigid.
  • To make the diamond push-up easier, do it on your knees.

8. Cable Overhead Triceps Extension

The overhead rope tricep extension is a variation of the rope tricep extension and an exercise used to build the muscles of the triceps.

Overhead tricep extension variations are especially good at targeting the long and medial heads of the triceps. The denser your medial head muscle is, the overall larger the triceps appear.

Cable overhead triceps extension
Muscles Worked

Primary: Triceps.

Secondary: Deltoid, forearm.

How To Do Cable Overhead Triceps Extension
  1. Attach a rope to the bottom pulley of the cable machine and face away from the pulley.
  2. Hold the rope with both hands with palms facing each other (neutral grip), extend your arms until your hands are directly above your head.
  3. Your elbows should be in close to your head and the arms should be perpendicular to the floor with the knuckles pointing to the ceiling.
  4. Slowly lower the rope behind your head as you hold the upper arms stationary. Inhale as you perform this movement and pause when your triceps are fully stretched.
  5. Slowly return to starting position and repeat the desired number of sets and reps.

9. Close-Grip Bench Press

The close grip bench press is a variation of the bench press and an exercise used to build muscle and strength in the triceps. This position places emphasis on building strength and size of the triceps muscles, as well as the chest.

The close grip bench press is a superior movement when talking about exercises that will pack mass onto your triceps.

Close-Grip Bench Press
Muscles Worked

Primary: Triceps, pectoralis major.

Secondary: Anterior deltoid.

How To Do Close-Grip Bench Press
  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.
Tips
  • Using anything closer than a shoulder-width grip increase triceps involvement, but can increase stress on the wrists.
  • Perform the exercise using a slow and controlled movement.

10. One-Arm Overhead Dumbbell Triceps Extension

The 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 work each arm separately and ensure one stronger side isn’t carrying the weaker one, but it’s also worth doing the exercise with one arm at a time. 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
Muscles Worked

Primary: Triceps.

Secondary: Deltoid, forearm.

How To Do One-Arm Overhead Triceps Extension
  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. Keeping your upper arm right beside your head, lower the dumbbell behind your head and toward your left shoulder until your elbow forms a 90-degree angle.
  4. Then slowly lift it back to full arm extension. Repeat for as many reps and sets as desired.
Tips
  • The chin should remain parallel to the floor and the core should brace during the exercise.
  • Keep your upper arms as still as possible, allowing your forearms to drive the movement

11. Dumbbell Tate Press

The dumbbell Tate press is a variation of the tricep extension and an exercise used to build stronger triceps. It is an advanced 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
Muscles Worked

Primary: Triceps.

Secondary: Posterior Deltoid, Lats, Middle and Lower Trapezius, Rhomboids.

How To Do Dumbbell Tate Press
  1. Lie down on a flat bench and your feet firmly planted on the floor at the other end.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, so your palms are faced towards your feet.
  3. Engage your abs in and keeping your back on the bench, raise the weights to the center of your chest.
  4. Without moving elbows, slowly raise your arms up and down by contracting your triceps. Repeat for as many reps and sets as desired.
Tips
  • Using a slow eccentric (lowering portion) of the exercise can help to improve tension and mind muscle connection.
  • Never load up to where you cannot maintain a stable body position. This is an isolation exercise that does not require maximum loads.
  • Keep your arms close to your head for maximum triceps engagement.

12. Dumbbell Kickback

Finally, if you’re looking for one more effective medial head tricep exercise, try the dumbbell kickback.

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

It is an isolation exercise. This means that unlike other exercises such as the diamond push-up or close grip bench press, the tricep kickback specifically targets the tricep muscle.

Dumbbell Kick Back
Muscles Worked

Primary: Triceps.

Secondary: Rear deltoid, Latissimus dorsi.

How To Do Dumbbell Kickback
  1. Place your right knee and palm on a flat bench so that your torso is parallel with the floor.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in the left hand and, keeping the left foot flat on the floor, press your left arm tight against your side with the upper arm parallel to the floor.
  3. Extend the elbow until your arm is straight back and fully extended.
  4. Flex the triceps hard for a second, then reverse to the starting position. Complete all reps on the left arm and then repeat on the right.

Tips

  • Keep your body as still as possible, moving only your forearms.  
  • Keeping control of the weight as you slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.

Best Reps & Sets For Triceps Workout

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

  • Beginners: ~10 sets per week.
  • Intermediate: ~15 sets per week.
  • Advanced: ~20 sets per week.

Medial Head Triceps Workout Samples

Workout #1 Sample:
  1. Bench Dip: 4 sets of 10-15 reps.
  2. Reverse-Grip Triceps Push down: 3 sets of 10-15 reps.
  3. Rope Triceps Extension: 3 sets of 10-15 reps.
Workout #2 Sample:
  1. Diamond Push-Ups: 4 sets of 8-12 reps.
  2. Cable overhead triceps extension: 3 sets of 10-15 reps.
  3. Close-Grip Bench Press: 3 sets of 8-12 reps.
  4. Dumbbell Kick Back: 3 sets of 10-15 reps.
Workout #3 Sample:
  1. JM Presses: 4 sets of 6-8 reps.
  2. Dumbbell Close Grip Tricep Press: 4 sets of 8-10 reps.
  3. Reverse Grip Press: 3 sets of 10-12 reps.
  4. Cable Concentration Extensions: 3 sets of 8-12 reps.

Takeaways

Proper form is key when targeting the triceps, medial head, or otherwise. Control your movements and up the repetitions before pushing the weight. With a combination of compound movements and isolation, you can get stronger medial head triceps and bigger arms. 

Kindly let me know in the comments if you have any questions that I can help you with.

References:

1 — American Council on Exercise: ACE Study Identifies Best Triceps Exercises (source)

2 — Barbell JM Bench Press

3 —Health.gov: “Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2010: Appendix 1. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans”

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