tricep lateral head isolation exercise

Following a properly structured bicep workout is certainly an important part of building thick, muscular arms… but what you might not know is that it’s your triceps that actually make up around 60-70% of your total upper arm muscle mass.

If you really want to take your arm gains to the highest possible level, an intelligently laid out triceps workout is a must.

While it’s true that a good portion of your total arm gains will simply come as a result of your heavy compound exercises for your chest and back, direct arm training is still an important part of optimizing your overall gains.

As the name implies, the triceps are a 3-headed muscle consisting of the long head, the medial head and the lateral head.

tricep heads

For most trainees, adequately stimulating the long head and medial head doesn’t pose much of a challenge.

The long head can be easily targeted through any type of overhead extension exercise, while the medial head is heavily recruited on narrow grip presses/dips as well as during your chest workouts any time you perform a compound pressing exercise.

Isolating and building that outer tricep lateral head, on the other hand, is generally much harder to do.

So, if you find that your lateral head is lagging behind and want a specific exercise to help round out that “tricep horseshoe” that everyone is after, here’s my #1 recommendation…

(Keep in mind that every triceps exercise you perform will always involve all 3 heads to a certain degree, and it’s not possible to completely isolate one head over the other. Instead, the goal is to simply shift the emphasis from one head to the other by using certain exercises and angles)

Best Tricep Lateral Head Isolation Exercise: Twisting Rope Pushdown

tricep lateral head workout

When most people perform tricep pushdowns, they’ll simply use a straight bar or a rope attachment and press the resistance in a straight up and down motion.

While this is completely fine to get an overall contraction in your triceps, it’s not optimal if you’re trying to build the lateral head with maximum effectiveness.

So, instead of just pressing the rope up and down, focus on forcefully pulling it apart and pressing your arms away from eachother as you drive the resistance downward.

Add this “twist” to the bottom of each rep and you should feel a stronger contraction in the lateral head of the triceps with decreased involvement from the other two heads.

It does take some practice and a good “mind-muscle connection” to get used to, but with repeated attempts you should be able to find the best angle for yourself to really get the most out of this exercise.

Don’t go overboard on weight here either; this tricep lateral head exercise is best executed using a slower and more controlled rep cadence and with more focus on really squeezing your triceps at the bottom of each rep.

Add this movement into your triceps routine and see what you think. If you’ve been having trouble really “feeling” that lateral head working on your other exercises, I’m confident that you’ll find this one useful.

If you want to get ALL of the necessary information to build your triceps as effectively as possible, also make sure to check out my previous post that outlines a complete tricep workout for mass.

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