10 Best Medial Head Tricep Exercises -RIPL Fitness

10 Best Medial Head Tricep Exercises -RIPL Fitness

Nov 27, 2023

trained arms tricep medial head

10 Best Medial Head Tricep Exercises for Bigger Arms

Want to really bring out the size and horseshoe shape of your triceps? Then you need to start targeting the medial head.

The medial head is one of the three heads of the triceps brachii muscle in your upper arm. While many basic tricep exercises like pushdowns and extensions work the lateral and long heads well, the medial head needs more focused training to reach its full potential.

If your goal is more defined, bigger triceps with that coveted horseshoe shape, you need to incorporate medial head tricep exercises into your workout routine. Exercises that emphasize the medial head will hit the triceps from different angles to fully work all three heads - the lateral, long, and medial.

In this post, I’ll explain the best ways to target the medial triceps head for maximum growth and strength. By adding just a few of these effective medial head exercises to your arm day, you’ll be shocked by how much your triceps develop.

Let’s get started!

What Is the Medial Triceps Head?

First, a quick anatomy overview. The triceps brachii muscle in your upper arm has three heads:

  • Long head
  • Lateral head
  • Medial head

triceps brachii - Anatomy Info

The long head originates near your shoulder blade and lies between the lateral and medial heads. It makes up the biggest mass of the triceps.

The lateral head is smaller than the long head and originates on the back of your humerus bone.

Finally, the medial head is the smallest of the three. It attaches lower on the humerus compared to the lateral head.


While all three heads work together during triceps exercises, the medial head plays a slightly different role. It's in charge of extending from the halfway point to lockout during pushing movements.

The medial head is also unique because it's the only head attached to two joints - the shoulder and elbow. This means it's active with every triceps exercise, even if other heads are targeted more.

Why Target the Medial Triceps Head?

You likely already train your triceps with compound and isolation exercises each week. So why add extra focus on the medial head?

Targeting the medial head directly provides several benefits:

  • Full triceps development: Hitting all three tricep heads from different angles builds the muscle more completely. You can't ignore the medial head and expect maximum triceps growth.

  • Bring up weaknesses: The medial head is smaller and can lag behind the long and lateral head. Targeting it brings up imbalances.

  • Enhanced arm shape: A fully developed medial head will give your triceps that coveted horseshoe contour and overall 3D look.

  • Injury prevention: Strengthening the medial head provides elbow stability and balance between the three heads to prevent overuse injuries.

  • More strength: Activating all three heads allows you to tap into your triceps' full strength capacity on pressing exercises.

triceps exercises off a bench triceps exercise

Now let's get to the good stuff - the 10 most effective exercises that target the medial triceps head!

1. Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extensions

Lying dumbbell extensions are one of the best tricep exercises, period. But they really shine for the medial head.

How to: Lie back on a bench holding a dumbbell in each hand. Raise the dumbbells directly over your shoulders with arms extended. Keeping elbows tucked, lower the dumbbells down behind your head until you feel a stretch. Press back to the top.

Tips: Keep elbows pointed same direction as your head and don't flare them out. Use a neutral grip for even triceps activation. Go lighter and really focus on the contraction.

2. Rope Pushdowns

Cable pushdowns with a rope attachment are an isolation exercise perfect for the medial head. The rope helps target it more directly.

How to: Attach rope handle to high pulley cable. Grasp ends of the rope and hold arms extended in front of you, palms down. Pull down until fully flexed. Slowly return to the start.

Tips: Keep shoulders down and elbows tucked at your sides. Squeeze triceps at the bottom. Don't swing or use momentum.

3. Dumbbell Kickbacks

Dumbbell kickbacks emphasize the medial triceps head more than any other dumbbell move. The arm position directly targets the smaller medial head.

How to: Hold a dumbbell in each hand and lean over. Keep torso parallel to floor. Bend one elbow 90 degrees and raise that upper arm to side. Extend arm until straight behind you. Flex elbow to return dumbbell to start position.

Tips: Go slow and controlled. Don't swing or rock your torso. Keep elbow tight to your side. Squeeze triceps at full extension.

4. EZ Bar Overhead Extensions

EZ bar overhead extensions are one of the most popular triceps exercises for good reason - they blast all three heads through a large range of motion.

How to: Hold an EZ curl bar overhead with arms extended. Slowly lower forearms behind head until fully stretched. Press back to top.

Tips: Don't use momentum or "bounce" the weight. Keep upper arms stationary. Use an overhand, neutral grip.

5. Close Grip Bench Press

Close grip bench pressing is a compound exercise that hammers all three triceps heads. The narrower hand position emphasizes the medial portion.

How to: Lie back on a flat bench grasping a barbell or EZ bar with a narrow underhand grip. Lower to your mid chest, then drive back up.

Tips: Keep elbows tucked in to better target the triceps. Don't let elbows flare out. Use a grip just inside shoulder width.

6. Underhand Cable Pushdowns

The underhand grip on cable pushdowns shifts more tension onto the medial triceps head compared to standard overhand pushdowns.

How to: Attach a straight or rope handle to the high pulley. Grasp the handle palms facing up. Keeping upper arms steady, pull the handle down flexing elbows. Return slowly to starting position.

Tips: Squeeze triceps hard at the bottom contracted position. Keep your upper arms locked in place - don't let them move.

7. Seated Overhead Dumbbell Extension

The seated overhead dumbbell extension allows you to use unilateral movement to emphasize the medial head. Focus on contracting one tricep at a time.

How to: Sit upright on a bench holding a single dumbbell overhead. Keeping upper arm vertical, lower the dumbbell behind your head until stretched. Press back overhead. Repeat on opposite arm.

Tips: Go lighter and slow. Squeeze the triceps hard throughout movement. Don't swing the weight or use momentum.

8. Triceps Dip

Dips are a bodyweight classic that blasts all three triceps heads. They directly target the medial head on the pushing motion. Use good form.

How to: Grip parallel dip bars and lift yourself up with arms locked. Slowly lower yourself until shoulders are just below elbows. Press back up to the top.

Tips: Lean forward slightly to keep tension on your triceps. Go deep but control the descent. Use a dip assist machine if needed.

9. Incline Dumbbell Extension

Like flat bench extensions, the incline version targets the medial triceps head well. The angle puts a great stretch and contraction.

How to: Lie back on an incline bench. Raise dumbbells over shoulders like a flat bench extension. Lower to head and press back up.

Tips: Go lighter on incline extensions and really squeeze. Use a 30-45 degree incline. Don't bounce the weight.

10. Overhead Cable Extension

Overhead cable extensions with a rope or straight bar finish off the triceps by isolating the medial head. Use as a burnout!

How to: Stand upright facing away from high pulley machine. Grasp rope attachment and raise arms overhead. Keeping arms vertical, pull down until fully flexed. Return slowly.

Tips: Use a light weight and perform 15+ reps. Squeeze triceps hard and isolate the medial head contraction.

Wrap Up

I hope this gives you some new exercises to directly target your medial triceps head. By incorporating a couple of these effective moves into your routine, you'll be shocked by how much your triceps develop!

Remember, the medial head plays a key role in building balanced, horseshoe triceps. Don't neglect it if you want huge arms. Hit it hard from different angles and watch your triceps explode.

What are your favorite medial head tricep exercises? Let me know in the comments!

FAQ on Medial Head Triceps Exercises

What is the medial triceps head?

The medial head is one of three heads of the triceps brachii muscle in your upper arm. It attaches lower on the humerus bone compared to the lateral head.

Why target the medial triceps head?

Targeting the medial head provides full triceps development, brings up weaknesses, enhances arm shape, prevents injuries, and builds more strength.

What are the best medial head triceps exercises?

Some great exercises for the medial head include lying dumbbell extensions, rope pushdowns, dumbbell kickbacks, EZ bar overhead extensions, close grip bench press, underhand pushdowns, and single arm overhead extensions.

How can I isolate the medial triceps head?

Use unilateral exercises like single arm overhead extensions to isolate the medial head. Also emphasize the contraction and really squeeze the medial triceps.

How do I do a tricep extension?

Tricep extensions involve extending the elbow joint while resisting against resistance. Popular versions use dumbbells, EZ bars, cables or resistance bands. Lower the weight behind the head then press back.

What is a good tricep workout?

A good tricep workout hits all three heads with compound and isolation exercises. Do pushdowns, extensions, dips, close grip presses. Use cables, dumbbells, EZ bars.

What are the two heads of the triceps?

The three heads of the triceps are the lateral head, long head, and medial head. The lateral head is smallest, the long head is largest.

How can I strengthen the medial triceps?

Target it directly 2-3 times per week with isolation exercises like rope pushdowns, kickbacks, and unilateral overhead extensions. Squeeze and emphasize the medial contraction.

What is the head of the triceps?

The triceps actually has three heads - the lateral, long, and medial heads. The long head is the biggest that originates near the shoulder blade.

What are the best triceps exercises?

The best triceps exercises are dumbbell extensions, pushdowns, dips, close grip bench press, overhead extensions and kickbacks. Use cables, dumbbells, EZ bars, and bodyweight.

What are good exercises that target the medial triceps head?

Exercises like rope pushdowns, kickbacks, underhand pushdowns, unilateral extensions, and overhead extensions effectively target the medial triceps head.

What are some exercises for the medial triceps head?

Some great medial head exercises are rope pushdowns, kickbacks, close grip bench press, dips, overhead cable extensions, and single arm dumbbell extensions.


Best Medial Head Tricep Exercises

The medial head is one of three heads of the triceps brachii muscle in your upper arm.

Targeting the medial head directly provides several benefits like full triceps development, bringing up weaknesses, enhancing arm shape, preventing injuries, and building more strength.

Some great exercises that effectively target the medial triceps head include:

  • Rope Pushdowns: Hits the medial head well when using a rope handle on the cable machine. Keep tension on the triceps.

  • Dumbbell Kickbacks: Emphasize the smaller medial head of the triceps. Go slow and controlled.

  • Close Grip Bench Press: Narrow grip hits the medial portion of the tricep muscle. Keep elbows tucked.

  • Underhand Cable Pushdowns: Shifts more tension onto the medial head compared to regular pushdowns.

  • Single Arm Overhead Dumbbell Extension: Allows you to isolate and focus on the medial head.

  • Triceps Dip: Directly targets the medial head on the pushing motion. Use good form.

  • Overhead Cable Extension: Finish off the triceps by isolating the medial head. Use as a burnout!

By hitting the medial triceps head from different angles with these effective exercises, you'll be shocked by how much your triceps develop!

For More Training Advice + Diet and Lifestyle visit us RIPL Fitness

PS: Make sure you check out the rest of our Tricep Training Guides:

12 Best Long Head Tricep Exercises

The Best Tricep Workouts

30 Best Tricep Exercises

Top 17 Tricep Extension Exercises

Perfecting the Triceps Pushdown

10 Best Lateral Head Tricep Exercises

The Best Triceps Stretches to Loosen and Improve Flexibility

Triceps Tendonitis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Tricep Dips Exercise Guide