GAIN MUSCLE

The 7 Best Medial Head Tricep Exercises For Maximum Upper Arm Development

by Nader Qudimat
Updated October 19, 2022
OVERVIEW
Goal
Muscle & strength
Muscle
Medial head triceps
Periodization
Dependant on program
Duration
Dependant on program
Positives
Medial head stabilizes the elbow
One of three heads of triceps
Can increase bench press if strengthened
Negatives 
Small and least visible

Bottom Line

If there was ever a muscle that's forgotten, it's the medial head of the triceps. 

The medial head is the smallest of the trio but is still highly recommended to strengthen as it plays an important role in supporting the elbow and helps with elbow extension. 

It's located right above the elbow and it can be strengthened with certain exercises. 

In this list, you'll find the best exercises for the medial triceps to help fully develop your arms in strength and muscle. 

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The triceps can't be ignored if you want to develop the most muscular and strong-looking arms. 

The reason being is that the triceps make up around 75% of your upper arms.

There are three heads to this muscle, including the long head, lateral head, and medial head. 

The medial head is the least noticeable but it's incredibly important to develop. 

Not only can it help stabilize the elbows, but it can also support elbow extension. 

While it can't be completely isolated, it can still be emphasized and worked on. 

Best Medial Tricep Exercises

There are about 7-10 best exercises for the medial triceps.

But if you're in a rush to the gym now, we can recommend that you at least do dumbbell skullcrushers and underhand tricep cable pushdown. 

Try to do at least 3 sets of 10-12 reps for one or two of these exercises every week and you should be set. 

We'll go over each exercise to help build strong and balanced medial triceps. 

Dumbbell Skullcrushers

This is one of the more simple and straightforward exercises for the medial head of the triceps. 

You only need dumbbells for this and something like a bench to lie on. 

Normally dumbbell skullcrushers emphasize the lateral head of the triceps but with higher reps, they also tend to work your medial triceps. 

It also helps isolate the triceps without engaging the shoulders or biceps. 

How to do the Dumbbell Skullcrushers

  1. Lie on a bench flat with a neutral spine and drive your feet into the ground for stability.
  2. Hold the dumbbells above your upper chest with your arms straight and with a neutral grip. Pinch your shoulders together so you're not driving your shoulders forward. 
  3. Keep your elbows in the same position close to your sides and try to keep them in the same position.
  4. Inhale and only allow your elbows to move while lowering the dumbbells until they are behind your head. 
  5. Pause for a second.
  6. Exhale as you lift the dumbbells back into starting position but don't lock your elbows or hyperextend them. 
  7. Repeat until you reach the rep range of your program.

Watch the video below for a demonstration on the dumbbell skullcrushers:

Reverse Grip Dumbbell Presses

By using a supinated grip, this dumbbell variation emphasizes the triceps while putting minimal to no stress on the shoulders and elbows.

Using a higher rep range, between 12-15 reps will help put emphasis on the medial ticeps and it can also provide a stimulus for the upper chest. 

Try adding in the reverse grip dumbbell press at the end of your workout or somewhere in the middle for the best results. 

How to Perform Reverse Grip Dumbbell Presses

  1. Set up a bench and pair of dumbbells as if you were going to regularly press them for the chest. Drive your feet into the ground.
  2. Lay on the bench and hold the dumbbells above your chest while maintaining an underhand grip as your palms should be facing your shoulders.
  3. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and inhale as you lower the dumbbells to your lower chest while focusing on engaging the triceps. 
  4. Hold at the bottom of the movement for a second and exhale as you push it back to the starting position.
  5. Repeat until you reach your desired reps and sets. 

This can also be performances with a barbell, or bands, but the dumbbells tend to be better in terms of isolation. Check out the video below for a demostration for the dumbbell reverse grip presses:

Underhand Triceps Cable Pushdown

If you have access to a cable pulley machine, then you'll have a great way to isolate your triceps without involving the shoulders or biceps. 

The underhand tricep cable pushdowns can engage the medial head, while the standard grip will put more emphasis on the lateral head of the tricep. 

I recommend doing at least 12 reps of these to make the most out of them as the medial head of the triceps seems to respond best to higher rep ranges. 

How to do the Underhand Tricep Cable Pushdowns:

  1. Stand in front of a cable machine with your feet at hip-width apart and keep your chin tucked in to keep your spine protected.
  2. Grip the straight bar handle attached to the high pulley with an underhand (supinated) grip so your palms are facing up with your hands at shoulder width apart.
  3. Lock your elbows to your sides and pull your shoulders down.
  4. Engage your core and squeeze your triceps while lowering the handle as far as possible. Keep your wrists straight with your forearms and focus on squeezing the triceps.
  5. Pause at the bottom and slowly return to starting position.
  6. Repeat until you reach your desired reps and sets. 

For a visual demonstration, check out the video below on how to perform the underhand tricep pushdowns with a pulley machine:

Cable Concentrated Tricep Extensions

There's no better way to eliminate weaknesses than with unilateral exercises.

The cable concentration tricep extensions are going to focus on one arm at a time and should be included in your program if you're going to make the most out of your tricep development. 

While the medial head is the focus of this exercise, the concentration extensions are going to work all three heads of the tricep. 

The movement is most effective when it's slow and controlled.

You can use an overhand grip but if you use an underhand grip, you'll engage the medial tricep even more. 

How to Perform a Cable Concentration Triceps Extension

  1. Set up a single grip handle on a cable machine high pulley. Stand with your right arm next to the machine and reach across your body to grip the handle with your right hand. This is set up as if you were going to do concentration curls for the biceps but for the triceps. 
  2. Plant your right knee beside the machine and plant your left foot into the ground.
  3. The back of your left arm should be against your inner thigh and lock your elbows into place.
  4. Engage your core.
  5. Inhale and pull the pulley handle towards your left foot and pause for a moment while really focusing on engaging the triceps. 
  6. Exhale while slowly returning to the starting position but keep the focus on squeezing the triceps. 
  7. Repeat until you reach your desired reps then switch sides and repeat on the other arm. Make sure you switch your kneeling position. 
  8. Repeat until you've completed your reps and sets.

Watch this video on how to perform the cable concentration tricep pushdowns:

Overhead Rope Cable Tricep Extensions

Emphasizing all three heads of the triceps, the overhead cable tricep extensions are great for the medial head as long as you use a full range of motion. 

If you don't use a full range of motion, it'll work less of the medial head. 

How to Do the Overhead Rope Cable Triceps Extensions

  1. Set up a cable machine pulley in its lowest position with a rope handle. 
  2. Stand with your back to the pulley and plant your feet firmly into the ground. 
  3. Grab the rope handle and position your hands in a neutral grip (palms facing inward).
  4. Bend your elbows so your hands are gripping the handle behind your head. 
  5. Straighten your arms while keeping your forearms still and squeeze your triceps. 
  6. Slowly return to the bottom position and pause for a moment before repeating for another rep. 
  7. Repeat until you reach your desired sets and reps.

Here's a video on how to perform the overhead rope cable tricep extensions:

Diamond Pushups

The diamond pushups are a classic exercise that can stimulate your tricep muscles without any machines or equipment. 

Your own body is the only requirement and it can put more emphasis on the medial head of the tricep head.

Similar to the standard push ups where your hands are shoulder width apart, the diamond push up is performed with your hands closer together. 

How to do the Diamond Pushups:

  1. Get into a push up position with your abs engaged.
  2. Place your hands close together and form a diamond shape. 
  3. Engage your core and glutes to ensure stability
  4. Inhale and lower your body towards the ground. Keep your elbows in the same position and squeeze your triceps while keeping your shoulders tucked back. 
  5. At the bottom position, your chest should be very close to the floor, pause for a second and don't flare out your elbows. 
  6. Push back and repeat for your desired reps and sets. 

Watch the video below for a demostration:

Bench Dips with External Palm Rotation

The bench dips are commonly performed for the triceps but one variation that is underrated for the triceps is the external palm rotation version. 

How to Perform Bench Dips with External Palm Rotation:

  1. Sit on a bench as if you were going to perform regular bench dips for the triceps. Place your hands just outside of your hips and rotate your palms so your fingers are facing away from you.
  2. Take a few steps forward and position your butt off the bench so your body weight is on your triceps.
  3. Engage your core and keep your spine neutral by tucking in your chin and looking in front of you. 
  4. Lower your body as low as possible, while trying to get your arms to form a 90 degree angle
  5. Squeeze your triceps and push through your hands to lift your body back into the starting position. 
  6. Repeat for your desired reps and sets. 

The video below provides a demonstration on how to perform the bench dip with external hand rotation:

Anatomy of the Medial Head Tricep

In order to make the most out of your tricep development, it's necessary to understand the anatomy. 

The medial head is located right above the elbow.

It is located right below the long tricep head and is hard to notice due to the long tricep head. 

Although it's not as visible as the other tricep heads, it plays an important role in stabilizing and extending the elbows. 

It'll help make your arms look bigger while also complimenting the overall aesthetic of your upper arms. 

Like any other small muscle, very few exercises are available for the medial tricep head and won't completely isolate it. 

Creating strong medial triceps will help improve the overall strength of the upper arms as it can be a weak link if it's not worked on. 

Medial Head Tricep Workout

For full tricep muscle and strength development, it's necessary to use sufficient volume and intensity.

For example, the Renaissance Periodization Tricep Hypertrophy Guide recommends a minimum of 6 sets split into two sessions weekly to develop strength and mass into the triceps. 

If you're not a beginner then you'll need at least 8 sets per week. 

Here's how you can add medial tricep exercises into your training split:

For at least 4 weeks, add these 3 exercises that you'll perform twice or three times per week; 

  • Dumbbell skull crushers
  • Underhand tricep cable pushdowns
  • Cable concentration tricep extensions

For sets and reps, perform the skull crushers for 4 sets of 8-12 reps. 

For the underhand tricep cable pushdowns, perform 3 sets of 10-15 reps.

For cable concentration tricep extensions, perform 2 sets of 15-20 reps.

FAQs About Medial Head Tricep Development 

Here you can find your FAQ's answered about the medial tricep head...

How often should you train the medial triceps?

Triceps are engaged in any vertical and horizontal pressing movements like the bench press. 

If you want stronger arms, then give the medial tricep head at minimum 6 sets per week that can be split into multiple workout sessions. 

Small Muscles Need Attention Too

Generally, the muscles that are the least noticeable can be the most important. 

In this case, it's the medial tricep head and it's important for stabilizing the elbows.

It also plays a role in providing maximum strength and muscle development of the upper arms. 

by Nader Qudimat

Forged by the iron and cold steel, Nader takes his knowledge and hulks it up into this site.

Having to be stuck as a 110lb skinny guy in the early days, he has had no choice but to keep improving himself until he cannot.

Click here to check out his 12 year transformation: Natural 12 Year Transformation

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