Ask The Trainer #78 – Triceps Development


Hello Chad! I was wondering if you had any suggestions for how I can get my triceps to grow? When I flex my arms, I have a pretty good bicep, but the underside of my arm is darn near flat! I hit my triceps hard once a week but they don’t change. I do close grip bench press, triceps cable press downs, dips, and triceps kickbacks. Any advice you might have would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!



Hi, Adam. I believe I know exactly what your dilemma is! When you see bodybuilders flex their arms during a front double biceps pose, that round, sweeping muscle belly on the underside of the arm that gives it that nice aesthetic appearance in relation to the biceps, is the triceps long head. It’s actually the largest of the three heads of the triceps. Although the exercises you’re currently doing are fantastic for developing the medial and lateral heads of the triceps, these exercises don’t stimulate the long head of the triceps very efficiently. I’ll explain why…

How Triceps Work

The medial and lateral heads of the triceps attach to the humerus bone of the arm. On the other hand, the long head of the triceps actually wraps around the shoulder and attaches to the scapula. That being said, the only way to effectively stimulate the long head of the triceps is by performing exercises that involve scapular compression and retraction.

The best way to achieve this is to include triceps exercises where resistance is applied by drawing your elbows towards or behind your head. For example, have you ever done some really heavy and intense dumbbell pullovers during your back or chest workout, only to mysteriously wake up the next day with incredibly sore triceps? That’s because mechanically those dumbbell pullovers actually placed your arms in a position to effectively engage the long head of your triceps with very little elbow flexion.

Now imagine placing the resistance in the proper direction and expanding the range of motion to maximize the effectiveness of the exercise to stimulate the long head of the triceps even better! You can achieve exactly that with the proper exercises.

Exercises That Target The Long Head

There are numerous exercises that place your arms in an ideal position to effectively target the long head of the triceps. Even so, these are favorites: Behind-the-Head Dumbbell Triceps Extensions (see photo below), Incline Skullcrushers, Behind-the-Head Triceps Cable Extensions, and French Presses using an E-Z bar.

Chad Shaw

Please understand you don’t need to perform all of these exercises together within the same workout. If you do, you will most likely overtrain the long head of your triceps. This obviously counterproductive to your goal.

I personally will select just one of the aforementioned triceps exercises and execute it with the utmost brutal intensity that I possibly can! The particular exercise I select on any given arm day is dictated by where I might be training on that specific day.

If I’m at home in my basement, I do the French Press or an Incline Skullcrusher using an E-Z bar. If I’m at the gym where I have more options, I like to do either Behind-the-Head Triceps Cable Extensions or Behind-the-Head Dumbbell Triceps Extensions.

It really doesn’t matter which of these exercises you choose. Just do one and perform it with as much passion and determination as you possibly can!

If you do this, very soon you’ll love the improved appearance and power of your triceps!

I wish you all the best of success in your training endeavors!

Prove ‘Em Wrong,
Chad Shaw

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