Lateral head tricep exercises are a great way to work on your shoulders. (Image via Unsplash / Intenza Fitness)

5 Best Lateral Head Triceps Exercises for Bigger Arms

There are a number of exercises you can do to strengthen your triceps and shoulders. These include the bench press, overhead press, and other pressing movements.

However, many people who train their triceps don’t realize that they’re using other parts of their body to complete the movement, or worse yet, compensating with another muscle group entirely.


To avoid this pitfall, we’ve put together some exercises that isolate your triceps so that you can get the most out of your workout.


Bench dips and 4 other lateral head triceps exercises for bigger arms

The lateral head of your triceps is used in all triceps exercises. However, some exercises target this muscle more than others. Here are six great exercises for targeting your lateral triceps.


1) Bench Dips

The bench dip is a great lateral head triceps exercise, but one that can be easier on the shoulders than regular dips. This makes it suitable for beginners or people who aren’t yet strong enough for regular dips.

However, this exercise places greater stress on your shoulders than parallel dips and should, therefore, be avoided by those with shoulder issues.


How to do the exercise:

  • To do a bench dip, place two flat benches parallel to each other and about four feet apart.
  • Put your heels on the edge of one bench and your hands on the edge of the other.
  • Inhale as you slowly lower yourself down by bending at the elbows until they are at shoulder height.
  • Exhale as you press back up, squeezing through the triceps.
  • Do not lock your elbows at the top of the exercise, and repeat.

2) Dumbbell Floor Presses

The dumbbell floor press is for home exercisers who don’t have a bench. You can do it with nothing more than dumbbells, and it’s safer because you can lower the weights out and down to the floor if you can’t finish a rep.

This exercise is good for the lateral head of your triceps because you can maintain a neutral grip throughout.

How to do the exercise:

  • Lie on your back with a pair of dumbbells resting above your shoulders.
  • Bend your knees, place your feet flat on the floor, and lift your hips off the ground so that only your upper body is touching the floor.
  • Next, make sure that you're bracing your core and pulling in your abdominal muscles as tight as possible.
  • Keeping these muscles tight maximizes lateral triceps activation throughout the exercise.

3) Dumbbell Squeeze Press

The dumbbell squeeze press is another superb lateral triceps exercise. It can be done with hex-shaped dumbbells, which are easier to use, but round dumbbells also work fine.

Pushing the weights together as hard as you can creates lots of muscle-building tension.

How to do the exercise:

  • Lie on an exercise bench with two dumbbells in your hands.
  • Lift the weights toward each other, keeping your palms facing inward, until you get to a 90-degree angle with your arms, then lower them back down toward your chest.
  • Keep your elbows close to your sides as you do this.
  • You can also do this exercise on an incline bench to work more of the upper pecs and have a slightly different angle for the triceps.

4) Close-Grip Bench Press

The close-grip bench press is a great exercise for building up your triceps, which is why they're popular with bodybuilders and powerlifters.

Since heavy weights can get away from you when you're doing this exercise, it's best to have a spotter around to help out if you get stuck under the bar.

How to do the exercise:

  • Lie back on a flat bench.
  • Grab the bar with your hands about shoulder-width apart, and lift it from the rack.
  • Hold it straight over you with locked arms.
  • Bend your elbows as you breathe in, then lower the bar until it touches your middle chest.
  • Make sure to keep your elbows close to your body to maximize triceps involvement.

5) Medicine Ball Overhead Throw

This exercise is a great way to end any triceps workout. Most triceps exercises need to be done slowly and with control, but this move requires explosive action. Use an 8-12 lbs. medicine ball and do as many reps as you can until you get a great pump.


How to do the exercise:

  • Stand about three feet away from a wall and hold a medicine ball in your hands.
  • Stagger your stance and balance yourself for stability.
  • Hold the ball behind your head, with your biceps close to your ears.
  • Extend your arms and throw the ball at the wall in front of you.
  • Catch it as it rebounds, then repeat.


Mix and match these exercises to create a triceps workout routine that suits your needs.

As with any exercise, make sure you warm up your body before adding weight to the mix. To get started, just pick one movement from each category and combine them in whatever order you like.


There are still plenty of exercises that can help you build your triceps regardless of the equipment available.

In many cases, body weight exercises will get the job done just as well as more complex free weight movement. The key is to keep pushing yourself and challenging your body.

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