5 Reasons Why You Should Train the Lateral Head of the Triceps

Every muscle group in the body is important, and they all work together to keep the human body strong and mobile. However, one of the more neglected muscle groups is the triceps or the triceps brachii. Its main function is to help the forearms extend. Whether you know it or not, you’re constantly using your triceps muscles throughout the day.  

There are three different muscles that make up the triceps: medial, lateral, and long heads. The lateral head is the largest and most visible of the three, and without it, the other two muscle heads aren’t properly supported. Keep reading to learn 5 reasons why you should train the lateral head of the triceps. 

Overall Aesthetics 

For bodybuilders or those looking to build a certain physique, it’s imperative that you focus on your lateral head tricep. Your triceps make up roughly three-quarters of your upper arm. From the top of the shoulder, they run down the back of your upper arms and cross over the elbow. From there, it connects back to the forearm bone. 

That covers a lot of surface area! Growing those triceps will not only make it easier to complete your lifts in the gym. With enough growth, they will begin to protrude out and create that nice, rounded look all bodybuilders hope for. 

Luckily, you don’t have to do tons of complicated exercises to target your lateral triceps. The following exercises can be all you need to start growing those lateral triceps heads. 

  • Diamond Pushups: a simple pushup with your hands positioned together in a diamond shape. 
  • Triceps Kickbacks: a popular exercise, simply lean forward and extend a dumbbell back as you straighten your elbow
  • Bench Dips: With any bench or sturdy couch, simply place your hands on the edge of the bench behind you and slowly lower your rear down to the floor. Once you’ve gone as low as you can, push your body back up and return to your starting position

Increased Strength 

A strong lateral head triceps muscle means a strong arm overall. After all, the muscle is the largest of the three, and they’re attached to the shoulder blades themselves. With their help, your arms are able to rotate and extend. 

A weak lateral head can cause injuries, but a strong one will help support your shoulder joint and create a strong foundation for exercise and bodybuilding. In fact, exercises like bench presses, half presses, dips, and military presses can’t be completed without strong triceps. 

Even your handwriting can be affected by the strength of your lateral head triceps muscle. The triceps control the movement of the forearm and can affect how fluidly your hand moves across the page. If your triceps are weak and the movements are sporadic, it can slow down your writing and fatigue your arm faster. 

Prevents Acute Sports Injury

The triceps muscles support any movement where your arms are above your head. This includes sports like swimming, basketball, baseball, etc., as well as simple movements like placing groceries on the top shelf in your pantry. 

All three triceps muscles are important, but the lateral head is the largest and one of the most supportive. If you have strong biceps and shoulders but neglect your triceps, the weak lateral head muscle won’t be able to support the medial and long head muscles. This could cause damage to your shoulder or even your rotator cuff

If you’re an athlete, having a strong lateral head triceps muscle is essential for your performance. This muscle, in particular, has the most fast-twitch muscle fiber and motor units. For this reason, the stronger the muscle, the faster you can move your arms. 

Allowing this muscle to grow weak will result in a slower response time and even a higher risk of injury.  

Helps Prevent Long-Term Joint Damage 

Even if you don’t feel an acute injury right away, a weak lateral head triceps muscle can lead to injury over time. Other muscles in your arms might compensate by over-extending when you throw a baseball or lift something above your head. Over time, these muscle movements will create an imbalance and degrade your joints over time.

Helps Improve Your Lockout Strength 

On top of improving your overall strength and preventing injury, strengthening your lateral head triceps muscles also has the added benefit of improving your lockout strength. This refers to your ability to strengthen your arms at the top of a bench press, overhead press, and many other compound exercises. 

This is because the lateral head triceps controls elbow movement and allows your arm to fully extend. If that muscle is weak, you may not be able to fully extend your arms when using heavy weights. 

This is another case for possible injury if you have the strength to get the bar up over your head but not to hold it there. This can lead to jerky movements and can possibly lead to wrenching your back or even losing balance and falling. 

Having strong lateral head triceps muscles will allow those lifts to be slow and fluid, from the beginning all the way to the top of the lift. If you can’t fully lift your dumbbells or bar without making harsh, explosive jerking motions, it’s time to decrease your weight. There’s nothing wrong with increasing your weight slowly in order to achieve confident, controlled movements at every stage. 

Never Skip Triceps Day 

If you’re trying to increase your strength at the gym, it can be tempting to focus on deadlifts, squats, biceps curls, and other exercises that look impressive in the mirror. However, if you neglect your triceps, you could potentially find yourself unable to complete certain exercises and even injuring yourself. 

The lateral head is the largest of all your triceps muscles and controls both strength and movement. Always focus on exercises that isolate your triceps muscles, like triceps kickbacks and dips. Once you’ve added those simple exercises to your routine, you might feel yourself growing stronger and able to more confidently perform other exercises and simply move throughout your day. 


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