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5 Must-Do Medial Head Tricep Exercises (That Most People Neglect)

Medial Head Tricep Exercises

If you want exercises that place more emphasis on the medial head of the tricep, you’ve come to the right place.

Our triceps contain three distinct areas: the long, lateral, and medial heads.

Now, let’s get one thing clear. You cannot completely isolate each head of the tricep muscle. This means that no matter what tricep exercise you do, each tricep head will be activated to some degree. However, there are different angles and positions that place more tension on a particular head of the tricep.

However, this raises a question. If you can’t isolate any tricep head completely, why do you have to incorporate exercises that place more emphasis on the medial head?  

You see, the long and lateral head are the parts that cover the majority of our tricep muscles; hence we need to start emphasizing a little more on the medial head to make all our tricep heads look symmetric and good from all angles to impress our gym crush. We will look at why you might need to focus on the medial head a little more throughout this article.

Before we get started with the 5 must-do medial head tricep exercises, let’s take a look at the anatomy of our triceps and why we should train them.

Understanding the Triceps

Let’s start with a question. How important is it to train your triceps? Got the answer? That’s right! Very Important. Why? Well, our triceps muscles make up two thirds of our upper arm. So, if you want bigger and stronger arms, you need to start incorporating tricep exercises into your routine.

The main function of our triceps muscles is to extend the forearm at the elbow joint. As mentioned previously, there are three parts or heads of our triceps. The long, lateral, and medial heads. Let’s look at where they are located and what their primary functions are.

Long Head

The long heads of the triceps are in the infra-glenoid tubercle of the scapula. This means that not only will this help with extending the forearm at the elbow joint, but also be involved during the extension and adduction of our arm at the shoulder joint.

Medial Head

The medial head of the triceps are located at the dorsal humerus and is inferior to the radial groove. Unlike the long head, the medial head has no connection to the scapula. It’s primarily activated during the movement of extending the elbow.

Lateral Head

Like the medial head, the lateral head is also located at the dorsal humerus however is superior to the radial groove. Its function is also the same. It helps extend the forearm at the elbow joint.

If all this just went over your head, don’t worry! The point is that it’s great you train your biceps, but it’s equally as important, if not MORE important, to train your triceps because of its size and its primary functions.

Now, as we mentioned, the primary function of the medial head of the triceps is to extend the forearm at the elbow joint. Hence, we need to perform exercises that fully extend the elbow.

So, what are the best exercises to hit the medial head of the triceps?

The 5 Best Medial Head Tricep Exercises

Now, there are a million triceps exercises and a lot of them do place more tension on the medial head. So, which one’s are the best? Here are 5 of my favorite tricep exercises that emphasize more on the medial head. These exercises are my personal favorite and one’s that I include in my workout routine!

1. Cable Pushdown

I’m sure you’ve seen people do this at the gym. In fact, it is one of the most popular exercises when it comes to training your triceps.

But there is a massive debate! Is it better to use the bar or the ropes? While they both are great and it generally comes down to what you prefer, EMG analysis suggests that using a rope gives greater medial head involvement.

I also feel (and this is my opinion) that the rope allows me to squeeze my triceps more at the bottom of the movement and is generally more comfortable for me. Having said that, the bar does allow you to lift more weight than the rope.

Hence, you might want to include both in your routine.

Now, there is a whole other debate of using the bar with an underhand grip instead of overhand and if that actually makes a difference or not. However, that’s for some other time.  

Unlike the diamond push up, this exercise is not difficult yet places a lot of tension on the medial head. Adjust the weight that challenges your triceps and progressively overload.

This exercise is one of my favorites and it’s in my regular routine during my push day. However, like all exercises, form is important to maximize the benefits. So, let’s look at how to perform this correctly.


  1. Start by setting up the pulley to a high attachment and attach a rope.
  2. Grab the rope with both hands, palms facing each other.
  3. Take a step back and pull the rope until your elbows are in a fixed position by your sides. SLIGHTLY hinge at the waist and keep your back straight throughout this movement. This is your starting position.
  4. Keeping your elbows in a fixed position, press the weight down.
  5. Pause and squeeze at the bottom of the movement and return the starting position.

Pro Tips

If you’ve been reading the Just Fit & Healthy content on a regular basis, what’s the one thing we DO NOT support? That’s right! Not performing full range of motion! If you want to emphasise more on the medial head of the triceps, perform all these exercises with your triceps being fully extended. And don’t forget to pause and SQUEEZE your triceps at the bottom of the movement.

Make sure to take it slow with exercise. The slower you go, the more tension you are placing on the working muscle. In this case the triceps.

A common mistake I see people make with this is their elbow swinging forward and back. And you might have seen the viral video of Chris Bumstead letting his elbow fall forward to get more long head activation. However, he does this in a controlled manner. If you’re swinging your elbow to make the exercise easier, that is completely incorrect because you will be placing more emphasis on the lats and other muscle groups. Keep your elbows in a fixed position to focus mainly on the triceps.

2. Dimond Push up

When you hear the word “workout”, what comes to mind? Is it weights? Machines? The point is that people tend to ignore bodyweight exercises and simply focus on weights. However, bodyweight training combined with weight training can be a solid method to increase both flexibility and strength.

One example of a bodyweight exercise that focuses more on the medial head of the triceps is the diamond push up.

Now, I wish I could say that this exercise is easy and can be performed by anyone, but it’s just not. It’s a pretty tough exercise to perform with reps. In fact, I couldn’t perform this exercise at all when I started my fitness journey.

However, this exercise is one of the best to engage your medial head of the tricep if done with proper form and technique.


  1. Start with getting on all fours. Now the key is the position of your hands. Your index fingers and the tips of your thumbs must touch so that you form a “diamond”. Hence the name of the exercise, “diamond push up”.
  2. Now, position your body in a push up position by extending both your legs and arms. You should form a straight line from your heels to your head. This is your starting position.
  3. Bring your chest down towards the ground with your elbows in.
  4. Pause for a second at the bottom of the movement and slowly return to the starting position.

Pro Tips

The one common mistake I see people make during this exercise is that their elbows flare out to the sides. Make sure your elbows are tucked in, so you get maximum tricep activation.

Ensure that your hands are positioned under your chest. So not too far down or too far up.

Another common mistake I see people make is arching their back to complete the movement. However, this just takes emphasis off the triceps, and you won’t be maximising the benefits of this exercise. So, make sure you form a straight line from your head to your heels throughout this movement.

If you find the exercise too hard to perform (I don’t blame you), you could drop onto your knees and perform the movement.  Or you can keep reading to find some other quality exercises that emphasize more on the medial head of the tricep!

3. Cable Triceps kickbacks

The tricep kickbacks is one of my favorite exercises to do and it hits all three heads, including the medial head.

You might have seen people perform this exercise with dumbbells however, I wouldn’t recommend this. The cables give far more triceps activation and really challenges your triceps, ultimately leading to better results.

These exercises, along with the rest of the exercises, can really emphasize on the medial head of the triceps.

4. Close Grip Bench Press

The classic bench press is one of the most popular exercises for building your chest. But simply placing your grip slightly closer shifts emphasis straight to your triceps. In fact, the primary muscle used during the close grip bench press is your triceps.

Personally, I love this tricep exercise. It targets all three heads, however, puts a lot more emphasis on the medial and lateral head.

Plus, it’s a compound movement and we all know that including compound exercise into our routine can boost strength and build lean muscle mass.

In fact, compound exercises have a lot of benefits like burning those calories or improving intramuscular coordination. Overall, you must have a combination of both compound and isolation movements to gain maximum benefits from your workouts.

Another benefit of this exercise is that it limits stress on the shoulders. Many people gain a lot of shoulder pain or injuries when performing the standard bench press. If that’s you, then all you have to do is narrow your grip and you have yourself one of the best tricep exercises!

That being said, close grip bench press may place some extra tension on your elbows and wrists, especially if you don’t perform this with proper technique. So, what is the proper technique?


  1. Have the barbell rested on a rack and load weights based on your fitness level.
  2. Lie on the bench with the barbell positioned within your reach on the rack.
  3. Grip the barbell with your hands shoulder width apart.
  4. Retract your shoulder blades.
  5. Lift the barbell slowly off the rack and lower it towards your chest keeping your elbows close to your sides.
  6. Press the barbell back up using your triceps.
  7. Repeat for the desired number or reps.

Pro Tips

Now this sounds like an easy exercise, right? But the amount of people I see performing this incorrectly is mind blowing.

The first thing is the grip. A lot if people position their hands too close thinking it’s going to emphasize more on the triceps. However, placing them shoulder width apart is perfect. It will give you maximum tension on your triceps without causing any unnecessary pressure on your wrists or elbows.

The next thing is your elbow position. Do not flare your elbows out to the sides COMPLETELY. This will literally remove the focus on your triceps and place it more on the shoulders. This can cause shoulder injuries and pain!

Having said this, don’t tuck in your elbows to a large degree. In other words, to the point where they are touching your body. They will result in pulling your shoulder into internal rotation causing unwanted shoulder stress and pain. I like to flare my elbows out slightly about 30 degrees. However, this depends on what’s comfortable for you. As long as you’re not completely flaring out your elbows or completely tucking your elbows, go with what feels best.

The last point is where the bar will go. Because your grip is now narrowed, this changes the pathway that the bar will travel in as compared to the traditional bench press. If you lower the bar too high on your chest, you’re likely flaring your elbows out and placing your wrists in an uncomfortable position. It’s best to lower the bar beneath your chest.

Remember these key points because this is one the best tricep exercises that places a lot of tension on the medial head.

5. Skull Crusher

Last but not least, we have the skull crushers. This is by far one of the best exercises to hit your triceps, especially the medial head.

Now you might have seen that insanely big bodybuilder at your gym performing this with the ezy bar, but you can do this with a normal straight bar or even a pair of dumbbells. So, if you’re sitting and reading this at home, I recommend grabbing those pairs of dumbbells you have sitting in your garage and getting moving!

What equipment do I use? I find the ez bar a lot more comfortable for my wrists and I feel like I can go a lot heavier using the ez bar as compared to dumbbells.

However, dumbbells do work each of your arms independently. It really is up to you.

Along with the medial head, this exercise works all other heads as well with a larger focus on the long head because of the slight form adjustment I’m about to show you. So, if you want to beef up your triceps, give this exercise a try in your next workout session.

And yes, its name does sound dangerous but with proper form and technique, this is a safe and highly effective exercise. So how do you do it?


  1. Load weights based on your fitness level onto an ez bar.
  2. Grab the ez bar with your hands and use the inside grip of the ez bar. If you’re using a normal straight bar, grip it with your hands shoulder width apart. Sit on a bench with the bar resting on your lap.
  3. Lie down on the bench with your feet flat on the floor and extend your arm by pressing the bar up. Keep your head on the edge of the bench.
  4. Keep your arms straight and tilt the bar slightly towards your head. This becomes your starting position
  5. Flex your elbows and lower the weight behind your head while moving your shoulders back slightly.
  6. Keep lowering until you feel that stretch on the long head or your triceps.
  7. Slowly reverse the movement by extending your elbows to return to the starting position.
  8. Perform the desired number of reps.

Pro Tips

So, what was the form adjustment I was talking about? Well, to get maximum tricep activation, make sure the bar’s starting position is at an angle towards your head and not perpendicular to the bench. By tilting the bar slightly towards your head will increase the tension on the long head of your triceps. This is because the bar will now finish behind your head as opposed to at your forehead, had you kept the bar at a 90-degree angle. Yes, I know the name is “skull crusher” but you want the bottom of the movement behind your head.

So, where do I position the bar? I like to position the bar so that it’s in line with the end of the bench. Tilting the arms slightly towards your head as the starting position will also reduce the pressure on your elbows.

During this movement, try to keep your elbows in. They can flare out slightly but extensively flaring your elbows can reduce triceps activation.

Try performing this movement slowly and really using those triceps throughout the movement.

Why should include tricep exercises that work on the medial head?

As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, you can’t completely isolate each tricep head. So, why should we incorporate tricep exercises that place more emphasis on the medial head?

Well, it usually doesn’t matter. Just choose a few tricep focused exercises performed at different angles and it should just do the job on beefing up your arms. However, if you’re into bodybuilding and you think you need to work on the medial head, that’s when this article helps.

Apart from that, the exercises I showed above covers the entire tricep muscle anyway, including the medial head. Hence, it might be beneficial to pick and choose some of these tricep exercises to include whether you want to focus on the medial head or just over tricep development.

Key Takeaway

The triceps are made up of three heads: the long, lateral, and medial heads. Now, although you can’t completely isolate each area, there are certain exercises you could do to emphasize more on a particular head. These are my 5 favourite triceps exercises that will increase focus on the medial head and make your triceps look good from all angles!

I hope this article was helpful for you and stay tuned for our upcoming articles! As always, stay Fit & Healthy!

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Hey, I'm Shalin

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Shalin Anam

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