The Best Workouts for the Outer Triceps

The horseshoe-shaped muscle located on the back of your upper arm is responsible for the extension of your elbow and shoulder joint. The triceps brachii muscle consists of three muscle heads that work together to extend the arm: the long, medial and lateral heads. The lateral head, also referred to as the outer triceps, can be isolated with a variety of triceps exercises.


Outer Triceps Exercises

Movements with the hands in the thumbs-up position stimulate the lateral head of the triceps muscle, notes Arnold Schwarzenegger, author of “Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding.” Exercises that are effective at stimulating the outer triceps include bench dips, triceps press-downs with a rope attachment, behind-the-neck dumbbell or cable extensions with a rope attachment, reverse cable press-downs, dumbbell kickbacks and lying-across-the-body dumbbell triceps extensions.

Advance Training Techniques

Include super sets and drop sets in your training to periodically get your muscles to grow. A super set is when you perform one set of an exercise, then without resting, perform another exercise utilizing the same muscle group. For example, perform a set of 15 triceps bench dips, then immediately switch to a set of 15 dumbbell kickbacks. Perform drop sets by completing a set of one exercise, such as triceps press-downs for 10 reps, then immediately decrease or “drop” the weight five to 10 lbs. and complete another 10 reps. One or more “drops” can occur in a drop set.

Outer Triceps Workout

Begin your workout with three sets of 10 reps of reverse cable press-downs using a straight bar attachment, then do a super set with triceps bench dips for 15 reps. Perform three sets of 10 repetitions on each arm of the lying-across-the-body dumbbell extension. Next, complete three sets of 10 of dumbbell kickbacks. Rest 60 seconds between each set, and less than 30 seconds for exercises training one arm at a time. Conclude your triceps routine with three drop sets of triceps rope press-downs. Select your starting weight in which muscle fatigue is reached at about 10 reps. “Drop” weight in five- to 10-lb. increments and perform reps through to failure, or until 10 repetitions are reached. Include at least three “drops” in weight.

Tips for Training the Outer Triceps

Always keep your elbows tucked in close to your body when performing any triceps exercise. Focus on completing the movement through its entire range of motion to ensure the entire muscle is stimulated. During triceps rope press-downs, bring the rope apart at the end of the movement, while keeping elbows tightly against your body. This will further engage the outer triceps and make the exercise more challenging. Furthermore, change the triceps exercises performed or the order in which exercises are performed every four to eight weeks for continued strength gains, suggests the ExRx website.


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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or