Optimal Training Principles
With little or no resistance, the medial head of the tricep is the Work Horse in doing extensions because it’s always active. The lateral head contracts minimally. The long head is virtually inactive.
In extensions with resistance, the medial is involved even more. The lateral and long heads are recruited to help; they’re reserved for heavily resisted elbow extensions.
Long Head (aka the “Lazy Head”) Exercises
These require a lot of weight and range of motion. Maximize it with:
Close-grip bench press
Lying E-Z curl triceps extension
Power lifter tricep push-downs (by internally rotating the hands and allowing elbows to swing out)
Lateral Head Exercises
Narrow grip triceps push-down
Medial Head Exercises
Heavy overhead presses
Triceps contract most at 90 degrees, so work in close-grip bench presses, dips and triceps push-downs.
The triceps extensor or stabilization response: Pressure on the ulnar surface of the palm (little finger-side) causes a neuromuscular reflex that allows greater contraction of the triceps. The triceps reflex extensor maneuver (TREM technique) can be used in the bench press and triceps push-down.
TREM technique for bench press
The hands are positioned by internally rotating the arm five degrees when the person is under the bar, and the bar sits across the palm.
TREM technique for triceps push down
The hands internally rotate on the bar and allow the elbows to swing out. This is the “power lifter” version and allows for more contraction and strength development, especially in the long head.
Obviously, dips are one of the better triceps exercises, provided the person is strong enough, or their shoulders are healthy enough, to perform them with good form.
Contributing blogger Troy Meyers is a certified personal trainer and sports conditioner with more than 10 years of experience. He owns Atlanta-based JockBoyLocker.com and contributes to the site’s Lockerroom Blog.