Sat. Jul 20th, 2024

Jim Stoppani, PhD

Q: What can I do to give my triceps that “horseshoe” look?

A: Choosing exercises that hit all three heads of the triceps (long, lateral and medial heads) is critical for building balanced triceps. The lateral head, however, makes up the bulk of the horseshoe and adds width to your arms when viewed from the front. So if you’re after horseshoe tri’s (and bigger guns in general), put the lateral head front and center in your arm routine.

Pushdowns are great for targeting the lateral head, but many guys push with the shoulders and chest rather than extending the elbows by squeezing the tri’s, defeating the purpose of an isolation exercise. To avoid incorporating other muscles, try the cross-body triceps extension. Stand perpendicular to a cable station with the pulley set at roughly head level and grasp a rope attachment in your outside hand. Lift your arm to a 45-degree angle to your torso, keeping your hand in front of your chest. With your upper arm stationary, extend your arm out to the side, then squeeze your triceps hard before returning to the start. This variation takes the shoulders and pecs completely out of the equation and isolates the triceps lateral head.

Another great benefit of this move is the angle allows you to hit different muscle fibers than you do in standard pushdowns. And the more muscle you stimulate, the more mass you’ll pack on and carved out your tri’s will be. Try incorporating the cross-body triceps extension into a workout like the one below for a well-rounded, size-building arm regimen.

Jim Stoppani, PhD

2 thoughts on “Crossing the line: target the lateral head of your triceps”
  1. I’ve went back to old school training doing heavy heavy nosebusters and skull crushers and a variated form of behind the neck shoulder press (hands about 8 inches apart) with a 4 count pause at the neck and elbows flared outward. These 2 exercises have put on serious tricep mass in no time flat.

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