The insertion of the long head is the same as the attachments of the lateral and medial heads. Its function-extension of the forearm-also mirrors that of the companion heads. The long head differs in one dynamic
way. Rather than originating on the upper humerus, as do the lateral and medial heads, it springs from he scapula. With this more lofty origin it naturally presents greater length. The relationship of the long
head to the medial head can influence overall sweep when the muscle is worked from angles which intertwine both of these branches of the triceps.
The medial or inner triceps, which is mostly hidden (only s uppermost section peeks out), can be the swing point for other of the surrounding heads - long and lateral - depending upon how the triceps are
stimulated. Exercises most directed at the lateral head also figure in more prominently with the upper medial head because of the conjunctive proximity of origin of the two heads on the upper humerus bone.
Exercises which strongly influence the long head will figure more prominently with the lower medial head because it is closer to the descending strand of the long head just before it and the long head attach to
the inner ulna of the forearm. All heads join near their origins to form the crest or upper horseshoe of the triceps. The descending fibers of the long and lateral sections make up the "legs" of the horseshoe.
Consider sweep as it relates to various angles and poses. Even an ultra developed lateral head imparts sweep only from a single angle when presented in the popular and mandatory arm poses. In the same poses,
however, a long head, with its potential completely fulfilled, can sweep you off your feet from every direction.
Sweep: Characteristics, Contrast, Flaws
Characteristics of sweep can vary, and shortcomings in the long head of the triceps can be exposed, depending on poses. The poses for discussion are the double biceps as struck both front and back, and with arm
extended downward so that the triceps is viewed from the side.
Compare the characteristics of tri sweep in a front double-bi pose. Exceptional sweep springs from a long rainbow curve, a mirror image of a perfectly curved biceps except that tri curve is more elongated. Good
sweep, in contrast to exceptional sweep, tails off, creating a teardrop shape. Flattened sweep may or may not be due to underdevelopment, since truly massive triceps may offer little in demonstrable arch if
direct shaping of the long head is excluded.
Now compare the properties of tri sweep in a back double bi. Exceptional sweep starts with pronounced separation of the long head at the outer head and the brachialis, then continues with a broad spanning of the
long head from the rear deltoid to the elbow. Good sweep differs from exceptional sweep only in that overall curve simply is not as bold. Marginal sweep results when long-head separation fades away toward the
elbow, forming an obtuse triangle.
Triceps curvature, when examined from the side while the arm is extended downward, compares this way: Fullest sweep has been accomplished if there's both fullness near the origins of the outer and long heads and
a protracted fingering of the outer and long triceps insertions. Good curve comes via total detailing of the outer head and by building a "jut" in the upper section of the long head. Mediocrity appears in the
form of a flat long head, fading in the insertion of the lateral (outer) head.
Creating Sweep: Heading in the Long Direction
Triceps programs of 16 bodybuilders, who used narrow-grip movements exclusively, were contrasted with an equal number of iron-pumpers who incorporated one or more triceps movements with a wider grip. The results,
though not conclusive, should fire up your brain cells nonetheless.
Of those who used narrow grips exclusively, only half displayed exceptional triceps sweep. The remaining half had tri sweep that ranged from massive, but with disproportionately briefer curvature, to mediocre
development in both bulk and curve. Of those who included presses and extensions with wider grips, all but one subject showed superb sweep in two of the three pose angles and good curvature in the third.
Why did half of those who relied on close-grip triceps exercises still succeed in building outstanding arch while the remaining half came up short? That's simple. Those with lower attachments - by virtue of basics
such as bench and standing presses, where a wider grip is inherent - built fuller triceps. Those with high tri attachments or insertions came up with foreshortened results.
We can conclude that triceps programs which pair wide- and narrow-grip exercises are better for people hampered by abrupt insertions. This approach may not totally solve an innate defect, obviously, but odds favor
improvement. If you have normal tri attachments, your chances of creating full-blown, rear arm curve are nearly 100 percent provided you balance narrow-grip movements with wider-grip exercises.
Exercises to Emphasize the Long Head
There's no shortage of exercises that stress the most impressive part of the triceps. Here ire seven key movements. Several of them differ useful variations.
Rear Extensions (a.k.a. kickbacks). Bend at the waist to support yourself with one hand while the other hand extends a dumbell from the front of the shoulder to the rear of the body until the arm straightens fully.
The upper arm remains tucked tightly to your side throughout. In the beginning use a very light dumbell. Do only a couple of sets during the first week. Then gradually proceed to 4 or 5 sets of 10 to 12 reps. When
the bell gets hefty in the coming months, drop a set and cheat a little by assisting with your rear deltoid. You can also do extensions with cables or pulleys, which may be more user friendly.
Dips. Done on parallel bars, dips usually prove too difficult for a novice. If this is the case, you can substitute dips on the edge of a bench. Use shoulder-width hand spacing and extend your legs forward on the
floor. Dip no farther than the position where your forearms and upper arms form a right angle.
In this way you avoid jamming your shoulder joints. Do 3 sets, 8 to 10 reps. After one month tie a five-pound plate around your waist. Then increase the weight by another five pounds monthly.
Try to do regular bar dips periodically. Remember, don't lower your torso beyond the point where your bent arms create right angles. When pushing upward, arch back so that your chest rises in a straight line. When
you can do a minimum of 10 reps, it's time for further advancement. After a set of 10 rest a minute, and then do a second set, but do not count reps. When you reach near-failure, rest again-this time for only 30
seconds. Finally, do a third set, again without keeping count, until failure. Increase resistance five pounds every month by suspending weight plates from a lifting belt. Reverse-Grip Bench Presses. To start, you'll
be pressing about 50 percent of your bodyweight. Begin the press at the base of your pecs. Palms must face the shoulders. Push straight up, slowly. Because of all the major assisting muscles involved, rep count
should be high, so begin with 12 reps per set.
The regular bench press, where elbows flare out, stimulates outer and inner triceps much more than the long sections. The reverse-grip bench press will do the opposite. Wide-Grip Cable Pressdowns. Except for hand
spacing, which is shoulder width, this variation is done the same deliberate way as the regular, close-grip pressdown. This wider version is not as unusual as you may think. Several bodybuilding champions have favored
it-including a Mr. Olympia!
Cable Pulldowns. You can do these with a pulley, one arm at a time, or by seating yourself under a lat bar, which you will pull with both arms. In either case palms will face up and be even with shoulders. Pull down
strongly, pause a few seconds, and return to start very slowly.
The remaining selections are extension movements. Do them only after your elbows are ready for the stress. Preferably, do extensions after biceps work or after presses so that your elbows are fully cushioned with
blood flow. Always use a weight you can control - with ease at the outset - so that the bells never fall back to the start position. Shoulder-Width Barbell Triceps Extensions. You can either stand or lie on a bench
to do this exercise. The wider hand spacing is essential once again. If you choose the lying version, be very cautious with your beginning poundage. Keep your elbows as still as possible while extending the barbell.
Hammer-Grip Dumbell Extensions. Either lying or standing, begin the arc of the dumbell close to your shoulder and beside your head. Once again, keep your upper arm immobile while extending your forearm. The legendary
Steve Reeves did his hammer-grip extensions while lying on his back. One of the most perfect Mr. Olympias, Samir Bannout, preferred the upright style.
AN OPTION: THE SHORT OF IT
Both former Mr. USA and a Mr. Universe did close-grip triceps exercises exclusively. Although foreshortened, their triceps displayed awesome curvature, looking like the biceps of Dorian Yates turned upside down!
These champions won Best Arms trophies galore. They did, however, possess ultra-peaked biceps which gave their arms a special, stunning symmetry. We can only speculate whether wider-grip exercises would have brought
If you're positive your triceps insertions are high, and you believe you can peak your biceps to the extreme, you may want to pursue an alternative course of close-grip movements only. On the other hand, just as quad
and lat sweep are usually preferable - and deemed more impressive - the same can be said about fuller triceps. Extra attention to the long heads should bring you sweeping success.