Variation: Dumb-bell lying triceps extension

  1. The Dumbbell Skull Crusher 101 | How to Build Bigger Triceps!
  2. Primary Muscle Groups:
  3. Secondary Muscle Groups:
  4. 1. Stronger triceps
  5. 2. Triceps isolation
  6. 3. Low stress on the wrists 
  7. Equipment:
  8. Setup:
  9. Action:
  10. Recommendation:
  11. 1. Flaring of the elbows 
  12. 2. Excessive movement of the elbows/shoulders
  13. 3. Arching your back
  14. 1. Bodyweight Skull Crushers
  15. 2. Barbell Skull Crushers
  16. 3. 1-Arm Skull Crushers
  17. Dumbbell Skull Crusher Alternatives
  18. 1. Alternatingtriceps pushdown:
  19. 2.Overhead triceps extension(with rope)
  20. Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extension • Bodybuilding Wizard
  21. Exercise Key Points & Common Mistakes
  22. Muscles Involved in Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extension
  23. Exercise Variation
  24. Replacement Exercises
  25. Closing Thoughts
  26. Build Your Triceps With the Skull Crusher
  27. Tricep Exercises: 10 of the Best to Build Muscle
  28. 1. Close-grip Bench Press
  29. 2. Rope Tricep Pushdown
  30. 3. Tricep Dips (Advanced)
  31. 4. Overhead Triceps Extension
  32. 5. Skullcrushers (Lying Triceps Extensions)
  33. 1. The Diamond Press-up
  34. 2. Bench Dip (Basic)
  35. 3. Dumbbell Floor Press
  36. 4. The Classic Press-up
  37. 5. One Arm Kettlebell Floor Press
  38. The Best Tricep Workouts
  39. Dumbbell Triceps Extension Exercise Form Guide with Video & Pictures
  40. 2. Eccentric Repetition
  41. 4. Concentric Repetition
  42. 5. Repeat
  43. Common Dumbbell Triceps Extension Errors to Avoid
  44. Dumbbell Triceps Extension Tips
  45. Is This Exercise Right for You?
  46. Dumbbell Lying Extensions
  47. Extension Movements – Mi40 Nation – Ben Pakulski
  48. Incline Triceps Dumbbell Extension Variation
  49. One-Arm Overhead Dumbbell Extensions
  50. Side-Supported One-Arm Overhead Extension
  51. Standing Overhead Cable / Rope Extensions
  52. High Cable Forward Leaning Overhead Cable / Rope Extensions
  53. Cross Cable Tricep Extensions
  54. Straight-Arm Cable Tricep Extensions
  55. One-Arm Cross Cable Extension with Elbow back
  56. One-Arm Cable Extensions
  57. Dumbbell Tricep Kicks-Backs
  58. Rolling Extensions

The Dumbbell Skull Crusher 101 | How to Build Bigger Triceps!

Variation: Dumb-bell lying triceps extension

Dumbbell skull crushers, also known as the lying triceps extension, is an effective exercise for anyone attempting to build triceps strength and size. The tricep is one of the most important muscles involved in upper body conditioning. If you want to improve your upper body strength, size, and aesthetics, dumbbell skull crushers are for you! 

Primary Muscle Groups:

Contrary to its name, a properly completed skull crusher will not, in fact, crush your skull. Thankfully, your triceps prevent that from happening. The triceps muscle is comprised of three “heads:” the long, medial, and lateral head. While the lying triceps extension works all three heads of the muscle, it especially targets the long and lateral heads of the triceps.

Secondary Muscle Groups:

Although the dumbbell skull crusher is an isolation exercise for your triceps, several other muscle groups are secondarily worked. Your anterior and posterior deltoids in your shoulders contract to stabilize your arms.

The clavicular head of your pectoralis major, located in your upper chest, also receives tension and stabilizes your upper body during the lying triceps extension.

Lastly, the latissimus dorsi, the largest muscle of your back, plays a role in stabilization as well. 

1. Stronger triceps

The dumbbell skull crusher is one of the premier exercises proven to strengthen your triceps muscle. A stronger tricep is crucial for completing so many other upper body exercises.

Without strong triceps muscles, it will be difficult to properly train your chest and shoulders.

Not only does building tricep strength improve your overall arm strength, but it will make you better in a variety of exercises at the gym. 

2. Triceps isolation

The lying triceps extension is an isolation exercise. This means that un other exercises such as the pushup or bench press, the dumbbell skull crusher specifically targets the tricep muscle. This is especially important for bodybuilders, athletes, or anyone else seeking to focus on improving the strength and appearance of their triceps.

3. Low stress on the wrists 

Throughout the dumbbell skull crusher, your wrists remain in a neutral position. In other words, there is no rotation or added stress placed upon your wrists. If you find other heavier straining exercises the close-grip bench press or weighted dips uncomfortable, try out the dumbbell skull crusher and take the tension off of those wrists. 


For this exercise, you will need a pair of dumbbells.


1. Lie down on a flat bench with your feet planted firmly onto the ground.

2. Hold the dumbbells above your chest with your palms facing each other and engage your core.


1. With your elbows in a fixed position, hinge your elbows to slowly bring the dumbbells down just behind your ears. Inhale.

2. Contract your triceps to extend your arms back into the straight position at the top. Exhale. 

3. Repeat this motion for your desired number of reps. 

You can also perform the lying triceps extension on the ground.


If you are new to the lying triceps extension, choose a light weight to begin and complete 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps. If you are more comfortable with the form, grab a pair of heavier dumbbells and stick to the 6-8 rep range for 3-4 sets. 

1. Flaring of the elbows 

Many weightlifters tend to flare out their elbows when doing dumbbell skull crushers. When the elbows flare out, we risk injury to our shoulders and we remove tension from the triceps. Make sure to keep your elbows in to practice proper form.

2. Excessive movement of the elbows/shoulders

During the lying triceps extension, you want to make sure your elbows are in a fixed position. Often times, people tend to rock their shoulders back as the weight comes down.

This forces the elbows to shift backwards as well. While some movement is natural, too much movement will force your lats to activate to bring the dumbbells upwards.

If you want to solely train your triceps, keep those elbows and shoulders in a stationary position. 

3. Arching your back

Arching your back during the lying triceps extension compromises the stability of your body positioning while completing this exercise. Instead of arching your back, place your feet firmly against the ground, engage your core, and keep your back flat against the bench or ground. 

1. Bodyweight Skull Crushers

No equipment? No problem! You can do a skull crusher with just your body weight. First, set up in a plank position with your hands together. Then contract your triceps and push your body off the ground and slightly backward. Return to the plank position and repeat!

2. Barbell Skull Crushers

The barbell skull crusher is another great variation of the dumbbell skull crusher. This variation is especially useful if you want to add heavier weight to the exercise.

3. 1-Arm Skull Crushers

You can also use the skull crusher to train your arms individually to fix any potential muscle imbalances in your arms. Keep your core engaged for stability during this variation!

Dumbbell Skull Crusher Alternatives

If you enjoyed the dumbbell skull crusher, check out these triceps exercises to improve your upper body training:

1. Alternating triceps pushdown:

The alternating triceps pushdown is a powerful triceps isolation exercise. Keep your elbows tucked in to your sides and contract your triceps at the bottom of each rep.

2. Overhead triceps extension (with rope)

The overhead triceps extension strengthens the long head of your triceps. As you extend upwards, pull the rope apart and contract your triceps at the top of the rep.

3. Close Grip Bench Press

The close grip bench press engages your triceps significantly more than the traditional bench press. Bring the weight down just below your chest and contract your tricep to press upwards. Repeat!

Looking for more triceps workouts? Follow along to this dumbbell triceps workout with tempo!

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Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extension • Bodybuilding Wizard

Variation: Dumb-bell lying triceps extension

Lying dumbbell triceps extension (double dumbbell lying triceps extension) works all three heads of the triceps brachii equally. the triceps bar exercise, this is a basic, heavy exercise for the triceps. It works the triceps from the elbow all the way to the latissimus dorsi.

Due to its full use of the triceps muscle group, the lying triceps extensions are used by many bodybuilders as part of their training regimen. It usually causes less discomfort in the elbow and wrist joints, however, and the radius and ulna are positioned better.

Never try to set the dumbbells on the floor while you are lying down.

INITIAL (STARTING) POSITION: Grab a pair of dumbbells and lie face-up on a bench with your head, back, and buttocks in contact with the bench and your feet flat on the floor. Hold the dumbbells in a neutral grip above eye level with your elbows straight (your arms are extended toward the ceiling, the dumbbells over your face, and your palms facing each other).

Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extension

EXERCISE EXECUTION (MOVEMENT): Keeping your upper arms stationary, lower the dumbbells toward the sides of your head until they are about level with your ears (your hands are near forehead level). Pause and squeeze the triceps. Then raise the dumbbells back to the starting position.

Exercise Key Points & Common Mistakes

  • Keep your elbows in and your upper arms stationary (don’t let them flare out as you lower the dumbbells down).
  • Look for your upper arms to remain motionless and your elbows pointing directly at the ceiling at all times during the exercise..
  • Keep your head, back, and buttocks in contact with the bench and your feet flat on the floor.
  • Lower the weights down past your ears. Try to keep your elbows from flaring out.
  • Always make sure to move the dumbbells slowly from start to finish and squeeze the triceps muscles at the top of the movement to really feel the triceps working.
  • Common mistakes: moving the elbows to get help from the chest and back muscles, not positioning the elbows vertically to counteract the effect of gravity, and opening your elbows too wide.

Muscles Involved in Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extension

Dumbbells provide a more comfortable (neutral) grip, with the radius and ulna positioned correctly. The muscle involvement is almost identical as in the lying E-Z bar triceps extension, although some studies have suggested that the lateral head works a little harder.

  • Main muscles: triceps
  • Secondary muscles: anconeus, chest, deltoid, forearm
  • Antagonists: biceps brachii, brachialis, brachioradialis

Exercise Variation

  • One-arm lying dumbbell triceps extension (single-arm dumbbell lying cross-shoulder triceps extension). This across-the-body movement resembles a military salute. Lie on a flat bench and hold a dumbbell in one hand, palm facing down (your feet). Extend your elbow so the dumbbell is straight up toward the ceiling. Without letting your upper arm move (it should continue pointing straight up), bend at the elbow to bring the dumbbell down across your body toward the opposite side of your chest (until the end touches your opposite shoulder). Stop your downward motion when your elbow reaches 90 degrees — don’t let the dumbbell touch down to your chest — and reverse to bring your arm back up into the start position. You can use the other hand to keep the weight-bearing arm steady by holding the biceps. Some people will experience less discomfort using this minor variant and holding on to your arm makes balance easier. all triceps exercises, the variant works all three heads, although it is usually recommended for the lateral head.

One-Arm Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extension

Replacement Exercises

There are various types of triceps extension movements. We’ll be taking a look at variations of triceps extensions that you can perform using dumbbells, E-Z or straight bars, as well as the exercises that you can perform on pulley-machines.

Closing Thoughts

Lying dumbbell triceps extension has many advantages. As you can see in this post, if you use dumbbells, you can work bilaterally or unilaterally.

Because you can position your hands freely, you can use a wide range of grips. Furthermore, in the lying position your back is well protected.

This means that your form will be better then when doing standing or seated extensions. Because of the stretch, the long head of the triceps will work more.

Be careful not to hit your head or nose with the weight, especially when fatigue decreases your control over the trajectory. Also, when using heavy weights, this exercise can tear the triceps near the elbow, so you should stop the exercise if you feel any pain at all.


Build Your Triceps With the Skull Crusher

Variation: Dumb-bell lying triceps extension

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Also Known As: Skull crusher, French extensions, French presses

Equipment Needed: Barbell or dumbbells, weight bench

The lying triceps extension is an overhead extension performed while lying on a flat bench and using a dumbbell, two dumbbells, or a barbell.

This is an isolation exercise to build the triceps muscle group in the upper arm. The skull crusher gets the name because if you use poor form you could endanger your skull.

It can be used as part of an upper body strengthening or muscle-building workout.

The skull crusher is a push exercise that works the triceps brachii in isolation. It works this muscle from the elbow up to the latissimus dorsi of the back. There are variations you can do that will focus on the different heads of the muscle.

This exercise is often used to fix imbalances with the triceps, for injury rehabilitation, or in bodybuilding. There are other forms of triceps extensions, such as the overhead extension, which can be an alternative.

One advantage of the lying triceps extension is that it doesn't place pressure on the wrists.

Choose a flat gym bench and lie face up with legs comfortably to each side on the floor or resting on the footrest. Get into a position that provides comfort and stability.

Select a single dumbbell of suitable weight that will allow you to perform 10 to 12 extensions per set.

  1. Hold the dumbbell with both hands above your chest, straight up, and with the dumbbell shaft in a vertical position. This is the starting position. Inhale.
  2. Move the weight down toward the rear of your head by flexing your elbows while exhaling.

    The motion takes place in the elbows, while upper arms generally remain perpendicular to the body. Keep the upper arms from moving back and forth with the weight as this transfers some of the work to the shoulders instead of focusing it on the triceps.

  3. Continue lowering the weight behind the head until the dumbbell head is about in line with the bench top, or even a little higher if this feels unwieldy.
  4. Reverse the movement until the weight is held above the chest in the starting position again.

    Don't lock the elbows at the starting position; instead, stop just shy of locked position to maintain tension in your muscle.

  5. Repeat. Aim for 10 to 12 extensions for each of three sets if you don't have a defined program.

Be aware of these errors and learn to avoid them.

Make sure you have a firm grip because the dumbbell will be traveling above the region of your head and face. You don't want to provide a literal demonstration of the skull crusher.

Don't lower the weight toward the face or forehead; it should travel behind your head. Ensure you pass the weight over the head.

Keep the elbows in close and tight to the body. Flaring elbows is poor form, distributing the effort to other muscles.

Take care not to hit the back of your head when raising the dumbbell from behind the head to return to the starting position.

This exercise should be done slowly and carefully under good control.

This exercise should be done with lower weight and higher reps. It can stress the elbows and a lighter weight will help prevent that. With a lighter weight you will also be able to use better form and control.

There are ways to do this exercise to make it more comfortable or to change how it targets your muscles.

You can place your feet on the bench with knees flexed if this suits your body shape.

You can clench the dumbbell with one hand over the other because most people will not fit two hands around a dumbbell shaft side by side.

Many people find it easiest to start doing lying triceps extensions using a barbell rather than a dumbbell. However, using a barbell (even an EZ curl bar) will produce more wrist strain than using a dumbbell.

You can perform this exercise on an inclined bench. This will target different areas of the triceps than when doing it lying flat.

This exercise is known for leading to elbow pain. If you have had an elbow injury, it should be avoided. If you feel elbow pain at any time, end this exercise. You may wish to find an alternative triceps exercise that places less strain on the elbows and wrists. If using a barbell, have a spotter available in case you run into difficulty.

Incorporate this move and similar ones into one of these popular workouts:

Thanks for your feedback!

What are your concerns?


Tricep Exercises: 10 of the Best to Build Muscle

Variation: Dumb-bell lying triceps extension

They might feel good when you’re repping them out, but crushing curl after curl after curl just isn’t enough if you’re serious about building sleeve-busting arms. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the route to super-sized arms involves tricep exercises – and lots of 'em.

Think about it. They might be tucked away around the back (where you can't see them), but your triceps make up more than two-thirds of your upper-arm mass. That's a lot of muscle to neglect. Building thick, developed triceps means building thick, developed arms.

Horseshoe triceps aren’t just for show either. They play a significant role in some of the most effective and popular exercises, the press-up and bench press. In fact, tricep strength (or distinct lack of) is often the limiting factor in many pressing movements. Simply put, your presses will only go as far as your triceps can carry them.

Convinced? Below, you'll find 10 tricep exercises to incorporate into your regular arm routine. Step away from the dumbbell rack for a few sets and before you know it, you'll have gigantic arms and a bench press PB.

1. Close-grip Bench Press

The bench press is a great tricep exercise to work your chest and core. Placing your hands closer together makes it so your triceps have to work harder, which can lead to new growth and more strength.

How to do it:

Grasp a barbell with an overhand grip that’s shoulder-width apart, and hold it above your sternum with arms completely straight.

– Lower the bar straight down, pause, and then press the bar back up to the starting position.

2. Rope Tricep Pushdown

This move zones in on your triceps – but only if you do it right. If you use too much weight, you’ll involve your back and shoulder muscles, defeating the purpose. If you can’t keep your shoulders down, lighten the load.

How to do it:

– Attach a rope handle to the high pulley of a cable station. Bend your arms and grab the bar with an overhand grip, your hands shoulder-width apart. Tuck your upper arms next to your sides.

– Without moving your upper arms, push the bar down until your elbows are locked. Slowly return to the starting position.

3. Tricep Dips (Advanced)

Because you’re lifting your entire bodyweight, your triceps have to work against a much heavier load than they would in a triceps-isolating exercise.

How to do it:

– Hoist yourself up on parallel bars with your torso perpendicular to the floor; you'll maintain this posture throughout the exercise. (Leaning forward will shift emphasis to your chest and shoulders.)

– Bend your knees and cross your ankles. Slowly lower your body until your shoulder joints are below your elbows. (Most guys stop short of this position.)

– Push back up until your elbows are nearly straight but not locked. If you have shoulder issues, skip this move.

4. Overhead Triceps Extension

When you work your triceps, you might forget there are three parts to the muscle: the lateral head, the medial head, and the long head. The last part might not always get the attention it deserves – unless you're regularly doing exercises this one, with your arms over your head to isolate the long head.

How to do it:

– Sit on a bench and grab one dumbbell. Form a diamond shape with both hands to grip the top end of the weight. Raise the dumbbell over your head, keeping your elbows up and your core tight.

– Lower the dumbbell down the top of your back by bending at the elbow, maintaining your strong chest and keeping your shoulders still.

– Raise the weight by fully extending your arms, pausing for a count to squeeze at the top of the movement.

5. Skullcrushers (Lying Triceps Extensions)

Whilst there are many variations of this move, they all have one thing in common: elbow extension. As the upper arms are locked in position, the long and lateral tricep heads are called into play. Increasing the angle of an incline bench will work your triceps long head, while doing the movement on a decline bench places more emphasis on the lateral triceps head.

How to do it:

– Grip the EZ bar on the inner grips using an overhand grip and extend your arms straight up.

– Keeping your elbows fixed and tucked in, slowly lower the bar until it is about an inch from your forehead. Always keep your upper arms perpendicular to the floor.

– Slowly extend your arms back to the starting position without locking your elbows.

1. The Diamond Press-up

It doesn't get any more basic than this tricep exercise. The standard press-up is great for your chest and arms, but moving your hands closer together puts the emphasis squarely on your triceps. You're still going to get some work for your pecs with this variation, but your tris should really feel the burn by the time you're through.

How to do it:

– Lower yourself down into a standard plank or press-up position. Bring your hands close to each other at chest level, with your thumbs touching one another and your forefingers touching. Your spine should be straight, and your core and glutes should be squeezed tight.

– Lower yourself down to the floor. Pause, maintaining the squeeze in your core and glutes, then push back up to the original position by straightening your arms.

2. Bench Dip (Basic)

If you struggle with conventional dips, why not try the bench dip? Make sure you lower slowly, maximising your time under tension before explosively pushing back up. Once you're through, your triceps will be burning.

How to do it:

– Stand facing away from a bench, grab it with both hands at shoulder-width.

– Extend your legs out in front of you. Slowly lower your body by flexing at the elbows until your arm at forearm create a 90-degree angle.

– Using your triceps lift yourself back to the starting position.

3. Dumbbell Floor Press

This variation of a classic bench press favours the lockout portion of the lift, which recruits your triceps to an extreme degree. And since the load is distributed differently with a dumbbell than a barbell, your stabilising muscles have to work harder to keep the weight positioned correctly.

How to do it:

– Grab a dumbbell with each hand and lie with your back on the ground.

– Hold the dumbbells overhead and bend your arm to lower the kettlebells.

– Touch your elbows to the ground, pause, then press them back up.

4. The Classic Press-up

The old ones are the best ones. The traditional press-up works your chest, core and your triceps. The beauty with this move is that it can be performed anywhere. You can make it harder by wearing a weighted vest.

How to do it:

– Set up with your weight supported on your toes and hands beneath your shoulders, body straight. Take care to keep you core locked so a straight line forms between your head, glutes and heels.

– Lower your body until your chest is an inch from the ground then explosively drive up by fully extending your arms.

5. One Arm Kettlebell Floor Press

Using one arm at a time isolates the chest and triceps, ensuring the muscles are worked hard.

How to do it:

– Lie on the floor and hold a kettlebell in one hand, with your upper arm being supported by the floor.

– Extend your arm and press the kettlebell straight up toward the ceiling. That's one rep. Lower the kettlebell and repeat.

The Best Tricep Workouts

You didn't think we would give you the exercises without the workouts, right? Below are two of the best triceps workouts you can do either at home or in the gym.

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Dumbbell Triceps Extension Exercise Form Guide with Video & Pictures

Variation: Dumb-bell lying triceps extension

  • Sit down and stand dumbbell up on thigh.
  • Scoot butt to back of seat.
  • Kick dumbbell to shoulder by thrusting knee up.
  • Grip end of dumbbell with both hands; see example grips below:

First two shots: Me using regular adjustable dumbbells with standard plates.

Third shot: me using my (very awesome) Ironmaster adjustable dumbbells, which has square plates.

  • Extend elbows to raise dumbbell overhead, keeping elbows slightly bent.
  • Turn elbows in and make upper arms vertical (or as close to vertical as possible).
  • Keep your eyes looking forward.
  • Maintain a neutral lower back and extended thoracic spine (arched upper back).

2. Eccentric Repetition

  • Flex elbows to lower the dumbbell until elbows will bend no further.

4. Concentric Repetition

  • Extend elbows to lift dumbbell back into the starting position….Stop just short of locking your elbows.

5. Repeat

  • Repeat the dumbbell triceps extension motion for the desired number of repetitions.
  • The 8-15 rep range is best for this exercise, since its primary purpose is to build muscle.

Common Dumbbell Triceps Extension Errors to Avoid

Flaring elbowsKeep your elbows in, with triceps facing in front of you. Try to make your upper arms as close to vertical as possible (without straining your shoulder joints).
Using thoracic flexionThoracic flexion refers to crunching your abs, which brings your upper torso forward. In the context of the overhead triceps extension, this lends itself to cheating because it provides momentum to help lift the weight. So, make sure your thoracic spine (upper torso) is extended to keep your torso upright.

Dumbbell Triceps Extension Tips

  1. Keep your upper arms stationary so that only your forearms move during the lift. This focuses all of the attention on your triceps.
  2. Flex wrists at the bottom of the motion so that you can go through the full range of motion without obstruction (i.e. bumping the backrest or your back).
  3. Move your hips forward if you lack the flexibility to achieve vertical upper arms.

    This angles your torso back your upper arms are vertical. Just make sure you keep your lower back in a neutral position.

Is This Exercise Right for You?

This exercise can be a great tool for weight lifters.

It is best for intermediate and advanced lifters who want to build bigger triceps.

For beginners, this exercise is only appropriate as a “fun” exercise that serves only to make workouts more enjoyable…

…But it should only be done for a few sets at the end of a workout. Major lifts the bench press and the overhead press hit the triceps plenty hard.

You should think about avoiding this exercise if you have elbow or shoulder issues.


Dumbbell Lying Extensions

Variation: Dumb-bell lying triceps extension

A lying dumbbell triceps extension is a resistance exercise, which involves the primary elbow extensor, the triceps brachii. This exercise is performed with two dumbbells.

The concentric portion of the lift is elbow extension, which involves the lifting of the weight. The eccentric portion is elbow flexion, which involves the descent of the weight.

The purpose of the lying dumbell triceps extension is to strengthen the triceps while promoting hypertrophy (increases in size) of triceps.

Lying dumbbell triceps extensions provide a variation in exercises that activate the triceps brachii. It is also a variation of the seated and standing overhead extension exercises.

Lying dumbbell triceps extensions allow the lifter to perform the exercise with stricter technique, isolating elbow extension more effectively compared to the standing variation. Performing lying triceps extensions places emphasis on the long head of the triceps.

The long head of the triceps is the only one of the three triceps heads that crosses the shoulder joint, attaching at the scapula. Therefore, performing elbow extensions with arms positioned slightly behind shoulder level, places greater stress on the long head.

The long head of the triceps makes up the top and inner portions of the “horseshoe”. Lying dumbbell triceps extensions strengthen and increase the size of the triceps brachii. They also serve as an auxiliary exercise that can increase strength involved in other multi-joint exercises.

The triceps brachii is located on the back of the upper arm, originating at the shoulder and inserting in the elbow joint. It consists of three heads, the long, medial and lateral head. The medial head lies beneath the long and lateral head. The long head origin is located at the infraglenoid tubercle of the scapula (shoulder blade).

The original of the lateral head is located at the posterior shaft of the humerus. The medial head origin is located at the radial groove of the posterior humeral shaft. The long and lateral heads make up the “horseshoe” portion of the triceps. All three heads merge, sharing insertion into the olecranon process of the ulna, located at the elbow joint.

The triceps brachii extend the elbow joint. The long head assists in arm adduction. The anconeus is a short, triangular muscle located at the elbow joint. Its origin is located at the lateral epicondyle of the humerus, inserting at the lateral aspect of the olecranon process of the ulna.

The positioning of the shoulders in a flexed position requires the deltoids and rotator cuff muscles to ensure stability of the joint capsule throughout the movement.

Lying EZ bar triceps extensions, Lying barbell triceps extensions, seated overhead extensions, standing overhead extensions.

Tilting the arms backwards, just behind shoulder level, at the starting position allows the lifter to fully contract the triceps with elbow extension. Therefore, the tension is increased, maximizing the contraction.

Otherwise, if the starting position is at shoulder level, the triceps are not working against gravity when nearing full elbow extension on the concentric portion of the lift. Focus on the concentric portion of the contraction, concentrating on “squeezing” at the end of the flexing portion.

Emphasis on eccentric contractions, prolonging the eccentric portion of the contraction, may also be incorporated in a training program focused on increasing strength.

This should be implemented accordingly and with adequate muscle recovery as eccentric contractions cause substantial damage to muscle tissue. Strategically vary your overhead extension grip width and angles (e.g. seated, standing) to improve your overall triceps exercise performance.

It’s important to note that your repetition and set volume will depend on your goals (e.g. strength, hypertrophy, muscular endurance). It is also important to allow adequate recovery days in between triceps and chest training to allow muscles to repair.

Placing dumbbells too close together (i.e. narrower than shoulder width) does not enhance triceps activation and can also stress the shoulders. A shoulder width grip is appropriate for optimal triceps activation.

Bouncing the dumbbells at the bottom of the movement before the upward phase can result in elbow, triceps and/or shoulder injury. Therefore, it is important to control the downward and upward phases of the exercise.

Flaring your elbows out to the side can minimize triceps activation. Keep elbows tucked in to maximize triceps contraction.

If proper technique is not adhered to (e.g. arching of the back, dropping the weight quickly instead of controlling the descent on the eccentric portion of the lift, lifting a load too heavy for the lifter), the lihood of injury increases.

Although rare, triceps tendon rupture and/or injury to rotator cuff muscles may occur if warm-up is not sufficient and/or if intensity (load) is increased inappropriately. Lowering the dumbbells too far and/or positioning the upper arms too far back should be avoided as it results in excessive shoulder flexion, which can place great stress on the overall joint.

If proper technique and recovery are not adhered to, injuries such as impingement syndrome, rotator cuff injuries, and glenoid labrum tears may result.


Extension Movements – Mi40 Nation – Ben Pakulski

Variation: Dumb-bell lying triceps extension

E.Z Bar version depicted

    Exercise Specific:

  • if using a bar, choose an overhand grip (palms facing forward at the top)
  • if using a dumbbell, keep hands neutral (palms facing)
  • take a hand position that keeps wrists, forearms and shoulders inline
  • (start position) extend / bring arms out in front to just short of perpendicular to the ground (to keep constant tension on the triceps)
  • keeping elbows high (shoving them towards each other throughout), bend them to bring the bar right the way down to the hairline at the bottom (or if using dumbbells, to the top of the shoulders)
  • think about creating an arc on the way up and down squeezing hard at both extremes
  • when using a bar, to extend the set if necessary, from the bottom position bring the bar to the chest and then press it up (using the triceps); from here, move the arms back slightly until reaching the start position (the exercise is thus turned into a ‘California Press’.

Incline Triceps Dumbbell Extension Variation

    Exercise Specific:

  • begin with arms straight up and ends of the DB’s pushed together (palms facing forward)
  • keep elbows up high / back throughout (as much as the below movement will allow)
  • keeping dumbbells in constant contact, rotate hands inwards and down so the dumbbells end in front of the chin at the bottom resting ‘momentarily’ on the chest
  • push palms into the ends of the dumbbells to squeeze back up.

One-Arm Overhead Dumbbell Extensions

Can be done seated to help minimize extraneous movement / back arch

    Exercise Specific:

  • support dumbbell behind the head with hands directly underneath the weight plate
  • keep elbows ‘in’ a little and squeeze them towards each other throughout.

Side-Supported One-Arm Overhead Extension

    Exercise Specific:

  • sit sideways on the incline bench, leaning against it, with dumbbell in the hand furthest away from the bench
  • bring the arm directly above the torso and the elbow as close to the head as possible
  • keeping the elbow fixed and arm rigid, lower / raise the dumbbell behind the head.

Standing Overhead Cable / Rope Extensions

    Exercise Specific:

  • angle of cable is variable
  • pronate wrists at the top
  • elbows ‘in’ a little and squeeze them towards each other throughout.

High Cable Forward Leaning Overhead Cable / Rope Extensions

    Exercise Specific:

  • bend forward from the hips, arms outstretched; pronate at the top.

Cross Cable Tricep Extensions

    Exercise Specific:

  • choose a more narrow apparatus if possible, if not, take several good strides forward if apparatus allows
  • remove handles, hold opposite cable with opposite hand
  • stand central facing the apparatus (cables high)
  • begin with hands together, shoulders back, elbows back
  • finish the movement behind the body ideally.

Straight-Arm Cable Tricep Extensions

    Exercise Specific:

  • choose a more narrow apparatus if possible, if not, take several good strides forward if apparatus allows
  • remove handles, hold opposite cable with opposite hand
  • stand central facing the apparatus (cables high)
  • begin with hands together, shoulders back, elbows back
  • finish the movement behind the body ideally.
  • keep arms completely straight and triceps / elbows locked-out
  • extend the arms behind the torso as far as possible (maintaining lock-out; ensure to ‘re-lock’ the elbow at the top when beginning each rep)
  • contract hard and pull through, don’t explode back (acceptable if close to goal reps and unable to further complete a full range).

One-Arm Cross Cable Extension with Elbow back

    Exercise Specific:

  • high cable, approx. 60º angle from apparatus to hand
  • with elbow bent, pulled back, and in at the side, hold the cable in front of the body with a neutral-grip (bicep should be contracted against the forearm)
  • straighten arm to ‘full’ extension using the triceps, return, repeat.

One-Arm Cable Extensions

    Exercise Specific:

  • position cable to between head and shoulder height and stand sideways on next to it
  • remove handle if more comfortable
  • bring the arm being worked (arm furthest from the cable) up as close to vertical as possible (ly 60º approx. from shoulder to elbow) and place opposite hand on apparatus for stability if necessary (as depicted)
  • keeping the upper arm in position throughout, lower / extend the arm behind the head.

Dumbbell Tricep Kicks-Backs

‘Supported’ variation lying prone on incline bench

    Exercise Specific:

  • if standing, bend over to about 90º, chest up, bend knees slightly
  • if performing ‘prone’ on an incline bench, drive chest into the pad
  • retract shoulders and bring elbows behind, as high as possible, while pulling them inwards (attempt to maintain this elbow position throughout)
  • bring forearms right the way to the biceps at the top
  • reach for the ceiling / wall at the back, pausing briefly once full extension has been achieved (squeeze the triceps hard).

Rolling Extensions

The ‘transitional’ roll portion of the movement

    Exercise Specific:

  • combination of a ‘close-grip dumbbell press’ and a ‘lying (dumbbell) extension’
  • Step 1: Starting from the top with a neutral-grip (palms facing), lower the dumbbells per a ‘close-grip dumbbell press’ (keeping tension on the triceps, not the chest)
  • Step 2: from here, transition the exercise into a ‘lying (dumbbell) extension’ by rolling the elbows up and back, and as high and as far as possible (so that the final position is that of the bottom of a ‘lying (dumbbell) extension’
  • Step 3: extend the elbows to return the dumbbells to the start position.