How to Do a Triceps Extension

Triceps extensions are a simple yet very effective exercise for working these muscles of the upper arms. While the movement targets long, medial and lateral heads of the triceps, the maneuver specifically hits the long head.

When standing, the core and glutes are activated as stabilizers, making this an even more beneficial exercise. Very little equipment is needed to complete the exercise properly: weights, kettle bells, a resistance band, or even a water jug is sufficient.

Working the triceps can help you to better perform everyday activities such as pushing heavy loads. The movement can also help to promote proper posture while standing or seated and lead to better overall upper body health.

How To

  • To perform a traditional triceps extension, begin by planting the feet firmly on the floor at about shoulder width apart. Carefully lift the dumbbell over your head and grasp it with both hands. The weight should rest in the palms of your hands with thumbs on either side of the weight.
  • Set your shoulder blades by drawing them together and down your back. Make sure your shoulders don’t come up during the exercise. Engage your core and glutes to help with stabilization when in a standing position.
  • While keeping your elbows and arms tucked in close to your head, slowly lower the weight down behind your head until your elbows are bent to about 90 degrees. Make sure to keep your upper arms still and allow your forearms to perform the movement.
  • To complete the exercise, press the weight back up to the starting position. You should feel your triceps activating as you push upward.


A good goal when starting out is to aim for three or four sets of 10–15 repetitions. Start with a lighter weight, and concentrate on elongating the time the muscles are under tension rather than trying to go with the heaviest weight you can lift.


Kettle bell extensions: Using a kettle bell allows for greater range of motion when performing the exercise.

Rope attachment: If you have access to a machine with a rope attachment, you can use it to get an extra hit to the triceps. When you are pushing back up, at the top of the extension, push the ropes apart and you will feel and extra burn in the triceps.

Resistance band: If you don’t have access to a gym or weights, you can easily use a resistance band. Stand on the middle of the band and pull the end up behind your head using the same grip you would with dumbbells. You may have to play around with where you grip the band to get the right tension.

Seated extensions: If you are unable to stand, or are looking to rest your lower body, performing triceps extensions while seated is just as affective. Just be mindful that you aren’t slouching, or arching your back.

Cautionary Notes

Try not to arch your lower back. This over stresses the spine and can lead to injury. If you find yourself constantly arching your back, try decreasing the amount of weight you are lifting. Keeping the abs and glutes engaged will also help to counteract this problem.

Be careful not to allow your elbows to flare out. When the elbows drift outward, it takes the stress off the triceps and places it on the shoulders. This lessens the benefit of the exercise and can lead to unnecessary stress on the shoulder joint.

If you have limited shoulder mobility, or are recovering from a shoulder injury, triceps extension should be avoided.

More Triceps Extension Related Resources

How to Tricep Extension | Dumbbell Tricep Exercises | PureGym
Dumbbell Triceps Extension | Illustrated Exercise Guide
How To Do An Overhead Dumbbell Triceps Extension | Coach
Cable Standing Triceps Extension – Exercise Database | Jefit – Best Android and iPhone Workout, Fitness, Exercise and Bodybuilding App | Best Workout Tracking Software
3 Easy Tricep Exercises You Can Do at Home to Say Goodbye to Batwings
Seated Dumbbell Triceps Extensions Exercise Demonstration | SparkPeople
How To Do A Triceps Extension – Overhead Triceps Extension Exercise
The 8 Most Effective Triceps Exercises
15 Best Triceps Workout Routines and Exercises for Bigger Arms

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