Tricep Extension

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The Tricep Extension

What is the tricep extension?

The tricep extension is an exercise in which you lower and raise a dumbbell behind your head in an upwards movement by bending and straightening your arm. 

Which muscles does the tricep extension use?

Mainly the tricep muscles, also the shoulder, upper chest and back.

The tricep is the opposite muscle to the bicep. So when you bend your arm up towards your chest you use the bicep; when you push the arm down you use the tricep. By putting your arm over your head so your elbow is in line with your eyes, and your arm bent behind you, the extension pushes your arm out to work the tricep muscle.

Benefits of the tricep extension

This is a great workout for your triceps, the back of your upper arm. This will strengthen and tone the arm. The tricep extension is a great exercise to do to alongside the bicep curl, to balance out the muscle development of the biceps and create a stronger arm. 

Preparing for the tricep extension

Position one dumbbell overhead with both hands grasping the bar beside the inner plate. This is called the heart shaped grip. The barbell should be pointing straight down the back of your head to start. 

You may find it easiest to get into this position by lifting the dumbbell onto your thigh then raising your thigh, bringing the weight up, using your arms to hoist the weight up onto your shoulder, then using both arms to bring it up behind your head.

Performing the tricep extension

By bending your elbows, lower your forearms behind your upper arms. The dumbbell will lower in a vertical position straight down behind the centre of your neck and upper back. When you reach full bend, use the triceps to pull the dumbbell back up. Keep a steady and controlled motion throughout.

Be careful not to hit the back of you neck or head when you raise the barbell. You can avoid this by moving your head slightly forward or tilting your wrists forward. Raise the dumbbell high over the head by straightening out elbows. 

Finish by bringing the dumbbell back to your shoulder then onto the thigh and down, in the opposite movement used to get into position.  

Variations of the tricep extension

You might want to use two lighter dumbbells, one in each hand, and move both arms one at a time or both together.

Tips for performing the tricep extension

Allow the dumbbell to bring the arms right back

Use a seat with a low back to help to isolate the tricep muscle and minimise back involvement.

Banish Bingo Wings!

The back of the upper arm is a notorious area that many women worry about. The triceps are often under-used in everyday life and can develop a sagging appearance as we age. Tricep extensions can prevent this happening and when performed regularly can banish any signs of the dreaded 'bingo wings'!  





Bench press

Shoulder press

Bicep curl

Tricep extension


Chin ups and pull ups

Power lifting

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