Barbell Lying Triceps Extension

Exercise Name:
Name: Barbell Lying Triceps Extension
Also Called: Lying French Press
Muscles Worked:
Primary: Triceps
Secondary: None
Function: Strength
Mechanics: Isolation
Force: Push
Main: EZ Curl Barbell
Ancillary: Weight Bench
Optional: None
Experience: Beginner
Rep Range: 8-15
Training Tempo: 2 – 0 – 1 – 0
Related Exercises:
Variations: Skullcrushers, Dumbbell Lying Triceps Extension, Overhead Triceps Extension
Alternatives: Triceps Kickback, Triceps Pushdown, Close Grip Bench Press, Diamond Push Up, Triceps Dip

Instructions with Pictures

Note: Pictures coming soon!

1. Starting Position

  • Grab an EZ curl barbell with a narrow, overhand grip.
  • Lie down on a bench with the bar against your chest.
  • Slide the back of your skull over the bench’s edge.
  • Plant feet on the floor, a comfortable distance apart.
  • Press the bar up and position it above your eyes.
  • Retract scapulae to stabilize and protect the shoulders.
  • Keep a neutral spine for the duration of the exercise.

2. Eccentric Repetition

  • Flex elbows to lower the bar down and back.
  • Move upper arms back just enough for the bar to safely pass your head.
  • Lower the bar until it is just under your head.

3. Midpoint

  • Don’t pause before transitioning into the concentric repetition.

4. Concentric Repetition

  • Move upper arms forward as far as is needed to safely bring the bar past your head.
  • Extend elbows to push the bar up and forward.
  • Extend arms until you reach the starting position.

5. Repeat

  • Repeat the motion for however many repetitions remain in the set.
  • I recommend anything within the 8-15 rep range on the lying triceps extension.

Common Lying Triceps Extension Errors to Avoid

Mistake: Solution:
Elbows flared Rotate your arms inward at the starting position. However, your arms must necessarily rotate outward when lowering the bar past your head. So, you must remember to rotate them inward again on the concentric rep, after lifting the bar past your head.
Lowering bar too far Lower the bar to the bottom of your head; no further. Slow down as you approach this point. There’s no extra benefit from going beyond this point. In fact, you actually risk shoulder injury by doing so.

Lying Triceps Extension Tips

  1. Is your grip position correct? Your hands should be on the inner grips, as indicated below.
    EZ Bar Triceps Grip
  2. Are you lifting heavy and having trouble getting into the starting position? Try the methods listed below.
    • Have a spotter hand you the bar. While this is the easiest solution, it obviously isn’t possible if you workout alone.
    • Elevate the bar onto step platforms, behind you. You should be able to reach back, grab the bar and do the motion with full range of motion.
    • Put the bench in front of a power rack, placing the bar on the rack at the appropriate height setting.
  3. Put your feet up on the bench. This minimizes lower back arching and leg drive. Ultimately, it works your triceps better. However, if you lift a heavy enough load, you’ll have to put your feet down for balance and to avoid sliding off.
  4. You can use a straight barbell if you don’t have access to an EZ curl bar. While the EZ bar is superior, a straight bar can get the job done in a pinch.

Is This Exercise Right for You?

Beginner, intermediate and advanced weight lifters can all do this exercises…

…That said, it’s better for experienced lifters than for beginners.

If you’re a beginner, you should only be doing one triceps exercise, max. Choose this one if you’d like, my personal advice is to do dips or close grip bench press instead.

This exercise is best if you’re an experienced lifter who wants to build bigger triceps. And, you can and should do other triceps exercises with it.

Consider avoiding the lying triceps extension under the following circumstances.

  • If you have elbow tendonitis, try dips instead. Remedy the tendonitis with a joint supplement, fish oil and more rest. If that fails, take 2-4 weeks off from training.
  • If you have very poor shoulder mobility. Try triceps pushdowns instead. Also, do shoulder dislocations and scapular wall slides to improve mobility.
  • If your main goal is stronger triceps. You’ll strengthen your triceps much faster with a compound movement like rack lockouts.

About the Author Alex

Hey! My name is Alex, and I'm the owner and author of King of the Gym. I started this website back in late 2009 during college, and it has been my pet project ever since. My goal is to help you learn proper weight training and nutrition principles so that you can get strong and build the physique of your dreams!

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