Dumbbell Triceps Extension Exercise Form Guide with Video & Pictures

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By Alex
Last updated on
Exercise NameDumbbell Triceps Extension
Also CalledOverhead Triceps Extension
Primary MusclesTriceps
Secondary MusclesChestForearmsShoulders
Required EquipmentDumbbell, Upright Weight Bench
Rep Range8-15
VariationsLying Triceps Extension, Unilateral Dumbbell Triceps Extension
AlternativesClose Grip Bench PressRack LockoutTriceps Dips, Triceps Kickback

Dumbbell Triceps Extension Instructions

Note: Pictures coming soon!

1. Starting Position

  • 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:

Dumbbell Triceps Extension Grip
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.

3. Midpoint

  • Don’t pause at the bottom of the motion.

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 like 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.

Alex from King of the Gym
Hey! My name is Alex and I'm the founder and author of King of the Gym. I've been lifting weights seriously since 2005 in high school when I started a home gym in my parents' basement. I started writing about fitness in 2009. Then, in 2014, I got into writing home gym equipment reviews and I haven't looked back. My current home gym is in my own house and it's constantly growing and evolving. My goal is to help you build the home gym of your dreams! Read more about me here.

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