Overhead Triceps Extension: The Key to Bigger Arms

Look around the gym-goers around you next time you’re in the weights room. You’ll almost certainly spot one or two of them performing Biceps Curls, or another specific biceps exercise that’s laser-focused. It’s rarer to notice someone paying similar focus on their triceps, which is unfortunate – since if you’re trying to build arm muscles that are bursting with sleeve and a big triceps, you’ll need an at the same time, and if not more than expanding biceps.

Many exercises for the triceps, like bench press, are designed to work the triceps muscles as an additional muscle. However, the overhead triceps extension puts them at the forefront of attention. Because of the increased focus on triceps and attention, you will notice that your triceps become stronger rapidly.

The overhead triceps extension can be done while sitting, standing, or lying down, either on a flat surface or on an incline or decline. It’s also possible to perform it using various types of weights, such as barbells or an EZ-bar; however, the benefit of using a dumbbell for every hand is that you’ll be able to identify and address any imbalances in your arm strength. Be careful not to overdo the exercise with the weight because it is essential to perform all of the exercises to build the triceps properly. Struggling with a dumbbell that is too heavy could hinder the form.

The Overhead Triceps Extension

The overhead triceps extension, also known as the triceps press, is a simple but effective exercise that helps develop the strength of the triceps. The triceps muscles play an important function in the strength of your upper body.

Suppose you’re interested in getting serious strength into your arms and upper back. In that case, the overhead triceps extension is the right one for you!

The Overhead Triceps Extension: Working Muscles

The Overhead Triceps Extension Working Muscles

Primary Muscle Group:

As you could have imagined, the overhead triceps extension is primarily focused on the triceps muscle. The muscles comprise 3 “heads:” the long medial, lateral and long head, according to their name.

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The overhead triceps extension targets across all three heads. The exercise specifically is targeted at the long head of the triceps.

Secondary Muscle Groups

While your triceps are the ones that receive the majority of the strain in the exercise but your shoulders have another role. Your deltoids are contracted and shrink when your muscle fibers are activated as you complete every repetition.

The exercise also stretches the core muscles. While you sit with an object above your head, your abdominal muscles get activated to help stabilize the movement. This static or isometric contraction is another advantage of the overhead triceps extension.

You can also release your core by doing the overhead triceps extension.

The Overhead Triceps Extension: Benefits

#1 Strength Gains

The most significant benefit of the overhead triceps extension is the increase in the strength of the triceps, which is a result of the movement. Contrary to other exercises for triceps, the overhead triceps extension activate every tricep’s head, meaning that your whole triceps will get stronger during the exercise.

You may want larger arms, do better in your sport, or increase your upper-body strength. The overhead triceps extension is an excellent exercise that can assist you in achieving your goals.

#2 Minimal Stress On The Wrists

Suppose you are suffering from wrist pain or discomfort and pain. In that case, the overhead triceps extension is perfect for those with wrist pains or discomfort. In this movement, your wrists stay in the same position, and little strain is put on them.

#3 Improved Posture

Since you’re standing while performing the overhead triceps extension and your core muscles contract to assist your back and spine. This exercise helps you maintain a correct posture, including a straight back, tense muscles, and elevated shoulders.

To attain an entire range of motion, even seated, you have to keep your posture in a good place.

The Overhead Triceps Extension: Instructions


For this workout, you’ll need two heavier or lighter dumbbells. Continue reading for variations of the barbell and rope!


  • Assume a standing position, with your feet approximately shoulders apart.
  • If you are using a dumbbell, slowly raise it over your head. If the weight is too heavy, you can choose to place it on your shoulders before lifting it upwards.
  • Form an equilateral diamond with your hands to hold the dumbbell correctly. Then, grasp the dumbbell using your palms facing up. The weight should be placed on your hands. If you have two dumbbells, grab each with the shaft as you would with any other exercise.
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  1. While keeping your elbows folded into your shoulders and your arms close to the top of your head. Gradually decrease weight until your forearms and elbows form 90 degrees. Make sure your upper arms remain still, and let your forearms move freely.
  2. Then, use your triceps muscles to pull the dumbbells upwards, orderly, to return to the position from which they started.


For the beginning, pick the smallest weight you can to perform this exercise. Instead of trying to lift a hundred-pound dumbbell, you should focus on the most effective duration of tension on the triceps muscles. Perform 3-4 sets of 10 to 15 repetitions during the overhead triceps extension.

The Overhead Triceps Extension: Mistakes

The Overhead Triceps Extension Mistakes

#1 Reaching The Back Lower

Many weightlifters turn their lower backs inwards while performing the overhead triceps extension, particularly when using large weights. This puts a lot of stress on the spine and results in injuries.

To avoid this mistake To correct this mistake, you should feel like you’re tucking your tailbone under your body. Maintain your glutes and abs firm during each repetition to ensure proper form.

#2 Improper Range Of Motion

Often, I find people in the gym doing the overhead triceps extension. At the same time, their heavy dumbbell moves around six inches upwards and downwards. This is not a correct repetition. It is a sign that you have done the full rep when your forearms are touching your biceps as you go down.

The weight can be pushed to the side once more, only once you are at that point.

#3 Elbows Shifting Inwards

Many people make the mistake of letting their elbows extend outwards during the overhead triceps extension. This causes unnecessary stress to the shoulders and takes any tension in the triceps. Instead, hold your elbows in place to get the greatest benefits of this exercise.

The Overhead Triceps Extension: Variations

#1 Kettlebell Overhead Extension

A kettlebell is a different option for the overhead triceps extension. It also provides wider flexibility over the overhead extension of dumbbells.

#2 Barbell Overhead Extension

Barbells are a reliable free-weight variant of the overhead triceps extension. Whichever variant you decide to do, it is essential to try various apparatus.

You’ll determine what will allow you to achieve the greatest success in your fitness goals through trial and error.

#3 Cable Overhead Extension

This is one of my favorites. After each rep, raise your arms straight, then pull the rope to one side. You’ll feel a huge pain in your triceps!

The Overhead Triceps Extension: Alternatives

If you’ve enjoyed this overhead extension of the triceps, go through these triceps exercises to enhance the upper body workout:

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#1 Alternating Triceps Pushdown

When you stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, you can face the pulley machine or resistance band using the handles set at chest level.

Take the handles and place your palms facing downwards.

With your elbows pulled close to your sides, contract one tricep and bring the handle back to extend your arms fully.

Stop at the end of the repetition, and then flex your triceps for a maximum contract.

Release the handle slowly and then return it to the initial position. Repeat the process on the opposite arm and continue to alternate!

#2 Dumbbell Skull Crushers

Place your body on a flat bench, with your feet firmly planted on the ground.

Lift the dumbbells up above your chest, with your palms facing one another, and then engage your core.

While your elbows are stable, gradually bend your elbows to bring the dumbbells near your ears.

Then, contract your triceps and lift your arms back to the straight position at the top.

Repeat this exercise for your desired number of repetitions.

#3 Triangle Push Up

Put your fingers on the floor to ensure that your index and thumbs are touching each other to create an equilateral triangle.

Straighten your legs back, keeping your feet close to each other. Spread your arms out and ensure that the back of your body is in a straight line.

Lower your chest while bending your elbows until your chest almost gets to the floor. After that, tighten your chest and triceps muscles to raise your chest back to the starting point. Repeat!


  • Timothy P. Carnes

    Timothy P. Carnes is a certified personal trainer with a Bachelor's degree in Exercise Science from the University of Florida. With over 8 years of experience in the fitness industry, Timothy is an expert in strength and conditioning, body composition, and overall health and wellness. He also holds certifications in strength and conditioning through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and corrective exercise through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). As an author at FitGAG, he shares his knowledge and expertise on a variety of topics, including strength training, body composition, and overall health and wellness tips. Timothy believes that consistency and discipline are the keys to achieving fitness goals, and he strives to inspire his readers to prioritize their fitness and wellness journey. Through his articles, Timothy aims to empower his readers to take control of their health, enhance their performance, and live their best lives.

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