How to Do the Dumbbell Lying Triceps Extension

How to Do the Dumbbell Lying Triceps Extension

When it comes to sculpting stronger arms, biceps get most of the attention, but your biceps only comprise one-third of your upper-arm musculature. The other two-thirds are comprised by the lobster-claw shaped muscles on the other side — your triceps — and few exercises target them more effectively than the dumbbell lying triceps extension. Here’s how to do it.  


Dumbbell Lying Triceps Extension: Step By Step Instructions

Appears in: Body Beast >> Chest/Tris

  • Lie face up on a bench with your feet flat on the floor, and hold a pair of dumbbells above your chest with your arms straight and your palms facing each other.
  • Without moving your upper arms, bend your elbows and lower the dumbbells to the sides of your head until your forearms dip below parallel to the floor.
  • Pause, and then return to the starting position.


Muscles Targeted by the Dumbbell Lying Triceps Extension

triceps anatomy | arm muscles

The lying triceps extension is an isolation exercise, as opposed to a compound movement; that means it targets just one muscle group or muscle (the triceps, natch) across a single joint. The triceps muscle is so called because it’s comprised of three heads — the long, lateral, and medial — which straighten the elbow.


How to Make the Dumbbell Lying Triceps Extension Harder

Obviously, you can progress the move by using heavier weights, but you can also make it more challenging by alternating your grip every three reps. If you’re doing a 10-rep set:

  • Perform your first 3 reps with your palms facing each other (i.e., neutral grip)
  • Then do 3 reps with your palms facing backward (i.e., underhand grip)
  • And finish by doing 4 reps with your hands facing forward (i.e., overhand grip)

By following this strategy, you’ll make sure that all three “heads” of your triceps receive equal attention.


Bonus Tips for Doing the Dumbbell Lying Triceps Extension

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Go slowly, maintain control, and use a lighter weight than you think you can handle — especially if you decide to try the more challenging alternating-grip variation described above. Also, keep your upper arms locked in place. If you move them as you lower the weights, you’ll shift some of the work away from your triceps, reducing the effectiveness of the exercise.  


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