The dumbbell lying triceps extension is one of those exercises that you just need to have in your arm training regime if you plan to maximize your arm development.
Sure there are other triceps extension variations (and they are all great too), but there are several reasons why we recommend this one.
Firstly, dumbbells help to develop stabilizers better than barbells and other types of weights, Secondly, your wrists can move without being in a restricted position. Thirdly, it’s much easier to transport and transition using dumbbells. Lastly, you can train using one arm at a time, which helps to maintain and correct strength imbalances.
There are probably more reasons to do this variation but you get the idea. Now can we talk about building big, strong triceps? Great!
In this guide, we’ve explained how to do this exercise with tips, variations, and the best way to include it in your triceps routine.
In This Exercise:
- Target Muscle Group: Triceps brachii
- Type: Hypertrophy, strength
- Mechanics: Isolation
- Equipment: Dumbbell/s
- Difficulty: Beginner/intermediate
This one is easy since it’s an isolation exercise and we already know that the dumbbell lying TRICEPS extension works the triceps. But we’ve provided a little about the anatomy so you can have a better idea of the muscle you’re trying to develop.
As the name suggests, the triceps is considered a three-headed muscle that consists of a lateral, medial, and long head, that when visible, usually creates a horseshoe-like appearance.
Each head has a different origin but all attach distally to form a single tendon. The triceps muscles are primarily responsible for extending the elbow.
The lateral head is on the outer side of the upper arm and is usually the strongest out of the three triceps heads. It also, when well-developed contributes to the appearance of the upper arm having more width.
The medial head is located between the lateral and long head and isn’t typically as visible as the other two heads. Although, it still contributes to size.
The long head has its origins at the scapula and therefore, unlike the medial head, not only helps to extend the elbow but also has minor action at the shoulder joint (extension) as well. It also helps to adduct (bring arm toward the centerline of the body) the arm and prevent displacement of the humerus or upper arm bone.
How To Do The Dumbbell Lying Triceps Extension
Keep in mind, not everyone does this variation exactly the same. Does that one mean one person is right doing it one way and something is wrong, doing it another? Not necessarily. But we can only recommend doing it how we think is ideal.
Here are step-by-step instructions for this awesome exercise. Note: you can do this lying on a bench (most ideal) but you can also do it lying on any object or surface.
- Grab two dumbbells and lie on a bench, on the floor, or anywhere that you can lie down on your back.
- Press the dumbbells up over your head and turn your wrists as if you were using a hammer (neutral grip). Your arms should be vertical to the floor or positioned slightly behind your head.
- Bend your elbows and lower the dumbbells beside or down past your head while keeping your upper arms mostly stationary.
- Extend your arms and flex your triceps so that your arms are back to the starting position.
Here’s a video example…
Dumbbell lying triceps extension tips
- Never ever use maximum poundages for this exercise. You’d be asking for pain and problems.
- We recommend warming up with a different triceps exercise or push-ups to get the elbows warm before extensions that can sometimes cause a lot of stress and pain in the elbows.
- If you’re a beginner, take your time progressing with this movement and start light. Get your form down and gauge your elbow health before moving up in weight.
- Use lighter to medium and medium-heavy weights and aim for at least 7-8 reps at the minimum.
- You can move your upper arms farther behind your head to ensure you get a deeper stretch in the triceps.
- The stretch during this movement is one of its advantages for overloading the triceps muscles.
There are literally so many different variations of the triceps extension. However, we chose four that we most recommend for blowing up those tris!
1. Single-arm dumbbell lying triceps extension
The advantage of doing the single-arm variation is that you can bring up a weak side by doing additional reps and it’s easier to improve your form because you can focus more on one arm.
Not to mention, it helps to develop and improve total-body stabilization and balance.
2. Barbell lying triceps extension
You could also use a barbell for this movement. Now, the advantage of this variation is that you can use more weight without having to stabilize and balance as much compared to if you were using dumbbells.
We’re not suggesting you use maximum poundages in the 1-5 rep range. But you can typically use more weight which helps with building strength and muscle size.
3. Seated, standing, decline or incline dumbbell lying triceps extension
We kind of piled a few variations into one but they are rather similar. Plus, you’re more likely to get a more pronounced stretch in the muscles using either of these variations.
Many actually prefer either one for this reason. But, feel free to change up your positions to your liking!
4. Machine triceps extension
There are some really amazing machines now and you might even use one or two at your gym. But you can use any machine as long as it works for you.
How To Include The Dumbbell Lying Triceps Extension Into Your Training Routine
The triceps extension is used alongside other common exercises because it offers something that they don’t. That’s the great stretch/arm position.
if you notice, the arms are placed in a different position compared to dips, the close-grip bench press, pushdowns, etc. This has its advantages.
So make sure to include one extension variation, although we certainly think you need to include the dumbbell variation talked about in this guide.
We recommend anywhere from 2-4 sets of a 7-25+ reps range. This ensures you’re challenging the muscles but are not going too heavy or light.
You definitely want to push yourself but make sure to keep the elbows safe and healthy.
So, do this exercise alongside your dips, pushdowns, close-grip bench press, bodyweight presses, etc. Use supersets and drop sets too if you really want to pump up your guns and add more size!
Check out this article: Amazing Supersets For Bigger, Stronger Biceps and Triceps
We hope you liked this guide on the dumbbell lying triceps extension. You’ll get an amazing arm workout using this variation and you’ll know it because you’ll probably feel it the next day too.
We highly recommend it and remember, you can mix things up by using the other exercises mentioned in this article as well. Just make sure you do include a triceps extension for maximum returns!
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