Machine Triceps Extension Exercise Guide


Machine Triceps Extension

Most gyms have triceps machines, which are very similar to biceps machines. They typically have an adjustable seat about the height of a regular flat bench, and there may be a back to lean against. These machines vary widely in appearance but perform basically the same movement. They’re effective because they isolate the triceps, making it harder to cheat. They also provide continuous resistance as you raise and lower the weight. Furthermore, some triceps machines may have a back rest. This is very important. You will be able to perform the machine triceps extension with much more weight on a machine that have a back rest. Back rest will give you a great amount of support.

Machine Triceps Extension Exercise Instructions

STARTING POSITION (SETUP): Sit in the machine and align the seat so that your upper arms rest comfortably on the pad and are approximately parallel with the ground. Grasp the handles of the machine with your palms facing one another.

Machine Triceps Extension Exercise Guide

Machine Triceps Extension Exercise Guide

MOVEMENT (ACTION): Keeping your torso erect and elbows in, push the handles forward and down until your arms fully straighten. Contract your triceps. Reverse the direction and return to the start position. You should feel resistance through the entire movement.

Training Tips – Key Points to Remember

  • Adjust the seat so that the elbows are in line with the axis of rotation of the machine and the upper arms are fully on the pads. In other words, adjust the machine’s seat height so that your armpit is snug against the upper edge of the pad. Sit with the back firmly against the seat pad.
  • Keep your upper arms in contact with the pad at all times throughout the move. Otherwise, secondary muscles will take over the exercise.
  • Push the handles slowly forward until the arms are fully ex­tended. It is very important to keep the wrists straight. Allow the handles to return slowly to the starting position. No jerking, twisting, bouncing, or rapid acceleration.

Muscles Engaged

  • Main muscles: triceps
  • Secondary muscles: anconeus
  • Antagonists: biceps, brachialis, brachioradialis

Alternative Exercises – Substitutes for Machine Triceps Extension

There are various types of triceps extension movements. We’ll be taking a look at variations of triceps extensions that you can perform using dumbbells, EZ or straight bars, as well as the exercises that you can perform on pulley-machines.

Replacement Exercises

Take a look on our big tricep exercise database filled with detailed instructions, images and video.

Closing Thoughts

The machine triceps extension is an isolation (single joint) exercise for the triceps that allows you to build size and strength in the triceps. Machine triceps extensions are very effective because they isolate the triceps, making it harder to cheat. They also provide continuous resistance as you raise and lower the weight.

Therefore, it is a good alternative for triceps workouts, especially for beginners. It is also good for advanced athletes who want to vary their training routines, even though the triceps is not particularly strong with the shoulders flexed in this position. It provides a good workout for all three heads, however. Ideally, you should use a neutral/hammer grip.

Finally, as with the machine biceps curl, the most important aspect of performing the machine triceps extension is to position the elbows in line with the axis of rotation of the machine. After you accomplish this, use slow or moderate movement speeds to maximize the cam effect of the machine to match resistance force to muscle force throughout each repetition. A momentary pause in the fully contracted triceps position is highly recommended.


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