Seated Dumbbell Triceps Extension

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Seated Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Extension

In this post you will find complete step-by-step instructions on how to perform seated dumbbell triceps extension safely and effectively to achieve maximum results from this great triceps exercise.

The vertical position of the arm strongly stretches the long head of the triceps brachii, emphasizing the contraction while working. The exercise can also be performed in a standing position. Seated is preferable to standing for those with lower back problems. Performing this exercise while seated stabilizes the back and reduces the risk of strain. You can perform seated dumbbell triceps extension either while seated on a flat bench or while seated on a bench with support for the low back. Both versions of this exercise (standing and seated on a flat bench) require more balance and core strength.

Seated Dumbbell Triceps Extension Exercise Instructions

EXERCISE SETUP (STARTING POSITION): Sit on a low-back chair and hoist a relatively heavy dumbbell overhead, holding it with both hands, palms cupped against the upper inside plates. In other words, hold the dumbbell with your thumbs around the bar and the weight resting on your palms.

Seated Dumbbell Triceps Overhead Extension Exercise

Seated Dumbbell Triceps Overhead Extension Exercise

EXERCISE TECHNIQUE (EXECUTION): Using a slow, continuous motion, keeping your upper arms right beside your head (without letting them flare out too much), lower the dumbbell behind your head (until your elbows reach jut past 90 degrees), then lift it back to full extension.

Muscles Involved in Seated Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Extension

The overhead dumbbell extension focuses on the middle and inner heads of the triceps muscles.

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

Exercise Key Points & Common Mistakes

  • Contract the abdominal core to prevent arching the low back.
  • Keep your upper arms parallel to each other and perpendicular to the floor.
  • Always keep your elbows close to your head (don’t let your elbows flare out to the sides) and your upper arms stationary.
  • Keep your upper arms vertical so your elbows point directly overhead at all times. This will ensure the focus is kept on the triceps and does not involve the shoulders.
  • Maintain your erect torso position; do not lean back or lift off the bench as you extend your elbows.
  • If possible use a bench with support for the low back.
  • Breathe in as you lower the dumbbell and out as you raise it.
  • Common mistakes: moving your elbows to gain momentum each time you raise the dumbbell, doing the exercise on a bench that prevents you from lowering the weight far enough without hitting the back support, opening your elbows too far, and arching your back.

Exercise Variations

  • Standing Dumbbell Triceps Extension (Two-Arms / Single-Arm). If you do this exercise standing with a heavy weight, you will need to put one foot forward and lift the dumbbell in three stages: first, place the dumbbell on your thigh and lift it to your shoulder with the help of a push from the leg; second, place your hands in the position described; and third, lift it up in a final movement. If you are training alone (help is recommended), you should put the weight down in the same way. This should be taken into account to avoid accident or injury.
Standing Dumbbell Triceps Extension

Standing Dumbbell Triceps Extension

  • One-Arm Seated Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Extension. Perform this exercise one arm at a time with a dumbbell that’s about half the weight of the two-arm version. Place your nonworking hand on your hip and continue to lower the dumbbell behind your head but toward the opposite shoulder. Because less weight is used, you are less likely to suffer any injury, provided your technique is good. There is no difference in the work done by the muscles.
One-Arm Seated Dumbbell Triceps Extension

One-Arm Seated Dumbbell Triceps Extension

  • Seated E-Z bar overhead triceps extension. You use an E-Z or straight bar instead in which case you will be holding the bar from the inside (around 5 inches between both hands) with the palms facing forward (pronated grip).

Replacement Exercises

Replacement exercise for the seated dumbbell triceps extension can be found in our big triceps exercise database.

Closing Thoughts

Seated dumbbell triceps extension strongly targets your triceps, which constitute most of the mass of your upper arm. Performed standing rather than seated, this movement also engages your core muscles, providing the added benefit of building trunk strength.

This is definitely the best exercise to use if you want to work the long head od the triceps.

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