Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extension (Lying French Press)
Lying dumbbell triceps extension (double dumbbell lying triceps extension) works all three heads of the triceps brachii equally. Like the triceps bar exercise, this is a basic, heavy exercise for the triceps. It works the triceps from the elbow all the way to the latissimus dorsi. Due to its full use of the triceps muscle group, the lying triceps extensions are used by many bodybuilders as part of their training regimen. It usually causes less discomfort in the elbow and wrist joints, however, and the radius and ulna are positioned better. Never try to set the dumbbells on the floor while you are lying down.
How to Perform Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extension?
INITIAL (STARTING) POSITION: Grab a pair of dumbbells and lie face-up on a bench with your head, back, and buttocks in contact with the bench and your feet flat on the floor. Hold the dumbbells in a neutral grip above eye level with your elbows straight (your arms are extended toward the ceiling, the dumbbells over your face, and your palms facing each other).
EXERCISE EXECUTION (MOVEMENT): Keeping your upper arms stationary, lower the dumbbells toward the sides of your head until they are about level with your ears (your hands are near forehead level). Pause and squeeze the triceps. Then raise the dumbbells back to the starting position.
Exercise Key Points & Common Mistakes
- Keep your elbows in and your upper arms stationary (don’t let them flare out as you lower the dumbbells down).
- Look for your upper arms to remain motionless and your elbows pointing directly at the ceiling at all times during the exercise..
- Keep your head, back, and buttocks in contact with the bench and your feet flat on the floor.
- Lower the weights down past your ears. Try to keep your elbows from flaring out.
- Always make sure to move the dumbbells slowly from start to finish and squeeze the triceps muscles at the top of the movement to really feel the triceps working.
- Common mistakes: moving the elbows to get help from the chest and back muscles, not positioning the elbows vertically to counteract the effect of gravity, and opening your elbows too wide.
Muscles Involved in Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extension
Dumbbells provide a more comfortable (neutral) grip, with the radius and ulna positioned correctly. The muscle involvement is almost identical as in the lying E-Z bar triceps extension, although some studies have suggested that the lateral head works a little harder.
- Main muscles: triceps
- Secondary muscles: anconeus, chest, deltoid, forearm
- Antagonists: biceps brachii, brachialis, brachioradialis
- One-arm lying dumbbell triceps extension (single-arm dumbbell lying cross-shoulder triceps extension). This across-the-body movement resembles a military salute. Lie on a flat bench and hold a dumbbell in one hand, palm facing down (your feet). Extend your elbow so the dumbbell is straight up toward the ceiling. Without letting your upper arm move (it should continue pointing straight up), bend at the elbow to bring the dumbbell down across your body toward the opposite side of your chest (until the end touches your opposite shoulder). Stop your downward motion when your elbow reaches 90 degrees — don’t let the dumbbell touch down to your chest — and reverse to bring your arm back up into the start position. You can use the other hand to keep the weight-bearing arm steady by holding the biceps. Some people will experience less discomfort using this minor variant and holding on to your arm makes balance easier. Like all triceps exercises, the variant works all three heads, although it is usually recommended for the lateral head.
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, E-Z or straight bars, as well as the exercises that you can perform on pulley-machines.
- Seated dumbbell triceps extension
- E-Z bar lying triceps extension
- Incline E-Z bar lying triceps extension
- Cable lying triceps extension
- Seated E-Z bar overhead triceps extension
Lying dumbbell triceps extension has many advantages. As you can see in this post, if you use dumbbells, you can work bilaterally or unilaterally. Because you can position your hands freely, you can use a wide range of grips. Furthermore, in the lying position your back is well protected. This means that your form will be better then when doing standing or seated extensions. Because of the stretch, the long head of the triceps will work more.
Be careful not to hit your head or nose with the weight, especially when fatigue decreases your control over the trajectory. Also, when using heavy weights, this exercise can tear the triceps near the elbow, so you should stop the exercise if you feel any pain at all.