Triceps Extension: Define Your Arms
Triceps Extensions come in all forms: Cable, Dumbbell, Bent-over, Reverse Pressdowns, Over-head Pushes, or Machine Pressdowns. Yet, one thing remains the same: triceps extension is pivotal to defining the muscle in your arms. This is a great exercise because you can isolate just your triceps, and give them a good workout without worrying about the nearby muscles.
Define your arms through any of the various forms of triceps extension. The key is just to make sure you feel the push resistance in your triceps, not other muscles. This exercise is commonly knows as a Cable Triceps Pressdown. Triceps extension is similar to Skull Crushers, or Lying Triceps Extension.
- Main Muscle Used: Triceps
- Secondary Muscles: Forearms, Lats
- Equipment Required: Dumbbell, Barbell, Kettlebell, Cable, or Machine
- Movement: Isolated
- Exercise Type: Push
Here’s a video explanation of the Triceps Cable Pressdown:
To do the Triceps Extension Exercise:
- Lie down on a flat bench.
- Start with the dumbbells or kettlebells hanging above your head, just off the bench.
- Raise the weights with your elbows stationary, until they clasp above your head.
- Do this while inhaling, and squeezing your shoulders and chest.
- Exhale, and lower the weight back down slowly to starting position.
- (Note: It’s popular to use cables for this exercise, but the movement is the same)
- No matter the variation, make sure you feel it in your triceps, or you’re doing something wrong.
- This is a very easy exercise, but be careful all the same. Don’t strain your neck during the lift.
Skull Crushers or Lying Triceps Extensions
Here’s a video and explanation of how to do skull crushers, or Lying Triceps Extension:
Lying Tricep Extensions get the nickname “Skull Crushers” because you bring the weight toward your forehead. Don’t flare out your arms. Instead, keep your elbows in tight, squeezing your elbows in tight. Start by extending the weight in front of you, then bring the weight down so that it’s nearly touching your forehead.
Dumbbell Triceps Extension
Here’s a trainer explaining the Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Extension (notice how she emphasizes getting a full range of motion on each rep of this triceps exercise):
Seated Overhead Triceps Extension
This is just like the last video, but Scott Herman shows you how to do the Seated Overhead Triceps Extension. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone’s trainer calls this exercise the “Sitting Overhead Triceps Extension.” In the video Scott Herman shows you how to do the Seated Overhead Triceps Extension while using a heavy weight. Note how he keeps his wrists straight to maintain proper form.
Triceps Extension: Bands
Another variation that many people use, is to use resistance bands. Victoria’s Secret Angel workouts, like the Candice Swanepoel workout and the Miranda Kerr workout, are famous for using resistance bands. Candice’s trainer, Justin Gelband, has her work three different angles. Marco Borges, the Jay-Z and Beyonce workout trainer, says:
Keep your movement controlled and smooth. modify this move by fastening the band to a doorknob of a closed door or any other firmly planted object in front of you.
Popular Triceps Extension (or Pressdown) Workouts:
- Brad Pitt used triceps pressdowns to transform himself and chisel his body down during the Tyler Durden Workout in the movie Fight Club.
- The Jay-Z workout, and the Beyonce workout, both use the triceps pressdowns and triceps extensions. They often use resistance bands to vary their range of motion, and really kick their triceps backwards into high gear. Other days, he will have them do overhead triceps extensions. Here, you hold a dumbbell behind your head, and extend upwards.
- The Halle Berry Workout uses Triceps Extensions on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This helped her gain the nimble, agile figure she needed to play Catwoman.
- The Kim Kardashian workout uses triceps extensions to tone her arms. This helps with her hourglass physique.
- The Mario Lopez workout uses triceps pressdowns. He does them as part of his compound exercises.
- The Rihanna workout uses triceps extensions. She does cardio right before and after her upper body routine, so that she burns a lot of calories throughout the workout.
- The Joe Manganiello Werewolf workout for True Blood uses a unique variation. He uses drop sets. This is where he starts heavy, then keeps going lighter. Manganiello goes until he can’t do them anymore. Joe Manganiello also uses variations of the tricep extentions for his Magic Mike workout.
- The Mark Wahlberg workout uses supersets. He supersets bar dips with cable triceps extensions. Then, Mark Wahlberg does Skull Crushers, also known as Barbell Lying Down triceps extensions.
- The Jessica Alba workout uses triceps extensions. She uses 2-3 pound dumbbells, to increase resistance training while doing the 3-2-1 workout.
- The Jennifer Garner workout includes circuit training. She does Bent-Over Rows, Dumbbell Bench Press, Two Arm Row, Dumbbell Flys, Shoulder Press, and Triceps Kickbacks.
- Chris Hemsworth’s Thor workout involved a lot of Cable Triceps Extension, and the similar French Press. He also performed a lot of kettlebell swings, which work the triceps.
- The Lady Gaga workout, Megan Fox workout, and Katy Perry workout all use dumbbell triceps extensions, as they work with celebrity trainer Harley Pasternack.
- The Albert Pujols workout uses a large variety of triceps pulldowns. He wants to get every last ounce of strength out of his triceps, so that when he extends on his swing, it carries the baseball further. Albert Pujols uses all these variations:
- Cable Triceps Pressdowns
- Rope Pressdowns
- Single-Arm Triceps Pressdowns
- Wide-Grip Triceps Pressdowns
- Speed Triceps Pressdowns
- Single-Arm Rope Pressdowns
Triceps Extensions are great at isolation your triceps muscle. When doing Overhead triceps extensions, Jay-Z and Beyonce workout trainer, Marco Borges says:
Bend your elbow and lower the dumbbell behind your head. In an arc-like movement, raise the dumbbell back until your arm is fully extended and repeat. Keep your back straight, and abdominals pulled in.
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