How To Do Tricep Overhead Extensions

By: Chris Freytag, CPT

Tricep Overhead Extension

A Tricep Overhead Extension is an exercise that uses dumbbells to strengthen and tone the triceps for strong, sculpted arms. The tricep extension is an isolation exercise for the back side of the upper arm, known as the tricep muscle.

There are three heads to the tricep muscle: the long head, the lateral head, and the medial head. All three heads working together to extend the forearm at the elbow joint.

If you are sick of your arms wiggling and waving even when your hand has stopped, then this move is for you. Many people complain that as they age their upper arm starts to sag. There is a way to combat this from happening to you.

When you learn how to do Tricep Overhead Extensions, we suggest you start with lighter weights. It is extremely important you learn how to do this move properly and with full range of motion. If the weights are too heavy, you will be inhibited from this. Start light, go full range, then add heavier weights as you feel more confident in your ability to do the exercise with proper form.

Tricep Overhead Extensions can be part of an overall body workout or you can pair them with other great tricep exercises such as the Tricep Kickback for a superset and to double up on your upper arm. These two moves together are a powerhouse way to keep your arms tight, sculpted and ready for anything! In addition, check out our workout Top 6 Moves To Prevent Flabby Arms.

Use the links below to quickly navigate this guide:

How To Do Tricep Overhead Extensions

1) Standing with feet hip distance apart holding dumbbells straight overhead and keeping your spine long and abs tight.

2)  Bend elbows lowering dumbbells behind the base of the head. Keep your elbows hugging in towards your head and pointing forward. Then extend your arms long returning to your starting position working the triceps.

If you feel any discomfort in the low back, stagger your feet to a split stance position. One foot slightly in front of the other, to minimize the tension on the low back.

Below you can see a video of Chris Freytag demonstrating how to do tricep overhead extensions using a resistance band instead of dumbbells.

[adthrive-in-post-video-player video-id=”5jkWmjvG” upload-date=”2019-02-22T18:40:17.000Z” name=”Resistance Band Tricep Overhead Extensions” description=”1) Standing with feet hip distance apart holding dumbells straight overhead and keeping your spine long and abs tight.
2) Bend elbows lowering dumbbells behind the base of the head. Keep your elbows hugging in towards your head and pointing forward. Then extend your arms long returning to your starting position working the triceps.” player-type=”default” override-embed=”default”]

What Muscles Do Tricep Overhead Extensions Work?

A tricep overhead extension is a move that strengthens and tones the tricep as well as many other muscles of the upper back and shoulder area. 

There are 3 heads to the triceps: the long head, the medial head, and the lateral head. Throughout overhead tricep extensions, the long head of the tricep is the most dominant throughout this specific exercise.

It’s important to note that the triceps are almost important stabilizers in the shoulder joint as well. Along with the triceps, your shoulder stabilizers, and your core are working in this single exercise.

Benefits of Tricep Overhead Extension

There are many reasons you should incorporate tricep overhead extension into your workouts. Here are just a few:

Strengthens Triceps

Tricep overhead extension is a great upper body move! Using a light to medium pair of dumbbells, the triceps get stronger and more toned as they work to press the dumbbells away ultimately challenging your entire arm.

Strengthens Shoulders

Tricep overhead extension targets the tricep muscle directly, but indirectly your shoulder is also getting a challenge. Your shoulder muscles help assist in holding the dumbbells overhead.

You’ll want to be mindful not to “scrunch” up at the shoulders, but rather keep the shoulder blade pulled down and away from your ears.

Strengthens Upper Back

While you work your tricep overhead extension, the upper back muscles are engaged the entire time. Once again, avoid “scrunching” or overusing the tops of the shoulders.

This will encourage soreness and/or pinched nerves. By engaging your upper back muscles instead, you will have better form during your tricep overhead extension and create an isometric exercise for the upper back.

How Many Calories Does a Tricep Overhead Extension Burn?

People often ask how many calories they are burning in their workouts. Most exercises will generally burn about 100 calories for every 10 minutes you are working at higher intensity. Bottom line: the harder you work, the more calories you burn.

Tricep overhead extension builds muscle in your arm. You won’t be panting, breathing heavy and burning up tons of calories. On the other hand, you will be adding to your muscle mass makes for a better metabolism and higher calorie burn all day long.

Other Exercises Similar to Tricep Overhead Extensions

If you like the tricep overhead extension and the results you get from it, here are a few more exercises you might want to try.

How To Do Bicep Curls

How To Do Lateral Raises

How To Do Shoulder Front Raises

Incorporating Tricep Overhead Extensions Into Your Workouts

Tricep overhead extensions are a great exercise to practice any time on its own. However, you could also incorporate it into other workouts to mix them up. Here are some ideas to make that happen.

Use Tricep Overhead Extension in An Arm Workout

Combining several upper body exercises in one training session can shape the upper body faster and work your arms to the max. Use this workout as your arm day challenge. You’ll sculpt and shape your biceps, triceps and shoulders.

Sculpt and Tone Your Arms Workout: Try each exercise below for the number of repetitions listed with just a few seconds in between to rest.

10 Overhead Shoulder Press

10 Shoulder Lateral Raise

10 Push Ups

10 Renegade Rows

10 Bicep Curl

10 Reverse Grip Double Arm Row

10 Tricep Overhead Extension

Repeat 3 times.

Use Tricep Overhead Extension in a Full Body Strength Workout

Getting a full body workout feels amazing. You walk away knowing you tackled it all! Not only do you make the most of your time, but if you move from one exercise to the next without stopping you will get your heart rate up as well. This workout gets it all done using basic strength moves like tricep overhead extension.

Full Body Strength and Tone: Warm up for about 2-3 minutes then, do between 10-15 of each of the following moves.

Squat To Bicep Curl

Tricep Overhead Extension

Side To Side Squat Swing

Plank To Upright Row

Overhead Shoulder Press

Plie V Raise

Single Arm Row (10 each arm)

Russian Twist

Use Tricep Overhead Extension In a HIIT Workout

High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, has become a phenomenon due to the positive results seen time and time again. By working your heart rate to overload your body taps into more stored energy and burns up those calories at a higher rate. It’s a game changer. You can easily incorporate tricep overhead extension into a HIIT workout that pushes the heart rate and targets the upper and lower body both! Just surround it with some high-intensity cardio moves and you’ve got your fat blaster. Check this out:

HIIT Workout: Grab a pair of dumbbells and do each of the following moves for 30 seconds with no rest between moves. After completing all 4 moves, take a 30-second break and repeat. Go through the sequence 4 times.

Squat Jumps

Tricep Overhead Extension

Split Jumps

Plie V Raise



Bicep Curls


Cross Behind Lunge with Lateral Raise


Repeat 3 times

Here are 3 more workouts to help tighten and tone your triceps!

15-Minute Tricep Toning Workout

Terrific Toned Triceps

How To Lose Arm Fat

Targets: triceps, back, shoulders

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