How To Do Tricep Overhead Extensions

By: Chris Freytag, CPT

A tricep overhead extension is an isolation exercise for the backside of your upper arm that uses dumbbells to strengthen and tone the triceps for strong, sculpted arms.

If you’re ready to say goodbye to bat wings or jiggly arms, this move is for you. Many people complain that as they age their upper arm starts to sag, and this exercise will combat this from happening.

Follow these simple steps to master the tricep overhead extension exercise for sculpted arms:

  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.

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.


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    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. 

    Tricep Overhead Extension

    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.

    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 workout ideas to get your started:

    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.

    (This will help us personalize your experience so that you can get the best advice possible from us!)
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