HomeFitnessThe 4 Best Dumbbell Triceps Exercises To Build Big Arms

The 4 Best Dumbbell Triceps Exercises To Build Big Arms

No Barbell? No Problems!

Progressive Overload Dumbbells

These 4 Dumbbell Triceps Exercises If Done Correctly Will Build Big Arms!

Those on a quest for big arms often spend far too much time performing set after set of bicep curls and tend to often neglect the triceps which believe it or not make up two-thirds of your arm… just because they’re out of site it doesn’t mean you have an excuse not to hit them hard.

It's common knowledge that your biceps can be obliterated with nothing over than a pair of adjustable dumbbells, however many guys seem to think it's a completely different story when it comes to training triceps.

I'll let you in on a little secret...

You can obliterate your triceps without using anything other than a pair of dumbbells.

Access to a multitude of machines and seven different attachments for the cable pulldown machine often leads to paralysis by analysis and this ensures you won't get in anywhere near as good of a workout as if you were to use a pair of dumbbells.

Understanding The Anatomy Of The Triceps

Before we delve into the best dumbbell triceps exercises let's take a look at the anatomy of the triceps.

330gq3kThe Long Head

The long head of the triceps is visible from the back (it runs down the back of your arms) the long head is the largest head of the triceps.

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The Medial Head

The medial head, also known as the middle head of the triceps is located deep within your arm around the midline of your triceps.

The Lateral Head

The lateral head is known to produce the ‘horse shoe’ shape on the side of your arms, hence why it’s also often called the outer head.



Dumbbell Triceps Exercise 1 - Dumbbell Skull Crushers

I personally prefer the dumbbell skull crush variation to the more common barbell version!
The dumbbell skull crusher allows for an increased range of motion and as you're baring the load individually in each arm your stronger side won't compensate for your weaker side.

When performing dumbbell skull crushers ensure your arms are locked in to your side and your elbows remain in position, only your forearm should be moving during the reps of your dumbbell skull crushers. The most common mistake I see being made on this exercise is the flaring of the elbows in an attempt to recruit the shoulders and chest to help, generally on the last few reps. Flaring your shoulders on any exercise, be it the dumbbell skull crusher or the flat barbell bench press is a sure-fire way to injure your rotator cuff.

The solution? Drop the weight. The dumbbell skull crusher is far harder than the barbell skull crusher so don't expect to jump straight into lifting the same weight.

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Dumbbell Triceps Exercise 2 - Overhead Dumbbell Triceps Extension

The double handed overhead dumbbell extension is and has been my staple triceps exercise.
This exercise is a fantastic mass builder as we're able to go quite heavy on it.

Once again, the 2 keys to perfecting your form on the overhead dumbbell triceps extension is...

Watch the elbows!

Don't flare your elbows, you should be lifting the dumbbell behind your head with your arms tucked into your side, not with your elbows flared and the dumbbell looming over your head. It's natural for your form to begin to degrade as your rep count goes up, but it's a much wiser move to call the end to your set as your form starts to degrade and hit your triceps again hard on the next set with good form instead of powering through one (higher repetition) set with atrocious form.

Range of motion first, weight second

Work in a full range of motion on this extension.
Lower the dumbbell as far down as possible before explosively powering it back up until your arms are fully extended... don't expect full results if you're only working with half range of motion.

Dumbbell Triceps Exercise 3 - One Arm Dumbbell French Press

The one arm French press is an exercise I've only recently introduced into my routine and boy it is tougher than it looks!

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I initially started performing the one arm dumbbell French press because I ran out of heavier dumbbells when performing the two handed overhead triceps extension...
Although more weight can be lifted on the two handed extension I find the range of motion and sheer isolation of the one arm French press to be unmatched.

If you're looking to focus on your core strength give this exercise a try standing up (however don't bounce your knees while performing your reps as using momentum is targeting the tension off your triceps).

Dumbbell Triceps Exercise 4 -  Close Grip Dumbbell Press

The close grip dumbbell press is my go-to 'finisher' for the triceps as overhead movements such as the one arm french press and the two arm dumbbell triceps extension we discussed above are near impossible to perform with strict form once your triceps have taken a beating (I recommend having them early on in your routine).

The close grip press on the other hand is the fantastic finisher, maintaining good form and relatively a relatively heavy weight is still possible towards the end of your workout, ensuring we're able to apply progressive overload to the triceps.

The most important point to take note of when performing the dumbbell bench press specifically for your triceps is the position to which the dumbbells are lowered. During a normal chest press the barbell or dumbbells are lowered to your upper to mid chest... when targeting the triceps however we need to go further down the chest.

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In order to fully engage and squeeze your triceps I opt to lower the dumbbells or barbell down to the bottom portion of my chest.

Utilize a hammer grip, keep your elbows tucked into your sides and smash your triceps by lowering those heavy dumbbells to the bottom line of your chest.

Putting It All Together!

Provided your dumbbells are heavy enough you'll find yourself making fantastic gains off of these 4 dumbbell triceps exercises alone, there's literally no need to utilize any barbell exercises. If you're looking to add in some more functional exercises or perhaps just mix up your triceps routine the close grip push-up and the triceps dip are another two fantastic editions to include!

Now it's your turn to give these exercises a shot, here's a few sample workouts I've used:

Dumbbell Triceps Workout #1

3 sets of DB skull crushers - 6 reps per set
3 sets of DB two arm overhead extension - 6 reps per set
3 sets of DB close grip press - 'till failure

Dumbbell Triceps Workout #2

3 sets of DB two arm overhead extension - 6 reps per set
3 sets of DB skull crushers - 6 reps per set
2 sets of DB one arm french press - 8 reps
2 sets of DB close grip press - 'till failure

What's Your Favorite Dumbbell Triceps Exercise? Let Me Know In The Comments Below!

Scott J.
Scott J.
I’m SJ. I’m a fitness enthusiast and published author. I transformed my body from a skinny fat 135lbs with 18% body fat to a solid 192lbs at 8% body fat. I became qualified in a field I was passionate about. I founded several online businesses that allow me to pursue ideas and projects in my life that I am passionate about without having to constantly worry about money. I published several eBooks explaining the training and dieting techniques I used to achieve the body I have today. I learnt a plethora of new information on dieting and fitness by reading and applying what I read, to find out what does work and what doesn’t work, because as I’m sure you’ve noticed the health and fitness industry is full of non-sense claims and BS. I found out what was true and what worked for me and applied that knowledge. And you bet I had fun during the whole process.

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