HomeExercise LibraryHow To: Barbell Overhead Triceps Extension

How To: Barbell Overhead Triceps Extension

Barbell Overhead Triceps Extension
The overhead extension, requiring nothing more than a barbell is a great exercise to add some serious size and strength to your triceps.
Be extremely careful with form on this overhead extension as constant flaring of the elbows as a result of attempting to lift too heavy will place your shoulders in a compromised position, increasing your risk of injury (not good!).

I cannot stress form over weight on this extension enough.

Movement: Isolation

Targets: Triceps

Required: Barbell

Optional: N/A

Barbell Overhead Triceps Extension:

Sit on a bench (or stand if you want to engage the core more) and grasp a barbell overhead, arms extended.

The weight should be in the palms of your hands with thumbs wrapped around the barbell.

Tuck your elbows in while remaining perpendicular to the ground while you begin to lower the barbell behind your head.

At the bottom of the movement flex your triceps to drive the barbell back up until your arms are fully extended.

Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Barbell Overhead Triceps Extension Variations

Dumbbell Overhead Extension

Grasp a single heavy dumbbell with both hands wrapped around the dumbbell itself.
Keep your elbows tucked in and lower the dumbbell behind your head before extending, ensuring your elbows remain tucked in. Lock out your triceps and contract at the top of each repetition.

See also
How To: Dumbbell Rear Delt Fly

Cable Overhead Extension

Instead of utilizing a barbell for your overhead extension opt to use the cable machine on the lowest possible pulley setting.
The rope and the straight bar attachment are both suitable for use with the cable overhead extension.

One Arm Overhead Extension

Grip a dumbbell with one arm as opposed to the standard double grip.
Perform the desired number of repetitions for one arm before switching the dumbbell to the other arm.

Here's The Barbell I Use & Recommend...

I've been using one of these 'The Beast" 7 foot olympic barbells in my home garage gym for the last 6 years, it's affordable, high quality and gets the job done regardless of how many 45lb plates are loaded on it.
Check it out and invest in a high quality "The Beast" barbell here.

Common Barbell Overhead Triceps Extension Mistakes

Utilizing A Partial Range Of Motion

There's no reason to work in a small range of motion on your overhead extensions, opt to lower the bar ALL the way down behind your head before driving through the triceps until they're locked out at the top of the movement.
Partial range of motion = partial triceps activation.

Flaring Your Elbows Out

When performing any triceps exercise, whether it be a dumbbell overhead triceps extension or a rope pushdown it’s imperative you keep your elbows tucked in by your sides.
Flaring your elbows outwards is often a sign that the weight is too heavy (as you’re trying to muscle the shoulders in to assist with moving the weight).
Flaring the elbows on triceps exercise places your shoulders at a high risk of injury not to mention you’re only going to applying a small amount of tension to the triceps as the shoulders are trying to take over and lift the weight.

See also
How To: Romanian Deadlift

If you find yourself constantly flaring your elbows lower the weight and consciously practise tucking your elbows in to your side on each repetition until it becomes natural.

Lifting Too Light

If you don’t generally train in the lower rep range I recommend you give it a try, stop lifting in the 10 – 15 rep range for at least a month and focus on heavy, low rep sets. Once you start to see results you won’t want to go back.

Now, you may still think high reps are beneficial, but let me tell you they’re far from it.

High repetitions result in increased stress on your CNS, increase in localized inflammation and increased soreness.

“Movements or exercises that do not give the muscle the required resistance, but are the kind that involve a great number of repetitions, never break down any tissue, to speak of. These movements involve a forcing process that cause the blood to swell up the muscle, and simply pump them up”– George F. Jowett, 1926

Similar & Substitute Exercises 

  • Barbell Skull Crusher
  • Dumbbell Skull Crusher
  • Triceps Dips
  • Bench Dips
  • Dumbbell Triceps Kickback

Any Questions Regarding The Barbell Overhead Triceps Extension? Ask 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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