HomeExercise LibraryHow To: Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Extension

How To: Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Extension

Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Extension

The overhead extension, requiring nothing more than a single heavy dumbbell 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: Dumbbell & Bench

Optional: N/A

Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Extension:

Sit on a bench with back support and hold a dumbbell with both hands overhead, arms extended.

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

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

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

Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Extension Variations

Cable Overhead Extension

Instead of utilizing a dumbbell 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.

See also
How To: Decline Push-Up

One Arm Overhead Extension

Grip the 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.

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Common Dumbbell 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: Medicine Ball Slams

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 Dumbbell 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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