Master Class – Seated Overhead Dumbbell Triceps Extension
Lesson Learned: Gain impressive thickness with arms overhead
Compared to the pecs or lats, the triceps brachii is a small muscle. But it still crosses over two joints; the elbow (via all three heads) and the shoulder (via only the long head). Targeting the long head, which adds thickness up near the shoulder, requires extension exercises with the arms in an overhead position. This exercise does the trick quite nicely.
Muscles Emphasized: Triceps (long head in particular).
Mechanics: Sit on a low-back seat holding a relatively heavy dumbbell with both hands. Lift the weight overhead and hold the top plates of the dumbbell securely by overlapping your thumbs and index fingers to form a diamond around the handle. Begin with your arms fully extended up toward the ceiling.
Without letting your elbows flare out too much, bend your arms to lower the dumbbell behind your head. When your forearms are past parallel to the floor, contract your triceps to extend your elbows and return to the start position.
Do: Focus on keeping your elbows pointed forward to maintain strict form ad triceps isolation. Doing the exercise in front of a mirror helps.
Don’t: Crane your neck to look up at the dumbbell when it’s overhead. Maintain a neutral spine from your lower back up to your head at all times to protect against strain or injury.
Next Level: For added intensity, superset this exercises with “diamond” (hands narrow) push-ups. After reaching failure on overhead extensions, immediately drop to the floor and do as many push-ups with your hands inside shoulder width as possible. The overhead move will target the long head of the triceps, while the narrow push-ups will emphasize the lateral head.
Options: To eliminate muscular imbalance, do overhead triceps extensions one arm at a time, using around half the weight you would with both arms. When training unilaterally, place the non-working hand either on your waist or the seat for stability.
Training Tenets: Overhead triceps exercises like this one are all about zeroing in on the long head to add size up high to the upper arm. Perform this exercise as either the last one in your triceps routine or just before lighter moves like one-arm press downs or kickbacks.