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Overhead Tricep Extensions

What Is An Overhead Tricep Extension

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The main function of the triceps is to extend the elbow, moving the forearm away from the upper arm. The overhead tricep extension trains this movement in an overhead position, targeting all heads of the tricep with a particular focus on the long head, and helping to strengthen shoulder stability.

The overhead tricep extension is usually performed with dumbbells, and can be done as a single arm variation or bilateral. The cable machine can also be used for this movement, which can be a good way to increase the challenge as the machine provides constant tension to the muscles and highlights the eccentric portion of the movement which can sometimes be neglected. We've covered both options below.

Check out some other tricep extension variations: skull crushers, tricep kickbacks, tricep pushdowns, tricep dips

Commonly Asked Questions On Overhead Tricep Extensions

Are Overhead Tricep Extensions Good?

The overhead tricep extension is a great way to target all three heads on the triceps, as well as improve shoulder and core stability.

Are Overhead Tricep Extensions Bad For Elbows?

Overhead tricep extensions are not inherently bad for elbows, however it’s important to use a weight where you can perform the movement controlled and with correct form, as having improper technique can stress the elbow. Repeatedly locking out or hyperextending the elbows can sometimes cause pain, so aim to straighten your arms but stop short of locking the elbows.

What Does The Cable Overhead Tricep Extension Work?

The cable variation of this exercise works the triceps, particularly the long head of the triceps. The shoulders, core, and glutes are also engaged to help stabilise this movement.

Overhead Tricep Extension Tips

The overhead tricep extension can be performed seated or standing. The standing version engages the core more, however care must be taken to protect the lower back from overextension. Do this by bracing your core and pulling your belly button towards your pelvis. This will also help to keep the movement coming from the triceps and not the torso.

Make sure to choose a weight that allows you to perform the full range of motion with correct form. It’s important to avoid flaring the elbows as this can place pressure on the shoulder and elbow joints, as well as remove tension from the triceps.

How To Do A Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extension

  1. Cupping the end of a dumbbell with both hands, adopt a shoulder width stance. If using a dumbbell in each hand, grip the handle.

  2. Engage your core by bracing your stomach and pulling your belly button towards your pelvis.

  3. Lift the dumbbell above your head so that your arms are extended, and your palms are facing the ceiling.

  4. Begin the reps by bending at the elbow to lower the dumbbell behind your head. Keep your upper arms in the same place, only allowing your forearms to move.

  5. Once you have lowered the dumbbell as far as possible, squeeze your triceps to extend your arms and return the dumbbell to the starting position.

How To Do A Cable Overhead Tricep Extension

  1. Set up a cable machine so the pulley is at head height and attach a rope grip.

  2. Cup each end of the rope with both hands, turn away from the cable machine and adopt a shoulder width stance, then stagger your feet. Allow your arms to extend above and in front of your head.

  3. Engage your core by bracing your stomach and pulling your belly button towards your pelvis.

  4. Commence the reps by bending at the elbow and lowering the rope behind your head and towards the cable machine. Keep your upper arms in place, only allowing your forearms to move.

  5. Squeeze your triceps as you extend your arms and return the rope grip to the starting position.

If you’re not sure if any of the above exercises are suitable for you, please consult your doctor before you start it. Need guidance on how to perform the exercise? Ask a personal trainer at your gym.