These dumbbell exercises will target your triceps, which will help you in your quest to build bigger, stronger arms.
While the biceps and dumbbells go together like peanut butter and jelly, it’s important not to neglect the triceps on your next arm day. If you want a more powerful upper body, tricep dumbbell exercises will help grow your arms — this is because they make up two thirds of the muscle in your upper arm, which means they’re bigger and arguably more important than your biceps.
What are your triceps?
Your triceps are made up of three individual muscles, all connecting your elbow to your shoulder. They are a powerful extensor of the elbow joint, so any exercise you do that extends the elbow, will affect your triceps.
The triceps have three “heads” — hence the name; the long head, medial head, and lateral head. The superficial muscles of the triceps are the long and lateral heads, so these are the ones you’ll see when you start incorporating dumbbell tricep exercises into your workouts.
The medial head remains hidden inside the arm, but is just as important as the muscle you can see. It provides stability to the overall tricep group.
Benefits of tricep exercises with dumbbells
Isolating your triceps with dumbbells will help you grow muscle mass fast, due to the targeted nature of the exercise. Further benefits of bulking your triceps include:
- Improves overall endurance, strength and power in your arms.
- Improved stability in the shoulders and elbow joints.
- You’ll be able to lift and push heavier weights.
- In functional fitness, more powerful triceps will improve your performance in various workouts including d-ball throws, burpees, and rowing.
Furthermore, you won’t need access to an expensive gym or box space. Dumbbell tricep exercises can be done from anywhere as long as you have access to a dumbbell at a comfortable but challenging weight.
What are the best tricep exercises with dumbbells?
Here are 3 important tricep dumbbell exercises that you can incorporate into your next workout for bigger, stronger arms.
1. Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extension
One of the most popular dumbbell exercises for the triceps, the dumbbell overhead tricep extension will blow your triceps and make them work.
There are two ways to do this movement, either seated or standing — both are as effective as each other. Here’s how to do the seated variation:
- Start by sitting down on a bench or chair, holding one dumbbell with both hands behind your head. Make sure you can comfortably move the dumbbell up and down for several reps.
- Your elbows should be at a 90 degree angle with your upper arms straight up.
- Brace your core and keep your upper body straight and upright.
- Raise the dumbbell with both hands until your arms are almost fully extended.
- Slowly lower the dumbbell back to the starting position after a short pause.
Repeat the movement for 6 – 12 reps, and for 3 rounds. You should start to feel the burn along the back of both arms.
2. Triceps Kickback
There are a few various ways to perform a dumbbell kickback; either with a bench, a single arm, or both arms at the same time. It’s up to you which one you choose.
For this example we will focus on a standing tricep kickback. Here’s how it works:
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand. Make sure they’re not too heavy to start, but increase the weight as necessary.
- Stand with your feet apart and bend your knees slightly.
- Hinge 45 degrees at the hips and ensure that your back is straight, with your torso parallel to the ground and upper arms are close to the body.
- Move your forearms forward and backward.
- You should feel the movement in your triceps as your arms should be the only part of your body that’s moving.
You can also use a bench, with your knee and inactive arm on the bench for support. The movement is essentially the same, but this variation allows you to ‘kickback’ more weight for more reps than the standing variation.
3. Lying Tricep Extension
For this dumbbell tricep exercise you will need access to a bench. The movement is also known as a skullcrusher and can be done with a barbell, but can also be performed effectively if you only have dumbbells on hand.
- Lie down on your back on a bench with a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing up, and your upper arms pointing to the ceiling.
- Raise the dumbbells by extending your elbows.
- Keep the movement and weight controlled as you slowly return to the starting position after a short pause.
- Keep your upper arms still throughout and do not lock your elbows.
- Repeat for as many rounds and reps as possible.
Your elbows will have a tendency to flare outwards, so make sure you keep them tucked in. The exercise also doesn’t put any pressure on the wrists like other tricep dumbbell exercises, making them great if you have a strain or injury.
Some further variations of all the above exercises can be found here.