What is a Tricep Extension?

Tricep Extension


A tricep extension is an isolation exercise targeting the triceps muscles on the back of the upper arm. Extending the elbow joint against resistance works the triceps through its full range of motion.


  • Tricep extensions can be done overhead, with cables, lying down, or off a bench to hit all three tricep heads – long, lateral and medial.
  • Keeping proper form, use moderate weight and higher reps of 8-15 for muscular endurance. Squeeze the triceps to maximize time under tension.
  • Do 2-4 sets 1-2 times per week. Extensions isolate the triceps versus compound presses that also activate the shoulders and chest.
  • Elbow position changes the contraction. A narrow grip hits the lateral head. Overhead hits the long head.


  • Rope tricep pressdown
  • Overhead dumbbell extension
  • Decline EZ bar skullcrusher

Related Terms

  • Elbow extension – The triceps extension is an elbow extension movement where the elbow straightens against resistance. This contracts the triceps to extend the elbow joint.
  • Pushing Exercises – The triceps extension is categorized as a pushing exercise. Pushing exercises involve straightening the arms against resistance like presses and push-ups. They target the chest, shoulders and triceps.
  • Isolation Movements – The triceps extension isolates the triceps muscle. Isolation exercises focus on contracting one muscle group. The triceps extension emphasizes the triceps specifically.

Common Questions

  • What muscle do tricep extensions work? Primarily the triceps brachii with secondary brachialis and anconeus activation.
  • Should my elbows be pointed up or down? Keep them pointed down and aligned to fully contracted the triceps muscle.
Tricep Extension

Do Not Confuse With

  • Bicep curls – Isolation exercise for the opposing muscle group.
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Categorized as exercise