Dumbbell Exercises for your Triceps

It is great to hear that while the gyms were closed for months, people did not give up on training entirely. A fair few of them picked up home gym training! The only downside is a lot of the athletes did not know how to target a specific muscle group without the specialty machines from their local gym.

Why do you need to train triceps?

Your biceps are only about a third of your overall upper arm. People mistakenly focus on biceps exercises with hopes of growing big arms – curls get the girls after all.

The truth is that your triceps are the muscle group that will get you that swole look you so desire. They take up as much as 2/3 of your upper arms muscle mass but most importantly they are vital for building upper body strength. Not only will they look impressive but they are functional too.

If you are a powerlifter, you will need a strong triceps for a big bench press. If your training routine is bodybuilding orientated, you will need a big triceps for great aesthetics. If you are in combat sports; you will still need a big & strong triceps for the pushing/striking power.

Most importantly, you will need a well-developed triceps if you want to wear tight shirts in the nightclubs.


It is quite easy to get carried away when you are training, especially when you are trying to impress the opposite (or the same) sex. The downside of this is that you are increasing the risk of injury without gaining any additional muscle growth.

By focusing on the form, you will be able to exercise through the whole range of motion without making other muscle groups compensate for poorly chosen weights.

The Exercises

Here are a few triceps exercises and their variations, which you can perform with dumbbells.

Dumbbell Kickbacks

This would have to be one of the most common or recognised exercises for working the triceps with dumbbells.

How to:

– You can either set the bench to the flat position or have it on a small incline – whatever you find the most comfortable.

– This exercise is performed with a light dumbbell in a neutral hand position.

– Simply place your knee on the bench seat and your arm on the top of the bench.

– Make sure that your shoulders are in the same line.

– Tuck your elbow in, it should not stick out past your back.

– Lift the dumbbell forward and extend it back in a slow and controlled manner. Try to push your arm at the top of the movement when the triceps are engaged. You will get a great squeeze on the muscle.

This is a fairly simple exercise, but you can get quite a bit of blood flow into your muscle. The great thing is that you do not need to use heavy weights. It is all about isolating the muscle.

Probably the hardest challenge people encounter during this exercise when they first attempt it, is learning which knee to place on the bench. If you are training your right arm, place your left knee and vice versa.

There is also a laying variation of this exercise, which you would perform with both arms.

Just set up the bench to 45-60 degree angle (don’t forget to lift the seat too), lay down on the bench facing forward.

Bring the dumbbells back, just as in the one-arm version until you get the peak contraction of the triceps.

Behind the head standing dumbbell extension

This variation is a tad more complicated as it requires good shoulder mobility. I would not recommend it if you feel like you do not have the necessary mobility to perform the exercise with a correct form. There are other exercises which would be just as effective if this is an issue.

How to:

Single Arm variant:

– Choose a lighter dumbbell for this exercise.

– Keep your feet shoulder-width apart, tense your core.

– Raise the dumbbell above your head.

– Bend the elbow and bring them down (how low will depend on your mobility and comfort level).

– Try to keep the elbow in the same place while you are bringing the dumbbell up and down.

Dual Arm Variant:

The set up for this exercise would be Identical, what differs is:

– Grab the dumbbell with both hands.

– When bending your elbows, keep them pointing forward.

– Bring it down as low as your mobility allows.

– Squeeze your triceps at the top of the movement.

For standing exercises, try to keep your feet shoulder-width apart, tense your core or even your whole body (depends on how heavy you are planning on lifting). Do not forget to breathe out during the harder moment.

Rolling Triceps Dumbbell Extension / Dumbbell Skull Crushers

Performing this exercise on a bench would allow you to go a bit heavier and gain some more range of motion. If you do not have access to a bench, you could also do this exercise on the ground.

Please note this is an accessory exercise, there is no need to grab the heaviest dumbbells in the gym. It is always better to grab lighter dumbbells and execute the perfect form, rather than to struggle and start activating other muscle groups.

How to:

– Grab a pair of light dumbbells (until you will learn the perfect form).

– Lay down flat on the bench or ground.

– Keep your arms straight, so the weight would be above your head.

– Bend your elbows and slowly bring the weight towards your shoulders.

– Bring the dumbbells back up to the starting position and squeeze your triceps.

Neutral-Grip Dumbbell Press

This exercise is a great accessory for your chest and triceps. The neutral grip alleviates the pressure off your shoulders allowing you to focus on pushing heavier weights.

You would be able to perform this exercise on a bench or the ground.

If you are laying on the bench, you would be bringing the dumbbells slightly lower compared to laying on the ground. Because of this, you will have to arch to protect your shoulder joint.

Just clench your shoulders together and bring them down, this would cause your ribcage to go up creating more room for your rotator cuff.

How to:

– Lay down on the ground or flat bench.

– Keep the dumbbells in a neutral position throughout the whole movement.

– Bend your elbows and slowly bring the dumbbells down to your shoulders.

– Squeeze your triceps and chest at the top of the movement.

Neutral-Grip Dumbbell Push-Ups

Not everyone can do triceps push-ups with complete comfort due to wrist mobility issues. The dumbbell creates a gap between the wrist and the ground, preventing it from overextending.

This exercise targets your triceps but also works the chest and shoulders.

How to:

– Place the dumbbells at the desired width in a neutral position

– Keep your elbows tucked in throughout the whole movement.

– Tense your core.

– Breathe out during the harder moment.

The dumbbells allow you to get a better stretch at the bottom of the movement, please be careful as you may overstretch the muscle or damage your shoulder joint.