Dumbbell exercises are some of the most effective activities for developing the triceps.
Tricep exercises with dumbbells allow you to isolate the muscle group and target all three heads in a balanced way.
You can pick between multiple effective movements, create overload, and even use light dumbbells for ‘finisher’ exercises at the end of your sessions.
Let’s explore the benefits of dumbbells, great activities you can do, and more.
Tricep Exercises With Dumbbells
1. Overhead Dumbbell Extensions
- Grab a pair of dumbbells, stand tall or from a sitting position on a bench, and lift them overhead by extending your upper arms.
- Bring your shoulders back, engage your abs, and inhale.
- Slowly lower the weights behind your head to stretch your triceps.
- Fully extend your arms and exhale.
NOTE: Be very careful when lowering the dumbbell during the downward movement! If you are not careful, you can hit the back of your head. So make sure to lower down and away from your head, maintaining full control of the dumbbell.
2. Dumbbell Kickbacks (One Arm or Two Arm)
- Grab a pair of dumbbells and lean your torso forward.
- Bring your shoulders back to put your spine in a neutral position.
- Bend your arms and raise your elbows to your sides.
- Take a breath and slowly extend your arms to the rear.
- Pause for a moment and bend your arms as you exhale.
One Arm Dumbbell Kickbacks
Two Arm Dumbbell Kickbacks
3. Lying Dumbbell Extensions (Skull Crushers)
- Grab a pair of dumbbells and sit on a flat gym bench.
- Bend your arms to lift the dumbbells in front of your chest, and carefully lie back.
- Extend your arms, having the weights over your shoulders.
- Bring your shoulders back and engage your abs.
- Take a breath and lower the dumbbells to the sides of your head.
- Extend your arms and exhale.
NOTE: Make sure to be very careful on the downward movement so that you do not hit your head or face. Until you are very comfortable with the exercise, go very slow and deliberate.
4. Lying Dumbbell Crush Press
- Grab a pair of dumbbells, lie on a flat bench.
- Extend your arms so the dumbbells are directly above your chest, and put the dumbbells together so they are touching and with your palms facing. This is the start position.
- Very slowly lower the dumbbells so that they remain touching together on the downward movement.
- Lower the dumbbells to your upper stomach / lower chest area.
- Press to straighten your arms back to the start position and exhale.
- Maintain solid control of the dumbbells the entire time, and maintain the position where the dumbbells are touching.
- START with very light dumbbells so that you can first master the movement, then slowly increase weight as you’re more comfortable.
Sets and Repetitions for Tricep Dumbbell Exercises
As for sets and reps, we recommend:
- 2 to 3 sets per exercise
- 6 to 12 reps per set; you can do up to 12-15 reps on some activities, such as kickbacks
Tricep Muscle Anatomy And Functions
The tricep brachii is a three-headed muscle that makes up the rear of the upper arms. It consists of a long, medial, and lateral head that work together to produce elbow extension (straightening of the arm). (1)
Since the long head originates from the scapula, the tricep is also involved in stability, adduction, and extension at the shoulder joint.
While most people focus on building big biceps to have muscular arms, focusing on the tricep will yield much better returns.
The triceps make up two-thirds of the upper arm muscle volume. So, by focusing on the tricep, you can more effectively achieve lean, strong, and muscular upper arms.
Training Alternatives and Other Recommendations
There are plenty of great tricep exercises with dumbbells, but what if you don’t have external weights?
In that case, you can do tricep dips, diamond push-ups, and other bodyweight exercises that build up the back of the upper arms.
Finally, you should always make it a point to warm up well before working out. Begin with light cardio to raise your core body temperature and do dynamic stretching to further warm up your muscles. (2)
Finish off with some lighter sets of the exercises you’ll be doing before increasing the intensity.
Click for more dumbbell workouts.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine. (n.d.). Home – books – NCBI. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Retrieved November 9, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books
- Contributors, W. M. D. E. (n.d.). Warm-up exercises: Do they improve performance and reduce injuries? WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/benefits-of-warmup-exercises