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Most people want well-developed arms. In order to do so, you must train your triceps along with your biceps. This post will address the muscles located in the back of the arms, the tricep muscles. A great exercise that targets this area is the lying dumbbell tricep extension.

Below we’ll look deeper into the lying dumbbell tricep extension and we’ll cover the following:

  • What muscles do lying dumbbell tricep extensions work?
  • Benefits associated with the lying dumbbell tricep extension
  • How to properly do lying dumbbell tricep extensions
  • Common mistakes when performing the lying dumbbell tricep extension
  • Lying dumbbell tricep extensions video
  • Tricep exercises to complete your tricep workout

What Muscles Do Lying Dumbbell Tricep Extensions Work?

  • Primary Muscles in lying dumbbell tricep extensions:
    • Triceps Brachii: The name triceps is due to the fact that these muscles are composed of three muscle strands (the long, medial, and lateral heads). It specifically targets the long head of the tricep. Triceps are involved in forearm and elbow extension, helping extend or straighten the elbow. They are also involved in shoulder adduction and extension, helping pull the arms down. Additionally, the triceps help to stabilize the shoulder joint. Overhead tricep extensions target all three heads of the muscle, especially the long head.

    Secondary Muscles Engaged

    • Forearms: Located in the upper limbs between the elbows and the wrists. There are several muscles part of this area. They help pronate, flex, abduct and adduct the hands.
    • Deltoids: These are the main shoulder muscles. The anterior deltoid flexes and medially rotates the arm, the lateral deltoid abducts the arm, and the posterior deltoid extends and laterally rotates the arms.

Benefits of Lying Dumbbell Tricep Extensions

Lying dumbbell triceps extensions have many advantages:

  • Versatility: During lying dumbbell tricep extensions, you can work your triceps bilaterally or unilaterally. You can use one arm at a time, both arms simultaneously, or alternate arms.
  • Hypertrophy: This exercise helps to sculpt and increase the size of the muscles in the back of the arms.
  • Simplicity: Some triceps exercises require more complex equipment, like cables or barbells. However, in order to perform this exercise, you only need dumbbells and a bench. If you don’t have access to a bench, you can even perform the exercise on the floor or on a mat but the movement will have a shorter range of motion.
  • Isolation: Tricep extensions isolate the triceps greatly, allowing you to focus all your energy on just that particular muscle group.
  • Strength: Lying dumbbell tricep extensions activate all three heads of the triceps helping you become stronger. This translates into improved performance during other movements and increased upper body strength to help you move heavier loads when doing other exercises, such as push-ups or chest presses, or engaging in daily activities.
  • Symmetry & Balance: Sometimes, one arm is stronger or even bigger than the other. Using a barbell allows the stronger muscle to lift more of the weight, which reinforces imbalances. On the contrary, using one dumbbell per arm allows each arm to pull its own weight individually, helping correct imbalances or lack of symmetry in the arms.
  • Aesthetics: Working the triceps can help you eliminate the so-called “batwings” or “grandma-arms”… fatty hanging area in the back of the arms.

How to Do Lying Dumbbell Tricep Extensions

  • Lie down with your back against the bench and your feet rooted on the floor.
  • Grab one dumbbell (or two) and hold it directly in front of you. Your arms should be fully extended, almost forming a perpendicular angle with your torso. Your palms should be facing in and the elbows should be tucked in. This is the starting position.
  • Breathe in as you bend your elbows and lower the dumbbell towards your shoulders, near your ears.
  • Pause for a second or two.
  • Breathe out as you straighten your arms back into the starting position.
  • Repeat these movements 8-15 times for three sets.

🛑 Caution: Use proper form and be careful lowering the dumbbells. If you have injured elbows, this exercise may put too much stress on that area.

Lying Dumbbell Tricep Extensions Mistakes

  • Avoid flaring your elbows: You have to keep your elbows tucked in by your ears to perform the exercise properly. When you allow your elbows to flare out, you engage your biceps and shoulders to assist the flexion and extension. This no longer isolates your triceps.
  • Avoid moving the elbows back and forth: Another mistake is to allow your elbows to move back toward the upper part of your head or forward towards the chest. You should keep your upper arms stationary with your elbows pointing directly at the ceiling. This decreases the load on your triceps and engages the chest and back muscles.
  • Avoid lowering the weights down past your ears: You should lower the dumbbells until they go down to ear level. When you go lower, you remove the tension of the triceps and you can hurt your elbow joint.
  • Avoid moving your body or head: You should keep your head and back in contact with the bench and your feet rooted on the floor.
  • Avoid short ranges of motion: You should perform the exercise with a full range of motion. Your arms should fully extend at the top and you should achieve at least a 90-degree bend at the elbow when you lower the weight. You cheat and don’t get all the benefits of the lying dumbbell tricep extension by shortening the motion of the exercise.  
  • Avoid moving the dumbbells fast: You should move the dumbbells slowly from start to finish. This is an isolation exercise, make sure to squeeze the tricep muscles as the arms go up.

Lying Dumbbell Tricep Extension Video

Lying Tricep Extensions with Dumbbells


Tricep Workout

You can complete your tricep workout by performing the following exercises:

As you can see the lying dumbbell tricep extension is a wonderful tricep exercise. It offers tremendous benefits associated with hypertrophy, strength, endurance, and aesthetics. Now that you know how to properly perform lying dumbbell tricep extensions, you can avoid the most common mistakes and enjoy their benefits. Remember, whether you want to lose weight, tone your body, or gain strength or size, all muscles must be trained.

Lift, Burn more Fat, Get Stronger, and Live Healthier!

To a Fitter Healthier You,

Adriana Albritton

The Fitness Wellness Mentor

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