Aditya Sahu ‧ CPT & Head Coach
Aditya is an ACSM certified personal trainer and exercise physiologist with more than 7 years training various people and transforming people's lives. He has written various publications for various sports and fitness magazines.
Triceps are prominent muscles on your upper arms that are usually neglected or replaced with bicep exercises that are ineffective for the triceps. While the bicep is 1/3rd of the upper arm, the tricep muscle is 2/3rds.
So, it would be best to focus equally on both muscles or work more on the triceps. Trained gym coaches also encourage dumbbell tricep exercises to make the arms look bulkier and more enormous.
Read further to get toned and shredded triceps. All you require is a set of dumbbells. Choose dumbbell weights that you are comfortable with, and do not go too hard on the first day. You will see progress when you gradually build yourself up from these great tricep exercises.
Understand Your Triceps Muscles
The triceps consist of three major muscles and tricep heads. All three muscles are crucial for developing tricep muscle and strength.
Three Heads Are
This area of the tricep is located on the bottom of the upper arm. It is the largest part of all the heads. The long head begins from the scapula to the elbow and allows stretching and adduction from your shoulder joint. Moreover, this muscle is easier to target in tricep workouts in comparison to other muscles.
Also popularly known as the outer head, this portion of the tricep is smaller than the long head and begins at the adjoining point of the superior humerus bone, which is the outer area of the tricep. Then it extends to the elbow and allows abduction movement of your arm. The lateral head is a vital muscle to train because it makes your arms look toned.
This head is the smallest muscle among all three heads and begins at the back of the humerus, inferior bone to the radial groove, which is the triangle-shaped area of the triceps and extends to the elbow joint. The medial head is situated deep in the triceps, making it barely visible. However, it is necessary to do tricep exercises to build solid triceps.
9 Best Dumbbell Tricep Exercises
While there are a lot of dumbbell tricep exercises that use various machines and gym equipment, the following 9 dumbbell exercises are convenient.
1. Dumbbell Overhead Extension
The overhead tricep extension, also known as the overhead press, is an easy and highly effective workout for developing your triceps. The triceps plays an influential part in your general upper body strength.
How To: Standing Overhead Dumbbell Tricep Extension
You will only need a dumbbell or two dumbbells for this exercise. As mentioned above, choose the weight that suits you.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, or perform it while sitting.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand with straight arms.
- If you are lifting one dumbbell, gradually raise it over your head. However, for heavier dumbbells, you can rest them on your shoulder before raising your arms simultaneously.
- Make a diamond form with your hands and hold the dumbbells with the palms of your hands facing upward. Remember that the weight of the dumbbells should be resting in the palms of your hands. If you are lifting with two dumbbells, clutch each with its rods.
- Tuck in your elbows and put the arms close to the head, gradually declining your dumbbell.
- Do this until a 90-degree angle is formed with your elbows and forearms. Keep your arms still and let the forearms work freely.
- Now, use your tricep muscles to steadily push the dumbbells over the head to the beginning position.
- Complete at least 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions/reps during your triceps extension workout.
Upper Arm Strength
The main advantage of the dumbbell overhead tricep extension is the increase in the tricep muscles that is achieved with the lifting. Unlike other triceps exercises, the overhead extension focuses on all the tricep heads, strengthening your entire triceps.
No Strain On Your Wrists
The DB overhead triceps extension is an ideal exercise for people suffering from wrist discomfort. Your wrists are at a constant angle throughout this workout, and only a slight strain is placed on them.
As you perform this tricep workout while standing, your core is engaged, supporting your back and spine. Consequently, the dumbbell overhead extension helps you achieve the correct posture, lifted shoulders, a straight back, and an engaged core.
2. Single Arm Overhead Extension
The single-arm overhead extension is a variation of the dumbbell overhead extension mentioned above. This workout encourages the symmetry of the triceps by making you unilaterally raise each weight.
For this exercise, it is recommended to use lighter dumbbells for a better grip.
- Grab your dumbbell, straighten your arms, and then gradually lift the weight above your head.
- Keep your elbows tucked a little, and bring the dumbbell down from behind your head.
- Drop the dumbbell until you feel an extreme stretch in your triceps.
- Switch the movement by flexing the tricep muscles firmly.
- Keep doing the exercise until your elbow is fully extended.
- Complete at least 2 to 5 sets of 10 to 15 reps of single-arm overhead extension on each arm.
Improved Triceps Symmetry
You have to lift each dumbbell weight individually in the single-arm overhead triceps extensions. This will give your tricep muscles equal amounts of push. Improved symmetry of your triceps muscles will cause your arms to look more attractive without them becoming overly bulky.
Your tricep muscles benefit from the strength and stamina achieved from single-arm overhead triceps extension because, in this particular workout, your focus is on one limb at a time. You will gain more strength when performing single-arm overhead extensions than using two different DB weights.
Unlike other workouts, the single-arm overhead extension requires just a single lightweight dumbbell. Moreover, it is the perfect workout for people who do not have the time to go to gyms.
3. Dumbbell Skull Crusher
A DB skull crusher, also known as a nose crusher, is a fantastic exercise for strengthening and developing your tricep muscles as it focuses on the long head. Dumbbell skull crushers are an excellent isolation workout for triceps symmetry and muscle strength.
You only require dumbbells with an easy-to-grip handle and preferably two lighter dumbbells.
- You will need to lie down on a weight training bench with your feet on the floor for this workout.
- Push your dumbbells upwards to ensure that they are exactly over the back of the weight training bench.
- Drop your dumbbells at the back of your head and move your shoulders back.
- Keep doing this until you can feel the long head of your triceps stretching.
- Reverse the motion by raising your shoulders forward and then extending the elbows.
- Flex the tricep muscles when the elbows reach complete lockout (when all the joints or limbs are wholly extended).
- Repeat this exercise for 2 to 5 sets of 10 to 15 reps.
- If you are working out at home or do not have access to the training benches, you can perform DB skull crushers by lying on the floor.
In DB skull crushers, you have to lift the dumbbells independently. Both triceps will receive approximately equal push and therefore increase at equal rates.
This workout will result in a more attractive and symmetrical upper body and arms, as dumbbells lower the possibility of muscular imbalances.
Bigger Upper Arms
This triceps finisher exercise is the perfect muscle-building workout for bigger arms. Specifically, dumbbell skull crushers train the long head of the tricep muscles more than the lateral and medial head. So if you want bulky arms and toned triceps, this is perfect for you.
4. Dumbbell Single-Arm Skull Crusher
Single-arm skull crushers are an ideal workout for developing symmetrical and muscular triceps. Just like dumbbell skull crushers, single-arm skull crushers also target all three heads of the tricep muscle while providing extra attention to the long head.
Single-arm dumbbell skull crushers focus on each arm individually, making them ideal triceps exercises.
You need a dumbbell and a weight training bench for this exercise. If you do not have a bench, you can perform it on a yoga mat.
- Hold your dumbbell and lie on a weight training bench or yoga mat.
- Push the single dumbbell upwards so that it is above your forehead.
- Descend the dumbbell at the back of your head.
- The dumbbell should be in line with the bench's top.
- Descend until you can sense an extreme stretch in your triceps.
- Reverse the motion by stretching your elbow until it extends completely.
- Avoid locking your elbow to hold tension in the triceps.
- Complete at least 3 to 5 sets of 10 to 20 reps on each side.
Tricep Muscle Symmetry
This workout is excellent for dodging disproportionate tricep muscle because it trains each arm individually in a unilateral manner. You focus on your tricep muscles and ensure that they get equal work.
Strengthens Triceps Arm Muscles
Single-arm dumbbell skull crushers help establish a stronger triceps mind-muscle connection (MMC) because you only have to concentrate on raising one dumbbell at a time.
The single-arm dumbbell skull crusher is also an extremely convenient exercise as you can perform it wherever you want. All you require is one dumbbell.
5. Dumbbell Tate Press
The dumbbell tate press is a variation exercise of the dumbbell overhead extension, which focuses on building stronger triceps providing enhanced upper body performance.
The dumbbell tate press can be performed by both beginners and trained lifters.
The DB tate press offers a remarkable range of movement to target the tricep muscles.
Dumbbell Tate Press
You can perform the dumbbell tate press on the floor if you do not have a training bench.
- Begin by getting seated on the end of a weight training bench and put your dumbbells on your thighs.
- Hold your dumbbells above your chest in a flat position.
- Next, you will bend your elbows and drop the dumbbells inwards near your chest.
- You can slightly touch the weight to your chest and maintain it for a few seconds.
- While keeping control over your dumbbells, stretch your elbows to push the dumbbells back to the beginning position.
- Continue with as many sets and reps as required. Preferably, 3 to 5 sets and 10 to 20 reps.
The dumbbell tate press is helpful in training and strengthening the upper body. This tricep workout is a splendid strength exercise for people of all ages.
Increased Blood Flow
DB tate press sets with high repetitions for tricep muscle isolation increase blood flow to muscles and connective tissues. This exercise helps drive blood flow into the muscles and keeps your elbow joints fit. Do more reps to pump up your muscles.
6. Dumbbell Close Grip Bench Press
This exercise is a famous tricep workout that targets the triceps and chest.
How to Do Close Grip Bench Press with Dumbbells
Begin with light weights, and once you have learned to perform a dumbbell close grip press, you may lift heavier dumbbells.
- Get seated on a flat bench with each dumbbell in both hands. Now press the dumbbells concurrently.
- While keeping your core engaged, pull the shoulders down and back.
- Make sure you lie flat on the weight bench and hold the weight on your chest. Push the dumbbells in as firmly as you can. Keep your upper arms tucked into your sides.
- Push the dumbbells above your chest until your arms are straight. Keep the pressure on your abs by pressing the weights together.
- Lower the weight to your chest and repeat the movement.
- Complete at least 2 to 5 sets of 1 to 15 reps during this tricep workout.
Effective Tricep Workout
Pressing the dumbbells together improves tricep muscle activation. Using lighter weights will be effective as you push the dumbbells inward and upward. This tricep workout is excellent for workouts at home.
No Shoulder Pain
A close grip dumbbell bench press is safer for your shoulders than a regular dumbbell bench press. Holding your arms close to your sides and using lighter weights takes a lot of strain from your shoulders.
7. Dumbbell Kickback
A dumbbell triceps kickback exercise is ideal for targeting the three heads of the triceps. It is usually an exercise for beginners to develop muscle mass.
Start this tricep workout with lighter weights to get your posture right.
- Begin by carrying a dumbbell in each hand, and stand with your feet flat and hip distance apart.
- Curve your knees slightly and angle your waist parallel to the ground, with your head up.
- When you bend your elbows, they should form a 90-degree angle.
- Bring the weight close to the chest to the resting position.
- Contract your tricep muscles and gradually stretch your arms backward and maintain this position for a second before returning to the starting point.
- You can complete 2 to 5 sets of 10 to 20 reps during this tricep exercise.
Upper Arm Strength
As mentioned above, DB kickback focuses on your triceps, which are required for stability, strength, and the physical appearance of your arms.
If you are suffering from a chest or a shoulder injury, an isolation exercise like dumbbell kickback controls discomfort in other muscles and joints.
8. Dumbbell Incline Kickback
The dumbbell incline triceps kickback is a variation of the standard dumbbell kickback triceps exercise discussed above. This workout trains the triceps muscles at the back of your arms and the upper chest.
For this tricep workout, you need a pair of dumbbells and an incline bench.
- Start with lying on your stomach on the incline bench with a dumbbell in each hand.
- Slowly move your right arm and left arm back and make sure they are parallel to your body.
- Then fully flex your elbows and lock them with elbows bent.
- Repeat the movement.
- Complete at least 2 to 5 sets of 10 to 15 reps.
No Strain On The Wrists
Throughout the dumbbell incline kickback, your wrists stay in a position where there is no rotation or additional strain.
Triceps Muscles Isolation
The dumbbell incline kickback is an isolation tricep workout that targets the tricep muscle. Anyone wanting to improve the stability and build of their triceps can benefit greatly from this exercise.
9. Dumbbell Incline Skull Crusher
Another variation of the DB skull crusher is the incline skull crusher, which targets the long tricep even more. If you are looking for bulkier arms, this is your go-to tricep workout.
For this workout, you will need an incline bench and a pair of dumbbells.
- Lie on your back on the incline bench and hold your dumbbells in each hand above your chest, palms facing inwards, arms extended.
- Slowly lower the dumbbells down towards your skull. Make sure your elbows are bent.
- Only move your forearms; the rest of your body, especially your elbows, should not move.
- Now, lift your dumbbells back to the beginning position.
- Complete 3 to 5 sets of 10 to 15 reps of this exercise.
The advantages of a dumbbell incline skull crusher are the same as the above-mentioned regular dumbbell skull crusher and single-arm dumbbell skull crusher. However, this variation targets the long head the most, making it even more effective.
Now that you are more aware of your triceps and tricep exercises, you can add these to your workout routine. You can do excellent tricep workouts with dumbbells only! With consistency and appropriate training, you will see the results of your hard work in just a few weeks with these dumbbell exercises.