There are a variety of tricep extension exercises, such as standing or lying triceps extensions, that effectively work this muscle. The tricep is the muscle on the posterior of your upper arm and is a powerful extensor for the elbow joint.
Tricep extensions help to strengthen the muscles of the triceps brachii. There are a variety of ways to perform them, such as standing or lying triceps extensions.
Tricep extensions are an excellent exercise to build and shape the upper posterior arm muscles. There are several varieties to try. Whenever you use your arms, your triceps come into action. Building strong arms, including the triceps, can help you become stronger and more functional in your everyday tasks.
Read more: An At-Home Triceps Workout With Just 4 Moves
Tricep Extension: Muscles Worked
The triceps brachii muscle is a muscle in the rear of your upper arm. It consists of three heads — the long head, lateral head and medial head. The three heads of the tricep insert into the elbow. The long head originates from the scapula, stretching across the shoulder and elbow joints. The lateral head originates from the back of the humerus and stretches across the elbow joint.
During tricep extensions the tricep contracts, extending the elbow joint against the resistance of the weight and gravity. While the term "triceps extension" usually refers to a specific arm exercise, also known as the overhead triceps extension, it can also be used to describe the primary motion of the triceps muscle.
The overhead triceps extension exercise is an isolation exercise, meaning it focuses on the tricep muscle alone. An isolation exercise is complementary to a compound exercise, such as the bench press, which works the chest, core and triceps together. Isolation exercises are used to target smaller, specific muscles for strengthening or for aesthetic reasons.
A May 2018 study in Acta Orthopaedica et Traumatologica Turcica explains that the long head of the tricep aids more in elbow extension at shoulder elevation, and the medial head takes over at 90 degrees above shoulder elevation and over.
The American Council on Exercise (ACE), in a study of 15 healthy women aged 20 to 24, found the overhead tricep extension exercise to be the fourth-best tricep exercise when it comes to recruiting the muscle fibers of the tricep, according to measurements using an electromyographic (EMG) machine.
The other exercises measured included triangle push-ups, which were number one, tricep kickbacks, dips, rope pushdowns, bar pushdowns, lying barbell tricep extensions and the closed-grip bench press.
Read more: 8 Exercises to Tone Your Triceps
Varieties of Tricep Extensions
There are a few varieties of exercises that involve elbow extension to work the triceps brachii muscle that you can try.
These exercises could also be performed with resistance bands or cable machines, or as unilateral exercises, working one arm at a time.
Other Triceps Exercises to Try
Other triceps exercises include the triangle push-up, which produced the most muscle fiber recruitment of the tested triceps exercises in the ACE study. This exercise, also called the close-grip push-up, is convenient because all you need is body weight. Be sure to balance out your triceps training regimen with other arm and upper body work, such as your core, biceps, shoulders, back and chest. Some other tricep exercises to try, as provided by ExRx.net, are:
- Dumbbell kickback
- Close grip bench press
- Triceps dip
- JM press
- Cable pushdown
- ExRx.net: "Triceps Brachii Muscles"
- American Council on Exercise: "Tricep Extension"
- American Council on Exercise: "Triceps Extension"
- American Council on Exercise: "Lying Triceps Extension"
- American Council on Exercise: "TRX Overhead Triceps Extension"
- American Council on Exercise: "ACE-Sponsored Research: Best Triceps Exercises"
- Acta Orthopaedica et Traumatologica Turcica: "The Different Role of Each Head of the Triceps Brachii Muscle in Elbow Extension"
- ExRx.net: "Close Grip Push-Up"
- ExRx.net: "Upper Arm Exercises"
- Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology: The Shoulder Extension Function of the Triceps Brachii