Building Better Triceps with Dumbbells

Good day everyone. We have a special guest post for you today by Samuel Kennedy from Our guest contributor today is an author, fitness advocate, and blogger, and is well respected in the fitness community. While he is an all-rounded fitness motivator, he will be talking about something specific today – triceps. These are the muscles you should not neglect if you are trying to make your arms look big. Here goes:

Having muscles is kind of like having children: we’re not supposed to have a favorite. But, sometimes we do. My personal favorite muscle group to train is my triceps. You might already be aware of what your triceps are, but I’ll explain for those who might not know. The triceps brachii is a large, three-headed muscle located on the back of the arm, responsible for elbow extension – in other words, straightening your arm. While the biceps are located on the front of the arm, and therefore more noticeable, the triceps are very important in their own right.

Okay, so remember when I said the triceps has three heads? As a result, there are certain considerations you have to take when training your triceps. The long head of the triceps reaches from the back of the shoulder blade all the way to the elbow joint. Exercises that put your upper arm in a straight line with your back (think of overhead extensions) work best for this part of the triceps. A seated overhead extension with a heavy EZ-bar is my favorite triceps exercise overall, but you can train each arm separately with a pair of dumbbells. In fact, using dumbbells is one of the best ways to make sure your muscles are balanced.

The second head of the triceps is called the lateral head. It starts on the upper arm and runs alongside the long head to the elbow. And the third head – the medial head – runs underneath the first two heads. Today, we’re going to look at a workout that trains all three heads of the triceps effectively with only a pair of dumbbells, and four great exercises.

The Workout:

One: Close-Grip Pushups – Though we’ll be using dumbbells for the rest of this workout, this calisthenics exercise is a great warm-up. The close-grip pushup is much like a regular pushup, but by keeping the arms close to your body and tucking the elbows back instead of out to the sides, the emphasis shifts from your chest to your triceps. We’ll do two sets, and make sure to stop before failure on each.

Two: Seated Overhead Triceps Press – In a seated position, lean back slightly and place your feet in a stable position. You can either do this exercise one arm at a time, or using both arms. With elbows pointed toward the ceiling, lower the dumbbell (or dumbbells) behind your head, then press up again. We’re aiming for 4 sets here, of 10 to 12 reps per set.

Three: Dumbbell Kickbacks – There are two different ways to do this exercise, and I’ll go over both of them briefly. The first option is to work one arm at a time. Lean forward next to a bench, placing one knee and the corresponding hand on the bench. Holding the dumbbell in the other hand with the upper arm parallel to the body, raise the dumbbell by straightening your arm. Alternatively, you could perform this exercise with both arms simultaneously. Simply forgo the bench, instead supporting yourself with your lower back and lifting a dumbbell in each hand. Aim for 3 sets of 10 reps.

Four: Tate Press – This is very similar to the overhead extension, and makes a great finisher for your triceps workout. Lying on a flat bench, hold a dumbbell in one hand above you. Using your other hand to stabilize the working arm, bend your elbow, lowering the dumbbell across your body until it touches your chest, and then straighten your arm. After completing the set, switch to the other hand. Wrap up your triceps workout with 3 sets of this exercise, 12 reps to a set.

In Conclusion

These are some of my all-time favorite triceps exercises, and the overhead triceps extension is quite possibly my favorite exercise ever. A lot of lifters neglect their triceps in favor of the more obvious biceps. But, if you build up your triceps, your arms will be much more balanced and aesthetic. You’ll also find that those stronger triceps help you in your chest and shoulder exercises, which translates to greater strength increases on your big pressing movements and overall upper body strength.

Thanks once again Samuel. Folks, if you wish to check out his content and learn about his mission, which I highly encourage you to, please visit him at

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