- Triceps: Three-headed arm muscle
(Musculus triceps brachii)
Overhead Tricep Extension: Basics and alternatives
Involved main muscle groups:
Overhead Tricep Extension
The overhead barbell triceps extension lets you work both arms’ triceps muscles at the same time with precision. While the exercise is pretty similar to other triceps isolation exercises (extending your elbows to move the weight), it can be a bit more challenging because you have to consciously stabilize your body for a smooth performance.
You can perform the barbell triceps extension with a regular barbell or an EZ bar. The EZ bar can be easier on your wrists and might give you a more secure grip. But if you don’t have an EZ bar handy, a regular barbell works just fine.
Your grip should be slightly narrower than shoulder-width.
You can do this exercise either sitting or standing. Standing adds a bit more challenge since it demands more from your core. Both variations are equally effective for your triceps. The sitting variation is described below.
Hold the barbell with an overhand grip (palms facing forward), slightly narrower than shoulder-width, and keep it in front of your hips with your arms extended.
Sit up straight on the weight bench with a slight arch in your lower back. Rest the barbell, without changing your grip, on your thighs.
Lift the barbell over your head and extend your arms. Keep your elbows slightly bent. This is your starting position.
Lower the weight behind your head in a controlled manner by bending your elbows. Stop when your forearms are about parallel to the ground. Then, lift the barbell back to the starting position.
Common mistakes and injuries
As with all triceps press exercises, make sure the movement comes exclusively from your elbows. Move the weight only by extending your arms from the elbows. Don’t move your shoulders or your entire upper body to lift the weight.
Also, don’t fully extend your elbows at the end of the movement. Keep a slight bend to avoid overloading your joints.
Focus on controlled execution and avoid letting the barbell drop backward with momentum. In the worst-case scenario, this could lead to injuries if the barbell hits the back of your head or neck.