The overhead triceps extension is the secret weapon for chiseling impressive, huge triceps you've always dreamed of. By isolating and targeting the triceps in the stretched position, you'll carve triceps and create a definition that will leave everyone in awe. Don't settle for average arms. Upgrade your workout routine with the powerful overhead triceps extension.
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How To Overhead Triceps Extension
The overhead triceps extension can be done with almost every piece of gym equipment. So, I will cover how to overhead triceps extension with everything.
The cable overhead triceps extension is my favorite of the variations, as you get maximum stretch and tension at the top and bottom.
Be mindful to keep your elbows pointing to the ceiling. It's easy to fall into the trap of going too heavy and having your elbows drop, reducing stretch on the triceps.
The dumbbell overhead triceps extension is the most common variation. It’s often done seated but can be done standing too. I find this variation is nicest on the shoulders and elbows, potentially because of the close grip.
To maximize the extension, squeeze your elbows in during the descent instead of letting them flare. You get a much bigger stretch.
I don’t typically prescribe the barbell overhead triceps extension because it's harsh on the wrists, elbows, and shoulders since you're in a fixed position. Mobility restrictions will be found out quickly! However, you can use this variation if you have a home gym with limited equipment.
You'll find it challenging to keep the shoulders in place and only move from the elbow. Don't worry if you find your elbows dropping slightly throughout.
The EZ bar overhead triceps extension is more friendly than the barbell version since you have the angled grips. If you have access to EZ bars, use them over the barbell.
If you’re after a quick and easy exercise to pump your triceps, the plate overhead triceps extension is the most accessible.
You'll find it challenging to keep your shoulders still. It's fine to have some shoulder movement through each rep.
The kettlebell overhead triceps extension can be done with a kettlebell in each hand or holding one kettlebell with both hands, like in the video. A kettlebell in each hand is a better option, as holding the small handle with both hands isn't very comfortable.
This variation is easier on the elbows and wrists, so it is an excellent option for mobility-restricted athletes.
What Does The Overhead Triceps Extension Work?
The overhead triceps extension targets the triceps, as the name suggests. However, the triceps are a group of three muscles:
Each muscle head is preferentially targeted based on the should position as they don’t work together when extending the elbow .
For example, the medial head of the triceps only becomes fully involved in the movement when the elbow is flexed past 90° (think the bottom of a skull crusher). In contrast, the long head maintains a constant capacity to generate force at a wide range of elbow angles .
However, the overhead triceps extension may be one the best exercises for getting big triceps. Why? Two reasons…
Firstly, muscle activity data reflects the overhead position targets the lateral and medial head . The long head doesn’t see the same level of muscle activation. However, muscle activation data isn't everything concerning hypertrophy.
The long head is unique because it is biarticular, meaning it crosses the elbow and shoulder. In contrast, the lateral and medial heads only cross the elbow. So the long head can be stretched further when the elbow and shoulder are flexed.
We know training at long muscle lengths is superior for building muscle . Therefore, by this evidence, we can suppose the overhead triceps extension is also superior for the triceps long head. But we don’t need to speculate.
Recent research has shown that overhead triceps extension led to a 1.5 more significant difference in long-head triceps muscle growth than the triceps extension (28.5% vs. 19.6%, respectively) . So, we can say the overhead triceps extension is excellent for the long and lateral head of the triceps and moderate for the medial head.
Is The Overhead Triceps Extension Better Than Skull Crushers?
This depends on your entire training program and goals. For pure triceps size, the overhead triceps extension is better. You get the extreme stretch of the triceps long head, and a superior muscle growth response.
The skull crusher is known for causing long-term elbow pain, especially when done too heavily long-term. To save your elbows, never to skull crushers as your first triceps exercise. Always do your pressing movements, then a less stressful exercise like triceps pushdown before doing skull crushers.
The overhead triceps extension is a no-brainer for growing your triceps. The superior stretch allows you to train at long muscle lengths, producing a greater hypertrophy response. Add the overhead triceps extension after heavy close-grip bench presses for the ultimate mass-building combination.
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