How to Do Bench Tricep Extension Properly

The bench tricep extension is an isolation exercise that engages the muscle located on the back of your forearms.

This muscle, known as the triceps, is made up of three heads: the lateral head, long head and medial head. All these three heads extend your forearm at your elbow joint.

The bench tricep extension is referred to as an isolation exercise because it only allows movement at the elbow joint.

Equipment required: Bench, dumbbell

How to do it:

  • Lie on your back on a flat bench.
  • Keep your feet firmly planted on the ground on each side of the bench. They should be shoulder width apart.
  • In each of your hands, hold a dumbbell. Press them up so that they are approximately at arm’s length above your body.
  • Using your forearms, lower the two dumbbells till they are almost touching your forehead. Stay in this position for a second.
  • Push the dumbbells back to the starting position using your triceps.
  • Hold for a few seconds then come down slowly.
  • Do as many reps as you desire.

WHAT MUSCLES DOES THE BENCH TRICEP EXTENSION WORK?

TRICEPS

This exercise engages the triceps brachii, a muscle located on your upper arm.  It is made up of three heads that insert into your elbow.

During this exercise, the tricep brachii contracts and extends the joint at your elbow against the resistance of gravity and weight.

SHOULDERS

At the top position, your deltoids shorten and contract as the muscle fibers get activated.

This way, you get to work your shoulder muscles as you press the dumbbells up and lower them back down.

BENCH TRICEP EXTENSION BENEFITS

ENGAGES ALL THREE TRICEP HEADS

Unlike most tricep exercises which only engage the medial and lateral heads of the triceps, the bench tricep extension also engages the often neglected long head.

When you raise your arms, you activate the long head more than the two other tricep heads.

The closer your forearms come to touching your ear, the more active the long head will get during the bench tricep extension.

INCREASES ARM STRENGTH

By building the muscles on the back of your upper arms, this exercise increases your overall arm strength. It also tones your forearms, which improves the shape and appearance of your arms.

STABILIZES JOINTS

When your triceps are strong, they provide more stability to your elbow and shoulder joints.

Stable shoulder and elbow joints help you lift heavy things and do other activities that require forearm strength comfortably.

BETTER POSTURE

Since you are lying flat on your back as you do this exercise, you have to recruit your core muscles to support your spine and back muscles.

As a result, the bench tricep extension helps you develop better posture, which prevents lower back and spinal injury.

ALTERNATIVES TO THE BENCH TRICEP EXTENSION

CROSS BODY TRICEP EXTENSION

Like the bench tricep extension, the cross body tricep extension engages the lateral and medial tricep heads.

However, in this exercise you will be unable to use as much weight as you can during the bench tricep extension because it doesn’t engage the long head extensively.

For this reason, most people use the cross body tricep extension as a warm-up for the triceps or to finish an intense tricep workout.

How to do it:

  • Lie on a bench and hold a dumbbell with your hand up in the air.
  • Bend your elbow then lower the dumbbell across your body towards your other shoulder. Your elbows should be pointing outwards.
  • Press the dumbbell back up, locking out your arm again. This completes a single rep.
  • Do as many reps as you desire then switch hands.

This exercise also works the muscles on your shoulders.

CABLE ROPE OVERHEAD TRICEP EXTENSION

Like the bench tricep extension, this exercise also targets the long head of the triceps.

The double resistance provided by the rope and the cable help in maintaining maximum tension on your triceps throughout the exercise.

This combined resistance also fully stretches your triceps by engaging all the heads at once. The full stretching of your triceps enables your muscles to grow maximally within a short period of time.

How to do it:

  • Attach a rope to a pulley machine.
  • Grasp the rope with your hands then extend your arms above your head. Your palms should be facing each other and your arms perpendicular to the floor as your knuckles point to the ceiling. This is your starting position.
  • Lower the rope slowly, passing it behind your head as your upper arms remain stationary.
  • Inhale as you do this movement and make sure to pause for a few seconds after your triceps have been fully stretched.
  • Flex your triceps, exhale and return to the starting position.

BENCH TRICEP EXTENSION MISTAKES TO AVOID

FLARING YOUR ELBOWS

When the elbows stick out to the side, you enlist the shoulders and biceps to help with extension and flexion.

This would mean you stop focusing on the triceps and instead target the biceps and shoulder muscles. Hence, this exercise will no longer be working your triceps.

To avoid flaring your elbows, make sure they are tucked and your weight is reduced as much as possible so that you are able to maintain proper placement.

MOVING TOO QUICKLY

For maximum results, make sure your movements are slow and controlled. If you move too fast, you might end up missing out on some of the benefits of this exercise.

POOR GRIP ON THE DUMBBELL

Place your palms under the top plates of the dumbbells for a better grip.

Having a good grip on the dumbbells will not only help you work the triceps more than the back muscles but also prevent potential injury on the elbow.

FINAL THOUGHTS

When it comes to building a strong chest, the bench tricep extension is one of the best exercises out there.

Not only does it strengthen your chest muscles but it also triggers stabilizers in your shoulder muscles and engages them to give you better posture.

Since you lift dumbbells above your head as you do this exercise, you should make sure not to lift more weight than you are comfortable lifting.

Try it out today and begin your journey to a strong, better-looking chest!

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