Exercise of the month: the lying triceps extension

The lying triceps extension is an exercise that strengthens and tones the back of the upper arm. Responsible for extension of the elbow joint, the triceps muscle allows the arms to straighten. Most everyday activities do not use the triceps to a significant degree, making it important to add exercises to work this area.


Starting position: Lie face up with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Hold dumbbells with palms facing one another and arms straight (photo 1).

Downward phase: Slowly begin bending the elbows, lowering the dumbbells until they lightly touch the shoulders. In this position, the elbows should be pointing toward the ceiling (photo 2).

Upward phase: Slowly begin pressing the dumbbells back up until your arms are straight. You should feel the back of the arm tightening (contracting). Although your arms should be straight, avoid a hyperextension, or full lockout, of the elbow joint.

For maximum benefit, maintain strict form. With each repetition, the elbows should be kept shoulder-width apart, and the upper arms should not move. Speed of movement should be slow and controlled.

Beginners: Start with one to two sets of eight to 12 repetitions, performed every other day. Add sets, reps or weight as you become stronger.


• The triceps extension can be performed with one arm at a time. This can be useful if you find it difficult to keep the upper arm in place, or if using heavy weights. In this case you would support the elbow of the working arm with the opposite hand to help keep your arm in place during each extension.

• You can do lying triceps extensions on a weight bench or on the floor or other stable surface.

• This exercise can also be performed seated or standing. In this case, start with one or both arms straight overhead, palms facing one another and elbows shoulder width apart. Without allowing the upper arm to move, slowly lower the forearms until the dumbbells touch the tops of the shoulders. Complete the repetition by returning to the starting position (arms straight).

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