Training your triceps helps to lean out your arms and give them more definition. Plus, strong triceps can offer the shoulder more stability, which is important for preventing injury. But it can feel like a really tricky area to target. In this blog, we’re going to show you a number of dumbbell tricep workouts you can do just about anywhere, and all you need is some weight. Keep scrolling to see them!
The Anatomy of the Triceps
The triceps make it possible for your forearms to extend and retract. This, then, plays a role in your elbows being able to extend and retracts. These are horseshoe-shaped muscles on the back of the arm. Many of us consider the triceps to be one single muscle. In reality, there are three distinct parts:
- Long head.
- Lateral head.
- Medial head.
9 Dumbbell Tricep Workouts for More Defined Arms
1. Close-Grip Bench Press
Normally, your grip is just outside your shoulders. By bringing your hands closer together, you better engage your triceps. Remember that you want to keep your elbows tucked into your sides.
2. Gravity Press
We love this one because of its simplicity. There’s not even a traditional press involved, technically. You’re simply resisting gravity, hence the name. The gravity press is also excellent for strengthening the shoulder joint and improving shoulder mobility — a must for functional fitness athletes.
3. Tate Press
Out of the dumbbell tricep workouts on this list, this is likely the one you’re the least familiar with. With the tate press, your shoulder is mostly stabilized while your elbows do the majority of the flexing. Think of anchoring your elbows in one place as they flex. This is going to prevent your arms from moving side to side and forward to back.
4. Reverse-Grip Bench Press
By simply flipping your grip over, you turn the standard dumbbell bench press into something different. As a bonus, this is a great one for working your biceps, too!
There are countless variations for this one, but let’s start with the basics. Try to keep your elbows somewhat pinned to your sides, and remember to squeeze your shoulders together slightly. This is how you can ensure you’re staying properly engaged.
Simple enough, right? Let’s talk about a few variations!
- Do one arm at a time.
- Perform kickbacks while laying flat on a bench.
- Lay on a bench but at an incline, with your chest slightly higher than your feet.
- Get into the plank position, with each hand holding onto a dumbbell. Perform kickbacks on one side at a time.
Athletes typically perform dips with their hands on a bench or chair. However, you can up the challenge by hanging onto a set of dumbbells. This is going to require total-body stability while still targeting your triceps. Don’t be surprised if you feel it in your core, too. You have to engage those muscles so that you’re not wobbling around or toppling over.
7. Dumbbell Rows
Dumbbell rows are great for building strength in the back, in general. And as you near that top-most position, your triceps are really going to come into play. To get the most out of this, pause and squeeze for a second at the top.
Like kickbacks, dumbbell rows have a ton of variations. In addition to single-arm rows using a bench (above), try the following:
- Lay flat on a bench, on your stomach, and perform rows on both sides simultaneously.
- Do standing upright rows, where your elbows flare out to the sides. You can do one or both sides.
- Perform kneeling rows, which look similar to the previous variation — except you’re kneeling on one or both legs.
- Stand and bend at the hips, and perform rows from this position.
8. Tricep Extensions
This one looks similar to kickbacks, but your positioning will change. As opposed to lifting the dumbbell behind you as you would in a kickback, you’re going to hold the weight behind your head and then left (read: extend) it upward. Squeeze your core and breathe!
Don’t let the name scare you off. Skull-crushers are a go-to for athletes when it comes to dumbbell tricep workouts. Similar to the tate press, you want to anchor your elbows in place. Slowly lower the dumbbells until they’re resting next to your ears.
Here are a few final tips so that you can get the most out of these dumbbell tricep workouts.
- Slow and controlled is the name of the game. Spend more time under tension and you’ll not only perform these dumbbell tricep workouts safely but you’ll build more strength.
- If it helps, start with a lighter weight so that you can familiarize yourself with the movement. Then move on to something more challenging.
- Don’t forget to warm up! Some of these movements demand a lot from your shoulders, so grab a resistance band and get those muscles and joints ready to work.
- In many cases, you can swap out dumbbells for kettlebells, if that’s all you have to work with. You’ll mostly get the same workout.
- Training should never hurt. Discomfort is normal and even positive. But pain indicates that something could be wrong. Pause and ask for guidance from a coach or trainer.
These dumbbell tricep workouts make great accessory work, in addition to your main WODs. Dedicate an extra five minutes to one or two of your weekly training sessions to challenging your triceps, and you reap the rewards. Get to work!