How to Do Proper Overhead Tricep Extensions

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Overhead tricep extensions are a fundamental exercise for building strength and muscle mass in the triceps, a key muscle group in the upper arm.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced lifter, proper form is essential to maximize results and prevent injury.


In this guide, we’ll delve into the intricacies of overhead tricep extensions, covering everything from technique and variations to common mistakes and safety tips.

Understanding the Anatomy:

Before diving into the specifics of overhead tricep extensions, it’s crucial to understand the anatomy of the triceps brachii.


The triceps consist of three heads: the long head, lateral head, and medial head.

These muscles play a vital role in extending the elbow joint and stabilizing the shoulder.


Proper Technique:


Begin by selecting an appropriate weight and adjusting the height of the cable machine or grabbing a dumbbell.

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, ensuring a stable base.



Grasp the weight with an overhand grip, hands slightly narrower than shoulder-width apart.

Your palms should be facing up, and your elbows should be pointing forward.



Lift the weight overhead, fully extending your arms.

Keep your elbows close to your ears throughout the movement.



Lower the weight behind your head by bending your elbows.

Keep your upper arms stationary and avoid flaring your elbows out to the sides.


Lower the weight until your forearms are parallel to the floor or slightly below.


Once you reach the bottom position, extend your elbows to return to the starting position.


Focus on squeezing your triceps at the top of the movement to maximize muscle activation.


Inhale as you lower the weight and exhale as you extend your arms.


Common Mistakes to Avoid:

Using Too Much Weight:

Sacrificing form for heavier weights can increase the risk of injury and diminish results.

Start with a manageable weight and gradually increase as your strength improves.


Flaring Elbows:

Allowing your elbows to flare out to the sides places unnecessary stress on the shoulder joints and reduces tricep engagement.

Keep your elbows tucked in throughout the movement.


Incomplete Range of Motion:

Failing to lower the weight fully behind your head or stopping short of full extension limits muscle activation and diminishes the effectiveness of the exercise.

Aim for a full range of motion while maintaining control.


Arching the Back:

Leaning backward or arching the lower back to lift heavier weights compromises spinal alignment and stability.

Keep your core engaged and maintain a neutral spine throughout the exercise.


Speeding Through Repetitions:

Performing overhead tricep extensions too quickly reduces time under tension and diminishes muscle stimulation.

Focus on controlled, deliberate movements for optimal results.



Cable Overhead Tricep Extension:

Perform the exercise using a cable machine with a rope or straight bar attachment for added resistance and stability.

Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extension:

Hold a dumbbell with both hands overhead, palms facing up, and perform the exercise as described.


Seated Overhead Tricep Extension:

Sit on a bench or chair with back support and perform the exercise to isolate the triceps further.

Safety Tips:


Prioritize a thorough warm-up to prepare your muscles and joints for the demands of overhead tricep extensions.


Dynamic stretches and light cardio can help increase blood flow and flexibility.

Proper Form:

Focus on maintaining proper form throughout the exercise to minimize the risk of injury and maximize results.


If you’re unsure about your technique, seek guidance from a qualified fitness professional.

Gradual Progression:

Gradually increase the weight and intensity of your overhead tricep extensions over time to avoid overloading your muscles and joints.


Listen to Your Body:

Pay attention to any discomfort or pain during the exercise, and stop immediately if you experience sharp or persistent pain.

Consult a healthcare professional if you have any concerns.



Allow adequate time for rest and recovery between workouts to prevent overtraining and promote muscle growth.

Incorporate stretching and foam rolling to alleviate muscle tightness and improve flexibility.



Overhead tricep extensions are a versatile and effective exercise for building strength and muscle mass in the triceps.

By mastering proper technique, avoiding common mistakes, and incorporating variations, you can maximize the benefits of this exercise while minimizing the risk of injury.


Remember to prioritize safety, listen to your body, and gradually progress to achieve your fitness goals.

With dedication and consistency, you’ll soon reap the rewards of stronger, more defined triceps.


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