Best Dumbbell Exercises for Triceps

5 Best Dumbbell Exercises for Triceps Strength

Dumbbells are a versatile and effective piece of equipment for anyone looking to train their triceps. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced athlete, incorporating dumbbell exercises into your workouts can help you build strong and symmetrical triceps.

Not only do dumbbell exercises help prevent asymmetries (one arm being stronger than the other), but they also challenge your stabilizer muscles and oftentimes even engage your core.

In this article, I will highlight the best dumbbell exercises to train your triceps.

From Skull Crushers to Extensions, I will explain the proper technique for each exercise and discuss its benefits. Whether your goal is to grow your arms, increase your strength, or enhance your athletic performance, these dumbbell exercises can help you achieve your goals.

Dumbbell Skull Crushers

My favorite dumbbell exercise to target the triceps is the Dumbbell Skull Crusher. In fact, I even like them more than the very popular bar version.

Dumbbells allow me to find an angle and range of motion that doesn’t bother my wrists and elbows. And, dumbbells ensure that both triceps are having to work equally to move the weight.

And, as you can see in the video above, you don’t even need a bench for Dumbbell Skull Crushers. Laying on the floor will do the job just fine.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Using dumbells, lie flat on a bench with your head down, and chin up. If you don’t have a bench, you can simply lie on the floor.
  • Press dumbbells to arm’s length above the shoulder.
  • Lower dumbbells to just beside ears, bending arms at elbows, keeping upper arm vertical and elbows in.
  • Return to starting position and repeat.

Coaching Points

Keep the elbows high throughout. When DB Skull Crushers start to become difficult, the natural tendency of the lifter is to drop the elbows. Keep the elbows high and tight (try not to let them flare out to the side either).


Dumbbell Bench Press

Dumbbell Bench Press Technique

You may think of Dumbbell Bench Press as just a dumbbell exercise for the chest. But, you wouldn’t be giving Dumbbell Bench nearly enough credit.

This Bench Press variation is one of the most effective dumbbell exercises for the chest and the triceps.

Pro Tip: For added triceps emphasis, turn your palms in toward one another and keep your elbows tight to your sides. This effectively turns the movement into a dumbbell version of Close Grip Bench Press.

Step-by-Step Instruction

  • Grab your dumbbells, sit on the edge of the bench, and sit the dumbbells on your thighs vertically.
  • Take a deep breath, lie flat on your back on the bench, and get your dumbbells in position ready to press.
  • Keep your feet flat on the floor.
  • Keep your butt on the bench.
  • Pull your shoulder blades together and keep the back of your head on the bench. You will slightly arch your back. Keep your core tight and keep the shoulder blades pulled back tight.
  • The dumbbells should be slightly angled (representative of the path you are descending with your elbows).
  • Press the dumbbells up.
  • Control the dumbbells down during the eccentric movement and draw the dumbbells in, keeping the elbows at about a 45-degree angle away from the torso.
  • The dumbbells will make contact with your torso right at the nipple line on the chest.
  • Once contact is made, drive the dumbbells back up.
  • When your set is done, do not freely drop the dumbbells without checking your surroundings. You could drop the dumbbell and it might hit a person nearby. Or your could drop your dumbbell and crush your fingers on a dumbbell that was left next to your bench.
  • The best way to finish a set is to bring the dumbbells back to your thighs and stand up with them. Or have a lifting partner take them from you.

Coaching Points

This is a very shoulder-friendly pressing movement. Because the implement is a dumbbell, the range of motion is increased, the shear force on the shoulder is decreased, and the shoulder stabilizing muscles are engaged.

I would highly recommend this dumbbell movement to any athlete. It provides all the benefits that a pressing movement can offer with minimal risk.

Remember to finish your sets with awareness so that you and your training partner/fellow gym members stay safe and injury-free.


Seated Dumbbell Triceps Extensions

Seated Dumbbell Tricep Extensions is one of the best dumbbell exercises for targeting and isolating the triceps.

There are also plenty of variations you can do with overhead extensions.

You can do them seated or standing and you can use a single dumbbell or two dumbbells (one in each hand).

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Sit on the edge of a bench with a single dumbbell.
  • Raise the dumbbell straight up overhead with both hands.
  • Keep the elbows high, bend the arms and bring the dumbbell behind the head.
  • Now drive the arms back to the overhead starting position.
  • Repeat for the designated number of reps.

Coaching Points

This exercise can technically be done seated or standing with no real difference in the functionality of the movement. It’s more of a matter of personal preference.

Make sure to keep the core braced so you avoid overarching the back.


Dumbbell Floor Press

Another pressing exercise that is extremely effective at hitting the triceps is the Dumbbell Floor Press.

You get many of the same benefits as a Dumbbell Bench Press, but the limited range of motion actually puts more emphasis on the triceps.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Sit down on the ground with dumbbells in each hand.
  • Lay on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor.
  • Engage your lats and set yourself up basically the same as you would for Dumbbell Bench Press.
  • Lower the dumbbells down until the triceps lightly tap the floor and then press it back to extension.
  • Keep the elbows at roughly a 45-degree angle to the torso (don’t let them flare out wide away from the body).
  • Repeat for the designated amount of reps.

Coaching Points

A good spotter can be worth their weight in gold to help you get set up (and even take one dumbbell at the end of the set). This becomes more true the heavier you get in weight.

Control the rep down to the floor and lightly tap the floor with your triceps. Don’t go crashing your arms into the floor and unnecessarily hurt yourself in the process.


Dumbbell Pullover

Dumbbell Pullovers (1)

Like Dumbbell Bench, you may not think of Dumbbell Pullovers as a triceps exercise, but they do a really good job of hitting the triceps in addition to the lats and serratus anterior.

How To

  • Lay on a bench with the top of your head all the way to the edge of the bench.
  • Make a diamond shape with your hands and place them on the inside of one of the heads of the dumbbell.
  • Press the dumbbell to arm’s length straight up over the chest.
  • Now, reach the dumbbell overhead (allow some bend in the elbow) until your hands are about even with the height of the bench.
  • Finally, pull the dumbbell back to the starting position.

Coaching Points

This exercise will give a deep stretch to the chest and triceps on the lift’s eccentric (lowering) phase. Stay slow and controlled and focus on the stretch followed by the strong contraction as you raise the dumbbell back to the start.

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Final Thoughts

Dumbbells are extremely versatile pieces of equipment that have an almost infinite number of uses.

There are plenty of exercises you can do with dumbbells to build and develop strong triceps (or add some bicep exercises as well for a complete arm workout with dumbbells.)

So, whether you have a set of dumbbells or a pair of adjustable dumbbells (like these Powerblocks), you have all you need to get in some great tricep workouts.

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