#1 Prone triceps kickbacks
I always like to start with a new exercise that isn’t as well known. So we’re starting with prone triceps kickbacks.
Despite its poor popularity, it’s one of the best exercises you can do to develop your horseshoe triceps and it will feel different than regular kickbacks.
To begin, lay down face first on a flat bench with two dumbbells at your sides. You want to be high up on the bench so that your face is above the edge.
Grab the two dumbbells and row your elbows straight back so that the back of your upper arm is pretty much parallel to the bench.
While keeping your upper arms fixed in position, extend your elbows until they’re almost fully locked out.
Slowly lower the dumbbells back down until your arms are bent at about a 90-degree angle. Then extend out again and repeat for reps.
For this one, you’ll need two dumbbells.
Take a seat on the bench with the dumbbells on your knees.
Lay back and bring the dumbbells up over your chest with your arms extended like you’re about to do dumbbell presses.
Bend your elbow and lower the dumbbell towards your sternum. Your elbow will be flared out toward your sides as you do this.
Extend back up to the starting position and repeat for reps.
This will work your triceps differently than regular skull crushers.
The Tate press is also a very effective exercise to hit all three heads of the triceps.
#3 Hex presses (variation)
With regular hex presses, you would lay on a flat bench and lower the dumbbells more towards the bottom of your sternum.
But to concentrate more on the triceps and help better develop that horseshoe triceps look, you can try aiming a little higher than that.
Grab two dumbbells, lay back on a bench, and press them straight up over the line of your shoulders.
Both dumbbells should be in a neutral position pressed against each other.
Bend your elbows and lower the dumbbells down aiming to bring your hands a little higher up your chest than regular hex presses.
Now, if this bothers your shoulders in any way, just aim lower towards the bottom of your sternum for Regular hex presses. They will also target your triceps just not quite as much.
Once you get to the bottom, just press both dumbbells back up and repeat for reps.
Another variation for skull crushers that is similar to the hex press variation is the JM Press.
Start by lying down on a flat bench with two dumbbells pressed straight up over the line of your shoulders.
Shift your arms down a bit so that your hands are slightly under the line of your shoulders. Both dumbbells should be in a neutral position.
Just like with skull crushers, bend your elbows and bring the dumbbells down, except you’ll be aiming lower, towards your shoulders rather than above your head.
Once you bring those dumbbells all the way down, extend your arms back out and repeat for reps.
Next, we’re gonna do French triceps presses.
Take two dumbbells and seat on an upright bench. I’m demonstrating without back support but having a bench with your back supported will allow you to lift a heavier weight which is beneficial for triceps growth.
Raise both dumbbells straight above your head like you just completed an overhead press.
Lower both dumbbells towards the middle of your neck behind your head.
Normally we want to keep the elbows close together. But for this variation, we actually want to keep the elbows flared out as we lower the dumbbells.
Once your forearms start pressing against your biceps extend the dumbbells back over your head and repeat for reps.
#6 Overhead triceps extension
Another exercise that you can do with one heavy dumbbell is the regular overhead triceps extension.
When you externally rotate your arms like we just did with the French presses you hit different parts of your triceps compared to when you internally rotate them.
So, although these exercises may seem similar they are working on different portions of the triceps.
Having both hands on one dumbbell helps you lift an overall heavier weight load benefiting triceps strength.
Begin by taking a seat with a heavy dumbbell on your knee.
Make an L-shape with both of your hands and stack one hand on top of the other over the head of the dumbbell.
If the weight is really heavy you will have to use your knee to get it up to your shoulder before you can press it above your head and get in the starting position.
Slowly bend your elbows and lower the weight behind your head while concentrating on keeping your elbows tight together.
Then simply extend your elbows and repeat for reps.
#7 Classic incline skull crushers
So far, we’ve talked about different skull crusher variations. But remember, classic skull crushers themselves are one of the best dumbbell exercises that you can do for your triceps.
You can do them on a flat bench, but specifically I want to highlight incline skull crushers because the incline helps place more tension on the long head of the triceps.
Grab two dumbbells and take a seat on an incline bench.
Raise the dumbbells until they’re in line with your shoulders and chest.
Once you’re in the starting position, only your forearms and the dumbbells should be moving as you lower the weights towards the top of your head.
The dumbbells shouldn’t be directly over your head. Instead, they should pass around the sides or above your head.
Once you feel your forearms pressing against your biceps, reverse the movement and extend back up to the starting position. Then repeat for reps.
#8 Close-grip triceps push-ups
This one is a bodyweight exercise where we can use the dumbbells for a comfortable neutral hand placement.
Take two dumbbells and place them in a neutral position against each other, just like with the hex press.
Grip one dumbbell in each hand and get into a push-up position with your chest over the dumbbells.
Slowly lower yourself down towards the dumbbells while keeping your elbows tight to your body.
Once your chest meets the dumbbells, press back up until you’re in the starting pushup position and then repeat for reps.
Remember as you’re doing this exercise to prevent your hips from dropping down and instead keep your hips in line with your feet and your head.
Since triceps pushups are more difficult than regular pushups, many people make the mistake of dropping their hips to get lower in the pushup.
If you start dropping your hips, just stop, take a break, and perform more reps with good form after a little recovery.
#9 Seated underhand triceps kickback
Unlike regular triceps kickbacks, this supinated hand positioning helps you put more tension on the outer triceps heads.
Sit on a bench with two dumbbells in your hands at your sides.
Fold your upper body over your lower body and do your best to get your chest as close as you can to your knees.
You want your back to be almost parallel with the floor and row your elbows back so they’re at the sides of your ribs.
Your hands should be in a supinated position. From there, extend your elbows while keeping your hands in that position.
Once you’re almost fully locked out, bring the dumbbells back down and repeat for reps.
Finally, an exercise that you can use really heavy weight to target your triceps is the floor press.
Depending on the weight you use, you can start with the dumbbells on your thigh and then roll them back into a position over your chest to begin.
However, once you get to a really heavy weight load, which is the goal, you’ll want a partner to assist you, by handing you the dumbbells.
Get in the starting position with your elbows against the ground and your dumbbells over your chest.
Keeping your hands in a neutral position, press straight up.
Slowly lower down until your elbows meet the floor at which point you’ll press back up.
That limited range of motion is primarily executed by the triceps since it’s the upper half of the lockout portion of the press.
So those are my favorite exercises to use for triceps development with only a pair of dumbbells.
Remember that you don’t need all of these exercises in one workout. All you need to do is take three or four of them and perform each for three sets of 6-10 reps with a heavy load.
I also recommend super-setting all of your triceps exercises with bicep exercises to save time in the gym and get an exceptional pump for your arms.
For those who don’t know, super-setting is performing two exercises back-to-back, with no break in between.
As an example, you would do triceps extensions followed immediately by bicep curls with no break.
That’s about it, guys. Now, if you want to build up your muscles, you have to make sure that you’re eating enough protein, and enough dietary fats and carbs to fuel that muscle growth.
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