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5 Best Curl Bar Tricep Exercises (Reliable Workout Routines)

Connor Sellers
Published by Connor Sellers
Last updated: April 17, 2023

Curl bars are highly efficient in engaging and growing your triceps when performed correctly. It’s also an excellent tool for relieving wrist strain.

Today I will guide you through the best triceps exercises with curl bars that produced the finest results in my ten years as a personal trainer.

Quick Summary

  • The best curl bar tricep exercises include close grip bench presses, skull crushers, overhead tricep extensions, and JM presses.
  • Using a curl bar efficiently trains the triceps muscle group while keeping your wrists safe.
  • A triceps workout improves strength, endurance, posture, and physical appearance. It also helps gym-goers prevent injury and pain.

5 Top Curl Bar Tricep Exercises

A man perfoming curl bar tricep exercises

1. Skull Crushers

Skull crushers, also known as French presses or lying tricep extension, is a push exercise that targets the three heads of the triceps brachii - the long head, medial head, and lateral head [1].

How to do the EZ (short for “easy”) bar skull crusher:

  1. Grab the curl bar with an inside grip.
  2. Sit on a flat bench and widen your legs so that the bar bend goes on your quad.
  3. Kick the weight back so it’s above your forehead with your hands shoulder-width apart.
  4. Lower the weight over your head, keeping the elbows tucked in so they’re pointing towards the ceiling.
  5. Press the bar up by fully extending your arms.
  6. Repeat until your reach the desired number of repetitions.

2. Close Grip Bench Press

Close grip bench press on EZ curl bar

According to an American Council on Exercise (ACE) study, the close grip bench press is one of the top eight exercises since it activates the muscles to 62% degree [2].

How to do close grip bench presses with curl bars:

  1. Hold the curl bar with an inside grip.
  2. Widen your legs while sitting on a flat bench so the bar goes on your quad.
  3. Kick the weight back so it’s above your chest.
  4. Lower the weight above your sternum, keeping the elbows close to your body.
  5. Push the curl bar up by fully extending your arms.
  6. Repeat until your reach the desired number of reps.

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3. Standing Overhead Triceps Extensions

This overhead triceps extension is an alternative to the previous exercise (skull crushers). While both exercises work the triceps similarly, this version doesn't exert pressure on the wrists.

How to do an overhead tricep extension with a curl bar:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent.
  2. Grab the curl bar with an inside grip.
  3. Lift the bar over your head, keeping your core tight and glutes squeezed to help stabilize your body throughout the movement.
  4. Lower the bar behind your head, keeping your biceps close to your ears, and avoid arching your back.
  5. Return to the starting position.
  6. Repeat until your reach the desired number of repetitions.

“You can do this exercise seated or standing. Believe it or not, this move feels more challenging when you're sitting, and sitting on an exercise ball adds an element of core strength.”

- Paige Waehner, Fitness Editor at

4. JM Press

Performing JM Press in gym

The JM is a compound exercise that targets the triceps, delts, and pecs. It is a fusion of close-grip bench press and skull crushers, which are great upper arms exercises. However, it is not considered a safe workout for newbies.

How to JM presses with a curl bar:

  1. Lay on your back on a flat bench.
  2. Grab the curl bar with an overhand grip above your neck.
  3. Collapse the elbows straight down while keeping them inwards and allowing the curl bar to lower to your neck area.
  4. Press the bar straight up.
  5. Repeat until your reach the desired number of repetitions.

5. Push Press

Push presses are excellent for targeting your triceps and gaining upper arm strength and muscle mass. However, it is best to avoid this exercise if you lack shoulder and wrist mobility.

How to perform push presses with a curl bar:

  1. Stand up straight with feet hip-width apart.
  2. Rest the curl bar on your upper chest, keeping your elbows up.
  3. Slightly bend your knees, then push up with your legs to press the bar above your head.
  4. Lower the bar back to starting position.
  5. Repeat until your complete the desired number of reps.

Is Training with the Curl Bar Effective?

Two persons doing best curl bar tricep exercises

Yes, training with the curl bar is effective as it allows muscle isolation and better balance while keeping your wrists safe.

The EZ curl bars include two types::

  • The Olympic EZ curl bar - A multi-angled design for reduced joint stress. It focuses on your triceps and biceps. The Olympic curl bar’s shortness ensures that the weighted plates are closer to you, which results in more effortless bicep curl movement.
  • The EZ curl bar - A piece of equipment designed to primarily target both heads of your bicep brachii. A standard EZ bar has a 100-200 lbs capacity, whereas Olympic bars generally support up to 300 lbs.

“The curl bar is a specialized bar that offers slight variations to common movements, however, if you are not training with proper technique, loading, and training volume, the curl bar is no more effective than other pieces of equipment.”

- Mike Dewar, Founder at J2FIT

Unlike a standard straight bar, the curl bar is zig-zagged to allow for more grips customization, which lessens pain for lifters who have experienced prior injuries.

You may use EZ bars for various workouts in addition to the standard ones, like curls and extensions, including bent-over rows, chest presses, squats, and deadlifts.

The design of the bar enables you to incorporate more diversity into your workouts and to target specific muscles to increase strength, tone, and size.

A study revealed that EZ bars are the most effective curl variant to focus on the biceps brachii and the brachioradialis [3].

What Are the Benefits of Triceps Training?

Holding EZ curl bar on shoulder level

The benefits of triceps training are improved strength, muscle mass, physical appearance, and stability.

Including tricep exercises will also allow you to prevent pain and injuries.

1. Promotes Stability

Powerful triceps, particularly the long head, promote a range of motion and shoulder stability.

This prevents injury and facilitates moving your upper body in day-to-day activities like carrying groceries or engaging in upper-body sports, such as boxing and swimming.

To promote shoulder stability through triceps strength, you must include exercises targeting all three heads of the muscle.

2. Improves Posture

By incorporating the tricep exercises listed above, you can support your upper body and develop and maintain a strong posture.

Researchers found that it is best to start with triceps exercises to maximize the effectiveness of your workout.

This will give you more power and energy to lift heavier weights and exert more tension on your triceps, resulting in more significant muscle overload [4].

3. Boosts Muscle Size

Holding curl bar to show muscle size

As the triceps are the largest muscle group in your arms, you must include tricep exercises in your workout routine to promote muscle growth in your upper arms.

In addition, neglecting to balance your upper arm workout can lead to aesthetically unappealing results, with a strong, toned bicep appearance from the front but a weaker look from the back.

4. Improves Physical Appearance

Regular workouts targeting your triceps will help you achieve your toned look and the highly sought-after horseshoe muscle shape often desired by bodybuilders.

The key lies in the lateral head, found on the outer side of the triceps.

This critical muscle combines with the long head to create this sculpted look.

5. Prevented Pain and Injury

Posing for camera while carrying ez cur bar

Alongside the deltoid muscle, the triceps assist in stabilizing the shoulder joint and preventing injuries brought on by repetitive stress or instability.

Both can be detrimental in the long run if neglected.

Although maintaining your triceps strength from a young age is essential, it is particularly crucial as you age.

Studies have shown that strong muscles lead to slowing bone loss, which minimizes the fracture risk due to osteoporosis [6].

Besides supporting and protecting joints, strength training can ease pain, swelling, and stiffness for people with arthritis [7].


Can You Work Your Triceps With a Curl Bar?

Yes, you can work your triceps with a curl bar. It is appropriate for exercises targeting smaller muscles, such as the triceps and biceps. These muscles require less weight compared to chest and leg workouts that use a straight bar for a greater impact on a larger muscle group.

What Tricep Exercise is the Most Effective?

The most effective tricep exercise is skull crushers. This latter can help you grow bigger triceps as it activates the three heads (the long head, medial head, and lateral head). However, the best triceps exercise depends on your anatomy and fitness goals, such as building muscle size or strength.

Should You Lift Heavy for Triceps?

Yes, you should lift heavy for the triceps whether your goal is the strength or muscle mass. You can effectively break down muscle fibers by incorporating heavy tricep exercises such as close-grip bench presses and skull crushers, thus promoting muscle growth, endurance, and definition.

Ensure That Your Body Has Enough Protein for Effective Muscle Gains.

Whether you are starting your fitness journey or looking to switch things up, incorporating curl bar exercises in your workout routine will significantly help you build the size, strength, and definition of your triceps.

It's essential to always maintain good form and avoid overtraining, as both can lead to injury and hinder progress.

By ensuring a balanced and varied workout routine along with adequate rest, you are setting yourself up for success in achieving your fitness goals. I also advise my clients to get one of the protein powders below to maximize results:

Based on our firsthand experience, these supplements can speed up muscle repair, ease soreness, and support muscle mass.


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