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8 Best Dumbbell Triceps Exercises (Huge Bodybuilding Arms)

Tyler Sellers
Published by Tyler Sellers
Last updated: April 13, 2023

As a fitness trainer, I've seen many people limit their tricep workouts using a few cable press-downs.

Cable press downs aren't entirely bad, but to build that massive bodybuilding arm, you need to perform accessory work and heavy pressing. And dumbbells are the best way to archive that.

In this article, I will provide everything I have found in my 10+ years of experience and the best exercises you can perform using dumbbells to develop bigger triceps.

Quick Summary

  • Dumbbell tricep workouts are excellent for targeting and developing the tricep muscle.
  • These workouts may be performed with dumbbell motions, including kickbacks, overhead extensions, and close-grip presses.
  • Dumbbell tricep movements can help develop endurance in the upper body, sculpt the triceps, and even improve overall athletic performance when included in a daily workout routine.

The Best Dumbbell Tricep Exercises

Woman lifting dumbbell showing back and triceps

1. Close Grip Dumbbell Bench Press

The close-grip dumbbell press also engages your shoulders and chest, but your triceps are the major working muscle group and driving power behind this compound press exercise.

Because it is a multi-joint action, you may load it up more.

As a result, it is ideal for gaining strength.

How to perform: 

  1. Lay flat on a bench with arms fully extended over your chest and a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Your arms should be placed on the shoulders, palms facing each other.
  3. Bending at the elbows, lower the dumbbells.
  4. After the action, your elbows should be bent at 90 degrees and close to your sides.
  5. Push up until your hands are entirely stretched above your chest again.
  6. Repeat for reps.
  7. These may be performed with both arms simultaneously, alternating from right to left, or with a single arm at a time.

2. Overhead Tricep Extension (Single Arm)

The overhead tricep extension employs a flexed shoulder to target the long head by putting it through a significant stretch under load.

Training them one at a time allows you to concentrate on each arm separately, making the most of each rep and set.

How to perform:

  1. Sit on a flat bench with your shoulders extended and your dumbbell held like a hammer, with your elbow pointed diagonally away from your body.
  2. Flex the elbow to lower the weight.
  3. Once you've achieved a nice stretch, contract the triceps to return the elbow to its starting position.
  4. Repeat for reps.

3. Rolling Dumbbell Triceps Extension

Man holding dumbbells performing rolling dumbbell triceps extension

The rolling dumbbell extension is a version of the lying dumbbell extension and works the tricep muscles.

The extra pullover during the rolling dumbbell extension enhances the tricep muscle's range of motion and total stretch, contributing to further muscle growth.

How to perform: 

  1. With a neutral grip, pick up the dumbbells from the floor (palms facing in). Sit on the bench with the tips of the dumbbells in the hip crease.
  2. Lay back and bring the dumbbells close to the chest to get into position. Take a deep breath, and then push the dumbbells to lockout at the peak once you're in place.
  3. Drop the weights to your shoulders by releasing your elbows and keeping a neutral grip.
  4. Let your upper arms stretch overhead once your forearms have reached parallel or slightly below (similar to a pullover).
  5. Pull the elbows to return to the starting position when the arms reach full extension.
  6. Lengthen the elbows while flexing the triceps to lock out the weight.
  7. Repeat for reps.

4. Triceps Kickbacks

Dumbbell kickbacks are demanding and work the core while focusing your triceps' medial and lateral heads.

"The triceps kickback lets you concentrate on carving detail into the arm muscle. The exercise may help us concentrate on that ultimate squeeze."

- Ebenezer Samuel, Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist

How to perform: 

  1. Get a flat bench and place a dumbbell on the right-hand side at one end to prepare for the dumbbell tricep kickback.
  2. Place yourself on the right side of the bench, your left knee, and your left hand on the bench.
  3. Grab the load with your right hand using a neutral grip. Maintain a straight back and a forward gaze.
  4. Tuck your right upper arm into your chest and bend your elbow to produce a 90° arm angle with the upper arm and forearm. This is your starting point.
  5. Lift the dumbbell behind you using only your elbows until your arm is completely extended.
  6. Pause, then drop the dumbbell to return to the starting position.
  7. Perform this exercise for the required repetitions, then switch to your left arm.

5. Half Bench Skull Crusher

Doing skull crushers on an inclined bench

The half-bench dumbbell skull crushers cancel one of the most common mistakes on skull crushers.

If people don't have a lot of shoulder motion range overhead, they react by arching their back.

Because you can't truly arch your back from that half-bench position, your refined shoulder mobility develops.

  1. Lay on a bench with one hand on a dumbbell.
  2. Transfer your weight to that side such that the spine, half of your body, and one glute are entirely off the bench.
  3. To maintain a robust and steady base throughout the workout, squeeze the glute and tighten your core.
  4. Raise the dumbbell to form a 90° angle with your body. To assist you in maintaining your balance, extend the opposite arm straight out to the side.
  5. Hinge the elbow to drop the weight straight down behind your head, then tighten your triceps to return it to a 90° angle.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

6. Dumbbell Floor Press

Because of your super solid stance in this technique, you may challenge the triceps with heavier loads compared to several others while also engaging neighboring muscle groups.

How to perform: 

  1. Lay flat on your back with both knees bent and your legs flat. Grasp a pair of dumbbells, elbows out 45° angle from the sides.
  2. Maintain your lower back pushed into the floor, dumbbells straight up over your chest, and arms extended.
  3. Pause at the top.
  4. Bend your elbows slowly to drop the dumbbells back down until the backs of your upper hands parallel the floor.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

7. Incline Dumbbell Kickbacks

Woman on an incline bench doing dumbbell kickbacks

From a visual standpoint, the triceps' long head constitutes the muscle's most prominent part.

Incline kickbacks allow the triceps long head to experience maximum stress over the lateral and medial heads.

How to perform:

  1. With a neutral grip, grab a pair of dumbbells.
  2. Support your body by lying face down on a 45º incline bench.
  3. Tuck your upper arms into your body and bend your elbows to produce a 90° angle with your upper arms and forearms.
  4. Raise the dumbbells behind you using only your elbows until your arms are completely extended.
  5. Pause, then return the dumbbells to the beginning position.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps.
  7. You may perform this exercise unilaterally. But the double-sided form works best for this one.

8. Close Grip Dumbbell Push Ups

While you are not pulling or pushing the dumbbells in this workout, employing them as a stationary foundation offers a more significant push-up range.

Push-ups may be associated with exercising your chest, but changing the position of your hands and using dumbbells will assist in moving a great deal of strain onto your upper arm.

How to perform: 

  1. Begin in a tabletop plank posture with one hand on each dumbbell. The dumbbells should be immediately beneath your shoulders, with your palms facing each other, forming a 'narrow grip' stance.
  2. Bend your elbows and descend your body to the ground from here. Instead of flaring outwards, your elbows should glide past your sides.
  3. Push yourself slowly back to the starting position and repeat for repetitions.

Anatomy of the Tricep

Woman showing tricep muscles

To enhance triceps brachii growth and development, engage each muscle head with particular workouts that bias the region.

The simplest way of doing this is to understand the anatomical structure of the triceps.

While your triceps are considered one muscular group, they have three different "muscle heads": the lateral, medial, and long head [1].

1. Lateral Head

The triceps lateral head originates from the rear side of the humerus (upper arm bone) and enters the olecranon groove (point of the elbow) [2].

The triceps medial and lateral vary in that one is located on the outer side of the arm (lateral head) while the other is situated within the arm (medial head).

Exercises that completely flex and cause elbow extension will be beneficial for developing the triceps lateral head.

2. Medial Head

Flexing medial heads in triceps

The triceps medial head starts and inserts from the rear side of the humerus to the olecranon process (point of the elbow).

Workouts that cause full elbow extension (moving the elbow joint from a completely contracted to a fully extended posture), depending on its orientation, will train it exceptionally well.

Consider the most common types of pressing.

3. Long Head

The long triceps head is distinctive in that it originates and enters from the scapula to the elbow tip [3].

Because the long head is located differently than the lateral and medial tricep heads, a varied arm orientation can aid strain it more than the others.

Putting your arm behind your head is a great technique to put additional strain on your long head of triceps (consider overhead dumbbell triceps extensions).

Benefits of Training Triceps With Dumbbells

Holding dumbbells above head for tricep training

"Dumbbell triceps exercises allow for higher muscular activation, which activates extra muscle fibers for better outcomes. Thus, if you want to gain muscle, look no further than the reliable dumbbells."

- David Wiener, Level Three Personal Trainer

Strength training for both women and men, like dumbbell triceps exercises, develops your muscle groups on a cellular level.

Each muscle cell gets stronger.

In reality, strength exercise makes the entire body stronger and healthier.

The benefits of tricep dumbbell workouts are:

1. Single-Arm Focus

Imbalances are to be expected.

We are all asymmetrical.

Virtually every individual has a dominant hand and intrinsic asymmetries due to factors like having just one liver.

While this is typical, employing one load in two-arm workouts implies that the stronger side will take over, worsening the asymmetries.

Dumbbells let you concentrate on one hand at a time, ensuring they make the same effort and minimizing any asymmetries.

This is especially useful if you struggle to connect your thoughts and muscles.

2. Freedom of Movement

Doing tricep exercises

You can control the position of dumbbells by twisting your wrist and moving them separately.

This lets you tweak your technique to get the optimal mind-muscle connection and identify strategies to alleviate discomfort or joint pain.

Anecdotally, barbell extensions may cause elbow joint discomfort in many lifters.

The remedy might be as simple as substituting dumbbells.

3. Compound Lifts

When you use dumbbells, you may exercise with compound movements and get the most out of your routines.

If barbells aren't your thing, you don't have to limit yourself to isolated exercises.

A neutral grip dumbbell bench press targets the triceps, chest, and front delts, simulating a close grip bench press.

In this case, dumbbells also enable you to exercise alone closer to failure without the risk of crushing yourself beneath a bar.


Can You Build Triceps With Dumbbells?

Yes, you can build triceps with dumbbells. Dumbbell triceps exercises develop the triceps muscle by causing it to move against resistance.

What Are Good Dumbbell Tricep Workouts?

The good dumbbell triceps workouts are neutral-grip dumbbell bench presses, lying dumbbell tricep extensions, dumbbell kickbacks, overhead triceps extensions, and dumbbell tate presses.

How Do You Hit All 3 Muscles in Your Tricep?

You hit all three muscles in your triceps by performing exercises such as overhead triceps extension, triceps pull-downs, and dumbbell floor presses.

Pre-workout Supplements To Boost Tricep Dumbbell Exercises

Several tricep exercises may be performed, among which the greatest ones include dumbbells.

Dumbbells provide "equal opportunity" for your right and left sides, allowing you to acquire equal strength and symmetry in your upper hands.

Perform equal repetitions on each hand, and use the best pre-workout supplements for the energy needed to complete the sets.

Upon testing, we found that they boost athletic performance, have little to no side effects, and offer better pumps to help build your triceps muscles.


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