5 Overhead Triceps Stretches (Tighten Your Arms & Muscles)

Tracy Thompson
Published by Tracy Thompson | Senior Coach
Last updated: November 24, 2023
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Arms and shoulders training days are possibly one of my favorites, but as a personal trainer, I’m always surprised how little effort people put into stretching their arms before and after lifting weights.

One of the simplest stretches for the upper arm is the overhead triceps stretch, and when you do it right, it can become one of the easiest ways to reduce sore muscles.

To help show our readers how to do it properly and to get the timing right, I got a physiotherapist to help out with some simple advice.

Quick Summary

  • The overhead triceps stretch is one of the key upper-arm stretches that all athletes need to include in their arm workout routines.
  • You can do this stretch before an upper body routine, but there is also evidence that it can help with your cooldown phase as well.
  • The overhead triceps stretch should only be done as a static stretch, as trying to do it as a dynamic one could hurt your shoulders.

How To Do The Overhead Triceps Stretch

A woman stretching with an overhead triceps stretch

Here are some simple steps to follow to get the overhead triceps stretch right and avoid common issues.

  • Step 1: Get into the starting position by standing up tall with your left arm straight above your head.
  • Step 2: Bend your left arm so that your forearm reaches behind you, and you get to a position with your palm facing your shoulder beside the back of your head.
  • Step 3: Place the hand of your right arm on your left elbow and gently pull your left elbow backward until you feel the stretch in your triceps.
  • Step 4: Hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds, and then bring your right arm back beside your body and the left arm straight up before lowering it down.
  • Step 5: Shake out the left arm and do the same by bending the right elbow and gently pulling it back with the left hand.

Repeating this two or three times is a great way to maximize the effect.

When Is The Best Time To Stretch Your Triceps?

A fit woman doing an overhead triceps stretch

The best time to do the overhead triceps stretch is just before and after your upper arm workouts.

It can help to loosen the joints and warm up the muscles while at the same time releasing some tension from exercises like triceps extensions.

And if you sit at a desk all day for work or college, then I recommend that you do an overhead triceps stretch a few times a day.

I find it can help people become more conscious of their posture and just helps loosen the body and become less stiff.

It’s something that health and safety officers in large companies recommend for all workers [1].

What Are The Benefits?

A woman with good triceps in the gym

The main benefits associated with the overhead triceps stretch come down to relieving muscle pain and warming up muscles for training.

1. Prepare Muscle For Training

Before you get started with bench presses, lat pulldowns, triceps extension, or any exercise that involves the arms directly or indirectly, I recommend that you include the overhead triceps stretch.

It’s a great way to activate and loosen these muscles so that you can get some blood flowing and ready for training.

And there is evidence that stretching can help with stability during all sorts of resistance training [2].

Also Read: How to Build Lean Muscle?

2. Relieve Muscle Pain

Another time I would recommend that you do an overhead triceps stretch is as part of your cooldown efforts.

If you’ve worked your upper arm muscles hard and they are burning and sore at the end of the session, then a few simple stretches will work wonders to improve blood flow.

“The main function of the triceps is to extend the forearm at the elbow joint to straighten the elbow. Extension, or straightening, of the elbow, is a necessary everyday movement needed for reaching, getting dressed, and pushing off from armrests to stand up from a chair. ”

- Oluseun Olufade, MD


What Does Overhead Triceps Stretch Target?

The overhead triceps stretch directly targets the triceps muscle at the back of your upper arm. These are long muscles that connect your shoulders and elbows and play a key role in straightening out your arm.

How Long Should I Hold A Tricep Stretch?

You should hold an overhead triceps stretch for about 10 to 15 seconds. It’s ok to repeat the upper arm stretch a few times, but I wouldn’t recommend holding the stretch for longer to avoid doing damage.


  1. https://ehs.ucsc.edu/programs/ergo/stretch.html
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4326506/
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