When it comes to sculpting stronger arms, biceps get most of the attention. They’re the primary arm muscles you see when you look in the mirror, after all, and they stand at attention every time you flex your elbow.
But here’s the thing: Your biceps only comprise one third of the mass of your upper arms. The other two-thirds are comprised by the lobster-claw shaped muscles on the other side — your triceps — and few exercises target them more effectively than the dumbbell lying triceps extension.
How to Do the Lying Triceps Extension
Target muscles: Triceps
- Lie face up on a bench with your feet flat on the floor, and hold a pair of dumbbells above your chest with your arms straight and your palms facing each other.
- Without moving your upper arms, bend your elbows and lower the dumbbells to the sides of your head until your forearms dip below parallel to the floor.
- Pause, and then return to the starting position.
Make it easier: Use lighter weights.
Make it harder: Use heavier weights, or alternate your grip every three reps. If you’re doing a 10-rep set, do your first three reps with your palms facing each other (i.e., neutral grip), three reps with your palms facing backward (i.e., underhand grip), and four reps with your hands facing forward (i.e., overhand grip). In so doing, you’ll make sure that all three “heads” (long, lateral, and medial) of your triceps receive equal attention.
Bonus tips: Go slowly, maintain control, and use a lighter weight than you think you can handle — especially if you decide to try the more challenging alternating-grip variation described above. Also, keep your upper arms locked in place. If you move them as you lower the weights, you’ll shift some of the work away from your triceps, reducing the effectiveness of the exercise.