6 Tricep Dumbbell Exercises To Add To Your Routine In 2024

The triceps brachii is an important muscle of your upper arm. As its name suggests, it has three heads: the medial head, lateral head, and long head. Its primary function is elbow extension or straightening of the elbow. While all three triceps muscles perform elbow extension, the lateral and medial heads only work at the elbow joint while the long head is also a secondary mover of the shoulder joint.

The muscle group is used on your traditional “push days'” but making sure that you isolate them will help make the most desirable gains. There are a few techniques that you will want to use to hit each part of the triceps, all of which are explained below.

Best Tricep Dumbbell Exercises

Close-Grip Dumbbell Bench Press

This exercise is a powerful exercise that primarily targets the triceps while engaging the chest and shoulders. This compound movement not only strengthens the triceps but also promotes upper-body stability.

Close-Grip Dumbbell Bench Press
Close-Grip Dumbbell Bench Press Guide. Photo: Aliaksandr Makatserchyk

How to do:

  1. Lie on a bench, and hold dumbbells close to your chest.
  2. Push weights upward, fully extending arms.
  3. Lower weights with control.
  4. Engage core, and maintain stability.


  • When performing the Close-Grip Dumbbell Bench Press, position your hands shoulder-width apart or slightly narrower on the dumbbells. This targets the triceps more effectively and reduces strain on the shoulders.
  • Focus on controlled movements throughout the exercise. Lower the dumbbells slowly to your chest and push them back up, engaging your triceps without relying on momentum.
  • Remember to exhale as you push the dumbbells upward and inhale during the descent.

Optimal Sets and Reps: three to four sets of eight to 12 reps

Dumbbell Floor Press

Performing this exercise on the floor reduces strain on the shoulder joint and enhances stability. This exercise enhances upper body strength, sculpts the chest and triceps, and is suitable for individuals of various fitness levels.

Dumbbell Floor Press
Dumbbell Floor Press Guide. Photo: Aliaksandr Makatserchyk

How to do:

  1. Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat.
  2. Hold dumbbells above the chest.
  3. Press weights up, extending arms.
  4. Lower with control, elbows touch the floor.


  • Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor and maintain a stable base. This helps to support your spine and ensures proper alignment during the Dumbbell Floor Press.
  • Keep your elbows close to your body as you press the dumbbells upward. This targets the triceps more effectively and reduces stress on your shoulders.
  • Lower the dumbbells under control and press them up explosively.

Optimal Sets and Reps: three sets of eight to 12

Close Grip Push Ups

Close Grip Push Ups
Close Grip Push Ups Guide. Photo: Aliaksandr Makatserchyk

These movements are a highly effective bodyweight exercise that focuses on the triceps and chest muscles. One electromyographic (EMG) study[1] found this exercise to be the best exercise for the triceps muscle. By bringing your hands closer together beneath your shoulders, these push-ups increase triceps activation, making them a valuable addition to any upper-body workout.

How to do:

  1. Begin in a standard push-up position with hands close together on dumbbells, and wrists aligned.
  2. Lower chest towards dumbbells, keeping elbows close.
  3. Push up explosively, extending elbows. Maintain core engagement. Repeat for desired reps and sets.


  • Position your hands closer together, directly under your shoulders, to maximize tricep engagement during Close Grip push-ups. This targets your triceps more effectively than regular push-ups.
  • Keep your body in a straight line from head to heels throughout the movement. Engaging your core not only helps with stability but also prevents unnecessary strain on your lower back.
  • Lower your chest slowly and with control, maintaining tension in your triceps. Push back up explosively, squeezing your triceps at the top.

Optimal Sets and Reps: three sets of 10 to 12 reps

Dumbbell Skull Crusher

Dumbbell Skull Crusher
Dumbbell Skull Crusher Guide. Photo: Aliaksandr Makatserchyk

This exercise isolates and targets the triceps effectively, contributing to well-rounded arm development. Promoting triceps strength enhances overall upper body performance and aesthetics.

How to do:

  1. Lie flat on a bench, and hold dumbbells above your chest with arms extended.
  2. Bend elbows, lowering dumbbells to the sides of the head.
  3. Keep upper arms stationary, and extend elbows to return to the starting position.
  4. Maintain control throughout the movement, exhale on extension, and avoid locking elbows.


  • Ensure your elbows remain stationary throughout the movement. Avoid letting them drift outward, which can put unnecessary strain on your shoulders.
  • Lower the dumbbells slowly and with control to maximize tricep engagement while minimizing the risk of injury.
  • Select a weight that challenges you but allows you to complete this exercise with good form.

Optimal Sets and Reps: three sets of eight to 12 reps

Dumbbell Triceps Kickback

This exercise is an effective exercise that isolates the triceps, promoting strength and definition. It targets the often-underworked triceps brachii, helping you achieve toned arms and enhanced upper body strength.

Dumbbell Triceps Kickback
Dumbbell Triceps Kickback Guide. Photo: Aliaksandr Makatserchyk

How to do:

  1. Stand with a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Hinge forward at the hips.
  3. Extend arms back, engaging triceps.
  4. Return to starting position.


  • Keep your upper arms parallel to the ground and stationary while performing the Dumbbell Triceps Kickback. This ensures that you isolate and target your triceps effectively.
  • Fully extend your arm backward, straightening it completely to engage your triceps fully. Avoid swinging the weight or using momentum to maximize the effectiveness of the exercise.
  • Perform the Dumbbell Triceps Kickback with slow, controlled movements.

Optimal Sets and Reps: three sets of 10 to 12 reps

Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Extension

This exercise is a powerful exercise that targets the triceps, enhancing arm strength and tone. It also contributes to improved shoulder stability, promoting overall upper-body strength.

Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Extension
Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Extension Guide. Photo: Aliaksandr Makatserchyk

How to do:

  1. Sit or stand with a straight back, holding a dumbbell with both hands overhead.
  2. Lower the dumbbell behind your head, keeping elbows close to your ears.
  3. Extend your arms, lifting the dumbbell back to the starting position.
  4. Maintain control and focus on engaging your triceps throughout the movement.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of reps in your arms and shoulders workout.


  • Keep your elbows close to your head throughout the movement to target your triceps effectively. Avoid letting your elbows flare out to maintain proper form and minimize strain on your shoulders.
  • Lower the dumbbell behind your head as far as comfortably possible to fully engage the triceps. Ensure you extend your arms fully at the top for maximum contraction.
  • Control the weight throughout the exercise, avoiding swinging or jerking motions.

Optimal Sets and Reps: three sets of 10 to 12 reps

Benefits Of Dumbbell Tricep Exercises

Benefits Of Dumbbell Tricep Exercises
Strengthen your triceps with dumbbell exercises to improve daily activities. Photo: bristekjegor/Freepik

Strengthening your triceps will functionally help you in many aspects of daily life. Pushing yourself up from a low chair and keeping your arms extended when lifting or grabbing something overhead are just a couple of examples. They are easy to incorporate into your workout routine as they can be done almost anywhere.

Many people have dumbbells at home and one good thing with a triceps workout is that you don’t need a large range of weights. Adding resistance training to your workout routine is a great way to lose weight and preserve muscle mass. Here you can check out how to get a flat stomach fast.

Tips For Doing Tricep Dumbbells

Hit All Three Tricep Heads

In order to target the triceps effectively, the trick is to use movements that change the arm angle. Notice with the overhead triceps extension, your upper arm is next to your head and with the dumbbell skull crusher, your upper arms are at 90 degrees from your body. Both of these require more stabilization of the shoulder joint. Triceps kickbacks however require your upper arms to stay next to your body which requires more effort from shoulder blade muscles and the long head of the triceps.

Consistency Is Key

To get the best muscle growth, you need to get anywhere between six to 20 sets[2] of exercises for a specific muscle group per week. After 4 weeks of training the triceps[3], you will likely notice improved endurance and function.

Be Properly Fueled

Be Properly Fueled
Fuel your workouts with nutritious meals for better results. Photo: dashu83/Freepik

Make sure that you’re feeding your muscles with healthy meals so you can get through your workouts. Here are some ideas for a healthy breakfast to lose weight. And if weight loss is your goal, it’s important to educate yourself on how long it takes to lose weight.


The triceps are an important muscle to train on a regular basis. By hitting them with different exercises, at different angles, and through their whole range of motion, you’ll be able to see improvements in just a few weeks. Add these exercises to your established routine or create a focused triceps workout to build bigger and stronger triceps.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do the triceps do?

They are a muscle on the back of the upper arm and their primary function is to straighten the elbow.

What is triceps anatomy?

The triceps are made of three heads; medial head, lateral head, and long head. They attach at the upper arm bone and the elbow.

How do I build a tricep workout?

Use all of the exercises listed above for improved tricep strength and tone!


  1. Boehler, J.-M. (2011). Introduction. Revue d’Alsace, [online] (137), pp.7–12. doi:https://doi.org/10.4000/alsace.1061.
  2. Eneko Baz-Valle, Maelán Fontes-Villalba and Santos-Concejero, J. (2021). Total Number of Sets as a Training Volume Quantification Method for Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, [online] 35(3), pp.870–878. doi:https://doi.org/10.1519/jsc.0000000000002776
  3. Jelena Popadic-Gacesa, Aleksandar Klašnja and Nikola Grujić (2013). Changes in Strength, Endurance, and Fatigue During a Resistance-Training Program for the Triceps Brachii Muscle. Journal of Athletic Training, [online] 48(6), pp.804–809. doi:https://doi.org/10.4085/1062-6050-48.4.16.‌