Dumbbell Tricep Workout for Strength

Unlock the potential of your upper arms by focusing on the muscle that matters most. Triceps, often overlooked in favor of their showier counterpart, the biceps, play a crucial role in any strength regimen. The dumbbell tricep workout target these muscles effectively, offering a range of motion and versatility that machines and barbells can’t match. 

Dumbbells bring a unique challenge to your workouts. They require more stability and control than barbells, engaging not just your triceps but also your shoulders and core for a comprehensive upper body workout. 

Plus, with dumbbells, you can easily adjust the weight to match your fitness level, ensuring you’re always pushing your limits without risking injury.

But, there’s more. Ever wondered how a simple change in grip or arm position can fire up different parts of your triceps? Dumbbell exercises allow for such tweaks, making your workout more dynamic and effective. 

Let’s not forget, the ability to work each arm independently helps correct muscle imbalances, a common issue for many fitness enthusiasts.

But why are dumbbells so effective? And how can they transform your workout routine? Stay tuned as we dive deep into the details.

Table of contents

1. Understanding Your Triceps keyboard_arrow_down
2. Dumbbells for Tricep Dominance: The Training Equipment You Need keyboard_arrow_down
3. The Importance of Warming Up Before Your Dumbbells Tricep Workout keyboard_arrow_down
4. Key Tricep Workouts keyboard_arrow_down
5. Crafting Your Ultimate Dumbbell Tricep Plan keyboard_arrow_down
6. The Importance of Progressive Overload keyboard_arrow_down
7. Integrating Tricep Workouts into Your Routine keyboard_arrow_down
8. Progress Tracking keyboard_arrow_down
9. Key Points keyboard_arrow_down
10. FAQs keyboard_arrow_down

MORE keyboard_double_arrow_down LESS keyboard_double_arrow_up

Understanding Your Triceps

The triceps brachii, with its three heads (long, medial, and lateral), is a powerhouse behind arm extension and plays a pivotal role in pushing movements. Knowing how each head operates and contributes to arm aesthetics and function can radically change how you approach your workouts.

The long head, often considered the key to that coveted arm size, not only aids in arm extension but also adds to the overall shape of your triceps. Exercises that place your arms overhead, like dumbbell overhead extensions, specifically target this part. 

Meanwhile, the lateral head gives your arms that defined, chiseled look on the sides, best engaged with exercises where your arms are at your side, such as dumbbell kickbacks. The medial head, though smaller, plays a crucial role in the finer movements and stability of your arm, coming into play with close-grip exercises.

Dumbbells for Tricep Dominance: The Training Equipment You Need

The beauty of dumbbell training lies in its simplicity and effectiveness. Whether you have adjustable dumbbells, a set of fixed weights, or are looking to invest in your home gym, understanding what weights to start with and how to scale up can make all the difference. 

Here’s a guide on how you can select the perfect dumbbell: 

  • Starting Weights: Beginners should aim for a pair that feels challenging yet manageable for 8-10 repetitions. A general guideline is to start with 10-15 pounds for men and 5-10 pounds for women.
  • Adjustable Dumbbells: These are a great investment for your home gym. They save space and allow for quick adjustments between exercises, ensuring your workout remains seamless and efficient.
  • Progression: As you get stronger, the need to increase weight becomes essential. Aim to gradually increase the weight once you can comfortably complete more than 12 reps with good form.

The Importance of Warming Up Before Your Dumbbells Tricep Workout

A proper warm-up can significantly enhance your performance and reduce the risk of injury. We’ll delve into dynamic stretches and light exercises specifically crafted to awaken your triceps and ready your body for the workout ahead. 

From arm circles that mobilize your shoulders to light dumbbell extensions that gently engage your triceps, uncover the methods to prime your muscles effectively. Skipping this essential phase might just be the barrier between you and unlocking your full strength potential.

Why is warming up so crucial, you ask? Imagine trying to stretch a cold rubber band. It’s stiff, less flexible, and more prone to snapping. Your muscles work similarly. 

A warm-up gradually increases blood flow, improves elasticity, and prepares your muscles for the demands of the workout, minimizing the risk of tears or strains. Plus, it mentally prepares you for the session, setting a focused and determined mindset.

Key Tricep Workouts

Venture into the essence of your tricep training with exercises that both challenge and fortify your muscles. Each movement is meticulously chosen to engage various segments of your triceps, ensuring a well-rounded and effective routine.

Perfecting the Close-Grip Push-Up

The close-grip push-up is an excellent way to build strong and big triceps, and the best part is you don’t need any equipment – just your body weight.

There are two main types of push-ups: the regular one, which is great for chest muscles, and the close-grip push-up. When you bring your hands closer, it puts more focus on your triceps, making them grow bigger and stronger.

Besides working on triceps, close-grip push-ups also involve your chest, shoulders, and core muscles. This makes it a fantastic exercise for your upper body, improving stability and balance.

Studies suggest that including both bench press-like exercises and triceps extensions in your workout helps maximize triceps growth. For the best results with close-grip push-ups, make sure to maintain good form. Keep your elbows close to your body, engage your core, and keep your back flat.

If regular close-grip push-ups are too hard, you can do them on your knees. If they feel too easy, make it more challenging by elevating your feet on a bench or a chair.

Here is how you can perform it:

  • Begin in a high plank position with your hands apart and fingers pointing forward. If your wrists feel uncomfortable, you can make fists and balance on your knuckles instead. Knuckle push-ups are a bit harder because they increase the exercise’s range of motion.
  • Move your hands closer together, directly under your shoulders
  • Lower your body towards the ground, squeezing your shoulder blades together, and keeping your elbows close to your body. Ensure your elbows point backward, not to the sides
  • Push your body back up to the starting position, engaging your core and keeping your back flat
  • Repeat for the number of reps you want.

Mastering the Dumbbell Lying Tricep Extension

The lying triceps extension is a highly effective exercise for building bigger triceps. It allows you to lift heavy weights and activates all three triceps heads. This exercise is suitable for all experience levels in a dumbbell triceps workout.

Here’s how to do the Dumbbell Lying Triceps Extension:

  • Lie flat on a bench with your feet on the floor, holding a dumbbell in each hand. If you don’t have a bench, lying on a carpet or exercise mat works too.
  • Raise the dumbbells over your chest with your palms facing each other, and your arms fully extended
  • Keep your elbows pointing straight up and lower the dumbbells behind your head, bending your elbows.
  • Lower the dumbbells as far as comfortable while maintaining control and tension in your triceps muscles. If you’re not using a bench, lower the dumbbells until they are about to touch the floor.
  • Reverse the motion, extending your arms back up to the starting position
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Elevating with Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extensions

The dumbbell overhead tricep extension, also known as the French press, is an excellent tricep exercise that targets the long head of the triceps. Including this overhead variation in your triceps workout is crucial for optimal development.

Studies indicate that overhead extension exercises lead to a 40% greater increase in triceps growth compared to triceps pushdowns, even with a significantly lighter weight.

To make the overhead dumbbell triceps extension most effective, use a lighter weight, prioritize control and a full range of motion, and focus on maintaining proper form. It’s important to leave your ego behind and concentrate on performing the exercise correctly.

You can perform the overhead triceps extension standing up or seated on a bench or chair, both of which are equally effective.

Here’s how to do Dumbbell Triceps Extensions:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in your right hand at shoulder height.
  • Raise the dumbbell over your head with your right arm fully extended.
  • While keeping your upper arm stationary and close to your head, lower the dumbbell behind your head by bending your elbow.
  • Feel a good stretch in your triceps at the bottom, then extend your arm back up to the starting position while keeping your upper arm fixed.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps, then switch to the other arm.

Finishing Strong with Dumbbell Tricep Kickbacks

The triceps kickback is a targeted exercise to isolate and work your triceps effectively, but it needs to be done correctly to be worthwhile.

Common mistakes that can make the kickback less effective for building triceps include:

  • Raising your upper arm too high, reducing the force on your triceps in the fully contracted position.
  • Not raising your upper arm enough, lowering it below parallel, which decreases the load and tension on your triceps.

To make the kickback beneficial for triceps mass, keep your upper arm stationary and parallel to the floor throughout the movement. Avoid using excessively heavy weights that may involve other muscles.

Here’s how to perform Dumbbell Triceps Kickbacks:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in your right hand with an overhand grip.
  • Bend your knees slightly and hinge forward at the hips, keeping your back straight, and rest your left hand on your left thigh
  • Raise your right upper arm until it is parallel to the ground, with your palm facing inward.
  • Keep your upper arm stationary and close to your side, straighten it until fully extended in a straight line with the dumbbell behind you. Ensure your upper arm remains parallel to the floor throughout the repetition.
  • Contract your triceps at the top of the movement, then lower the dumbbell back down to the starting position with control.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps, then switch to your left arm and repeat the exercise.

Crafting Your Ultimate Dumbbell Tricep Plan

With a solid understanding of the key exercises that fire up your triceps, let’s weave them into a workout plan that evolves as you do. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to elevate your training, the right approach will have your triceps growing stronger and more defined with each session.


Kicking off your tricep training with a solid foundation is crucial. This beginner-friendly routine is crafted to strengthen and build endurance in your triceps, setting you up for long-term success. 

Here’s a simple but powerful plan that emphasizes form and gradual progression:

  • Close-Grip Push-Ups: 3 sets of 8-10 reps. Focus on keeping your elbows close to your body to maximize tricep engagement.
  • Dumbbell Lying Tricep Extension: 3 sets of 8-10 reps. Perfect your form to protect your elbows and maximize the stretch and contraction of the triceps.
  • Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extension: 2 sets of 10-12 reps. Start with a lighter weight to ensure proper form and full range of motion.


Once you’ve mastered the basics and built a foundation of strength, it’s time to challenge your triceps further. This intermediate routine increases the intensity with more exercises and volume, pushing your muscles to adapt and grow stronger.

  • Dumbbell Lying Tricep Extension: 3 sets of 10-12 reps. Increase the weight slightly from the beginner routine.
  • Close-Grip Push-Ups: 3 sets of 10-12 reps. Aim for a deeper push-up or add a weighted vest for added resistance.
  • Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extension: 3 sets of 12 reps, focusing on slow, controlled movements.
  • Dumbbell Tricep Kickbacks: 3 sets of 12 reps. Ensure your upper arm is parallel to the ground for maximum effect.


This phase is all about introducing complexity, intensity, and techniques like supersets and reduced rest periods to maximize hypertrophy and strength gains.

  • Superset 1: Dumbbell Lying Tricep Extension (4 sets of 8-10 reps) immediately followed by Close-Grip Push-Ups (to failure). Minimal rest between sets.
  • Superset 2: Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extension (4 sets of 10-12 reps) immediately followed by Dumbbell Tricep Kickbacks (4 sets of 12-15 reps).

This advanced routine challenges your triceps with higher intensity and volume, pushing you to the brink of your capabilities. It’s designed not just to increase size but also to enhance muscular endurance and strength.

The Importance of Progressive Overload

At the heart of every successful fitness journey lies the principle of progressive overload. This fundamental concept is the key to unlocking continuous improvement in your strength and muscle size. 

Increasing the weight, adding more reps, or upping the overall intensity of your workouts gradually are all effective strategies. This method ensures that your triceps are constantly being challenged to adapt and grow. 

But beware, the balance is delicate. Push too hard, too fast, and you risk injury. Move too cautiously, and your progress stalls. Finding that sweet spot is crucial for sustained growth. 

Integrating Tricep Workouts into Your Routine

Building strong and well-defined triceps is crucial for both appearance and functional strength. However, maintaining balance across all muscle groups is essential for a well-rounded physique. 

Incorporating a dumbbell triceps workout into your routine can complement your overall training program, whether you focus on pure arm workouts or integrate triceps training into larger muscle group sessions.

Here are three examples of complete dumbbell-oriented workouts that can inspire you when planning your own routine:

Chest and Triceps Dumbbell Workout:

  • Dumbbell Chest Press
  • Dumbbell Chest Fly
  • Incline Dumbbell Press
  • Close-Grip Push-Up
  • Dumbbell Lying Triceps Extension
  • Dumbbell Standing Triceps Extension

Push Workout in a Dumbbell Push/Pull/Legs (PPL) Split:

  • Incline Dumbbell Press
  • Dumbbell Chest Fly
  • Dumbbell Shoulder Press
  • Dumbbell Lateral Raise
  • Close-Grip Push-Ups
  • Dumbbell Lying Triceps Extension

Dumbbell Arm Superset Workout:

  • Dumbbell Bicep Curls + Dumbbell Lying Triceps Extension
  • Hammer Curl + Close-Grip Push-Ups
  • Preacher Dumbbell Curls + Dumbbell Triceps Extension
  • Concentration Curl + Dumbbell Kickbacks

Remember not to neglect your lower body. A balanced physique includes a well-developed lower body to complement strong triceps and arm muscles.

Progress Tracking

Keeping a detailed log of your workouts isn’t just about marking off days on the calendar. It’s a strategic tool that can significantly impact your fitness journey. 

By analyzing this information, you can make informed decisions about when to increase your workload, ensuring you’re always moving forward. 

Key Points

  • Progressive overload is essential for increasing strength and muscle size in tricep workouts, involving gradual increases in weight, reps, or intensity.
  • Implementing progressive overload requires a careful balance to avoid injury and ensure continuous improvement.
  • Tricep exercises can be integrated into both arm-specific and full-body workout routines for balanced muscle development and to prevent overtraining.
  • A structured workout plan should evolve with the individual’s experience level, starting with foundational routines and advancing to more complex strategies for growth and strength.
  • The principle of progressive overload involves not just adding more weight but also enhancing workout intensity and volume over time for sustained muscle growth.
  • Incorporating a variety of tricep exercises, including close-grip push-ups, dumbbell lying tricep extensions, overhead extensions, and kickbacks, targets all parts of the triceps for comprehensive development.
  • Monitoring progress with tools like StrengthLog can motivate individuals, help adjust workout plans based on performance, and achieve fitness objectives more effectively.
  • StrengthLog offers a way to log workouts, track gains, and set goals, providing a clear overview of progress and areas for improvement.
  • Finding the right time to increase workout load is crucial for maximizing tricep development without risking overtraining or injury.
  • Successful tricep training plans consider long-term success, focusing on symmetrical development and integration into broader fitness goals.


What is the best dumbbell exercise for triceps?

There are several highly effective dumbbell exercises for triceps, each targeting the muscle from different angles for comprehensive development. Among the best are:

  • Dumbbell Upright Dip
  • Dumbbell Close Grip Bench Press
  • Dumbbell JM Press
  • Lying Dumbbell Tricep Extension
  • Overhead Extension Thruster

Can you grow triceps with dumbbells?

Yes, dumbbells are an effective tool for growing triceps. They provide the necessary resistance to challenge the muscles, leading to strength gains and hypertrophy. By moving the triceps through a range of motion against the weight of dumbbells, you can significantly improve arm strength.

Should I do 3 tricep exercises?

Aiming for 3-5 tricep exercises per workout is beneficial for comprehensive development. It’s important to select exercises that target all three heads of the triceps, emphasize the long head, and cover overlapping strength curves. This approach ensures balanced growth and strength across the entire triceps muscle.

What is the number 1 tricep workout?

Push-downs are considered the number one triceps exercise by many fitness enthusiasts and experts. This popular movement can be performed with a rope, bar, or handle, focusing on extending the arms straight down until lockout. Push-downs effectively target the triceps for growth and strength improvements.


Follow Valen Steven for a dose of fitness enthusiasm, evidence-based advice, and a roadmap to achieving your health and wellness goals.

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