Top 9 Dumbbell Tricep Exercises That Are Highly Effective

Last Updated on August 14, 2022 by TJ Daniels, Certified Personal Trainer

If you want strong, defined triceps, incorporate dumbbells into your workouts. They offer a unique range of motion that can save your joints and help you gain now and in the future.

Top 9 Dumbbell Tricep Exercises That Are Highly Effective

Here are some great exercises that you can try that use dumbbells to engage your triceps like never before.

What Are Triceps?

The triceps, which stretch along the backs of your upper arms, are made up of three different muscles called the long head, medial head, and lateral head. These muscles work together in order to extend your arms by bending your elbows.

Because different exercises target different parts of your triceps, it’s critical to include a variety of triceps exercises in your workout routine to develop well-rounded strength.

Dumbbell Tricep Exercises

Dumbbell Skull Crusher

If you have one tricep that is larger than the other, these are one of the best tricep dumbbell exercises you can do as they force you to train each arm independently, which drastically improves tricep symmetry.

1. Lie back on a bench and grab a pair of weights with a neutral grip.

2. Raise the weights above your head and then lower them behind your head.

3. Continue until you feel a deep stretch in your triceps’ long head.

4. Do this motion in reverse by flexing your triceps and continuing until your elbows reach full extension.

5. Complete 3 sets of 8-15 reps.

Dumbbell Kickback

The dumbbell kickback is one of the most popular triceps exercises for women but should also be done by men. The kickback is often considered a “shaping” exercise rather than a mass-building movement, which gives it a distinct advantage that will spur your triceps into new growth.

1. Begin by bending over at the waist with a pair of light dumbbells.

2. Raise your shoulders to align them with your torso.

3. Flex the triceps forcefully until the elbows are fully extended, while keeping your shoulders stable.

4. Hold this contraction for a second before slowly releasing it.

5. Complete 3 sets of 10-20 reps.

Dumbbell Close Grip Bench Press

You don’t have to lift light weights if you do your tricep workout with dumbbells. Lightweight and high rep sets are a great way to finish off a hard session of tris, but you can also lift heavy with dumbbells. Because dumbbell close grip bench press is a multi-joint movement, you can go heavier when doing this exercise. As a result, it is ideal for gaining strength.

1. Lie back on a flat bench and take a pair of heavy dumbbells with a neutral grip.

2. Brace your core by tucking your elbows into your sides.

3. Raise the weights until your elbows are locked out, keeping the weights close together throughout the exercise, while keeping your elbows close to your body.

4. Controllably bring the dumbbells back to your chest.

5. Complete 3 sets of 10-15 reps.

Dumbbell Floor Press

Because of your stable position in this move, you can work your triceps with heavier weights than many other tricep exercises.

Top 9 Dumbbell Tricep Exercises That Are Highly Effective (1)

1. Begin in a lying position on your back with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent.

2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, elbows out 45 degrees from the sides.

3. Keep your lower back pressed to the floor, weights straight up over your chest, and arms extended.

4. Pause, then bend your elbows slowly to lower weights back down until the back of your upper arms are parallel to the floor.

5. That is one rep. Perform 10 to 15 reps for 3 sets.

Lying Overhead Triceps Extension

Lying extensions, also known as skull crushers, target the long head of your triceps and relieve stress on your back so you can focus on your arms.

1. Begin by lying on your back with your legs bent and your feet flat on the floor, holding a pair of dumbbells.

2. Your arms should be extended toward the ceiling, parallel to your shoulders.

3. Slowly bend at the elbows to lower weights to frame your face without moving your upper arms.

4. Pause, then slowly raise the weights overhead.

That is one rep. Perform 10 to 15 reps. For an extra burn, you can squeeze off 5-10 reps of close grip presses at the tail end of each set.

Tate Press

The Tate press is similar to the skull crusher, but the arms are held horizontally to the body rather than vertically as in the skull crusher.

1. Begin by lying on a bench with a dumbbell in each hand with your arms extended above your chest, as you would for a dumbbell bench press.

2. Bend your elbows.

3. Bring the dumbbells in and down towards your chest.

4. Before you lift the dumbbells up until your arms are fully extended again, they should just touch your chest but not rest on it.

5. Before going into the next rep, squeeze your triceps at the top while they are fully contracted.

Seated Dumbbell Tricep Extensions

This exercise can also be done while standing. The seated version provides the support of a bench, which is ideal for those with less core strength or who prefer to focus on strength development over mass gains. The bench’s added support may allow you to lift more weight.

1. Sit on a bench with a single dumbbell between your hands.

2. Raise your arms (and dumbbell) above your head, bending at the elbows.

3. Lower the dumbbell behind your head to form a 90-degree elbow bend.

4. Hold for a second, then push back up to the starting position.

5. You can lower the dumbbell beyond this angle at the elbows if you want to.

Standing Single Arm Tricep Extensions

This standing unilateral version of the seated overhead tricep extensions will help you build equal strength and size in your triceps. This exercise can cause injury if not performed correctly, so watch the demo video and follow the technique notes below.

1. Begin by standing shoulder-width apart with your feet shoulder-width apart.

2. Use a pronated grip to take a dumbbell in one hand.

3. Place your non-working hand at your side or on your hip.

4. Raise your arm overhead and return to the starting position, with a bent elbow and the dumbbell lowered at the back of your head.

5. Raise the dumbbell above your head until your arm is fully extended, and your elbow is locked.


No matter your level of fitness or experience, there are plenty of tricep workouts that you can try with dumbbells. 

The great thing about incorporating dumbbells into your tricep regime is that they ensure that you get a balanced workout on both sides of the body. This means that not only will your triceps be equally strong but they will also be symmetrical.

TJ Daniels, Certified Personal Trainer
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