Muscle group:   The arm muscles

Trained muscle:   Triceps

Fitness level:   Beginner, advanced, experienced

Type of training:   Free weight exercises, machine exercises


Tricep press is a very effective exercise for the triceps muscle of the arm. We have quite a large range of different variations we can choose from.

Tricep press

Tricep press can be performed in many different ways using different pieces of equipment. We can choose between a standing, sitting, or lying position as well as if we would rather like to work out on a machine or with free weights, like a dumbbell or a curl bar. Beginners should start at the tricep press machine. Advanced and experienced athletes can also work out on the cable machine and with free weights.

Tricep press on the machine

Sit down in the tricep press machine. Adjust the rotating axis of the machine so that it is in one line with your elbow joints. Keep your back straight resting on the cushion behind and the abdominal muscles tensed. The backsides of the upper arms rest on the cushion in front of you. Grab the handles firmly and stabilize your wrist actively. From that position stretch and bend the elbows alternately.

Tricep press on the machine

Tricep press on the machine

Tricep press – standing on the cable machine

The standing tricep press on the cable machine is practised with either shoulder wide feet or in a short lunge. We face the machine and stand close to it so that the cable is running straightly when we pull it. Grab the rope or V handle tightly and stabilize your wrist actively. Tense the muscles of the trunk and fixate the elbows on the sides of your body. From that position you stretch and bend the elbow joint alternately.

This version of the tricep press is more effective when the elbows bend not farther than 90°. When you work with a rope you could increase the intensity by pushing your arms to the sides when the elbows are stretched. It is recommendable to stand close to the machine and keep the cable running straightly. The farther we are away from the machine, the more the latissimus will be activated and the less the triceps. The upper arms will be pulled toward the machine and it is hard to hold them on the body.

Tricep press standing on the cable machine

Tricep press standing on the cable machine

Tricep press – overhead

For overhead tricep presses we either sit down on a bench with straight back. Or we stand with our feet shoulder wide and our knees slightly bend or in a short lunge. From that position we either work one-armed with a dumbbell or with both arms with a dumbbell or curl bar. Smoothly and controlled we lower the weight toward the neck and up again.

Keep your back straight during the entire set and the muscles of your trunk tensed. To prevent complaints don’t relief the muscle tension when the elbow is bent. Keep your wrist stabilized and the upper arm steady. In the one-armed version you could use your free arm to stabilize the working arm from the front or behind.

Tricep press sitting

Tricep press sitting

Tricep press – lying

Lying tricep presses could be performed with curl bar or on the cable machine. With curl bar we lay down on a bench. You could either bring up your legs or place your feet on the bench or the floor. Tense your abdominal muscles. The pelvis erects and your lower back pulls toward the bench to prevent a hollow back. The upper arms always remain in a perpendicular line and you bend and stretch the elbow joints alternately. Actively stabilize your wrist.

On the cable machine we lay down in supine position with our head pointing toward the machine. Our heel press into the floor. Tense the abdominal muscles and erect the pelvis. The lower back pulls toward the floor to prevent a hollow back. The head lies on the floor. The upper arms remain on the sides of our body. From that position we stretch and bend the elbow joints alternately. Best would be to use a rope so you can go further down with your forearms pushing to the sides.

Tricep press lying

Tricep press lying


Antagonist: Biceps

Stretching: Tricep stretches

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