Lying Tricep Extension

Tricep Extension

Get ready to get strapless dresses arms with Lying Tricep Extension! 

Lying tricep extension is a strength training exercise that works the entire triceps muscle group (1).
It's a much needed exercise for most women who want to lose arm fat. 

The triceps area (the back of the upper arms) is a trouble spot for many women.

They are particularly prone to “bingo wings,”, the hanging fat that swings from the back of your arms (2). So much so that Hanna Roberts of claims women can tote six (6) different kinds of bingo wings! (3).

That parts of your upper arms that wiggle is called the triceps and run from your shoulder, down to the back of your arm, and to your elbow joint (4).

These muscles are called triceps because it consists of three heads: the long head, the lateral head and the media head. This muscle group is responsible for extending the arms at the shoulders and straightening the elbow joint (4, 5
These muscles on the back of the arms see very little action unlike the biceps which get regular use.

Daily normal functions such as opening a door, picking up things off the floor and holding a purse on your arm all utilize the biceps, the curling muscles.

Now think about how many daily movements involve the opposite motion such as pushing? Not a lot. 

This sedentary use of the triceps muscles is the very reason why you see more fat getting stored in the posterior of your arms. 

This lying triceps extension is an exercise that gives your triceps the work it needs to stay toned and prevent fat from getting deposited in the area.

It's also a type of exercise called single-joint exercise that isolate one joint ( the elbow joint that flex and extend). This isolation is what allows you to penetrate the triceps muscles during the exercise and enable high muscle activation in muscle group (6).

 In other words, it's an exercise with a narrower, deeper focus. 

In fact, ACE recently studi recent study on triceps exercises showed this exercise stimulates the triceps muscles as much as 70% (7,8). 

The study tested 7 other popular triceps exercises (see the list below) and identified just how much each exercise works the triceps muscles. 

7 Other Popular Triceps Exercises by ACE (American American Council on Exercise)

  • Triangle push-ups - 100% 
  • Kickbacks - 88%
  • Dips - 88%
  • Overhead triceps extensions - 81%
  • Rope push-downs - 81%
  • Bar push-downs - 75%
  • Closed-grip bench press - 63%

Although all these exercises show fairly a high level of muscle stimulation (all above 63%), triangle push-ups ranks the best with a whooping 100% muscle stimulation in the triceps. (see the original study here) (7,8). 

It's true: higher muscle activation usually leads to higher workout effectiveness. However, certain exercises are not geared toward beginners or even regular exercisers. Unfortunately, triangle push-ups is one of them. 

According to Men's Health, 99.9% of people cannot do pushups properly (9,10). 

Since triangle push-up is a challenging version of push-ups, unless you are in the 0.1% group, you are better off doing other triceps exercises you can actually do and get it right.

That's where the lying triceps extension exercise comes in. 

It is not the most effective tricep exercise, but it's stimulation is fairly high. Most importantly, it is a beginner friendly that you cannot go wrong with.

The choice of weight to work with is wide enough (dumbbells, EZ-Curl bar or barbell bar) that you can do it at home or gym.
It's all around a great triceps exercise you can perform at any fitness level to tone and strengthen the triceps muscles for fat loss and slimming effect. 

Exercise Order for Lying Triceps Exercise

Perform this exercise towards the end of your workout routine.

There are two reasons for this specific exercise order. 

  • Small muscles size
  • Single joint, single muscle exercise

Numerous researches indicate that training with a multi-joint, larger muscle to single-joint, smaller muscle maximize the strength performance (11).

The lying triceps extension is a single-joint exercise that target the triceps muscles which is much smaller compared to glutes, thighs and back (6).

It's best performed after squats and lunges

Perform this exercise 2-3 times a week for best results. 

How to perform the lying tricep extension exercise:

How to Do lying tricep extension using Dumbbells

Lying tricep extension for women

  1. Lie on a incline bench with your feet flat on the floor. Hold the dumbbells straight over your forehead so your arms are at an angle. 
  2. Without moving your upper arms, bend your elbows to lower the dumbbells until your forearms are just parallel to the floor.
  3. Pause for one second, then lift the dumbbells by straightening your arms back to the starting position. Repeat for a prescribed number of repetitions. 


  • Inhale as you lower the dumbbells and exhale as you lift them back up.
  • Keep your elbows tuck in throughout the exercise. 

Note: Don’t use dumbbells that are too heavy. You will not be able to maintain proper arm position during the lower portion of the exercise. Lighter dumbbells (8-15 lbs each) would be sufficient for this move. 

If you are performing this exercise at home, make it home friendly by using an exercise ball instead of a bench. Adding an exercise ball to this workout can superset this workout by working your core harder.

Working on a ball creates an unstable surface and causes more core engagement during the exercise to maintain balance and form.

When using an exercise ball for workouts that you use additional weights (like this Swiss Ball Triceps Extensions), make sure to use a quality swiss ball that can sustain your bodyweight and the weights of your equipment.

Not all Swiss Balls are burst-resistant. Use a ball that's properly tested for safety like the ones from Pro Ball. 

Exercise Lying Tricep Extension

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing each other. Lie back on a Swiss ball with your feet on the ground so your head and middle-upper back are supported by the ball.
  2. Adjust your hips by raising them, so they will be in-line with your torso. Your body should form a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Press the dumbbells directly over your chest. This is your starting position. 
  3. Lower the dumbbells by bending your elbows, but don't move your arms. Stop when the dumbbells nearly touch the ball or your biceps.
  4. Pause for a second, then straighten your arms to return to the starting position. Do 8-12 reps

Exercise Table

Reps Sets Level Location
10-12 3 Medium Gym or Home

Works Cited:

  1. Laskowski, Edward R., M.D., and Nicole Campbell. "Fitness." Video: Triceps Extension with Dumbbell. Mayo Clinic, n.d. Web. 18 Aug. 2015. <>.
  2. "Bingo+wings." Urban Dictionary. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Aug. 2015. <>.
  3. Roberts, Hannah. "The Six Types of Bingo Wing...and How to Banish Them for Summer." Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 13 June 2012. Web. 18 Aug. 2015. <>.
  4. "Chapter 9: The Arm and Elbow." Chapter 9: THE ARM AND ELBOW. Ed. Rand Swenson. Dartmouth Medical School, n.d. Web. 18 Aug. 2015.
  5. "Functional Roles of Muscles." Event-Based Programming (2006): 333-442. Functional Roles of Muscles. Florida Gateway College. Web. <>.
  6. Johnson, Jolie. "What Are the Benefits of the Tricep Extension Exercise?" LIVESTRONG.COMLIVESTRONG.COM, 21 Oct. 2013. Web. 18 Aug. 2015. <>.
  7. Boehler, Brittany, B.S., and John Porcari, Ph.D. "Terrific Triceps." Terrific Triceps 4.1 (2007): 44. AMERICAN COUNCIL ON EXERCISE. AMERICAN COUNCIL ON EXERCISE. Web. 17 Aug. 2015. 
  8. "ACE-sponsored Research: Best Triceps Exercises." ACE Fitness. ACE Fitness, n.d. Web. 18 Aug. 2015. .
  9. Rushlow, Amy. "Are You Doing Pushups Wrong?" Men's Health. Men's Health, 18 Oct. 2012. Web. 18 Aug. 2015. <>.
  10. Rushlow, Amy. "Only 1 Percent Of People Can Do This Exercise -- Are You One Of Them?" ThePostGame. ThePostGame, 01 Aug. 2014. Web. 18 Aug. 2015. <>.
  11. Kravitz, Len, Ph.D. "Exercise Order in Resistance Training." Exercise Order in Resistance Training. The University of New Mexico, 2012. Web. 18 Aug. 2015. 


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