Seated Tricep Extension: Muscles Worked, How To Do, Form

The Seated dumbbell overhead tricep extension is an isolation exercise that works the muscle on the back of the upper arm, known as the triceps.

The Seated overhead triceps extension is a versatile movement that targets your tricep muscles by repetitively flexing the elbow joint against resistance.

You can perform the triceps extension in several positions such as standing, sitting, and either flat or on an incline. You can also choose to work one arm at a time or both arms together. But the advantage of doing seated triceps extension is that strict foam.

What is Seated Overhead Tricep Extension

The seated tricep extension also known as seated overhead tricep extension is a strength training exercise that targets the triceps muscles. It is an isolation exercise, meaning that it works a single muscle group.

It is particularly useful in targeting the long head of the triceps muscle. Having a larger and denser long head will give you an overall appearance of a larger tricep.

There are many variations of seated tricep extension that you can do with dumbbell, barbell, and cable, which have their own unique benefits.

This movement is usually done for 8-12 reps per set or more as part of the upper-body or arm-focused portion of a workout.

Seated Overhead Tricep Extension

Seated Overhead Tricep Extension Muscles Worked

The seated dumbbell tricep extension is an isolation exercise rather than a compound motion. This makes it a great exercise for targeting your triceps.

The primary muscle group worked by the dumbbell tricep extension is your triceps.

There are a variety of secondary muscle groups that activate during seated overhead tricep extension are biceps, forearms, lats, abs, obliques, pecs, and trapezius. These secondary muscles engage to stabilize and support the motion.

How To Do Seated Dumbbell Tricep Extension

1. Set Up and Seating Position

  • You should choose a flat bench and position it away from any obstructions. Ensure it’s stable.
  • Sit down with your feet flat on the ground, hip-width apart. Your back should be straight, and your shoulder blades should be pulled slightly back and down.

2. Grip and Hand Positioning

  • Depending on your preference, you can use a dumbbell or an E-Z bar.
  • Once you have a firm grip, extend your arms and hold the dumbbell above your head.

3. Starting Position

  • With the dumbbell held securely overhead, keep your arms slightly bent. This is your starting position.
  • Ensure your chin is up, eyes forward, and your neck is in a neutral position.

4. Execution of the Movement

  • Slowly bend your elbows, allowing the dumbbell to lower behind your head. Your elbows should be the only moving part.
  • Lower the dumbbell until your forearms are slightly past parallel to the floor or until you feel a good stretch in your triceps.
  • Push the dumbbell back to the starting position by straightening your elbows.
Seated Dumbbell Tricep Extension

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

When performing the seated tricep extension, ensuring proper form is crucial not only for effectiveness but also for safety. Here are some common mistakes made during this exercise and tips on how to avoid them:

1. Elbow Flare

  • Mistake: Allowing the elbows to flare out to the sides during the movement.
  • Correction: Keep your elbows pointed forward and close to your head. It can help to imagine holding a basketball between your elbows – don’t let it drop!

2. Using Momentum

  • Mistake: Using a jerky motion to lift the weight, especially when it feels heavy.
  • Correction: Use a controlled motion throughout, lowering and raising the weight smoothly. It’s better to choose a lighter weight and maintain proper form than to lift heavier with poor technique.

3. Hyperextending the Neck

  • Mistake: Tilting the head excessively forward or backward, which can strain the neck.
  • Correction: Maintain a neutral head and neck position. Keep your eyes forward, and don’t look up or down at the weight.

4. Limited Range of Motion

  • Mistake: Not lowering the weight enough, which led to only partial tricep engagement.
  • Correction: Lower the weight until your forearms are slightly beyond parallel to the floor or until you feel a good stretch in the triceps. Then, extend your arms fully at the top without locking out your elbows.

5. Going Too Heavy

  • Mistake: Choosing a weight that’s too heavy, leading to compromised form or incomplete reps.
  • Correction: Start with a weight you can manage with proper technique for the desired number of repetitions. As you progress and become stronger, gradually increase the weight while maintaining good form.

6. Neglecting the Eccentric Phase

  • Mistake: Lowering the weight too quickly without control.
  • Correction: Emphasize the eccentric (lowering) phase by taking 2-3 seconds to lower the weight. This increases muscle tension and can lead to better strength and muscle gains.

7. Not Engaging the Core

  • Mistake: Allowing the torso to sway or the lower back to arch excessively.
  • Correction: Engage your core muscles throughout the exercise. This provides stability to your upper body and protects your spine.

Best Variations of Seated Tricep Overhead Extension

1. Two Arm Dumbbell Extension

The seated two-arm overhead dumbbell triceps extension is an isolation exercise that’s great for building and strengthening your triceps brachii.

When performing the seated two-arm overhead dumbbell triceps extension, keep your elbows close to your head. This will emphasize your triceps brachii.

Two Arm Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extension

How To Do

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand using a neutral grip. Sit on a flat bench and both dumbbells should be above and slightly behind your head, with your arms straight.
  2. Engage your core and plant your feet flat on the ground.
  3. Keeping your elbows close to your head and pointing up towards the ceiling, inhale as you lower the dumbbells behind your head by flexing your elbows.
  4. Exhale as you raise the dumbbells by extending your elbows, keeping the rest of your body stationary.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.


  • Perform the exercise using a slow and controlled movement from start to finish.
  • Keep the head in a fairly neutral position, don’t allow the neck to jut forward, as this may place excessive pressure on the cervical spine.

2. One-Arm Seated Overhead Dumbbell Triceps Extension

The One arm seated dumbbell overhead triceps extension is a single-joint exercise that targets the triceps while increasing stability throughout the core and the shoulder regions.

By using dumbbells instead of an EZ-bar for the overhead extension, you work each arm separately and ensure one stronger side isn’t carrying the weaker one, but it’s also worth doing the exercise with one arm at a time.

This lets you focus on perfect form in that one arm and allows for a greater range of motion.

One Arm Seated Overhead Dumbbell Triceps Extension

How To Do

  1. Hold a dumbbell in one hand and sit on a flat bench. The weight should be above and slightly behind your head, with your arms straight.
  2. Inhale as you lower the dumbbell behind your head by flexing your elbows. Keep your elbow close to your head.
  3. Exhale as you raise the dumbbell by extending your elbows and keeping the rest of your body still.
  4. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.


  • Weight should move in a controlled manner.
  • The chin should remain parallel to the floor and the core should brace during the exercise.
  • Keep your upper arms as still as possible, allowing your forearms to drive the movement.

3. Barbell Tricep Extension

Barbell tricep extensions are a great exercise for stimulating muscle growth in the triceps.

The exercise can be performed with a barbell or an EZ bar, which allows for a greater range of motion and more weight to be lifted.

Overhead Barbell Triceps Extension

How To Do

  • Sit upright on a flat bench holding a barbell overhead with arms extended
  • Hands should be just outside shoulder-width apart in an overhand grip
  • Slowly lower bar behind head by bending elbows while keeping upper arms stationary
  • Lower until you feel a stretch in the triceps then reverse back to start
  • Keep elbows tucked in and pointed up to isolate triceps


  • Don’t bounce or swing the barbell
  • Go through the full range of motion
  • Use a spotter for heavier weights

Benefits of the Seated Triceps Extension

There are many exercises that work the triceps muscle along with other major muscles in the upper body, such as the push-up or the chest press.

But dedicating at least some time to targeting the triceps can help you to build strength that is effective because you won’t be limited by weakness in other muscles.

The Seated dumbbell tricep extension exercises offer an effective way to train the triceps, let’s have a look at some other benefits of overhead tricep extension with dumbbell.

  • Strong triceps help with shoulder stability and improve your range of motion
  • Triceps main responsibilities are extending the elbow joint or simply straightening the arm
  • Strong triceps help keep your joints healthy, particularly your elbow joint.
  • Increase in overall arm strength, power, and endurance.
  • Allows you to lift heavier during other lifts like bench presses and shoulder presses.


The Seated dumbbell triceps extension is a fantastic isolation exercise. It’s the perfect option to include in your triceps workouts, and you’ll definitely see a difference in your muscular development.

Try out the different variations as well to see which one works best for you, or include them all for variety in your training.

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