Lying Tricep Extension: Muscle Worked, How To Do, Form

Are you looking for a way to make your tricep workout more challenging? Performing the lying tricep extension exercise is the key to unlocking your arm’s full potential.

Lying tricep extension is a popular exercise for strengthening your tricep muscles. Bodybuilders and athletes have been doing it for a long time.

It’s usually done on a bench with either an Ez-bar, straight bar or dumbbells.

In this article, we will look at the following:

  • What is lying tricep extension
  • Muscles worked during it
  • How to do it
  • Variations of tricep extension with dumbbells, barbells & Ez-Bar.
  • Sample Workout plan

What is Lying Tricep Extension

The lying tricep extension, also known as skull crushers, is a popular strength training exercise that primarily targets the triceps. It is an effective isolation exercise that helps build strength, size, and definition in the triceps.

Barbell lying tricep extension is a popular type of tricep extension among gym goers as well as bodybuilders. There are many other ways to do a lying extension to get the most muscle stimulation.

  • Dumbbell lying tricep extension
  • Cable lying tricep extension
  • Ez Bar lying tricep extension

Lying Tricep Extension Muscle Worked

The lying tricep extension primarily works the triceps brachii with an emphasis on the long head of the muscle.

The forearm muscles, specifically the brachialis, brachioradialis, Forearm Flexor muscles act as stabilizers during lying tricep extension helping to maintain control and stability.

In addition to its target of the tricep, the tricep extensions have the involvement of several synergist and stabilizer muscles, Pectoralis MajorAnterior DeltoidLats and Biceps Brachii.

Lying Tricep Extension Muscle Worked

How To Do Lying Tricep Extension

If you are new to this exercise, you should start with a light weight and work on perfecting your form. As you get used to the exercise and get stronger, you can slowly increase the weight you use.

  • Lie down on a flat bench with your feet planted firmly on the ground.
  • Make sure your head, upper back, and buttocks are in contact with the bench.
  • Pick a weight, such as dumbbells or a barbell, for the workout. Choose the weight that is suitable for you.
  • If using a barbell or EZ-curl bar, grip it with an overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • If using dumbbells, hold them with a neutral grip (palms facing each other).
  • Extend your arms directly toward the ceiling, perpendicular to the floor.
  • Inhale and slowly bend your elbows to bring the weight down towards your forehead or just above it.
  • Pause briefly at the bottom of the movement to feel a stretch in your triceps.
  • Exhale and bring your arms back up to the starting position.
  • Do 8 to 12 reps, and 3-4 sets.
How To Do Lying Tricep Extension

Lying Tricep Extension Form & Tips

When you do a lying tricep extension exercise, you should pay attention to these things.

  • Avoid lowering the weight too close to your face or forehead. This can put too much strain on the elbows and increase the risk of getting hurt.
  • The entire movement should be performed slowly and with control, especially when the weight is moving behind the head.
  • Focus on your breathing. Exhale as you lift the weight back up, and inhale as you lower it down towards your forehead.
  • Keep your elbows close to your head and pointing upward.
  • Keep your shoulders and upper arms fixed. All the movement should be in your elbows.
  • Prevent your elbows from flaring out to maintain proper form.
  • Don’t lock your elbows at the top of the movement. This can put stress on your elbows and lead to injury.
  • Pause for a moment at the bottom of the movement. This will help to stretch the triceps and get a better workout.
  • Start light, add weight gradually, and always keep the movement under full control.
  • If using a barbell or EZ-curl bar, grip it with an overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. If using dumbbells, hold them with a neutral grip (palms facing each other).

Best Ways To Do Lying Tricep Extension

There are many variations of the Lying Tricep Extension that you can do with dumbbells, cable a standard barbell, or by changing the bench position.

  • If you are new to doing lying tricep extension, you may want to make the exercise easier by using a few changes. One way to overcome this issue is to use a lighter weight. Another way is to use dumbbells and cables to do tricep extensions.
  • If you are looking for a more advanced variation to stimulate different muscle fibers in the triceps, then you should try the Incline and decline lying tricep extensions.

1. Barbell Lying Tricep Extension

The barbell lying tricep extension is a popular variation of the skull crusher exercise that targets the triceps muscles.

The barbell allows you to handle heavier weights compared to other variations, leading to greater strength gains and muscle stimulation.

Having stronger and bigger triceps is not only important from an aesthetic standpoint, but can also help contribute to better performance on pressing motions such as the bench press.

How to do a barbell lying tricep extension to build bigger and stronger triceps:

  • Close-Grip Barbell Lying Tricep Extension
  • Wide-Grip Barbell Lying Extension
  • Reverse-Grip Barbell Tricep Extension
  • Decline Barbell Tricep Extension
  • Incline Barbell Tricep Extension
Barbell Lying Tricep Extension

How To Do Barbell Lying Tricep Extension

  1. Lie down on a flat bench, spread your legs, and plant your feet flat on the floor for stability.
  2. Grasp the barbell about shoulder-width apart with your hands and your thumbs wrapped around the bar.
  3. Extend your arms straight above your chest, perpendicular to the floor.
  4. Keep your elbows stationary and slowly lower the barbell towards your forehead by bending at the elbows.
  5. Hold for 1–2 seconds when the barbell is close to your forehead.
  6. Exhale as you press the barbell back up to the starting position.
  7. Repeat for the prescribed number of repetitions.
Know More: 7 Best Barbell Triceps Exercises For Mass And Strength

2. Dumbbell Lying Tricep Extension

The dumbbell lying tricep extension is another popular workout that focuses on the triceps muscles. It allows you to work each arm independently, which helps to correct muscle imbalances and ensure balanced triceps development.

Dumbbells also allow you to adjust your grip and range of motion based on your comfort and flexibility. I enjoy this exercise because it helps to create strong mind muscles and helps to effectively train my triceps.

You can try other variations of lying dumbbell tricep extension to keep your workout challenging and effective.

  1. Single-Arm Dumbbell Tricep Extension
  2. Alternating Dumbbell Lying Tricep Extension
  3. Incline and Decline Dumbbell Tricep Extension
Dumbbell Lying Triceps Extension

How To Do Dumbbell Skull Crusher

  1. Lie on a flat bench with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Hold two dumbbells in each hand and hold them directly above you.
  3. Make sure that your upper arms and elbows are still.
  4. Then slowly lower the dumbbell behind your head and feel your tricep muscles stretch out.
  5. Then, pause and squeeze the triceps, and then raise the dumbbells back up to the starting position.
Know More: 10 Best Dumbbell Triceps Exercises for Mass & Strength

3. Lying Cable Lying Tricep Extension

In contrast to other variations of lying tricep extension that rely on gravity, lying cable tricep extension maintains constant tension throughout the entire range of motion.

This tricep extension exercise requires you to keep tension on the cables throughout the range of motion, which works your triceps from start to finish.

There are also many ways to do a cable lying tricep extension in your triceps workout.

  • Single-arm cable lying extension
  • Rope tricep extension
  • Reverse Grip lying tricep extension
Cable Skull Crusher.

How To Do Lying Cable Skull Crusher

  1. Position a bench close to a low cable pulley, with the head of the bench nearest to the pulley.
  2. Lie on your back (supine) on the bench. Grasp the bar with a shoulder-width pronated (overhand) grip.
  3. Press the bar upward until your arms are fully extended, and hold the bar over your forehead so that your arms are slightly slanted backwards.
  4. Keeping your elbows in, inhale as you flex your elbows and lower the bar to your forehead.
  5. Exhale as you extend your elbows to raise the bar back to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for the prescribed number of repetitions.

4. EZ Bar Lying Tricep Extension

EZ Bar Lying Triceps Extensions, are an effective isolation exercise targeting the triceps muscles. This exercise is performed with an EZ barbell, which is a specialized barbell with angled grips in the middle.

The EZ bar has a unique design that allows for a more comfortable and ergonomic hand position, reducing strain on the wrists and elbows.

EZ Bar Lying Tricep Extension

How To Do EZ Bar Lying Tricep Extension

  1. Lie down on a flat bench with your feet firmly planted on the ground.
  2. Grasp the Ez bar with an overhand grip (palms facing down) that is slightly narrower than shoulder-width apart.
  3. Slowly lower the EZ bar towards your forehead by bending your elbows.
  4. Once you reach the bottom position, pause for a moment.
  5. Then, engage your triceps and extend your arms to lift the barbell back to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for desired number of reps and sets.

Add Lying Tricep Extension In Your Workout Routine

There are many different ways to incorporate tricep extension in your workout routine to build a bigger and stronger tricep.

1. Push Day

Barbell Bench Press48-1060-90s
Incline Dumbbell Press310-1260-90s
Barbell Lying Tricep Extension410-1260s
Dumbbell Shoulder Press38-1060-90s
Cable Flyes312-1560s
Triceps Pushdown312-1560s

2. Triceps-Focused Workout

Close-Grip Bench Press48-1060-90s
Dumbbell Lying Tricep Extension48-1060s
Triceps Dips310-1260-90s
Overhead Triceps Extensions38-1060s
Cable Pushdowns312-1560s

3. Full-Body Workout

Barbell Rows48-1090s
Ez Bar Lying Tricep Extension410-1260s
Bench Press48-1060-90s
Dumbbell Shoulder Press38-1090s


What is the difference between skull crushers and lying triceps extensions?

Skull crushers and lying tricep extensions are often used interchangeably to refer to the same exercise. However, there is a subtle difference between the two terms.

  • Range of motion: Skull crushers have a shorter range of motion than lying triceps extensions. This is because the weight is lowered to the forehead, rather than behind the head.
  • Angle of the upper arms: In skull crushers, the upper arms are typically at a 90-degree angle to the torso. In lying triceps extensions, you can keep the upper arms at an angle of 90–45 degrees to the torso.

How many sets and repetitions should I do for lying tricep extensions?

Start with 3-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions. Adjust the weight so that the last few reps of each set are tough but still allow for proper form and control.

Is lying tricep extension effective?

Yes, lying tricep extensions are effective for targeting and strengthening the tricep muscles. They provide a focused and isolated workout for the triceps, engage a full range of motion, and activate the muscles effectively.

What do lying tricep extensions target?

Lying tricep extensions are an isolation exercise that primarily targets the triceps. Lying tricep extensions also work the shoulders, chest, and forearm muscles, but only to a lesser degree.


Lying Tricep Extensions are a good way to make your triceps bigger and stronger. There are many ways to do this exercise, so you can pick the one that works best for you.


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  3. Alves D, Matta T, Oliveira L. Effect of shoulder position on triceps brachii heads activity in dumbbell elbow extension exercisesJ Spors Med Phys Fitn. 2017;58(9):1247-52. doi:10.23736/s0022-4707.17.06849-9
  4. Shuttlewood K, Beazley J, Smith CD. Distal triceps injuries (Including snapping triceps): A systematic review of the literatureWorld J Orthop. 2017;8(6):507-513. doi:10.5312/wjo.v8.i6.507
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