5 Free Weight Exercises To Fire Up Your Triceps

There’s more to building impressive arms than just biceps and these five free weight tricep exercises will help you in your gun growth.

When it comes to building muscular arms, triceps just don’t get the same respect or attention as biceps do. It’s time to ditch that notion — your triceps play a huge role in the most popular gym exercises, like pushups and the bench press. Training your triceps not only builds your arms, it also improves your rep count in these exercises as well!

Free weights are a great way to really work your triceps. What are free weights, you ask? They include dumbbells, barbells, medicine balls, sandbells, and kettlebells — equipment that doesn’t constrain users to specific, fixed movements and therefore require more effort from the individual's stabiliser muscles. Here, Amit Chhikara, Senior Fitness Manager at Fitness First, Gurgaon, recommends five of the best free weight tricep exercises that you should try out.

1. EZ Bar Skullcrushers

The name might sound ominous, but the only thing this exercise will help you crush is your PBs at the gym!

  • Holding the EZ bar in a close grip, lift it straight up with your arms perpendicular to the floor as you lie on a bench. This will be your starting position.

  • Keeping the upper arms stationary, lower the bar by allowing the elbows to flex. Inhale as you perform this portion of the movement and pause once the bar is directly above the forehead.

  • Lift the bar back to the starting position by extending the elbow and exhaling. This is one rep.

  • Keep going for three sets of 10-12 reps each.

2. Seated Dumbbell Press

Typically a shoulder exercise, this will help you build muscle mass in your triceps.

  • Grab a couple of dumbbells and sit on a bench with a back support on it.

  • Lift the dumbbells up one at a time to shoulder height on each side.

  • Rotate the wrists so that the palms of your hands are facing forward. This is your starting position.

  • As you exhale, push the dumbbells up until they touch at the top with your arms upright.

  • After a second’s pause, slowly come down back to the starting position as you inhale. This is one rep.

  • Keep going for three sets of 10-12 reps each.

3. Dumbbell Kickbacks

This simple exercise tones and strengthens your triceps for the tough tests that lie ahead.

  • Start with a dumbbell in each hand and your palms facing your torso. Keep your back straight with a slight bend in the knees and bend forward at the waist. Your torso should be almost parallel to the floor, and your head facing up at all times.

  • Keep your upper arms close to your torso and parallel to the floor. Your forearms should be pointed towards the floor as you hold the weights. There should be a 90-degree angle formed between your forearm and upper arm. This is your starting position.

  • Keeping your upper arms stationary, exhale and use your triceps to lift the weights until the arm is fully extended behind you. Focus only on moving the forearm.

  • After a brief pause at the top contraction, inhale and slowly lower the dumbbells back down to the starting position. This is one rep.

  • Keep going for three sets of 12 reps each.

4. Standing Overhead Tricep Extensions

It looks deceptively simple, but it’ll soon get your triceps feeling the burn!

  • Stand up holding a dumbbell using a pronated grip (palms facing forward) with your hands underneath one of the weights. Your hands should be closer than shoulder-width apart from each other and your feet should be about shoulder-width apart.

  • Now elevate the dumbbell above your head until your arms are fully extended. Keep your elbows in. This will be your starting position.

  • Keeping your upper arms close to your head and elbows in, perpendicular to the floor, lower the dumbbell in a semicircular motion behind your head until your forearms touch your biceps.

  • Your upper arms should remain stationary and only your forearms should move. Breathe in as you perform this step.

  • Go back to the starting position by using the triceps to raise them again. Breathe out as you perform this step.

  • Keep going for three sets of eight to 10 reps.

5. One Arm Dumbbell Extensions

The more intense version of the previous exercise, this one works your arms individually!

  • Grab a dumbbell and stand upright before lifting the dumbbell up to bring it to shoulder height. Extend the arm over your head so that the whole arm is perpendicular to the floor and next to your head. The dumbbell should be on top of you.

  • The other hand can be kept fully extended to the side, by the waist, supporting the upper arm that has the dumbbell or grabbing a fixed surface.

  • Rotate the wrist so that the palm of your hand is facing forward. This will be your starting position.

  • Slowly lower the dumbbell behind your head as you hold the upper arm stationary. Inhale as you perform this movement and pause when your triceps are fully stretched.

  • Return to the starting position by flexing your triceps as you breathe out. This is one rep.

  • Only the forearm should move, the upper arm should remain at all times stationary next to your head.

  • Keep going for three sets of 12 reps, for each arm.

It’s just as important to train the back of your arms with the same intensity as you train the front! However, this doesn’t mean you should only train your triceps — your forearms require attention too.  

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