Name of Exercise —Free weight triceps extension
Purpose —To develop strength in the back of the upper arms
Muscles Used —Muscles of the back of the upper arms (triceps brachii)
This exercise can be performed using a barbell or a dumbbell.
Remember to initiate the movement with the muscles in the back of your upper arms and not with your hands.
The number of repetitions (reps) and sets you should do depends on your strength goals.
In general, muscle strength works to increase basic function of the muscle and is the typical goal of workouts. Muscle endurance is important to people who participate in endurance activities, such as running or biking, and muscle power is beneficial for athletes who need to use sudden quick movements, such as sprinting, basketball, and football.
Beginners should start with a basic routine and gradually move toward a strength, endurance, or power routine.
Beginner: 1 set of 12 to 15 reps
Muscle Strength: 1 to 3 sets of 5 to 8 reps
Muscle Endurance: 1 to 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps
Muscle Power: 1 to 3 sets of 3 to 5 reps
Use a weight that is heavy enough to perform the desired number of reps and sets for your skill level using good form. When you are able to perform more reps and sets than is outlined in your category, try to increase the weight you lift by 5% to 10%. Your strength goals may change as you progress.
Let's Move!—Department of Health and Human Services
President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition
Public Health Agency of Canada
Selecting and effectively using free weights. American College of Sports Medicine website. Available at: http://www.acsm.org/docs/brochures/selecting-and-effectively-using-free-weights.pdf. Accessed August 8, 2016.
The basics of starting and progressing a strength-training program. American College of Sports Medicine website. Available at: http://www.acsm.org/public-information/articles/2012/01/13/the-basics-of-starting-and-progressing-a-strength-training-program. Updated January 13, 2012. Accessed August 8, 2016.
Triceps extension. American Council on Exercise website. Available at: http://www.acsm.org/docs/brochures/selecting-and-effectively-using-free-weights.pdf. Accessed August 8, 2016.
Last reviewed August 2016 by Michael Woods, MD