How to Develop Triceps With Dumbbells

If you want to fully develop your arms, you can’t just target your biceps. Triceps synergizes with bigger muscles like the shoulders and chest. Developing them helps out a lot in your workouts. All you need is to learn how to develop triceps with dumbbells properly. 

How to Develop Triceps With Dumbbells

Dumbbells make great weights for building muscles. They have handles and you can adjust the weights according to your needs. That’s why picking dumbbells to develop your triceps makes an excellent choice. 

You can pick a variety of dumbbell exercises that target your triceps and other muscle groups too. Depending on what you want to build, you can pick a combination of workouts. 

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Man trying to lift dumbbells with each hands

For this list, we picked the ones that focus mostly on developing your triceps. You’ll commonly see these exercises in gyms and they give you the best results for your triceps. 

Triceps Extension

Most people do the triceps extensions and it’s the most well-known workout for your triceps. You can do a lot of variety of workouts that use triceps extension as a base. Here’s how you can do a triceps extension:

  1. Assume a standing position with your feet shoulder-width apart and back straight.
  2. Hold the dumbbell with both your hands and place your hands behind your head. Your elbows should point upwards.
  3. Raise the dumbbell up by curling your elbows. Hold the extended position for a second and slowly lower back to your original position.
  4. Your upper arms should remain still throughout the workout.

That’s how you perform a triceps extension. You can do different variations of the triceps extension like the one-handed triceps extension and the seated triceps extension. While the one-handed triceps extension follows the same steps as the triceps extension, you do them with only one hand. 

Similarly, the seated triceps extension also follows the triceps extension in a seated position. People usually do this if they have injuries in other parts of their bodies. 

Triceps Gravity Press

The triceps gravity press works by keeping your muscles under constant tension from gravity and the resistance you put up throughout the workout. Other workouts use muscle stretching to develop muscles yet triceps gravity press focus on using gravity against you. 

Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Lay down on a bench. Hold the dumbbells on each hand and it should be directly over your shoulders. Make sure you keep your abs relaxed and tight. 
  2. Bend your elbows so that your forearms parallel the ground. 
  3. Maintain the position and slowly extend your arms overhead until your arms are extended over your head. Do this slowly and always make sure that your forearms stay parallel to the ground throughout. 
  4. Pause the stretched arms position for a few seconds and slowly bring them back into the original position while keeping your forearms parallel to the ground. 
Man holding a dumbbell with each hands

You should start with lighter weights to get familiar with the positions. The triceps gravity press positions can cause injuries if you carelessly use heavy weights that you can’t handle

Triceps Kickback

You also see triceps kickback a lot in the gym. It specifically targets your tricep and improves flexibility. You should always have the triceps kickback in your workouts as it’s the most basic exercise for triceps development. 

  1. Hold a dumbbell with each hand with your palms facing each other. Keep your knees bent slightly. Your spine should be straight in your bent position and your core almost parallel to the ground.
  2. Your arms should be close to your body while your head is in line with your spine. 
  3. Slowly straighten your elbows by lifting the dumbbells towards the back. Only your forearms should move throughout the motion. 
  4. Pause for a bit and then slowly go back to your original position. 

You can do a one-hand variation of the triceps kickback. The best and most commonly used in the gym is by sitting on a bench. You can do this by resting one leg on the bench with your knees on the bench and doing the tricep kickback motion with the opposite arm. 

Double Skull Crusher

The double skull crusher works similarly to the triceps extension. Instead of doing it in the back of your head, you do it in front of your head. Double skull crusher maximizes muscle gains and a great strong move to add to your workouts. 

  1. Sit on a bench while holding two dumbbells with your hands. 
  2. Lie down with your back on the bench. Bring your dumbbells above your head. Your elbows facing upward and your forearms parallel to the ground. 
  3. Slowly press the dumbbells straight up until your arms fully extended above your shoulders. Only your forearms should move throughout the motion. 
  4. Slowly lower the dumbbells until it’s right next to your ear and lift it straight back up.
  5. Repeat this cycle until you complete your desired repetition.

You can make the double skull crusher a lot more difficult by laying down on the floor, and lifting the lower half of your body while doing double skull crusher. This position not only works your triceps but also works out your abs, core, and thigh muscles. 

Man performing dumbbell exercises

Close Grip Dumbbell Push-ups

Close grip dumbbell push-ups hit the entire triceps while also develops your core and chest. Doing push-ups with dumbbells offers a better range of motion and elbow extension. It also lessens the stress placed on your wrists when doing push-ups. 

You should do close grip dumbbell push-ups with a polygon-shaped dumbbell and not the circular one to avoid sliding. 

  1. Get down on all fours with both your hands holding a dumbbell. Your hands placed directly under your shoulders. The closer your hands are, the greater effect it will have for developing your triceps. 
  2. Tighten your abs and extend your legs out with the balls of your feet pointing upwards. 
  3. Slowly bend your elbows while only moving your forearms. Lower your chest towards the floor.
  4. Extend back your elbow pushing yourself up slowly while maintaining your body straight back to your original position.

What Helps Develop the Triceps?

Developing your triceps involves muscle hypertrophy that occurs whenever you workout. This causes metabolic stress and muscle tension that help develop your muscles. In order to stimulate muscle hypertrophy you need to have these factors:

  • Progressive overload: the increase in the total amount of tension on your muscle fibers. Increasing the total amount of weight you lift over time helps get you to progressive overload.
  • Metabolic stress: the repetition of an exercise until you get muscle failure. You should not hit muscle failure every time or the exhaustion would make you not want to work out. 
  • Muscle damage: muscle damage occurs when there are microtears on your muscles while lifting weights. Combining this with proper nutrition helps it repair and develop stronger. 


You can do a lot of workout routines to develop your triceps with dumbbells. Make sure that you do it properly and safely. Working out too much will make you counterproductive so having the right balance of workout and rest is essential.

Robert Lemus has been a natural competitor for 6 years, starting in Men’s Physique, then Bodybuilding, and then into Classic Physique. He is the Orange County Bodybuilding champion in 2016 for the Musclemania Organization. In 2018, he received his Pro Card with the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) in Classic Physique.