What is an overhead tricep extension?

What is an overhead tricep extension

What is an overhead tricep extension on a cable machine?

Overhead tricep extensions are often called seated tricep extensions. They isolate the outer head of the tricep muscle, giving it a fuller, rounder look. There are a lot of different ways to perform this movement which include using barbells, dumbbells, and cables.

In this article, we will take a look at all of them, including the benefits, techniques, and how to avoid injury. 

Muscles targeted with cable overhead tricep extensions.

What is an overhead tricep extension

The cable overhead tricep extension exercise targets the tricep muscles at the back of your upper arms. The development of your triceps can make your upper arms look thicker while giving definition to your biceps and deltoids. Strong triceps also assist in pressing exercises such as bench press or shoulder press, helping you reach better numbers. 

How to perform an overhead cable tricep extension

A personal preference for many professional bodybuilders is to use a cable machine for overhead tricep extensions instead of free weights. It has the convenience of quick weight selection, making it ideal for drop sets and pyramid sets. There is also a greater range of attachments allowing for different grips.

There are two main variations of overhead cable tricep extensions. 

Bent over cable tricep extension.

What is an overhead tricep extension on cables
To perform a bent-over cable row you will need access to a cable machine and either a straight bar, v-bar, EZ bar or rope attachment. 

Set the pin to a high point, select your weight, and attach your bar. Stand underneath the bar and grab it with a narrow grip and your palms facing forward. Place one foot in front of the other for stability and bend your arms to stretch the tricep. Bend over slightly and take a deep breath. Upon exhale, extend your arms, pushing the bar out in front of you. Make sure that your upper arms remain in a fixed position so that your triceps are doing all of the work, 

At full extension, squeeze the tricep for two seconds before slowly returning the bar to the starting position. Repeat this movement for the required number of reps and sets.

Standing overhead tricep cable extension.

Cable overhead tricep extensions

A standing overhead cable extension is a great way to stretch the tricep and get a full range of motion. It can not be done with a heavy weight, so the focus has to be on the stretch and a slow, controlled movement. 

For the standing overhead cable extension, place the pin on a low setting, select your weight, and attach a double rope. Stand facing the machine, grip the rope, and turn 180 degrees so that the rope is behind you and your arms are bent. 

From this position, take a deep breath and upon exhaling, slowly extend your arms above your head until they are straight. Make sure your upper arms are in a fixed position and that the triceps are doing all of the work. 

From the fully extended position, slowly lower the rope back down behind your head until the triceps are fully stretched, but again, keep the upper arms in a fixed position. 

This overhead extension can also be performed from a seated position using a dumbbell bench. If it has an incline function, move the backrest into a vertical position to keep your back straight and provide extra support. 

Variations of the cable overhead tricep extension.

Overhead barbell extension.

Overhead tricep extensions can be performed with a straight bar, but using an EZ bar gives a better, neutral grip. It is also recommended to use a spotter if you are using heavy weights and training to failure on each set to avoid injury. 

What is an overhead tricep extension?

Equipment required.

To perform an overhead barbell tricep extension you will need a bench and a loaded straight bar or EZ bar. Make sure that you have plenty of space around your bench as you will be moving the bar behind your head in your blind spot. 

How to perform an overhead barbell extension.

Sit on the bench with your feet apart so that you have a stable posture. Grab the bar with an overhand grip and your hands at shoulder width. Lift the bar above your head with your arms straight and your chest puffed out to keep your back straight. 

Keeping your upper arms in the locked position and your elbows facing forward, lower the bar behind your head until the triceps are fully stretched. This is your starting position.

Take a deep breath and on exhale, straighten your arms and raise the bar to the upright position. Make sure your upper arms remain in position and your elbows face forward. Once you have fully extended the tricep, squeeze, and slowly lower the bar back to the starting position.

Repeat this movement for the required reps and sets. Make sure you start with a low weight until you are confident with the amount that you can comfortably handle. Also, be sure to warm up your triceps, shoulders and chest before performing the movement, to avoid injury. 

Overhead dumbbell extension.

This movement is similar to the barbell overhead extension but uses a dumbbell instead. The two-handed grip on the dumbbell means that you are narrowing the grip from that of a standard barbell extension. This slight grip change can target different heads on the tricep and is a great way to mix things up. 

Equipment required for overhead dumbbell extensions.

You will need a dumbbell bench and a selection of dumbbells. Place your bench near the dumbbell rack but leave enough space around you to perform the exercise safely. 

How to perform an overhead dumbbell extension.

The dumbbell extension is performed in the same way as a barbell extension. Start by using a light weight and cupping the hands around one end of the dumbbell. Lift the dumbbell above your head with straight arms and elbows facing forwards. Lower the dumbbell to its starting position behind your head without moving your upper arms or flaring elbows.

Overhead dumbbell extension

From this starting position, take a deep breath and raise the dumbbell upon exhale. Extend both arms until they are straight and squeeze the tricep. Hold for two seconds before slowly lowering the weight behind your head again. 

It is also possible to perform this exercise with two lighter dumbbells.

Overhead double dumbbell extension
By using two dumbbells, the weights are easy to manage and you are using a hammer grip which will target different heads on the tricep. This is a good option if your gym only has lighter weights.

It is worth mentioning that being seated does give you extra stability while performing this exercise, but it can be performed standing up if you can not get access to a bench. This will bring your abs and back muscles into action as stabilisers taking some of the focus away from the tricep but will still be effective. 

What is an overhead tricep extension alternative?

Close grip press

Cable pushdown

Tricep dips

Take away

We hope that you have found this article useful and that we have answered the question - what is an overhead tricep extension. 

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