Build a Massive Triceps – Lying triceps extensions

In this article we will go in depth about the well known move – lying triceps extensions.

Lying triceps extensions, or commonly known as French presses or Skull crushers, are a crucial triceps exercise that is commonly used in many different forms of strength type of training.

They are arguably one of the most muscle stimulating exercises that target the entire triceps muscle group in the upper arm area. Working its way down from the triceps all the way down to the latissimus dorsi or commonly known as the pair of large triangular muscles covering the lower part of the back all the way up to the armpits. Because of its complete use of the triceps muscles, this exercise is frequently incorporated in many people’s training plans.

This move is a type of isolation exercise which means that it only uses one joint. Although compound types of exercises are best for developing all of the muscle groups that are involved in functional movements, lying triceps expansions are invaluable for fixing imbalances in the triceps or even regenerating after an injury. In bodybuilding workouts this exercise is used to target the triceps area for their growth.

Fun fact: The American Council on Exercise sponsored and made a study which revealed that the triceps extensions are about 70%-90% effective compared to the triangle push ups that focus on the tricep area. That being said, extensions are great because they put absolutely no pressure on the wrists and because of that they pose a great alternative for people with wrist injury or wrist strain.

How to do the lying triceps extensions

lying triceps extension

Below are the detailed instructions on how to execute this move using an EZ curl bar.

  1. First, begin from a lying position on a flat bench with both feet on the ground. Your head needs to be hanging just off the top of the bench, so that the edge of the bench is situated in the gap between the neck and head.
  1. Afterwards you take the curled barbell with an overhand grip – palms away from the body and hold it out above your head so that the weight is supported by your arms. Absolutely do not hold your arms straight over your face at a flat angle, but more at around a 60 degree angle, while your feet are at a 90 degree angle. Important: all of the weight must be on the triceps.
  1. Continue by bending the arms at the elbow and bring the bar down, close to the top of your forehead. It is crucial to hold your elbows in the same position and not let them sway outward.
  1. Push back up to the starting position.
  1. Note: try to avoid moving the elbows too much and keep them the same width apart during the whole exercise.

Lying triceps extensions – variations

There are many different variations of the lying triceps extensions all with slight or more noticeable differences and they all serve different purposes. For the purpose to acquaint you with them we have listed off some right here and who knows maybe one of them will just work for you and you’ll swap out the basic extension for an alternative one.

Vertical Triceps extension


We’ll start off easy. This variation changes it up a little bit so that the exercise is performed while standing or sitting rather than lying down. Your back should be straight and have room to move your shoulders fully. The weight in this variation is held over the head rather than over the face like in the original move.

It’s incredibly important to keep the weight under smooth control while moving it up or down, as with any weight training exercises. As was mentioned before, this move can be done standing, sitting, or lying down on your back. Lastly, like most weight training exercises, it’s advised to start off with a lighter weight and then as you get comfortable, and your muscles strengthen you gradually increase the weight.

Incline EZ-bar lying tricep extensions

To do this next variation, you need to start by lying on your back on an incline bench with an EZ bar -which is said to target the muscle group at a different angle while stressing it in a totally different way. Let’s delve into the specifics. Think about the position of your torso in relativity to your arms, lying on a flat bench with raised straight arms is a reference point.

Now, when you incline the torso from this position, your arms should make an obtuse angle with the lower portion of your body. This exact stretch is what aims for the long head of the triceps hard, as the arm should be pointed as far back as you can, as far as it is comfortable of course, to obtain the best stretch possible for the long head.

Triceps extension push-ups


This variation of the lying triceps extension can be performed as a bodyweight exercise only and is therefore an ideal alternative if the situation where weight lifting equipment is unavailable arises. When performing a correct triceps extension push up, you should start from a plank position on the ground with your body being supported by your feet and forearms.

While holding this strict form, you need to extend your triceps until you find yourself in the standard push up position. Afterwards relax your triceps and return your body to the starting plank position so that another rep of this exercise can be performed.

Other variations…

There are many other variations of the triceps extensions that you can try which can be done with dumbbell weights, lying on the ground and then touching your forehead with the weight and afterwards fully extending the arm.

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