10 Triceps Extension Variations | Favourites of a World Record Presser

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Snapshot of Takeaway Points

  • Change the angle or implement to change which head of the triceps receives more tension
  • You need strong triceps for pressing heavy objects but also shoulder health
  • 10 different exercises with videos and technique tips provided


If you’re going to hit world record log or bench press numbers then you need strong triceps. It’s even important for overall shoulder health. So, if you want all of this then you’re going to need some triceps extension variations to ensure you continue to avoid adaptation. Here are 10 different options I love to use in my own training but also that of my clients.

Let’s first consider the functional anatomy of the triceps brachii. There are three heads, the long head, the lateral head and the medial head. Depending on the movement executed you can put more tension on one or more of the three different heads. There are no true isolation’s but by adjusting angles you can apply more tension to one so it has to do more work.

Here is a list of positions and grips with which head receives more of the workload:

  • Incline to overhead: Long head
  • Flat: Long & Lateral
  • Decline: Medial at top, lateral at bottom
  • Pronated: Lateral head
  • Supinated: Medial head
  • Flared elbows: Lateral head
20° Decline Extension (EZ bar, to chin, pronated mid, Chains)
  • Medial head at bottom, lateral head at top
  • Chains further overload lateral head
  • Can perform with apparatus on other angles
  • Chains change strength curve
  • For less stretch but more weight take bar to forehead
Flat Extension (Dumbbell, Pronating, Offset)
  • Long & lateral head recruited
  • Offset further activates lateral head
  • Can perform on any angle
  • Further time under tension with 1 & quarters
  • Contract triceps at top of movement
30° Degree Incline Extension (EZ bar to Forehead)
  • Long & lateral head
  • Heavy weight helps to wake lazy lateral head
  • Great transfer to log performance
  • Short ROM means increased weight
  • Width grip can be varied
Flat Extension (Dumbbell, Tate/Williams)
  • Long & lateral head
  • Known as both Tate Press or Williams Extension
  • Short range so weight will be increased
  • Can perform on other angles
  • Pauses at bottom are useful with this movement
Bent Over Cable Pushdown (Supinated, Sh. Width)
  • Medial head receives most tension
  • Grip width can be varied
  • Pauses at full extension very beneficial
  • Thick grip attachment is a personal favourite with this
  • Ensure elbows don’t drift forwards
Flat Extension (Dumbbell, Semi-Supinated, Mechanical Drop)
  • Long & lateral head recruited
  • Eccentric damage is enhanced
  • More weight will be utilised
  • Ensure a controlled eccentric tempo (4-8 seconds)
  • Can perform with EZ Bar and other angles
Flat Extension (Dumbbell, Semi-Supinated, Rollbacks)
  • Long & lateral head
  • Quicker amortization phase trained
  • Useful for peaking
  • Heavier weight than usual
  • Ensure eccentric is quick (10X0 tempo)
Standing Overhead Dix Press/Extension
  • Lateral head as arms are overhead
  • Great to improve overhead pressing strength
  • Can vary thickness of barbell
  • Learnt from Josh Bryant
  • Helped him push press 200kg on a barbell!
Standing Overhead California Press/Extension
  • Lateral head as arms are overhead
  • Traditionally done lying on back
  • Fantastic transfer to log pressing
  • Extreme stretch of triceps
  • Keep elbows high
Standing Overhead Extension (Swiss Bar, Mid, Dead stop on Safety)
  • Lateral head as arms are overhead
  • Key is the dead stop
  • Improves starting strength
  • Dead stop for 2-4 seconds
  • Can utilise other bar types and seated


So here you have 10 different triceps extension variations to help you in your quest for a World Record Log or Bench press. These are primarily used for assistance work after the heavy stuff is taken care of. This would then mean you’d be using 3-5 sets of 6-12 reps depending on the goal. Don’t be shy in varying tempo and repetition types. A change can be as beneficial as a de-load and using new exercises can challenge the nervous system which leads to long term strength gains!

Article written by: Tom Hibbert

Published on: 3/10/2019

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