Centr Team

Arm goals: 4 of the best dumbbell tricep exercises

Centr Team

Biceps may get all hype, but when it comes to the upper body, your triceps actually do a lot of heavy lifting.

And that’s why you should be making tricep dumbbell exercises a regular part of your routine.

That’s right. You don’t need a gym to drill down on the back of your arms with isolation exercises – all you need is a set of dumbbells.

Let’s take a look at why you should be working your triceps and get started with 4 of our favorite moves.

Centr trainer Ingrid Clay kneels on a bench, with an adjustable dumbbell on the floor beneath her.

With adjustable weights like the Centr Smart Stack 50, you can easily level up your dumbbell tricep workouts at home as you get stronger.

The benefits of strong triceps

Aside from balancing your biceps and being #armgoals, strong triceps are highly functional, too. This is why you want to work these tricep exercises with dumbbells into your routine:

  • Improve overall functional fitness to boost everyday movement – think lifting objects, pushing open doors and carrying groceries.

  • Contribute significantly to overall upper body strength. That’s right, they’re not just for looking good.

  • Enhance performance in sports that involve pushing, throwing, lifting, propelling yourself through water (swimming), punching (boxing) and all kinds of hitting (volleyball, tennis).

  • Help stabilize the elbow and shoulder joints during movement, which means less chance of strain or injury.

Now, let’s take a look at the exercises that will deliver those benefits.

1. Dumbbell close-grip chest press

Why this move? The close grip places more emphasis on the triceps than a traditional chest press. As you extend your arms by pressing up, the triceps will get great engagement.

How to do it:

  1. Lie on your back, knees bent and feet on the floor. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, and bring them together above your chest, palms facing each other.

  2. Keeping the dumbbells close together, press the weights upward until your arms are fully extended.

  3. Lower the dumbbells back to the starting position with control. Keep your elbows up off the mat throughout.

  4. You can also perform this exercise on a flat bench.

2. Dumbbell overhead tricep extension

Why this move? This targets the largest part of your triceps – the long head. It will be working against gravity in every rep to control the lowering of the dumbbell.

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your feet in a staggered position – one foot a small step back from the other. (You can go with whichever side feels most comfortable.) Hold a dumbbell in each hand and bring them together above your head.

  2. Keep your upper arms close to your ears, your shoulders down and your core tight.

  3. Lower the dumbbells behind your head by bending at the elbows. Keep your elbows pointing up toward the ceiling.

  4. Extend your arms back up to the starting position.

  5. You can regress this move by holding one lighter dumbbell with both hands.

3. Dumbbell reverse chest press

Why this move? The reverse grip places more emphasis on the triceps, so you’re getting maximum muscle engagement as you press upward.

How to do it:

  1. Lie on your back, knees bent and feet on the floor, with a dumbbell in each hand in a pronated grip (palms facing your body). Your elbows should be on the floor at around a 45-degree angle to your torso, with the dumbbells held up at either side.

  2. Press the dumbbells up until your arms are fully extended above your chest.

  3. Slowly bring the dumbbells back to the starting position, maintaining control.

  4. This grip can be harder to control than a standard chest press, so start with a lighter dumbbell weight.

4. Dumbbell tricep kickbacks

Why this move? Kickbacks isolate the triceps as your arms fully extend behind your torso. The constant tension throughout also maximizes tricep muscle engagement.

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and a dumbbell in each hand. Your elbows should be at 90 degrees and tucked into your sides.

  2. Hinge at the hips, lowering your chest to face the floor while keeping your back straight.

  3. Drive your fists straight back until your arms are fully extended.

  4. Hold the extended position for a moment, feeling the squeeze of your contracted triceps.

  5. Bring the dumbbells back to the starting position at a slow and controlled tempo.

  6. You can kick both arms back at once or alternate one arm at a time.

Want more movement advice from the experts?


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