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What is a Tricep Press?

By Matthew F.
Updated Feb 18, 2024
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A tricep press is an upper body workout which focuses on exercising the tricep muscles, which are located between the shoulder and the elbow on the back of a person’s arm, directly behind the bicep. A weightlifter can do a shoulder press using several different types of exercise equipment, though there are some indispensable elements which have to be present for this exercise to be accomplished.

A weightlifter performing a tricep press has to have something flat on which to lie face up while performing this exercise. A flat bench is most commonly used by weightlifters, though sometimes the floor is used if a weightlifter wants to focus on the precision of his form. Once the weightlifter is lying face up on the bench, he or she must push whichever form of weight being used for the exercise up from just above his midsection without bringing his elbows away from his body. If the elbows are brought away from the body, then the weightlifter is not exercising his triceps any longer, but rather his pectoral, or chest, muscles. The pushing motion is essential to all tricep exercises, and is also the origin of the term “press” in weightlifting.

An easy way to do a tricep press is by deviating slightly from the way a bench press is performed with a barbell. The weightlifter literally lies in the same position as he would when doing a bench press, except that he does not position his hands on the barbell as wide as is usual doing the bench press, and bring them no farther than shoulder width apart. This allows the weightlifter to bring the bar down to his chest using the tricep as the primary muscle being exercised. It is important that the weightlifter remember to keep his elbows in tight to his midsection when using this method, and to bring his hands down toward his body toward the bottom of the bench, almost even with the armpit.

Other equipment can also be used for a tricep press. Dumbbells may be used as opposed to a barbell. When using dumbbells, the weightlifter still needs a flat bench to lie on, and must remember all of the same components of the lift as if using a barbell. Using dumbbells for any sort of press may be more challenging, because the barbell itself serves to distribute the weight more evenly across a person’s upper body, whereas when dumbbells are used, a person is forced to concentrate more on the form of the lift in order to keep the weights balanced in each hand. Resistance cables may also be used to do a tricep press, as well as the plated weights.

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