Eccentric tricep exercises are typically performed by people with triceps tendonitis because they’re usually easier on the elbows than dynamic exercises.
With this in mind, I’ve selected a total of 6 eccentric triceps exercises that you can use for rehabilitation and general muscle strengthening purposes.
There are 2 band exercises, 2 free weight exercises, and 2 bodyweight drills, so you’ll be sure to get a great eccentric tricep workout regardless of your equipment availability.
The 6 best eccentric tricep exercises
I got the first three exercises in this workout from physiotherapist Tim Keeley, who has a truly excellent YouTube channel that explains all things rehab, mobility, and treatment in the fitness world.
See below for a full tutorial on each eccentric tricep exercise and to learn exactly how each movement benefits you.
1. Resistance band eccentric tricep extension
As mentioned, tricep eccentric exercises are easier on the elbows than dynamic exercises (which involve both a concentric and eccentric contraction) because your triceps don’t have to lift the weight all by themselves; they just have to lower it.
That said, with the first 3 eccentric tricep exercises, you’ll be lifting the band—and your body—with both of your triceps and then lowering it with just one arm. This approach enables you to lift a decent amount of weight to truly strengthen and rehabilitate your triceps tendonitis without going overboard.
To do an eccentric resistance band tricep extension, you’ll need either a door anchor or a stable surface above head height to which you can tie your band. For this demo, I’ll use a door anchor since they’re readily available and come with many resistance band sets these days.
- Connect a resistance band to your door anchor in a high position.
- Grab the band with both of your hands and then turn away from the anchor point.
- Take a step forward and move your arms behind your head.
- Lift the band forward by flexing both of your triceps.
- Once your elbows are locked out or almost locked out, take one hand off the band and then lower the band with your remaining arm.
- Do this 8-10 times and then repeat with your other arm.
2. Eccentric tricep pushdown
You can do an eccentric tricep pushdown with either a resistance band or a single triceps rope on a cable machine. The difference is minimal, but cables tend to provide more consistent resistance throughout the entire duration of the rep, whereas bands get heavier the more that you stretch them.
Also, the increments on some cable machines can be quite big, which can be particularly problematic when you’re releasing/lowering the rope with just one arm.
For this reason, bands, which are very easy on the elbows, are often the best option.
- Connect your band to a door anchor that’s positioned above head height. Alternatively, you can tie your band to a stable surface.
- Grab the band with both of your hands.
- Flex your triceps to push the band down toward the floor.
- Contract your triceps, and then take one hand off the band.
- Slowly release the contraction and move the band back up with just one of your arms.
- Do this 8-10 times and then repeat with your other arm.
3. Eccentric tricep push-up
If you don’t have any equipment, then the eccentric tricep push-up is one of the best tricep tendonitis eccentric exercises that you can do—and you can perform it pretty much anywhere.
The ideal setup would be to kneel on a mat and place your hands on something like a barbell, which will enable you to keep your wrists straight. However, if you don’t have access to a gym, then you can easily do the exercise with your hands against the wall or on a chair.
This exercise is definitely harder than the resistance band drills that you saw above. So I advise you to proceed with caution if you’re recovering from particularly bad triceps tendonitis.
- Kneel on the floor (ideally on a mat or cushion) and place your hands on a barbell/chair/wall.
- Remove one hand from the bar/chair and then lower your body toward the bar/chair by bending your elbow.
- Once you feel a good stretch in your triceps, put your other hand back on the bar/chair and push yourself back up.
- Do this 4-8 times and repeat with your other arm.
4. Eccentric lying dumbbell tricep extension
Free weights tend to put more torque through your elbows than bands or cables, so definitely use light dumbbells on this exercise if you’re training for rehabilitation.
If you’re training for muscle growth, however, then this exercise is also highly effective.
Essentially, you lie back on a bench and perform a lying tricep extension. Then, you press the weights back up using all of your pushing muscles—chest, triceps, shoulders.
So you’re lifting/bench pressing the weights up with multiple muscles and then lowering them purely with your triceps.
To keep the stress off your elbows, I recommend lowering the weights behind your head rather than to your face or to the sides of your head. This combined elbow flexion and backward shoulder movement will engage the long head of the triceps more and protect your elbows.
- Grab a pair of dumbbells and lie back on a bench. You can also do this exercise on the floor if you don’t have a bench.
- Press the weights up with a neutral grip.
- Bend your elbows and move your shoulders back to lower the dumbbells behind your head.
- Keep going until you feel a strong stretch in your triceps.
- Move your shoulders forward and press the weights up as if you were doing a bench press.
- Perform 6-10 reps in total.
5. Eccentric overhead extension
Overhead extensions can be quite elbow-intensive but are usually safe if you use a light dumbbell. They’re also a great way to add variety to your workout if most of your other eccentric triceps exercises are band-based.
You can do overhead extensions both sitting down and standing up. Doing the exercises standing up will burn more calories and engage more of the muscles in your core, whereas performing the movement sitting down will likely enable you to better focus on your triceps.
Of course, since you’re going to be lifting a light weight, it doesn’t really matter how you do the exercise as long as you feel it working the target muscle.
- Cup your hands around one end of a dumbbell.
- Press the dumbbell over your head.
- Take one hand off the weight and then bend your elbow to lower it behind your head.
- Keep going until you feel a good stretch in your triceps.
- Reach behind your head to put your other hand back on the dumbbell.
- Lift the weight back up by flexing both of your triceps muscles.
- Do 6-10 reps and then repeat with your upper arm.
6. Eccentric tricep dips
Eccentric tricep dips are a bit of a stop-start exercise because every time you lower your body down, you need to reposition yourself. Still, they’re one of the better eccentric exercises for triceps tendonitis if you don’t have any equipment.
Just make sure to lower yourself toward the floor in a slow and controlled manner so that you don’t put too much stress on your elbows and rotator cuffs.
- Face away from a bench/chair and put your hands on the seat in a palms-down position.
- Extend your legs out in front of you.
- Bend your elbows to lower your body toward the ground.
- Once you feel a good stretch in your triceps, shift the weight onto your feet and stand up.
- Then, get back into the tricep dip position.
- Do 6-10 reps in total.
Conclusion: Should you do eccentric exercises for triceps tendonitis?
While you could just do regular exercises with lighter weights, eccentric tricep exercises are especially effective because most of them enable you to lift the weight with both arms and then lower it with just one.
A tricep eccentric contraction is easier for your muscles to handle than a tricep concentric contraction, which makes the above exercises ideal for rehabilitation.
You can also check out this isometric tricep workout if you’re looking for other exercises that are ideal for rehabilitation and triceps strengthening.
- Physio Rehab. (2022). Physio Rehab | About Us. https://physiorehab.com/about
- Seladi-Schulman, J., PhD. (2019b, April 22). How to Treat Triceps Tendonitis. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/sports-injuries/tricep-tendonitis
- Padulo, J., dal Pupo, J., Laffaye, G., & Chamari, K. (2013). Concentric and eccentric: Muscle contraction or exercise? Enfermería Clínica, 23(4), 177–178. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enfcli.2013.05.001