The Critical Body logo

How to do reverse grip overhead triceps extensions

Learn how to do a reverse grip overhead extension with the optimal tricep-building technique.
Written By  James Jackson
Last Updated on 11th October 2021
A man performing reverse grip overhead tricep extensions with an EZ bar

The reverse grip overhead tricep press trains all three heads of the triceps brachii muscles while giving extra emphasis to the long head, which is the largest of the three heads.

This happens because the long head is the only triceps muscle that crosses the shoulder joint, and so when you put your shoulders into flexion, this head has to do most of the lifting because the other two heads only act on the elbow.

The following guide demonstrates how to do reverse grip overhead triceps extensions with the proper muscle-building form. After showing you how to do a reverse grip overhead barbell tricep extension, we’ll take a look at the other exercise variations that you can do with a reverse grip.

Reverse grip overhead triceps extension exercise details

  • Also Known As: Reverse tricep curl
  • Main Muscles: Triceps
  • Exercise Type: Strength
  • Exercise Mechanics: Isolation
  • Difficulty Level: Beginner
  • Equipment Needed: Bar, weights

How to do reverse grip overhead triceps extensions

  1. Load some weight onto a bar and then grab the bar with a supinated grip, just inside shoulder width.
  2. Press the bar over your head so that your arms are locked out.
  3. Lower the weight behind your head by “breaking” at your elbows.
  4. Keep going until you feel a strong stretch in the backs of your arms.
  5. Reverse the motion by flexing your triceps. Keep going until your elbows reach full extension.
  6. Perform 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps.

Variation: Seated reverse grip overhead triceps extension

A man doing a seated reverse overhead tricep extension

If you want to take your core more or less out of the exercise, then you can do reverse seated tricep extensions with a cambered bar.

Cambered bars have semi-pronated grips, which are much more comfortable to hold than a straight bar. Hence, they’re the recommended training tool for the reverse grip overhead tricep extension.

The lifting technique is the same. Just make sure that your bench has a backrest so that you don’t have to put as much effort into stabilizing your core (this is a tricep isolation exercise, after all).

For the seated barbell tricep extension, lifters typically like to use benches that have a fixed backrest because these benches require less setup and don’t obstruct the bar in any way.

A regular bench, in most cases, will be just as good for the reverse seated triceps press, providing that it allows you to get a full range of motion. In other words, you don’t want the bar to hit the back pad before your triceps receive a full stretch.

What other exercises can you do with a reverse grip?

A man doing reverse grip overhead triceps extensions

Below you’ll find an extensive list of all the overhead extensions that you can perform with a reverse grip. Each exercise, of course, has its own pros and cons and nuances when it comes to the lifting technique, hence why we created a full guide for each variation.

Conclusion: Are overhead reverse grip tricep extensions worth performing?

Reverse grip overhead triceps extensions are a good muscle-building exercise that makes a great addition to any resistance training routine. The key to getting the most from the movement is to let your triceps do all of the lifting; don’t jerk the weight up by bending your knees or hips.

Many lifters find that the reverse grip overhead tricep extension helps them to keep their elbows tucked in, which in turn takes some of the strain off their joints.

The only downside is that you lose the ability to push into the bar with the palms of your hands when you use a reverse grip. This limits your ability to produce force, which may mean lifting lighter weight initially.

Nonetheless, if you’re looking for a reliable exercise that isolates the triceps while encouraging proper elbow positioning, the reverse grip overhead triceps extension is a solid choice.

James Jackson
James Jackson is a personal trainer who uses his expertise in strength and conditioning to create helpful workout tutorials that show fitness enthusiasts how to build muscle while staying safe in the gym. He draws on the latest sports science data as well as tried and tested training techniques to get the best results for his clients without them having to live in the gym.
chevron-upmenu-circlecross-circle linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram