Using a tricep bar helps you to keep your wrists in a neutral position while you perform various exercises for your upper body. Also called a hammer curl bar, the triceps bar is an affordable piece of equipment that makes a great addition to any workout regime.
This article explains why tricep bar workouts can be so beneficial for building muscle (particularly in your arms and shoulders) and also gives you some actual training routines to get started with.
But before all that, let’s check out the best tricep bar exercises that you can do in the gym (or at home).
The top 5 tricep bar exercises
Here are the 5 most effective triceps bar exercises for building muscle and gaining strength.
1. Tricep bar hammer curls
The barbell hammer curl is a great exercise for working your biceps, brachialis, and brachioradialis muscles with plenty of resistance. By keeping your wrists in a neutral position, you’ll naturally be able to lift more weight because your brachioradialis will be in a stronger force-producing position.
Of course, since you’re curling a bar and not two separate weights, there’s also a risk that you could develop muscular imbalances if one side of your body does more work.
Yet, since the bar is right in front of you during this particular tricep bar exercise, it’s really easy to keep an eye on your form when you’re curling. This helps you to ensure that both of your arms are doing similar amounts of lifting.
2. Tricep bar overhead extension
The tricep bar overhead extension is one of those hammer curl bar exercises that are great for putting on mass. This is because overhead extensions train the long head of your triceps, which is bigger than the medial and lateral heads put together!
Since the tricep bar naturally keeps your wrists and elbows in a neutral position, you’re less likely to experience joint discomfort while doing this triceps bar exercise.
To save time and get a great triceps bar workout, you can also superset tricep bar hammer curls with overhead extensions.
Anyway, just be sure to take full advantage of the overhead extension’s mass-building potential by getting a full range of motion—deep stretch on the eccentric, complete elbow lockout during the concentric.
3. Triceps bar lying extension
Like the overhead extension, the lying extension trains the long head of the triceps, meaning that it’s excellent for putting on mass. But since you’re lying on a bench, you don’t have to put as much effort into stabilizing your core muscles, which will likely help you to get a better tricep bar workout.
The key is to lower the bar behind your head—rather than directly to your face or forehead—so that you can put the long head of your triceps under a maximal muscle stretch.
Again, you can include the lying extension with other exercises in a superset to save time and intensify your hammer curl bar workout.
For example, you do hammer curls immediately followed by tricep extensions. Or, you could do tricep extensions to failure and then immediately transition into a close grip bench press to pump up your triceps even more.
4. Tricep bar front raises
When it comes to Olympic tricep bar exercises, few lifters think about the shoulders. However, tricep bars are ideal for front raises because they keep your shoulders in a neutral position, which can help to keep your rotator cuffs out of trouble.
Since front raises get much harder toward the end of the rep, you should really try to control the eccentric portion of the rep so that you can overload your anterior deltoids with that fiber-tearing muscle tension that they need to grow.
Also, don’t worry too much about the amount of weight that you’re lifting. Front raises are more about getting a good pump and plenty of time under tension than they are about setting new PRs.
5. Tricep bar close grip bench press
The neutral handles on the triceps bar enable you to keep your elbows tucked into your sides, which is ideal for the close grip bench press.
When your elbows are tucked in rather than flared out, your triceps have to do more of the heavy lifting because your chest muscles can’t produce as much force in this position.
Of course, since you have to get the hammer curl bar into position yourself (you can’t unrack it like a straight bar), this exercise is probably better suited to higher reps seeing as it would be difficult to get a maximally-loaded triceps bar into position.
How to use a tricep bar correctly
Unlike straight bars and EZ bars, a triceps bar is only useful for a handful of exercises. For example, while a triceps bar is great for hammer curls and overhead extensions, it’s mediocre for rows and bench presses.
To learn how to use a tricep bar correctly, see the following instructions.
- Load a reasonable amount of weight onto each side of the triceps bar.
- Place barbell collars on the triceps bar to prevent the weight plates from sliding off.
- Grab the tricep bar handles with a firm grip. If your bar has more than one set of handles, choose the grip that you find the most comfortable.
- Get in position for your chosen exercise; stand up for hammer curls, overhead extensions, and front raises; lie down for lying extensions and close grip bench press.
- Perform your exercise with good form and aim to leave 1-2 reps in reserve per set.
- After your set is over, carefully place the tricep bar on the floor.
How much does a tricep bar weigh
How much does a tricep bar weigh? The precise tricep bar weight differs between brands. But in general, the average tricep bar weighs right around 20 lbs. In my experience, the exact weight can differ by about 10% either way. Still, most tricep bars and hammer curl bars weigh 20 pounds.
Tricep bar benefits
Compared to other types of bars (see our tricep bar vs EZ curl comparison), the tricep bar/hammer curl bar has some unique benefits that will definitely make your workouts better.
Keeps your wrists in a neutral position
If I had a dollar for every time a lifter complained of wrist pain, I wouldn’t be writing this article now because I’d be retired.
More often than not, exercises that force your hands into a pronated position are the prime causes of wrist pain and joint discomfort.
While hammer curl bars don’t completely solve this problem, they do take much of the pressure off your wrists by putting them in a neutral position.
Great for supersets
Supersets speed up your workouts and make your training sessions more intense. If you train two body parts that are close to each other (such as your biceps and triceps) in a superset fashion, then you can also get a skin-splitting muscle pump.
That’s why it can be beneficial to perform overhead extensions followed by hammer curls, for example.
You could take the above pairing a step further by turning it into a tri-set by doing a front raise after your arm exercises.
Or, you could do a close grip bench press after lying tricep extensions to really pump up your triceps and take them past failure.
They’re relatively affordable
Quality Olympic bars don’t come cheap. Hammer curl bars, on the other hand, are pretty affordable these days, meaning that they’re accessible to many people who train at home.
So if you want more variety in your workouts, then for about the price of a month’s gym membership, you can likely pick up a good quality triceps bar.
Tricep bar workouts
Here are two intense tricep bar workouts that you don’t want to miss. You can perform these workouts as a standalone session, or you can add them to your current routine for more intensity and variety.
Tricep bar workout 1: Arms
This tricep bar workout will pump up your arms in a very short space of time. It’s the ideal add-on to the end of a push, pull, or upper body workout, but you can also do it as a standalone session to train your arms with a good chunk of volume.
1A: Tricep bar lying extension — 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps
1B: Standing tricep bar hammer curl — 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps
2A: Tricep bar overhead extension — 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps
2B: Preacher tricep bar hammer curl — 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps
Tricep bar workout 2: Arms and shoulders
This hammer curl bar workout trains your triceps, biceps, brachialis, brachioradialis, and anterior deltoids in one convenient session. Since the exercises are programmed in a superset fashion, this routine is great for burning out your muscles at the end of a heavy workout.
1A: Triceps bar hammer curl — 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps
1B: Triceps bar front raise — 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps
2A: Triceps bar overhead extension — 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps
2B: Triceps bar close grip bench press — 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps
Conclusion: Are triceps bar exercises worth your time?
Tricep bar exercises are easy on your joints and convenient to perform, so I definitely recommend including some of the above movements in your workout routine.
Triceps bar exercises are especially good for working your arms and shoulders, which are two body parts that can really enhance your physique when they’re well-developed.
In my view, hammer curl bar exercises are best performed after your main exercises (like squats, bench press, rows, shoulder presses, etc.) because they’re mainly isolation exercises, which you generally do at the end of your session.
- Pollen, T. (2021, December 30). The 3 Essential Workout Methods for Muscle. T NATION. https://www.t-nation.com/training/the-3-essential-workout-methods-for-muscle/
- Stibich, M. (2021, May 25). Stretches and Methods to Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Verywell Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/preventing-carpal-tunnel-syndrome-2224091