Lying barbell triceps extension

Exercise details

  • Target muscle: Triceps Brachii
  • Synergists: None
  • Mechanics: Isolation
  • Force: Push

Starting position

  1. Grasp a loaded barbell using a shoulder-width, pronated (overhand) grip.
  2. Lie supine (on your back) on a flat bench.
  3. Press the barbell upward until your arms are fully extended and hold it over your forehead.


  1. Inhale as you flex your elbows and shoulders to lower the barbell behind your head.
  2. Exhale as you extend your elbows and shoulders to raise the barbell back to the starting position.
  3. Repeat.

Comments and tips

  • To keep the emphasis on your triceps brachii, keep your elbows close to your head.
  • Keep the movement in your shoulders to a minimum. Most of the movement should be in your elbows.
  • An EZ-curl bar might be easier on your wrists.
  • Instead of lying down while holding the barbell, you can lie down and get a training partner to hand you the barbell.
  • The lying barbell triceps extension should not be confused with the skull crusher, which is almost the same exercise except you keep your elbows fixed and lower the barbell to your forehead. See the second video.


Lying barbell triceps extension

Skull crusher

The skull crusher is a stricter variation of the lying barbell triceps extension. The exercise eliminates shoulder movement and isolates elbow movement.


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