Person leaning over with barbell

Tricep Extension Variation – Shortened Range of Motion

Work your triceps to the fullest, while protecting your joints, with this surprising variation!

The bent-over tricep extension might be a staple in your upper-body workouts, but have you tried this variation with a shortened ROM (range of motion)? The beauty of this tricep extension variation is that it never really allows the tricep to relax; before it can come to a 90 degree bend at the elbow, you’re pressing right back to a straight arm which compounds the engagement you feel in the back of the arm.

Remember these things when setting up:

  • One hand on bench or chair will help support a straight spine.
  • Keep spine long, not rounded in either direction. A slight bend in the knees helps to elongate the whole spine for a straight back setup that is roughly parallel with the floor in order to effectively work against gravity.
  • Feet can be staggered or together but knees will likely need to be bent slightly.
  • Ensure the supporting arm isn’t hyperextended at the elbow. Bend the elbow slightly if needed to avoid this.
  • Bring the upper arm of the weight bearing hand up to your torso where it will stay in contact with the side of your ribcage throughout. Your shoulder will not move once set, only the elbow.
  • Elbow will start at 90 degrees with the dumbbell resting below the elbow.

Use these tips to help get the most out of this exercise:

  • Keep your chest and upper back wide (side to side) as your spine stays long (tail to top of head).
  • Press the elbow straight which will result in the dumbbell raising up to roughly hip height. Imagine the tricep reaching long past the back of your elbow throughout.
  • Bend the elbow again to finish the repetition, stopping before the dumbbell returns to hanging below the elbow (90 degrees). Press the dumbbell back up before this point, when the elbow is still open more than 90 degrees.

It will feel like you’re cutting this exercise short or doing about half of the exercise. Normally these are not good cues, but in this case, those are just right! As always, no swinging! Even with this tricep extension variation, slow and controlled motion of the dumbbell, even with the reduced ROM, is best.

Give it a try with our video! And it’s not just an exercise that’s appropriate for pregnancy, it’s appropriate for most stages of life and abilities!

Looking for other effective and joint-safe exercises? Schedule your free 90 minute consultation.

Addie Kelzer is a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. She believes that by making fitness and good food practical, her clients will hold the power to positively change their health and the health of those closest to them.

Blog updated March 28, 2022.