Barbell Standing Overhead Extension

Start Position
End Position

Starting position:

  1. Grasp the barbell with a narrow, closed, and pronated grip.
  2. Stand straight with feet shoulder width apart.
  3. Press the weight overhead, straight up with a slight bend in your elbows with elbows tucked in.

Downward movement/eccentric phase:

  1. In a controlled fashion, allow the elbows to bend, lowering the bar behind your head.
  2. Keep the elbows tucked in and upper arms stationary throughout the entire movement.
  3. Keep standing straight throughout the entire movement.

Upward movement/concentric phase:

    1. Extend elbows, pushing the bar upward, returning the bar to starting position.
Do not hold your breath. Exhale during the concentric/phase phase and inhale during the eccentric/lowering phase.

Exercise Data

  • Primary Muscles: Triceps brachii
  • Synergists: Anconeus
  • Stabilizers: Deltoids, Rotator cuff muscles
  • Type: Strength, hypertrophy, muscular endurance
  • Mechanics: Elbow extension
  • Equipment: Barbell
  • Lever: 1st class lever
  • Level: Intermediate to advanced
  • FAQ'S & FACTS ABOUT Barbell Standing Overhead Extension

    What Is A Triceps Barbell Standing Overhead Extension?

    A standing overhead extension is a resistance exercise, which involves the primary elbow extensor, the triceps brachii. This exercise can be performed with an Olympic bar or other barbell alternative. The concentric portion of the lift is elbow extension, which involves the lifting of the weight. The eccentric portion is elbow flexion, which involves the descent of the weight.

    The purpose of the standing overhead extension is to strengthen the triceps while promoting hypertrophy (increases in size) of triceps.

    Why Do Triceps Barbell Standing Overhead Extensions?

    Standing Overhead Extensions provide a variation in exercises that activate the triceps brachii. It is also a variation of the lying and seated triceps extension exercises as well as standing overhead extensions that can be performed with an EZ bar or dumbbells.

    Performing overhead extensions places emphasis on the long head of the triceps. The long head of the triceps is the only one of the three triceps heads that crosses the shoulder joint, attaching at the scapula. Therefore, performing elbow extensions with the upward positioning of the arms places greater stress on the long head. The long head of the triceps makes up the top and inner portions of the “horseshoe”.

    Standing Overhead Barbell Extensions strengthen and increase the size of the triceps brachii. Standing Overhead Barbell Extensions also serve as an auxiliary exercise that can increase strength involved in other multi-joint exercises.

    Anatomy Of A Triceps Barbell Standing Overhead Extension

    The triceps brachii is located on the back of the upper arm, originating at the shoulder and inserting in the elbow joint. It consists of three heads, the long, medial and lateral head. The medial head lies beneath the long and lateral head. The long head origin is located at the infraglenoid tubercle of the scapula (shoulder blade). The original of the lateral head is located at the posterior shaft of the humerus. The medial head origin is located at the radial groove of the posterior humeral shaft.

    The long and lateral heads make up the “horseshoe” portion of the triceps. All three heads merge, sharing insertion into the olecranon process of the ulna, located at the elbow joint.

    The triceps brachii extend the elbow joint. The long head assists in arm adduction.

    The anconeus is a short, triangular muscle located at the elbow joint. Its origin is located at the lateral epicondyle of the humerus, inserting at the lateral aspect of the olecranon process of the ulna.

    The positioning of the shoulders in a flexed position requires the deltoids and rotator cuff muscles to ensure stability of the joint capsule throughout the movement.

    Variations Of A Triceps Barbell Standing Overhead Extension

    EZ bar overhead extension, dumbbell overhead extension, lying triceps extensions, seated triceps extensions.

    How To Improve Your Triceps Barbell Standing Overhead Extension

    Focus on the concentric portion of the contraction, concentrating on “squeezing” at the end of the flexing portion.

    Emphasis on eccentric contractions, prolonging the eccentric portion of the contraction, may also be incorporated in a training program focused on increasing strength. This should be implemented accordingly and with adequate muscle recovery as eccentric contractions cause substantial damage to muscle tissue.

    Strategically vary your overhead grip width and angles (e.g. lying, seating) to improve your overall triceps exercise performance.

    It’s important to note that your repetition and set volume will depend on your goals (e.g. strength, hypertrophy, muscular endurance). It is also important to allow adequate recovery days in between triceps and chest training to allow muscles to repair.

    Common Mistakes When Doing Triceps Barbell Standing Overhead Extensions

    Bouncing the bar at the bottom of the movement before the upward phase can result in elbow, triceps and/or shoulder injury. Therefore, it is important to control the downward and upward phases of the exercise.

    Standing with feet together, as opposed to shoulder width apart, can throw off a lifter’s balance. Maintain a strong stance to maximize your lifting capability while preventing injury.

    Flaring your elbows out to the side can minimize triceps activation. Keep elbows tucked in to maximize triceps contraction.

    Injuries Or Ailments & Their Effects Regarding Triceps Barbell Standing Overhead Extensions

    If proper technique is not adhered to (e.g. arching of the back, dropping the weight quickly instead of controlling the descent on the eccentric portion of the lift, lifting a load too heavy for the lifter), the likelihood of injury increases.

    Although rare, triceps tendon rupture and/or injury to rotator cuff muscles may occur if warm-up is not sufficient and/or if intensity (load) is increased inappropriately. Lowering the barbell too far behind the head should be avoided as it results in excessive shoulder flexion, which can place great stress on the overall joint.

    If proper technique and recovery are not adhered to, injuries such as impingement syndrome, rotator cuff injuries, and glenoid labrum tears may result.