You don’t have to stick to cable machines and dumbbells in your tricep workouts. Find out what barbell exercises work your triceps.
Something to note first is that while you can use them, barbells are typically not the ideal tricep workout equipment due to their relatively heavy starting weight and straight bar.
That aside, if your muscles are strong enough, you can still consider adding one or more of the barbell exercises below to hit your triceps from different angles.
1. Standing overhead barbell tricep extensions
The first barbell tricep exercise does not require a bench or anything else. This makes it a relatively at-home-friendly movement.
That aside, take the following steps to do a standing overhead barbell tricep extension:
- Load the barbell with the desired amount of weight, hold it overhanded with your hands about shoulder-width apart, and stand up straight.
- Move the barbell above your head in a position where your arms are slightly less than stretched and pointing somewhat backward. Make sure you have enough room to do the movement from the next step.
- Slowly lower the barbell as far as comfortable by folding your arms. If you chose the right position, just keep your upper arms in the same position.
- Raise the barbell again in a controlled motion until your arms are slightly less than stretched.
The main attention point during this barbell exercise is keeping your upper arms in more or less the same position. This allows you to really work your triceps which can in turn offer more training results.
Before starting this exercise, you want to make sure you don’t overdo it in terms of weight plates. You don’t want to unexpectedly not be able to handle the weight with the barbell above your head.
2. Barbell skull crusher
Barbell skull crushers are a movement that does require some extra equipment. More specifically, you need a flat weight bench on top of the regular barbell setup.
Once you have the required gear, take the following steps to do a barbell skull crusher:
- Sit down on the bench with the barbell resting on your upper legs. Hold the bar with your hands about shoulder-width apart and your hand palms pointing down.
- Kick the barbell back with your legs and lie down at the same time. Keep your hands at chest height for now.
- Push the barbell up until your arms are slightly less than stretched and tilt your arms back until you have room to do the next step.
- Lower the barbell as far as comfortable behind your head in a controlled motion. Keep your upper arms at the same angle.
- Slowly raise the barbell again so that you are back in the position of step 3.
Lying down on a weight bench makes it easier to keep your body and upper arms in the same position. This makes it easier to keep this barbell movement a tricep isolation exercise.
In turn, this could make your tricep workouts more effective.
The main potential downside of using a weight bench is that you need to have this piece of equipment available.
Something else to note is that some people will find barbell lying tricep extensions uncomfortable on their wrists.
If that is the case for you, you could also consider making this a cable machine or EZ curl bar tricep exercise.
3. Close grip barbell bench press
The bench press is a classic compound chest exercise. By doing the barbell movement with a close grip, you can work your tricep muscles a lot harder.
As the name implies, you will also need a weight bench (and preferably a barbell rack) to do this exercise. Preferably a flat bench to really work your triceps (1).
Once you have these, take the following steps to do a close grip barbell bench press:
- Rack the barbell at the right height for the next step and load it with the desired weight.
- Lie down on the weight bench with your shoulder blades pulled back and down. Put your hands closer than shoulder-width apart on the barbell. Your arms should be somewhat stretched in this position.
- Push the barbell up and move it forward until it is above your chest.
- Lower the barbell as far as comfortable in a controlled motion. You want to keep your upper arms close to your sides but this should come naturally.
- Slowly raise the barbell again until your arms are slightly less than stretched.
By putting your hands close to each other, the bench press becomes more of a compound tricep exercise.
You will also still work your front deltoids (shoulders) and chest muscles in nice amounts.
One important thing to keep in mind is that the close grip bench press is a lot harder than the regular version.
You definitely don’t want to use the exact same weight in this barbell tricep exercise and potentially ask the help of a spotter when figuring out what weight is right for you.
4. Seated barbell overhead tricep extensions
As the name implies, you want something to sit on for this next barbell exercise. Ideally, you have a weight bench that allows you to put the back support vertically.
Take the following steps to do a seated barbell overhead tricep extension:
- Load the barbell with weight plates and get it up to shoulder height with your hand palms pointing forward/upward. You can do this with a barbell rack or a clean movement.
- Sit down on the sturdy object. Potentially lean against the back pad if you are using a vertical bench.
- Push the barbell above your head until your arms are slightly less than stretched. Tilt your arms back until you have enough room for the next step.
- Slowly lower the barbell as far as comfortable behind your head. Keep your upper arms in the same position during the movement.
- Raise the barbell in a controlled motion until your arms are slightly less than stretched again.
This barbell tricep exercise is similar to the first option but you are sitting down.
In turn, it becomes easier to keep your upper arms and the rest of your body in the same position. This could benefit your tricep workout.
5. Landmine tricep kickback
To do the next tricep exercise, you need a landmine attachment. This is a piece of equipment that allows you to anchor the barbell to ground height.
Once you have that, take the following steps to do a landmine tricep kickback:
- Put the barbell in the landmine attachment and potentially load it with weight plates if your strength level allows it.
- Stand next to the free barbell sleeve with your side toward the anchor. Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart and hold the end of the barbell with the hand closest to the anchor.
- Bend your knees slightly and tilt your upper body forward as far as comfortable or until it is about horizontal. Keep your spine more or less straight.
- Raise your upper arm that is closest to the anchor as far as comfortable but keep it close to your side. Let your lower arm with the barbell hang down for now.
- Stretch the arm closest to the anchor as far as comfortable in a controlled motion.
- Slowly return the arm to the position of step 4 in a controlled motion.
The previous barbell movements all worked both of your triceps at the same time.
One of the potential benefits of the landmine tricep kickback is that you work your triceps separately. This helps you make sure each arm does the same amount of work.
In turn, this can be good for avoiding or resolving muscle imbalances.
On the flip side, it is worth mentioning that this landmine tricep exercise also takes up more time since you have to work each side separately.
If you have dumbbells or other single-handed barbell alternatives available these may be more convenient to use and set up for the tricep kickback exercise.
How do you train your triceps with a barbell?
You train your triceps with a barbell by doing exercises like the skull crusher that work these muscles with the right resistance, repetitions, and sets.