Marjie Gilliam

The lying triceps extension is an exercise that strengthens and tones the back of the upper arm. Responsible for extension of the elbow joint, the triceps muscle allows the arms to straighten. Most everyday activities do not use the triceps to a significant degree, making it important to add exercises to work this area.


Starting position: Lie face up with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Hold dumbbells with palms facing one another and arms straight.

Downward phase: Slowly begin bending the elbows, lowering the dumbbells until they lightly touch the shoulders. In this position, the elbows should be pointing toward the ceiling.

Upward phase: Slowly begin pressing the dumbbells back up until your arms are straight. You should feel the back of the arm tightening (contracting). Although your arms should be straight, avoid a hyperextension, or full lockout, of the elbow joint.

For maximum benefit, maintain strict form. With each repetition, the elbows should be kept shoulder-width apart, and the upper arms should not move. Speed of movement should be slow and controlled.

Beginners: Start with one to two sets of eight to 12 repetitions, performed every other day. Add sets, reps or weight as you become stronger.

— Marjie Gilliam is a personal trainer and fitness consultant.