What is a Tricep Curl?

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  • Written By: Troy Holmes
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 11 February 2020
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The tricep curl is a weightlifting exercise designed to support the growth and tone of the triceps muscle group. This exercise can be completed by raising a dumbbell straight over the head with the arm slowly lowered behind the head, bending the arm at the elbow. After the weight is lowered behind the back, near the neck area, it is raised over the head, with the arm fully extend to the starting position.

The triceps are the muscles located on the back of the arm opposite of the bicep muscle group. These muscles are designed to support the arm in the pushing of objects, with the primary responsibility of extending the arm. These triceps consist of three primary groups known as the triceps brachii, which are termed the lateral, medial and long head of the triceps.

A weightlifter can perform the tricep curl in a standing or seated position. Many weightlifters prefer alternating exercise to focus both compound and isolation movements of the triceps. Performing complex routines around multiple angels on the triceps creates a shocking effect on the muscle group, which will result in better muscle growth and gains over the duration of the exercise routines.


Another method for performing the tricep curl is the tricep kickback, where the weight is lifted behind the back area in a kicking motion with the elbow and forearm. This exercise is excellent at providing an isolated focus on the triceps because it requires the participant to push the weight upward behind the back when the arm is straightened. Typically the tricep kickback does not require significant weight because it focuses entirely on the tricep muscle group.

The tricep curl can also be completed with a tricep curl machine or a tricep curl bar. Both of these variations are designed to isolate the focus on the primary muscle area. With the tricep curl machine a weightlifter sits on a machine with the arms holding a pivot set of handle bars that can be pushed down to force the extension of the arms. These tools provide the weightlifter multiple methods of focusing on the primary muscle group.

All weightlifting exercises should be performed with both compound and isolation routines. Compound exercises are designed to focus on muscles with a compound usage of multiple joints to complete an exercises, while isolation exercises typically utilize only a single joint for movement. Creating an exercise program that enables both compound and isolation focus will ensure greater growth potential, as it enables the muscles to perform longer before the fatigue of additional joints becomes prevalent.


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