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Elbow Friendly Tricep Movements?


I've been having trouble finding tricep movements that don't bother my elbows somewhat. Skull crushers with ez bars and pushdowns (with rope) seem to bother them. Though I haven't tried too many different bar combos for either exercise.

I know close grip bench is fine, but I do tri's on chest day and thought it'd be a little too much to do CGBP after Incline bench and flat db bench. If that doesn't sound like too much pressing, I'll do those.

Would doing tricep 'pulldowns' help with something like this as well? I'm curious how altering the grip that drastically will change things such as muscle recruitment. Would it stress the lateral instead of the medial head?

Any other suggestions?

Thanks in advance.


Try lying floor dumbbell presses.

I know it sounds weird, but seriously. Lie down flat (on a mat, or the floor, doesn't matter,) and get in a pressing-like position. Personally it helps me to have my feet flat on the floor (so my legs are like upside down V's.) Then, from close to your body and with your elbows tucked inwards, press up and towards your feet kind of, but make sure you're squeezing your triceps while doing so.

I've had experience with elbow problems in the past as well, and I have been progressing to fairly substantial weights with these pain-free.

Here is a good example;


I'm not having problems, yet anyway, but I can feel my elbow click when I do things like skulls and pushdowns. Sometimes it's fine and sometimes it hurts for a bit post workout and not in that great 'I worked that muscle' kinda way.

I'm just trying to find some work arounds so I don't end up getting tendinitis. My shoulders act up from time to time as does my back (disc issue) so I'd rather be proactive and not end up adding elbow issues to the list.

Thanks for the rec ssc.


PJR's and similar stuff if you want to do extension/pullover type movements.


Well, I definitely do these because my shoulders take over in most tricep pressing movements (close grips, RGBPs,) and these mostly take them out of the equation, so if you sometimes have shoulder issues I would definitely advocate giving them a tri (get it? oohhhh snap.)


I'm training with a jacked up right elbow right now (tennis elbow). As far as pressing, anything with a neutral grip tends to be fine. DB floor presses are awesome like SSC said. I can't do much in the way of tricep isolation, but I'm finding that by really focusing on using the triceps during overhead and incline pressing (neutral grip - machine, dumb bell or kettle bell) they are still getting SOME work and feel fine afterwards.


Are you keeping your elbows tucked while doing these movements?

Place your hands down at your sides (supinated) then take a look at yourself in a mirror. If you have more of a valgus angle from your elbow to your wrists, you may have to flare your elbows on those movements to take the pain away. It's the same reason I can't do BB curls.

I thin k Poliquin promotes the flare as well.


Thanks for the info. I'll try PJR's, JM Presses or CGBP, and try the pushdowns as pulldowns (palms facing up). I've actually never read of anyone doing them that way but i found that it hits the center really hard, esp when done one handed.

I'd love to try DSE's but am not sure if those would be better than the skulls. I do my skulls more like DSE's anyway by lowering the bar behind my head. Also, I do DB bench right before the tri movements so I'm wondering if doing the floor presses would be a good idea?

Any other input will be much appreciated!

I'm really not sure what you're talking about...


make sure you are warming your elbows up enough. maybe get a sleeve if you think you need it, just something to keep them warm. i heard ski socks might also be a cheap alternative.


does regular bench press hurt? or dips?


I actually switched from regular bench press to doing dumbbells because my right shoulder bothers me when benching. Dips also seem to aggravate my shoulder. Neither bother my elbows.

I went to a PT for my shoulder and she only found one area where the flexibility in my right shoulder was lacking, so I've been working on that and hoping it gets better.

I stopped doing flyes and pec dec style stuff because it absolutely destroyed my right shoulder.


Have you tried any soft tissue work around your elbow, like on your forearms and bis and tris? Get a racquetball, tennis ball, or lacrosse ball and roll your arm on it with as much pressure as you can handle...see what that does for you the next day.


You might want to try Floor Presses with a barbell... it never does anything bad for my shoulders, and I've recovered from a bad case of triceps tendentious (I couldn't open doors without a bunch of pain shooting up my arms!)and I feel nothing wrong with my elbows when I do it. Then again I can do dips and some other things that seem to be problematic for you, so I'm not 100% certain it's the solution. But It certainly worth a try.


How long have you been doing the skull-crushers or pushdowns? Reason I ask is that when I started out, my elbows, or rather the insertion points for my tricesps were a little painful during the exercise but as they got stronger the pain subsided to very minimal. Pushdowns don't bother me at all now.

Another thing, rope pushdowns are more painful to my elbows than straight or angled bar for pushdowns. You might try some different implements when doing pushdowns to alleviate some of the pains as you get stronger.


I've been pushdowns for a few months and the rope was definitely the worst.

I'll try the slightly angled bar later. My elbow clicks no matter what, but it doesn't seem to hurt much after those.

I tried the floor db presses and JM barbell presses today as part of my workout. I think that I might have gotten into position in a terrible way when doing the floor db presses because my left shoulder (which is fine) started hurting. I think I just fatigued the muscles in my RC. I was having trouble lifting my arm for about an hour and it's getting better now.

I think I'm going to do pushdowns with the bar and floor presses as two movements. I tried the PJR's today as well and I felt awkward getting into position and they bothered my elbow a bit as well, not sure what gives. I think I'll be in a better position to evaluate after thanksgiving when I've taken a few days off and things have a chance to recover.

Interesting point about the insertions hurting, I hadn't thought of that. Though when I get pain it's usually accompanied by a clicking or rubbing sensation in my elbow, so it's probably not that. I'll keep an eye on it and try some unilateral pulldowns with some of the 1 hand attachments that rotate so I can keep a neutral wrist angle.

I'll report back in a few weeks to a month or so once I've given my body some time to figure out how to do things.

I hit tris 2x a week and do 2 exercises each of those sessions. They come after a chest or shoulders workout. I don't care if I do the 2 same workouts or use 2 different workouts or what have you for the duration. I might also start hitting tris only once a week if my elbow's giving me grief. I'm sure they get hit a ton during chest and shoulder exercises...

Regardless, I think this is an important topic and I'd like to see this discussion continue. Thanks!


I have to use pretty much only extension for triceps, though I do CG bench at the end.

My elbows started really hurting a month or so ago. They don't hurt now. Just take it easy for a bit on the pressing exercises, don't lock out. I know warm up wi th few more sets at the start with 15-20 reps. It never feels like I need them but I don't have any more pain.


If your elbows do not hurt when you are warming up with a very light weight, then to me this says this is a problem of flexibility and muscular imbalance.

Pain is your body's way of telling you that something is wrong. The best strategy is not always to try finding the quickest way around it.

I used to get elbow pain regularly, and it didn't go away until I followed the opposite of the advice you're getting in here, and did pushdowns/overhead DB extensions/lying extensions, with very light weight (15-20 reps) to build up the part of my triceps that must have been neglected and weak compared to the force I could generate with the stronger part.

I can't even remember the last time I had elbow pain now.


what do you guys feel about elbows out extensions(i think there also called tate presses). there the only extension i can feel my tricep in(can't feel it in pushdowns or regular skullcrushers).

and DAMN meat is a monster!!!


If you get a clicking/sliding sensation even on PJR's, then I'd be worried personally... Contact BBB.


I've had it for as long as I can remember, but it's never bothered me. It happens when doing pressdowns as well, but if I'm using a bar, it tends not to bother me. Never had any issues with it doing pressing movements.

I guess my elbow doesn't like being the axis of rotation. I'm going to try the tate presses next week. The DB floor presses felt pretty good. I'm just worried that it's a bit too much pressing.