Overhead Press for Triceps

How would you guys rate the overhead press as a Tricep mass builder for a compound movement?

Im aware dips and close grip bench are probably top 2 but as an alternative involving less chest do you think the triceps are stimulated enough for adding mass with overhead presses?

It seems using a barbell is better to hit triceps because of the pulling apart action on the bar. And I think I read for more triceps involvement to pull in the elbows and use a narrower grip

My main exercise for triceps has been different forms of extensions. Lately overhead barbell and cable extensions and they havnt done much

I wouldn’t be comfortable at all calling OHP my only tricep work. My tri’s never responded until I hit them with a lot of direct volume.

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I was thinking either I need to ramp it up with extensions like drop sets etc or I need to be hitting them differently. I’m already doing bench press in my routine and I feel doing dips or close grip bench sets me over the edge so i figured overhead press would be a good compromise.

My first year and a half or so of serious training was
using compound lifts exclusively via 5x5 programs. My triceps were seriously deficient though and once I started training them hard they got bigger and my bench went up too. I use skull crushers with a loadable EZ bar, dumbbell rollbacks, Tate presses, and band pressdowns as a finisher (not all in the same day, I usually just pick two tricep exercises on my bench day). This is in addition to any pressing, close-grip or otherwise.

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Sounds good. It should be noted that I do full body workouts which I think you personally are aware of.

I think I should start going heavier and maybe do a second exercise. For some reason its so hard to get any response from my arms.

My biceps finally started growing after ramping up intensity with curls. I never put much onto them, but I’ve always gone balls to the wall with tris, apparently not enough

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Dick’s Press will make your life a misery but they do one hell of a job working the triceps and I find them easier on the joints that most other triceps work.

Start with an empty bar.

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Dick press sounds miserable for sure

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Yeah I don’t think the OHP is very good for optimal tricep development for most people. The thing is, there will ALWAYS be people, maybe due to leverages or how they are mentally wired, who will be able to build good triceps, biceps etc on whatever compound exercise they are doing alone. If YOU are not one of them, then you will probably need to do something else. Isolations can definitely be done on fullbody splits.

My advice would be to find one or two that allow you to feel the contraction best and let you progress in weight while doing that.


Check out the JM Press. It isolates the triceps while still allowing you use a good bit more weight than extensions. It almost looks like a bench press rep gone wrong.


So far my favorite is overhead cable extensions with a rope. Awesome stretch and contraction.

Everything seems to be growing except my triceps. Could just be me. Time to ramp it up

I like doing these on the Smith Machine on a slight incline lol. Can go heavy on these. The only problem for some may be the stress on the shoulders.

Yeah just gradually add weight without sacrificing tension and the contraction and you’ll be fine.

Nah, everyone has less responsive bodyparts.

Do this as after benching heavy -dont worry about the weight just get in a ton of volume and get an ultra pump. Focus on the strech position and take very short rest periods…

JM Press gave me elbow problems that took about a year to fix. Gets a little crunchy every now and then still.

Good ole cable pushdowns and PJR Pullovers done with an EZ bar are all the triceps work you’ll ever need.


I have freely admitted that I use steroids and this is not something that even I would do unless I am using using it as a finisher on occasion while on a bodypart split. My main work is still done with progressively heavier weights or gradually increasing reps/TUT/density while focusing on the intended muscle. Sometimes I fuck around with different intensity techniques but the principle of continuous progression is still followed.

You do the bench press with a normal rep range, progress in resistance and your targeted muscle grows. Likewise with shoulder presses and other exercises. What makes arms so special that doing the same with a suitable exercise within a rep range that lets you feel them working well will not suffice? Would you use your proposed method for the chest or legs with the same weight all the time if your sole goal was hypertrophy?

The long head will primarily be worked while your arm is placed overhead, which the OHP will do. If you don’t do some kind of overhead tricep work (either via a press or extension), you’re neglecting part of your tricep.

Just keep that in mind.


It works, try it. Can see it work even better on gear. Like I said after benching heavy.

Actually I would say triceps are special if you like as the elbow joint and what an individual can tolerate is a major factor .

If you can train progressively heavier and heavier on EZ bar extensions etc then yes that is the ultimate and have at it. But for myself and most natural guys over 25 that is complete murder on the elbow joint and not feasable at all

Funny that I should run into this post just as I’m experimenting with pullovers. I looked for a video of them and each person seems to do them different.

Is this one of those things like rows where you just gotta keep trying things until you feel in the right place and start getting results or do you know of a good vid for them?

I saw that comment on overhead work working on the long head which is the meat higher up on the back of your upper arm whereas pushing/extending horizontally will build/strengthen the portion close to your elbow. I actually helped improve my joint health around my shoulder area by making sure I do work for the long head.

Lets not forget partial movements! With boards for bench pressing, I can really load it up without destroying my elbows. Partials for OH press are good too. The OH partials also help with shoulder and upper back stability too because of the extra weight you’re holding up.

Yes, the ROM is shorter. But that doesn’t mean the TUT has to be shorter. You just pick about the same weight you would for full range benching, but do some more reps. The more boards, the more reps per set than usual. It might look like more volume, but it should be about the same tut. Of course, this is bad advice if you’re looking for an overload effect rather than a way of isolating the tris with a heavier exercise for growth.

You’ve got to give this type of training the same respect you give the full range movements. It isn’t just something you’re going to throw in at the tail end of the session to pump your arms up.

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  1. I don’t think I wrote anything about free weight extensions.

  2. If he is not deriving much benefit from the bench press for his triceps in the first place, then I don’t see your point.

  3. I am referring to a quantifiable form of progression and not just heavier weights:

I would like to emphasize this. To make a muscle grow, you need to expend the effort to challenge it enough to force adaptation and do it again and again. All the fads and pseudoscience will come and go. This is the only thing that really matters.

There’s some powerlifters that have had success in breaking there bench training into 2 sessions a week. One that’s full range movements with an emphasis on the bottom end and another day more focused on top end and triceps.

Very generally speaking that could look like:

Bottom End/Chest emphasis
Full range bench (whatever you’re strongest with)
chest dominant movement (db bp and paused bp are just a couple but there’s almost a zillion)
lats and upper back (no specifics given since this a triceps thread)
flies to pump and stretch the chest to help prevent pec tears

Top End/Tri emphasis
Close grip bench press
OH partial presses
lats and upper back
push downs and cable curls to pump the arms to keep elbow and wrist issues at bay

I guess this could very similarly be done with chest and back and an arms and shoulders body split.