Isometric Exercises for Your Triceps

Side view of woman lying down and lifting weights

Isometric exercises force your muscles to contract and hold that contraction over a set period of time. Instead of performing an exercise for an assigned number of repetitions, you measure the amount of time a contraction should be held. The triceps brachii muscle, located at the back of each of your upper arms, is responsible for extending your elbows. Therefore, isometric triceps exercises will involve holding your elbows in a bent position.

Benefits and Training

Isometric exercises recruit a greater number of muscle fibers within the triceps than traditional triceps strength training exercises. During isotonic triceps exercises, which are the ones where your elbows bend then extend for repetitions, not all muscle fibers in the triceps are needed to perform the movements. Isometric exercises, however, require a greater percentage of triceps fibers to be involved, according to Kelly Baggett of They can be used to rehabilitate the triceps muscle after injury. Perform your isometric triceps exercises two to three days per week with a day of rest in between each one and perform each exercise for 20 to 30 seconds.

Seated Table Pressdown

Seated table pressdown can be performed at a desk or dining room table. Sit up tall in a chair and place your elbows on the table with your forearms resting straight ahead and palms facing down. Push your hands into the table as hard as you can as if you were trying to straighten your elbows. Hold the contraction.

Lying Triceps Extension

Lying triceps extension is a common isotonic triceps exercise, but it can be modified to force the triceps to contract isometrically. Lie on your back on a flat bench or on the floor and hold a pair of dumbbells over your chest with your arms extended and palms facing your feet. Bend your elbows to lower the dumbbells towards your forehead. Stop once your elbows are bent to 90 degrees and hold your arms in this position for time.

Wall Leaning

Wall leaning uses your own bodyweight as resistance. Stand with your back to a wall. Your heels should be about a half a foot away from the baseboard. With your arms down by your side, lean back and place your hands against the wall. Continue to lean back, pushing your body weight into the wall, while simultaneously using your hands to push you away from the wall. Your elbows should remain locked. Hold the contraction for time.

Self-Resistance Isometric Triceps Extension

To perform self-resistance isometric triceps extension, grip one hand around the wrist of the other hand and hold your hands up in front of your chest. Attempt to extend your elbow while the other arm resists, preventing the elbow from straightening. Hold the contraction for time and switch sides once finished.