Tricep Exercises That Do Not Involve the Shoulder Blade

man clutching a dumbbell over his head

Your triceps brachii is located on the back of your arm. The muscle originates as two branches – or heads – emerging from the upper and middle arm bone. A third head begins at the shoulder blade. After merging and inserting on the forearm, your triceps brachii can straighten either your elbow or shoulder. Because of the separate origins, you can design an exercise regimen that will isolate elbow-related movements from those associated with your shoulder.

Triceps Press

These exercises can be carried out using dumbbells, straight bars, elastic bands or ropes attached to a pulley. You can be seated or standing. Grasp the resistance device from behind and straighten your arms overhead. Slowly lower the resistance behind your head by bending your elbows. Return to the starting position, making sure to move only your lower arms and keep your upper arms close to your head.

Triceps Extension

Also known as the “skull crusher,” this exercise requires a bench, but it can be flat, inclined or declined. You can also use barbells, dumbbells or a rope attached to a pulley. To start, lie down on your back with your elbows straight, or extended, holding the weight straight over you. Position your arms slightly less than shoulder width. To execute, bend your elbows and keep your upper arms straight as your lower arms move the barbell close to your forehead. Lift the weight back up to the original position.

Triceps Pushdown

According to, this movement has many variations, depending on the type of resistance device. One of the common configurations is a straight bar attached to a high pulley and adjusted to be slightly lower than your chest. Grasp the bar with your palms facing down and push the bar down by straightening your elbows. Keep your upper arms close to your body and move only your lower arms. Hold for a second, then slowly return to the original position. You can also use an angled bar or a rope attached to the pulley. The exercise also allows a reverse grip.

Triceps Kickback

To perform the triceps kickback, you should hold the dumbbells in each hand with your palms facing inward. Keeping your knees slightly bent and your back straight, bend your body from the waist until it is almost parallel to the floor. Your upper arms should be close to your body and parallel to the floor. Your elbow should be bent at a 90-degree angle. To execute the kickback, bring the weights back until your elbow is straight. Be sure to keep your upper arms close to your body and move only your lower arms. Slowly bring the weight back to the original position to complete the rep. Variations include using only one arm at a time and sitting on a bench.


Exercises that focus on moving the lower arm while keeping the upper arm stationery and close to your body will target elbow-controlled movements. As with most bodybuilding exercises, you have to be careful to choose an appropriate weight and count the reps according to your training experience. Too much weight or fatigue encourages “cheating” on your form and could cause injury.