Average overhead dumbbell tricep extension standards not only allow you to benchmark your performance against yourself but also against others.
For the average male, a good overhead dumbbell tricep extension weight is above 63 pounds. This is for a single dumbbell and a single repetition. However, a person’s dumbbell extension weight will also be affected by their training level and body weight.
These benchmarks were important for me when I first started doing the tricep extension, and they may also benefit you as well.
After all, you want to know if you’re doing a good job with your training right?
My research will give the numbers YOU should be hitting for it to be deemed “respectable”.
You’ll also find out how to improve your tricep extension if your numbers are below average.
- Factors Affecting Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extension Weight
- Beginner Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extension Standards
- Intermediate Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extension Standards
- Advanced Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extension Standards
- Average Male Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extension Weight
- How Good Is Your Dumbbell Tricep Extension Vs Others?
- Reasons Your Tricep Extension May Be Below Average
- How To Improve Your Tricep Extension
- How These Standards Were Calculated
Factors Affecting Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extension Weight
3 factors affect how much weight you can lift on the overhead dumbbell tricep extension:
- Training Level. The longer you’ve been practicing the tricep extension, the more weight you can lift. As a general rule, beginners have been practicing for at least 1 month, intermediates at least 2 years, and advanced at least 5 years.
- Body weight. The heavier you are, the more weight you can lift. That’s because body weight has a positive correlation with muscle mass.
- Rep number. The less reps you do, the more weight you can on the tricep extension. This post focuses on a 1-10 rep range which is generally accepted to be the best for building muscle strength and size.
Next, you’ll find out how these factors affect dumbbell tricep extension standards.
Beginner Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extension Standards
A beginner has been practicing the overhead dumbbell tricep extension for at least 1 month.
Here’s how much weight you should be lifting as a beginner:
|Bodyweight||1-rep max||6-rep max||7-rep max||8-rep max||9-rep max||10-rep max|
Note: x-rep max is the maximum amount of weight you can lift for x-number of reps. Generally speaking, rep ranges closer to 1 are ideal for strength gains, whilst rep ranges closer to 10 are ideal for size gains (hypertrophy).
Here’s how much weight beginners should be lifting on the overhead dumbbell tricep extension as a percentage of body weight:
- 120lb body weight – 4 to 5%.
- 150lb body weight- 5 to 7%.
- 200lb body weight- 7 to 10%.
- 250lb body weight- 8 to 11%.
- 300lb body weight- 9 to 12%.
If you’ve been practicing the tricep extension for 1 month or more, and you’re above these averages, then you’re doing a good job!
Intermediate Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extension Standards
An intermediate has been practicing the overhead dumbbell tricep extension for at least 2 years.
Here’s how much weight you should be lifting as an intermediate:
|Bodyweight||1-rep max||6-rep max||7-rep max||8-rep max||9-rep max||10-rep max|
Here’s how much weight intermediates should be lifting on the overhead dumbbell tricep extension as a percentage of body weight:
- 120lb body weight – 22 to 30%.
- 150lb body weight- 23 to 31%.
- 200lb body weight- 23 to 32%.
- 250lb body weight- 23 to 31%.
- 300lb body weight- 22 to 30%.
If you’ve been practicing the tricep extension for 2 years or more, and you’re above these averages, then you’re doing a great job.
These are very respectable standards for beginners to aim for.
Advanced Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extension Standards
An advanced lifter has been practicing the overhead dumbbell tricep extension for at least 5 years.
Here’s how much weight you should be lifting as an advanced lifter:
|Bodyweight||1-rep max||6-rep max||7-rep max||8-rep max||9-rep max||10-rep max|
Here’s how much weight advanced lifters should be lifting on the overhead dumbbell tricep extension as a percentage of body weight:
- 120lb body weight – 37 to 51%.
- 150lb body weight- 37 to 50%.
- 200lb body weight- 35 to 48%.
- 250lb body weight- 33 to 45%.
- 300lb body weight- 31 to 43%.
If you’ve been practicing the tricep extension for 5 years or more, and you’re above these averages, then you’re doing a fantastic job.
These are also very respectable standards for intermediates to aim for.
Average Male Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extension Weight
Here’s how much weight an average 200lb male should lift on the overhead tricep extension at different training levels:
|Training Level||1-rep max||6-rep max||7-rep max||8-rep max||9-rep max||10-rep max|
Therefore the average man should be able to lift 7-48% of his body weight.
The exact weight will depend on training experience and rep number (as seen in the aforementioned standards).
How Good Is Your Dumbbell Tricep Extension Vs Others?
Determining your current dumbbell tricep extension as a fraction of your body weight is a reliable way to compare your performance with others.
To do this, simply divide the weight of the dumbbell by your body weight.
Here are the percentages of males who can lift their own body weight on the dumbbell tricep extension:
|Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extension 1RM Weight (As A Fraction Of Bodyweight)||% Of People Who Can Do It|
- 75% of men can dumbbell tricep extend 0.21x their bodyweight. This represents the lower percentile of males and is a respectable weight for absolute beginners to achieve. But you should aim for higher numbers with more training.
- 50% of men candumbbell tricep extend 0.31x their bodyweight. This represents the median percentile of males and is a respectable weight for intermediates to achieve. It’s also a good target for beginners to aim for.
- 25% of men can dumbbell tricep extend 0.45x their bodyweight. This represents the upper percentile of males and is a respectable weight for advanced lifters. It’s also a good target for intermediates to aim for.
If you’re a skinny beginner struggling to build bigger arms and overall muscle mass, it may be because you’re not doing a few essentials. You can check out my other article for the ultimate guide to gaining 10-lbs of lean muscle.
Reasons Your Tricep Extension May Be Below Average
Here are 5 common reasons why your dumbbell overhead tricep extension strength is below average:
1) Your elbows are flared out too much.
Flaring your elbows should be avoided in the overhead tricep extension. I prevent this by keeping my biceps within an inch or two from my ears.
Not only do flared elbows increase joint stress, but it also reduces tricep activation.
As a result, your triceps won’t get stronger.
There are 2 reasons why people flare their elbows:
- They simply don’t know they shouldn’t do it.
- The dumbbell is too heavy.
Both reasons are rectifiable by learning proper form and reducing weight.
If you’re on the fence about buying dumbbells, you might be interested in my other article which reveals if dumbbells are worth buying.
2) Your triceps, biceps, and shoulders are underdeveloped.
The tricep extension is an isolation-type exercise mainly involving the triceps.
But the biceps and deltoids also serve to stabilize the movement.
If any of these muscles are weak, then your overhead extension strength will be lower than normal.
This can be rectified by applying regular progressive overload to your tricep workouts and eating a good nutrition plan (see below).
3) There isn’t enough variety in your tricep training.
The triceps is not one muscle but composed of 3 smaller muscles- the lateral head, long head, and medial head.
These all function to extend the forearm at different angles.
Therefore training all 3 heads are essential for maximum tricep strength.
Whilst the overhead extension hits all 3 triceps muscles, it mainly emphasizes the long head.
So it’s a good idea to also include other exercises that target the lateral and medial head too (see below).
Tip: dumbbells are extremely versatile and there are many exercises available to hit all parts of your body. Check out my other article for 36 of my favorite dumbbell exercises for beginners.
4) You’re doing the overhead extension standing up.
Exercises like the overhead extension which requires your arms to extend from the back and over your head, allow more weight to be lifted when seated compared to standing.
This has been shown in a 2013 study.
Here, the authors found that 1RM (a measure of strength) is greater in the seated shoulder press compared to the standing shoulder press.
Therefore a weak overhead extension could be because you’re doing it standing up rather than sitting down.
5) The overhead extension movement is straining your shoulders.
The overhead tricep extension can often be difficult if you have shoulder problems.
That’s because it causes internal shoulder rotation (rotating your upper arm in and towards the chest).
This can be stressful for the shoulder joint.
Therefore your shoulders could be the limiting factor in your tricep extension, rather than tricep strength itself.
How To Improve Your Tricep Extension
Here are 5 ways you can improve your overhead dumbbell tricep extension strength:
1) Perfect your tricep extension form.
The overhead extension is a great exercise to build cut triceps.
But only if you do it properly.
Here’s how to do the overhead extension with perfect form and maximize tricep activation:
2) Eat enough food to fuel tricep growth.
All the sets and reps in the world won’t build your triceps if you aren’t eating enough.
I recommend eating a daily 5-10% caloric surplus with at least 1g protein per pound of body weight.
This will fuel tricep, bicep, and deltoid growth.
You should also apply progressive overload by adding 5% weight each week (but make sure you only add weight when you can do your current sets with good form).
This will provide a strong growth stimulus.
Combining a good nutrition plan with progressive overload is a surefire way to build any muscle.
Top tip: protein powders are key to hitting nutrition targets if you struggle to eat enough food.
I use and recommend the MyProtein Impact Whey (link to check cheapest price).
It’s cheap, tastes delicious, and each serving contains 21g of protein with 100 calories.
One or two of these per day will really help you fuel tricep development.
The MyVegan Pea protein is a good vegan alternative (but it doesn’t taste as nice as the Impact Whey in my opinion).
If you’re very skinny (<12% body fat), then you can instead use the Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass.
It’s a bit more expensive, but each serving contains 50g of protein and 1250 calories.
This helped me quickly gain mass and strength during my early training days as a skinny guy.
I also add a scoop of MyProtein Creatine Monohydrate to my shakes.
Creatine is found naturally in all our bodies and helps our muscles to utilize energy.
This supplement basically tops up your natural creatine levels, allowing you to hit the triceps with more reps and heavier weights.
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3) Use compound moves to hit all 3 triceps simultaneously.
The tricep extension is a great arm-builder.
But compound lifts such as the bench press, shoulder press, and chest dip are superior.
As a bonus, these lifts will also help you build a bigger chest too.
The best thing about these exercises is they hit all 3 of your triceps muscles equally well.
This means they provide an awesome return on training investment and will help you to quickly bulk up your triceps.
I like to split my training into 75% compound lifts and 25% isolation lifts.
“The medial tricep head can’t be seen but it’s very important for providing overall stability to the triceps muscle”Jeff Cavaliere, C.S.C.S, Athlean X.
Top tip: the dip is probably one of the most underrated tricep-builders out there.
In fact, I credit this exercise with helping me transform my skinny arms into well-cut arms.
If you’re looking to do dips at home, then I highly recommend the Sports Royal Power Tower (link for cheapest price).
It’s sturdy, easy to assemble, and can accommodate all user-heights.
But the best thing about a power tower is its versatility.
They can also be used for pull-ups and chin-ups which are my favorite exercises to build a thicker back and bigger biceps.
I also use it to do weighted leg raises which train the lower abs.
4) Supplement free weight tricep training with resistance band exercises.
There’s no denying that free weights are great muscle builders.
But resistance bands can help you build even more strength.
That’s because their resistance increases as the bands stretch.
This unique strength curve gives your triceps an entirely new stimulus to adapt to and grow.
Furthermore, resistance bands are particularly effective for small isolation-type movements like the tricep extension.
You can check out my other article for a full list of benefits of using resistance bands.
Top tip: the band push away and pushdown are awesome tricep-builders.
They are ideal alternatives for people who struggle with shoulder issues from the dumbbell overhead extension.
That’s because they don’t induce internal rotation on your shoulders.
Furthermore, bands make it easy to adjust your grip angle and target the different triceps muscles (see video).
I use and recommend the Undersun Fitness bands (link for cheapest price).
These are the heaviest and most durable bands I’ve tested.
I’d stay away from the budget brands since I’ve had 2 sets snap on me in the past.
The Undersun’s are affordable and come with a lifetime warranty.
Gloves are also recommended to protect your hands.
I personally feel the Undersun gloves are overpriced.
Instead, I use the Ihuan ventilated neoprene gym gloves.
5) Try the lying tricep extension instead.
This is another great tricep exercise that doesn’t involve internal shoulder rotation (see video above).
It’s much easier to perform compared to the dumbbell overhead tricep extension, but you also get a greater tricep stretch.
Overall, it’s a much better tricep exercise for beginners to try.
“While there are many triceps exercises you can do, incorporating the lying tricep extension is sure to firm up the back of your arms fast.”Jimmy Penna, C.S.C.S, Muscle & Fitness.
Top tip: this exercise can be done on the floor. But for best results, you should use a weight bench.
Lying on a bench allows you to lower the dumbbells further below the head compared to the floor which physically blocks the dumbbells.
This gives your triceps a greater stretch and a greater growth stimulus.
I use and recommend the Flybird FB149 adjustable weight bench (link to check cheapest price).
It’s affordable, comfortable, and has 7x flat/incline/decline settings.
This means you can also use it for bench presses and shoulder presses too.
But my favorite thing about this bench is the folding capability which allows you to stow it away after a workout.
However, it’s only suitable for people between 5’7″ and 6’0″.
If you’re shorter/taller than this, then the Fitness Reality adjustable weight bench has more comfortable dimensions for your height.
Both benches go well with the Powerblock Elites to build sleeve-busting triceps at home.
How These Standards Were Calculated
The numbers for my research were sourced from Strength Level’s database of 16,000 user-generated overhead dumbbell tricep extensions.
Average overhead dumbbell tricep extension standards.
Tricep extension 1RMs were taken from the Strength Level database.
These were then multiplied by the following fractions to get the 6-10RM weights:
- x0.84 for 6RM.
- x0.82 for 7RM.
- x0.80 for 8RM.
- x0.78 for 9RM.
- x0.73 for 10RM.
% of people who can do the tricep extension at their body weight.
The Strength Level database also allows for different tricep extension weights to be sampled against a total population.
I sampled a variety of weights for a 200-lb male beginner aged 24-39.
I’ve shared with you overhead dumbbell tricep extension standards for different training levels and body weights.
If you’re above these averages, then you’re lifting a very respectable weight and you should be proud of yourself.
But if you’re below average, then you can try some of the tips I share to improve your tricep strength.
How much weight do you currently lift for dumbbell overhead extensions?
Let me know in the comments!
Or check out my other posts to find out:
- Shoulder press dumbell standards.
- Flat bench press dumbbell standards.
- Chest fly standards.
- Bicep curl standards.
Thanks for reading guys!
(Biochemistry BSc, Biomedical Sciences MSc, Ex-Skinny Guy)