It’’s fascinating how important angles are to the world around us. For instance, to build a bridge, engineers use a calculated design with many precise angles to ensure the structure’’s strength. Various bridges have multiple angles, making each one distinct for its needs. Angles can also have a huge influence on your workouts. With the traditional lying triceps extension, you begin with your arms extended and the bar directly above your upper chest. In this variation, you’’ll start and finish with your arms at a 45-degree angle –— a slight change that can bridge the gap between mediocre improvements and phenomenal gains. Follow these steps and get it right.

How to: 45-Degree Lying Triceps Extension

  • Lie faceup on a flat bench with your feet flat on the floor or safely on the bench. 
  • Have a spotter hand you a barbell, and make sure you have a secure, shoulder-width grip on it before he completely releases the bar.
  • Wrap your thumbs around the bar for safety as you hold it above you.
  • With your arms straight, allow the bar to slowly travel over your face toward the end of the bench. Stop when your arms reach a 45-degree angle to the bench; this is your starting position.
  • Keeping your upper arms fixed in the start position, bend your elbows to bring the bar down toward the top of your head.
  • When the bar comes to within an inch or so of the top of your head, pause and hold briefly before pressing the bar back to the top position. Squeeze your triceps at the top and repeat for reps.


  • If you’’re accustomed to the standard version, you’’ll naturally want to bring the bar directly over your body at the start of each rep, both out of habit and for needed rest –— you’’ll soon realize that this version keeps continuous tension on your triceps at the top. For maximum benefit, try to keep your upper arms in the same angled position throughout each rep. Lighten the weight until you feel completely comfortable and able to perform the exercise properly.
  • While this version changes the angle of the movement, keeping your elbows in (not allowing them to flare out) is still important for maximizing the exercise’’s benefits.
  • If you feel discomfort in your elbows or wrists during this exercise, use an EZ-bar instead.
  • This variation can also be done using dumbbells and a neutral grip. In addition, you can perform this exercise one arm at a time, which allows you to use your opposite arm as a means to spot yourself in case you don’’t have a partner to assist you.