French Press Exercise 101: Build Your Triceps

French press exercise
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Do you want to build your triceps but do not like the heavy and dense biceps exercises? You can consider incorporating French press exercises into your routine. It is a light strength-training workout that targets your triceps.

What is a French press exercise?

French press exercise is usually known as the lying triceps extension. It is a kind of strength-training workout where you sit or lie down on a bench. And then, you will hold a dumbbell (EZ bar or barbell) behind your head with both hands and extend your arms upwards.

The French press is known as a triceps extension or skull crushers designed to build the strength in your triceps. This exercise targets the following muscles in your abdominals, chest, shoulders, back, and wrist. And it specifically targets the posterior region of the upper arm. So if your triceps are underdeveloped, the French press is the perfect workout for you.

French press workout is one of the best basic exercises that you will see many people perform in the gym. Although a lot of people do a French press exercise, a lot of people do this in the wrong way.

How to do a French press exercise the right way

Step 1: You should slide forward in an upright seat. You can set the adjustable bench in a one-notch shy of 90 degrees.

Step 2: Then, grip the bar with a false narrow grip to place maximum emphasis on your triceps. And press upwards with your arms.

Step 3: Keep in mind that everything else is locked in place - head, neck, shoulders, and back. Ensure that your elbows are facing towards each other and not flaring out.

Step 4: Next is let the weight of the bar pull your elbows backward and "drag" it forward while pressing up over the back of your head.

Tips in performing the French press exercise

French press exercise is like any other exercise. You need to learn a few techniques when performing this workout. Here are some of the things that you need to keep in mind.

1. Don't forget to exhale when raising the bar.

When you are raising the bar away from you, exhale. And as you lower the dumbbell back towards your body, inhale slowly.

2. Stay still.

If you are going to perform the standing version of the French press workout, keep your body still is very important. So don't let your elbow move in different directions. Naturally, when you lower or raise a barbell, you will notice that your elbows want to flare out off to your side.

Try to avoid swinging or swaying away because it redirects the tension away from your triceps. Keep your elbows tucked in, facing forwards, and focus in the same position throughout the entire exercise to reduce the risk of getting an injury.

3. Try to avoid locking your elbows.

Aside from keeping your elbows in the same position, avoid locking them. Because if you do so, you are not only risking yourself of getting hyperextension, it all takes off the tension to your triceps. Do not fully extend your arms as far as possible because you are placing a lot of strain on your elbows. And this could easily result in an injury.

4. Try to keep your head in a neutral position.

Throughout the exercise, maintain a neutral position with your eyes facing forward to avoid any injuries and straining your neck.

5. Go with lightweight, high reps.

While doing the French press workout, there will be a lot of stains on your shoulders, elbows, and wrists. So if you are doing the exercise in the wrong way, there is a high chance of getting an injury.

So never use a weight that is too heavy for you. Aside from it is pretty close to your head. There is a potential that it can pull your arms backward. To reduce the possibility of getting an injury, go for the lightweights, high reps as a start off, and work your way up. When doing this French press exercise, aim for 10-12 reps per set regardless of whether you are using a dumbbell, barbell, or EZ bar.

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