Master The Dumbbell French Press For Big Triceps

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Dumbbel French and Extension

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Those triceps of yours do so much work!


They help you smash the bench press, throw up the dumbbells for shoulder presses and then allow you to rep out sets of skull crushers and tricep pushdowns!


But you want huge triceps, right? You aim for your arms to push the limits, bursting from the t-shirt seams with size and strength!


Good! This blog post will tell you how to add strength and size to your triceps and push your arm development to a new level!


By the time you finish reading this blog post, you will know what the dumbbell french press is, why you need to do it, how best to do them and what to expect!


So let’s get straight to it!


What is the Dumbbell French Press?

Understanding the difference between Skull Crushers vs French Press is crucial for targeting your triceps effectively


Contrary to popular brotherhood wisdom, the french press and the skull crushers are two different exercises. The French press is performed seated or standing with the weight above the head, whilst skull crushers are performed on your back with the weight pressed to the chin or head.


Back to the French press, whilst it can be performed with a barbell, our focus is on the dumbbell. Why? As it allows you to focus on each arm.


The DB French Press, also known as the French Press DB when using dumbbells, is an isolation exercise that targets the three heads of the muscle group; long, lateral and medial head. As the dumbbell will be above the head, the exercise primarily works the long head through the entire range of motion, with some parts hitting the other two heads.


Tricep Anatomy 101: Know Your Tri's

I couldn’t write this article without referring to the three heads of the triceps!


Knowing your triceps brachii, long head, lateral head, and medial head will enable you to visualise how your arm works during exercises!


triceps anatomy - 3 heads

Best Way To Do The Dumbbell French Press

The Dumbbell French Press is one of the only exercises you need for targeting the long head of your triceps.


I want you always to perform all exercises with strict form, ensuring you know how to do them in the first place.


Training any muscle with poor form increases the risk of injury and cheats you out of the results.


Below are the steps to perform this french press:


1. You can perform this exercise standing or seated, but I want you to do these seated.


2. Get a  dumbbell that will enable you to perform ten slow reps.


3. Locate a bench (recommend a preacher bench) with low back support, or use a flat bench.


4. Place the dumbbell on the floor before you and sit on the bench.


5. Pick the dumbbell up and place it vertically on your thigh.


6. When ready, tighten your core, shoulders down and back, take the dumbbell, and move it up and over your head so it’s behind you. Keep the dumbbells straight and aligned, with both hands under the weight plates, ensuring a balanced force on the triceps.


7. Your elbow should be pointing to the ceiling, and you should be feeling a slight stretch on your tricep.


8. Now press the dumbbell up till your arm is straight and flex the tricep for a count of 2 seconds.


9. Return it to the starting position over a count of 4 seconds.


10. Congratulations! You have completed one rep! Now let’s get nine more!


Top 3 Benefits of Dumbell French Press Exercise

I want to share the top four benefits of why you need to do this exercise. This will validate just how good this tricep builder is and why you shouldn’t ignore it:


1. Stronger Tri and Arms: This french press variation will add strength and size to your triceps and upper arms, and this will help you push more weight when training your chest and shoulders.


2. Improved Shoulder Stability: This exercise works the shoulders, so you can expect them also to feel fatigued post-workout.


3. Versatility: You can perform the french presses with dumbbells, barbells, cables and resistance bands. This enables your muscles to work with various intensities and movement levels.


5 Important Tips When Doing The Dumbbell French Press

I want you to get the most results from this exercise, so I want to share the most essential tips with you.


These have been collated by me over 20 years and have stood the test of gains and time!


1. Start with a Light Weight: The dumbbell French press exercise can be challenging, even with light weights. So, starting with a comfortable weight and gradually increasing it as you build strength and confidence is essential. Don’t lift too heavy too soon, leading to injury and poor form.


2. Reps and Sets: The triceps comprise two-thirds of your arm size, so hitting them with the right reps and sets is key. I recommend that you don’t perform more than ten sets of 10 reps per week for the triceps. So for this exercise, limit to three working sets of 10 reps and always aim to get more reps or more weight every workout


3. Focus on Proper Form: Like any exercise, proper form is essential when performing the dumbbell French press. Keep your elbows close to your head and your upper arms stationary throughout the exercise. Also, use a controlled, slow motion when lowering the dumbbells towards your head to avoid any potential injuries.


4. Incorporate Variety: While the traditional dumbbell French press exercise is fantastic, adding variety to your routine can help you avoid hitting a plateau and keep things interesting. Consider using different variations, such as an incline bench or changing the dumbbells’ grip to keep your muscles challenged and engaged.


5. Increase Intensity: Throw in some super sets or drop sets with ease by just switching to lower-weight dumbells and just “running the rack” this will hyper-stress the triceps and force them to grow.


Results You Can Expect With The Dumbbell French Press

You may recall that I had said arm size is 2/3 triceps! So to get bigger arms, work on your triceps!


Following a balanced tricep workout plan can easily put on 0,5 inches to the upper arm and a 10% strength increase in as little as eight weeks! The dumbbell french press and its variations will quickly deliver you these results!


Cable Tricep Extension

Recommended Read: >>> The 7 Best Dumbbell Push Ups Exercises You Should Do <<<

How to Add the Dumbbell French Press to Your Workout

I will assume you already train your triceps and are on the growth train!


But I want you to add these dumbell french presses sooner, so below are some tips to get you going on the tricep gain train!


1) Add 3 or 4 sets of 10 reps to your current workout and focus initially on learning how to perform the exercise strictly.


2) Use a 2-second up, 2-second flex and 4 seconds down tempo.


3) If you need to, then remove one of your current exercises and gauge progress every four weeks


4) Feel free to add the sets at the workout’s beginning or end.


Two Muscle-Building Arm Workouts With Dumbbell French Presses

Dumbbell French Press Workouts #1

Dumbbell French Press Workouts #1​

Recommended Read: >>> Is It Possible to Increase Wrist Size? <<<

Dumbbell French Press Workouts #2

How to ensure your triceps keep growing with dumbbell french presses

I want your triceps to continue growing and never stagnate! To do this, I want you to take note of the following:


  • Progressive Overload: Always aim to add weight or reps every workout! Progress in either increase muscle mass.


  • Vary Your Rep Range: By default, always aim for ten reps. But feel free to throw in sets of 15 and 20 to shock the muscles triceps muscle.


  • Mix-Up Exercises: Add the french press exercise at the beginning or end of the arm workout. Keep the muscle guessing, and never be afraid to try new things.


  • Get Adequate Rest and Nutrition: Your body is a machine that needs to be fed. Sleep for at least 8 hours, eat a balanced, high-protein diet and make sure you don’t overtrain.


  • Focus on Proper Form: Poor form leads to injury. Don’t be a statistic. So make sure you ALWAYS follow good form and strive to create the mind-muscle link during the exercise.


Recommended Read: >>> The 7 Best Dumbbell Push Ups Exercises You Should Do<<<

Modifying the dumbbell french press to suit your individual needs :

Don’t hesitate to try new things with this exercise


  • High intensity: Once you get experience, add drop-sets where you perform 1 set of 10, immediately followed by another set of up to 10 and then a final 3rd set of up to 10. The only change you make is dropping the weight by 20% for each set.


  • Slow Down the Tempo: Increasing the time under tension will cause more significant muscle fiber tears and, therefore, more recovery and muscle growth. Perform the negative portion of the exercise over eight seconds but only do these sparingly (once every six weeks)


  • Exercise variation: You can use dumbbells, barbells, cables and resistance bands for french presses. Each option provides a different level of muscular stress.


Recommended Read: >>> Lat Pushdowns: The Secret to a Strong and Defined Back <<<

Avoid these common mistakes when doing the dumbbell french press:

I want you to be injury-free and grow your triceps and arms quickly! Therefore please take note of the following:


  • Poor Form: Master the full range of motion and never use poor form. You are better injury-free!..


  • Using Too Much Weight: If you fail at 3 to 5 reps, the weight is too much. Lower it and work to ten reps each set.


  • Neglecting Proper Warm-Up: Every workout needs a warmup. Get into the habit of spending 10 mins at the start. It prepares the body, increases temperature, gets the blood flowing and reduces the risk of injury.


  • Neglecting to Stretch: Post-workout triceps stretching has been proven to aid recovery, so perform PNF stretching at the end of the workout.


By avoiding these common mistakes, you can ensure your tricep workouts are safe and effective.


Recommended Read: >>> Mastering Tricep Workouts with Dumbbells: A Comprehensive Guide to Strengthen Your Arms<<<

Here are three dumbbell french press alternatives

Skull Crushers

This exercise targets the triceps by extending the arms while holding a dumbbell or barbell above the forehead. The movement mimics the motion of a skull crusher, hence the name. To perform the exercise, lie flat on a bench with your arms extended above your chest, holding the weight with your palms facing each other. Lower the weight towards your forehead, keeping your elbows in place, and then extend your arms to the starting position.

Overhead Cable Triceps Extension

This exercise targets the triceps by holding a dumbbell or weight plate above the head and extending the arms to lift the weight. To perform the exercise, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell or weight plate with both hands, and raise it above your head. Lower the weight behind your head, keeping your elbows in place, and lift it back up to the starting position.

Close Grip Bench Press

This exercise targets the triceps by using a narrow grip on the barbell, which places more emphasis on the triceps than a standard bench press. To perform the exercise, lie flat on a bench with your hands close together on the barbell, shoulder-width apart or less. Lower the bar towards your chest, keeping your elbows in place, and then push the bar back up to the starting position. This exercise can also be performed with dumbbells if you can’t access a barbell.

FAQs on Dumbell French Press

How heavy should the dumbbells be for a French press?

Dumbbells for the french press should allow you to perform ten strict reps; This will be enough to initiate muscle mass and strength gains.

Are there any French press Variations?

The dumbbell french press has several variations, including the french cable press, barbell french press and resistance band french press.

Can you do the dumbbell French press with one arm?

You can perform the dumbbell single-arm french press.

How many reps and sets should you do for the dumbbell French press?

Limit your tricep french press workout routine to four sets of ten reps.

Closing Thoughts on the Dumbbell French Press

Are you ready to blast your triceps and force them to grow even bigger?


Add this exercise to your current workout for four sets of 10 reps. Learn the form, benchmark your strength, and aim to get stronger every workout! It is that easy!


(oh, and do keep in touch and check in with us regularly for more fantastic content. For a complete list of our previous blog posts, please go here)

Flexed Tricep for French Press

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