How to Perform the TRX Triceps Press

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

TRX Tricep Press Gif
Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Also Known As: TRX Overhead Triceps Extension

Targets: Triceps, biceps, shoulders, core

Equipment Needed: TRX Suspension Trainer

Level: Intermediate to advanced

The TRX triceps press uses suspension straps and your own bodyweight instead of typical free weights, machines, or cables. The exercise targets your triceps but also challenges the biceps, shoulders, and core as you are suspended from an anchor point.

Performing a triceps press while suspended challenges your body in conditions of instability. This forces you to constantly engage your core and stabilizing muscles to perform the movement. Imagine doing a French press (skull crusher) suspended in the air instead of lying on a bench.

The exercise not only works your triceps but helps to improve your balance and overall strength. Adjusting the level of difficulty for this exercise is an easy shift of your body position and cable angles. The adjustable bands are suitable for the novice exerciser to the advanced athlete and can be modified to fit every fitness level.

TRX training claims to provide an effective full-body workout with simple equipment. This is one of the many popular reasons people are trying suspension training. It’s also a great alternative to round out an existing training program.

If you’re new to this exercise and TRX training, it’s recommended to perform workouts in stable conditions before adding the instability of suspension straps. It may also be a good idea to enlist the guidance of a qualified personal trainer or TRX coach.

Benefits

The TRX triceps press is an alternative way to build arm and core strength. This exercise targets the triceps but also challenges your biceps, shoulders, and core during the movement.

The balance component of this exercise forces you to engage your core to maintain proper body position throughout the movement. Developing a strong core can help improve posture, balance, and relieve low back pain. It also improves the neuromuscular response (reflexes) and stability which can come in handy if you take a misstep off a curb or need to react quickly to a falling object.

Performing the TRX triceps press, like all suspension exercises involves multiple muscle groups making it a fast and effective way to get in a full-body workout. Quick and challenging workouts is just one of the many benefits of suspension training.

The TRX triceps press and other suspension exercises are shown to have numerous positive benefits and studies have indicated the following:

  • Lean mass gains
  • Improved strength
  • Improved stability/balance
  • Increased core strength
  • Improved cardiovascular health
  • Decreased body fat
  • Improved blood pressure
  • Corrected body imbalance
  • Improved athletic performance
  • Reduced fall risk
  • Better gait (walking)
  • Improved functional fitness (day-to-day activities)
  • Practical and effective exercise alternative
  • Increased exercise confidence

Step-by-Step Instructions

The great thing about TRX training is portable cables that offer the ability to workout anywhere. It just requires an area where they can be securely attached and you are ready to exercise.

Follow these simple steps to perform the TRX triceps press:

  1. Attach cables to an anchor point above your head adjusting the straps to hang down about mid-length.
  2. Grab the handles and stand with your body facing away from the anchor point.
  3. Step forward until all slack is removed from the suspension straps, extend arms overhead and with a 90-degree bend at elbows. Elbows are pointing forward with neutral wrists.
  4. Assume a split stance position and lunge forward until straps feel tight (maintain this foot/body position throughout the exercise).
  5. Tighten your core, exhale, and extend (straighten) at the elbows pressing your body away from your arms. Upper arms don’t move and elbows continue to point forward away from your body throughout the exercise.
  6. Maintain a straight body position during the exercise keeping your head and spine neutral. Avoid sagging or arching your low back/hips.
  7. Inhale and with control, slowly lower your body to start position.
  8. Repeat the exercise for a determined amount of repetitions.

Common Mistakes

The TRX triceps press is performed in unstable conditions and special attention is required for proper form and technique. The following are common mistakes to avoid during this exercise:

Flaring Your Elbows

There is a tendency to flare the elbows out during the TRX triceps press. This is easily fixed by being aware of your body mechanics from start to finish. As you lower back into the start position keep the elbows pulled into the body at a 90-degree bend for the proper execution of this exercise.

Moving the Upper Arms

The TRX triceps press requires extending at the elbow while keeping the upper arms in a fixed position. Performing the exercise this way properly targets the triceps with effective use of the stabilizing muscles (shoulders/biceps). Moving the upper arms takes away exercise effectiveness, stresses the stabilizing muscles, and can increase your risk of injury. To perform the exercise correctly, press the body away moving only at the elbow joint without upper arm involvement during the movement.

Sagging Your Low Back and Hips

Allowing the low back and hips to sag could be an indicator of exercise fatigue or unreadiness to perform the TRX version of this exercise. You should be able to maintain a tight core in order to stabilize the low back (lumbar spine) throughout the exercise. The important thing is to be aware of your body mechanics at all times for exercise effectiveness and safety.

Modifications and Variations

The TRX triceps press can be performed in a variety of ways to accommodate your fitness level.

Need a Modification?

If you're new to performing a triceps press and TRX training, you may want to apply a few modifications as follows:

  • Master the triceps press in stable conditions on a bench or standing overhead extension before progressing to the TRX version. This will increase exercise confidence and overall strength before adding the instability of suspension straps.
  • Move your foot stance further away from the anchor point to reduce the difficulty of the exercise. This will allow you to get comfortable with the movement with less bodyweight resistance while increasing overall strength and stability.

Up for a Challenge?

TRX training is a progressive exercise method suitable for all fitness levels. This means you can increase the intensity of your workout as you become stronger.

The following applied modifications increase the challenge of the TRX triceps press for a more advanced workout:

  • Perform the exercise with both feet back instead of standing in a staggered lunge stance. This increases the intensity of the exercise and requires even more core engagement to maintain your balance.
  • Move your feet closer to the anchor point to perform the exercise. This shifts your body lower and away from the anchor point increasing the resistance and difficulty of the movement.
  • Drive arms way overhead to integrate the lats and chest while working the triceps. The body will drop even deeper forcing more core engagement and shoulder stabilization.

Safety and Precautions

The TRX triceps press is performed in unstable conditions and requires keen body awareness during the exercise. Because of this instability, it’s important to be aware of your body position/movement at all times.

The following tips will help you perform the TRX triceps press correctly and reduce the risk of injury:

  • Master the basic triceps press on a bench (stable conditions) before progressing to the TRX version.
  • Have the ability to use your core muscles to stabilize your spine before performing this more advanced version of the exercise.
  • Avoid flaring elbows out - keep them pulled into the body at a 90-degree bend for the proper execution of the exercise.
  • Be aware of your body mechanics not allowing hips/low back to sag or arch during the triceps press.
  • If you experience pain or discomfort that doesn’t feel right during the TRX triceps press, discontinue the exercise.

Try It Out

Incorporate this move and similar ones into one of these popular workouts:

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