Got a goal to destroy that bench press PR of yours? Some tricep accessory work will help and these 4 kettlebell tricep exercises are a good place to start!

For those following, we have already looked at some awesome tricep exercises using a barbell and dumbbells to help push your strength – and specifically your bench press – to new levels.

But one tool that I feel is under utilized in tricep training is kettlebells.

They are a nice change of pace and I feel like the awkward shape adds another level of toughness to the exercises.

Those two factors make them unique and something I’ve found to be effective in getting my triceps stronger for the bench press. Like we’ve said, the triceps are a vital piece to getting a bigger bench press, overhead press, and any of the variations of pressing movements.

When performing these exercises, be sure to flex the tricep to move the weight, more than simply using momentum to move the weight.

Being able to flex the tricep through a whole range of motion is what will make you able to lock out your next bench attempt at a meet. It can be a key factor in finishing off a lift, which can make a big difference when it comes to PRs.

As for reps and sets, there are a few ways to do triceps. On our Dynamic Effort Bench day (Speed day), we will generally stick with higher reps and sets for the triceps. On Max Effort Bench day (Max), we will stay around sets of 5-8 reps and hit the triceps very heavy.

If you need a new twist in tricep training, try these kettlebell exercises to burst through your plateaus.

Editor's Note: Use Our Bench Press Calculator to find your 1 Rep Max

1. Kettlebell JM Press

This will use the same motion as shown with the barbell. But with the kettlebells they will want to start to swing as you flex up adding a new toughness to the exercise. Start lying down with kettlebells up and lower to about 1-2 inches off your chest and bring them back over to about your chin and flex them straight up.

While doing this, try to keep your elbows pulled in and pointed up for the entire motion. This will place extra stress on the tricep around the elbow joint, which is the area we need to make very strong. Like I’ve said previously, if your tricep is strong around that elbow joint your bench press strength with follow.

Set and Rep Protocol:
  • Max Effort Day: 4-6 sets of 5-8 reps
  • Dynamic Effort Day: 5-8 sets of 10-15 reps

Go as heavy as possible on both days.

2. Kettlebell Elbows Out Extension

Start with the kettlebells on your chest and your elbows out to the side. Again, the elbows shouldn't move a whole lot, as you want to keep tension on them the entire range of motion. If the elbows aren’t moving, you know the triceps are doing the bulk of the work.

Simply flex the kettlebells off your chest until your arms are locked out and then lower back down under control. The key to this exercise is just flexing to move the weight off the chest and making sure it isn't a chest press to begin the movement.

That is a major reason why I like this movement. It really teaches you to flex and once you’re able to do that properly on this exercise and really move up in weight, it can make a big difference.

Set and Rep Protocol:
  • Max Effort Day: 4-6 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Dynamic Effort Day: 4-6 sets of 15-20 reps

Go as heavy as possible on both days.

3. Kettlebell Overhead Extension

These can be done seated or standing. I prefer standing for no other reason than that it feels more comfortable. These can also be done one arm, alternating, half static, or both arms together. Again, with these be sure the elbows are pulled in and pointing to the ceiling. That’s the key aspect to focus on with this movement.

Also, to add a small challenge, pause for a split second in the bottom to remove any momentum in the movement. Adding that pause is a great way to build strength. How far back you can let the kettlebells go behind you may depend on mobility in your shoulders. Just work the motion you can and do drills to increase mobility over time.

Set and Rep Protocol:
  • Max Effort Day: 4-6 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Dynamic Effort Day: 4-6 sets of 15-20 reps

Go as heavy as possible on both days.

4. Kettlebell Floor Extension

This is my favorite exercise with the kettlebells. Much like a barbell floor press, there is no cheating. Simply lay on the ground with kettlebells up and bend at the elbow and bring them down next to the top of your head. Keeping the elbows pulled in and pointed up will keep stress right around the elbow and you will feel it when you flex the weight off the ground.

As a bonus exercise, we will sometimes do 15-20 reps of extensions directly followed by 15-20 presses. This will fatigue the triceps prior to the pressing and make them work overtime. Once you have the technique of the movement mastered, I definitely suggest you giving that a try.

Set and Rep Protocol:
  • Max Effort Day: 4-6 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Dynamic Effort Day: 6-8 sets of 15-20 reps

Go as heavy as possible on both days.

Wrap Up

One thing to note is that we will not do all of these exercises every week. But they will simply be in a rotation with the other barbell, dumbbell, and band tricep exercises that we perform.

The best way to get stronger is to find the movement that you are the worst at, and then hammer it until you're strong at it. Then, find a new exercise and repeat the process. Eliminating weak areas is a surefire way to improve your tricep strength and bench press.

We will run accessory exercises anywhere from 1-4 weeks depending on the level of the lifter. These kettlebell movements will be great exercises to add into your arsenal to make sure your bench doesn't stall out.

Watch out for part 4 where we will cover band exercises to keep your triceps strong and healthy.

Posted on: Mon, 08/07/2017 - 20:14

If you don't have doubles in the same sizekettlebells s it reasonable to do one arm at a time?

Nick Showman
Posted on: Tue, 08/08/2017 - 14:56

Yes that will work fine. Just train them hard!