OVERHAND vs UNDERHAND Tricep Extensions | What’s better?

**If you prefer reading instead of watching, here’s a transcript of the video above.**

Have you ever wondered whether you should do Tricep Extensions with a Pronated i.e palms over grip with a bar or with a Hammer grip using ropes? Ever wondered which of these is better?

Or better yet, have you seen someone do extensions with a Supinated i.e palms under grip and wondered if that works your Triceps any differently?

If you’ve answered yes to either of those questions then you definitely want to pay attention to what I have to say because I’m going to go SCIENCE up in this bitch!

In today’s article, we’re going to discuss whether different hand positions in Tricep Extensions affect the Triceps differently. And which is the best grip to use in this exercise.

You’ve probably seen different versions of Cable Tricep Extensions – with a straight bar, an EZ bar, with a rope or even with handles with an underhand grip.

You may have even heard a ‘bro’ in your gym saying:

BRO! Do the overhand grip to target your lateral head. Do the underhand grip to target your long head” or “BRO. Do them all for variation man.Variation! VARIATION!

Man that word peeves me off, SO much!

Anyway, let’s look into these ideas and if they have any merit.

Diving straight into that, lets first look at some anatomy here…

Supination and Pronation. This occurs due to movement in the bones of your forearms – the Radius and the Ulna around the Radio-Ulnar Joint – both the proximal (near elbow) and distal (near wrist).

When you Pronate, your Radius crosses over the Ulna . And when you Supinate, your radius bone is parallel to the Ulna. So both these movements occur via movement of the RADIUS bone around the Radio-Ulnar joints.

Supination and Pronation | OVERHAND vs UNDERHAND Tricep Extensions | What's better?

Now, the Triceps muscle attaches to the Ulna. It has no attachment to the Radius.

So I invite you to think about this…

How would the turning of this radius bone which is what happens in changing your grip between pronation and supination have any effect on the Triceps’ ability to extend the elbow?

IT DOES NOT.

The Tricep muscle is not influenced by any change in your wrist position.

What DOES happen when you change your grip is that your grip strength in that position becomes the limiting factor in the movement.

And out of the three, the strongest grip would be the pronated grip, followed by hammer and then the weakest would be your supinated position.

So when you decide to do Tricep extensions with a Supinated grip, all you end up doing is opting for the weakest grip which cuts down the amount of weight you can use and therefore provides LESS stimulus to the Triceps than you could have with a Pronated grip.

You just find it more difficult to extend that weight with this grip because your forearms and grip are giving way. Not your triceps.

And now to answer the question, what’s the best grip to use in Tricep extensions. Now while a Pronated grip is indeed the best grip out of the three mentioned above; there is another grip that works even better than pure pronation and that is what’s called as the NEUTRAL GRIP.

Pronation, Neutral and Hammer Grip | OVERHAND vs UNDERHAND Tricep Extensions | What's better?

This Neutral Grip is somewhat in between Pronation and Hammer position. Its basically just a slight upward tilt from pronation. And the reason why it’s the best grip to use is because it’s the MOST COMFORTABLE grip out of all especially in terms of stress on the wrist joint.

More comfort and stability on the wrist joint = Greater ability to lift heavier loads/perform better in the exercise.

And this is why, when opting to do Tricep Extensions, one should resort to the Neutral Grip – either by opting for an EZ bar if doing the movement bilaterally (both arms working together on a single object) or a single handle for unilateral movement  (one arm working at a time) and letting the wrist default to its most natural, comfortable position.

So there you go! That’s your comparison between the Overhand vs Underhand Grip on Tricep Extensions as well as the best grip to be used.

Hope you’ve found this piece informative and if so, please SHARE it so it can reach out to as many people as possible and together we can bust broscience and help spread the information.

Keep Learning, Keep Growing!
Suneet

PS: What grip were you using for Tricep Extensions until now? Comment below and let me know J

Suneet Sebastian

Suneet Sebastian is a self-confessed fitness science nerd. His passion and desire for learning, educating and promoting critical thinking in the fitness industry is what sets him apart from the average "guru".He has made a name for himself as an elite Strength & Conditioning coach among professional athletes and regular enthusiasts alike with his extremely detailed and thorough advice backed by concrete science and leaves absolutely no stone unturned when it comes to educating and empowering those that seek to take their fitness to a whole new level.To know more about Suneet's background and the story behind the foundation of Sebastian Fitness Solutions, click here.

More Posts - Website

Showing 3 comments
  • John
    Reply

    Dear Sebastian,

    Thanks for this excellent write-up. Could you give advice about which grip to use during an isolation movement for targeting the biceps?

    Thanks and regards.

    • Suneet Sebastian
      Reply

      Hey John,
      Unlike the triceps, the Biceps are affected by grip position due to them inserting into the radius bone of the forearm.
      A supinated(underhand) grip would target the biceps brachii the best due to this.

  • Rahul Alvares
    Reply

    Great tip suneet! Thanks!

Leave a Comment