Typically, only bodybuilders use a triceps bar, which is built to allow a close grip with your palms facing in toward each other. However, these specialty barbells do sometimes crop up in fitness centers, and you can use them to work a couple of other muscles. If no triceps bar is available, use an EZ curl or super curl bar for your triceps exercises. Finding the right equipment for working your triceps is a case of matching the exercise -- and your anatomy -- to the bar that'll provide the most comfortable workout.
The Triceps Bar
A triceps bar is much shorter than a typical barbell. The center is shaped like a squared oval, with two short crossbars running through it, perpendicular to the ends of the bar. To use this bar, hold the short crossbars with a narrow, palms-in grip and load weight plates onto the ends of the bar. Secure the weight plates with collars; the outside of the squared oval in the center of the bar protects your hands from contact with the weights.
Using the Triceps Bar
You can use the triceps bar to perform triceps extensions while standing or supine. For standing triceps extensions, hold the triceps bar straight overhead. Keep your elbows stationary and pointed forward -- think of pointing them at the wall in front of you -- as you bend your arms, lowering the bar behind your head. Straighten your arms to complete the repetition.
To do supine or lying triceps extensions, sometimes known as skull crushers, lie face-up on a weight bench, bed or other stable surface. Hold the triceps bar straight up over your chest; keep your elbows stationary and pointed up as you bend your arms, lowering the bar toward or just past your forehead. Straighten your arms to complete the repetition. Because the weights are aimed right at your head, always ask for the assistance of a spotter with this sort of exercise.
More Triceps Bar Exercises
The triceps bar was created to position your hands comfortably during triceps extensions -- but that close-together, palms-in grip comes in handy for narrow rows and narrow-grip presses that mimic the effect of a diamond pushup. To do narrow rows, load the bar and hold it in both hands as you hinge forward from your hips, with your back flat like a board. Pull the bar up toward your chest, letting your elbows flare out just wide enough to clear your body. To do narrow-grip presses, lie on your back and hold the bar straight over your chest. Bend your elbows as you lower the bar toward your chest as far as is comfortable -- it won't be far -- then press it back up to the starting position.
The Other Triceps Bar
Although the name "triceps bar" refers to one specific type of barbell, the term is sometimes applied to the much shorter, V-shaped handles you use for doing triceps pushdowns on a cable machine. To do triceps pushdowns, clip the handle to the cable -- it'll hang with the arms of the "V" pointing down. Grasp one arm in each hand and keep your elbows close to your body as you straighten your arms to press the handle down.
How to Use the Tricep Arm Extension Machine Exercise
Learn how to exercise the triceps muscles using the tricep arm extension machine in this free exercise video on working your triceps.