Exercise Profile
  • Target Muscle Group
  • Exercise TypeStrength
  • Equipment RequiredBarbell
  • MechanicsIsolation
  • Force TypePush
  • Experience LevelBeginner
  • Secondary Muscles
Target Muscle Group


Triceps Muscle Anatomy Diagram

French Press Instructions

  1. Set up for the french press by loading a barbell or EZ-bar with the appropriate amount of weight and placing it on the floor in front of you.
  2. Bend only at the knees and grasp the barbell with an overhand grip (palms facing down) with your hands about 8-12 inches apart.
  3. Stand up straight with the bar with your feet around shoulder-width apart and a slight bend in your knees.
  4. Lift the bar above your head and bend at your elbows slightly to take the tension onto your triceps. Your palms are now facing upward. This is the starting position for the exercise.
  5. Keeping your elbows fixed and pointing straight up toward the ceiling, slowly lower the bar down behind your head as far as comfortably possible.
  6. Pause, and then slowly raise the bar back to the starting position.
  7. Don't lock your elbows out, and then repeat the movement. 

French Press Tips

  • Technique is really important! Don't let your elbows flare out as you move the barbell, and keep the rep timing slow and controlled.
  • Don't lock your elbows out at the top of the movement and take the tension off of your triceps.
  • Focus on keeping your body as still as possible, moving only your forearms.
  • Keep your head up and your eyes facing forward through the movement.
Posted on: Sun, 02/20/2022 - 13:15

Can you substitute other tri exercises for this one? Just wondering if this one provides a different effect than rope pull downs, or dumbbell tri extensions, etc. TY!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 02/23/2022 - 20:08

Hi, Robin. This exercise targets the long head of the triceps, which goes down into your lat. You would need to find an exercise that performs a similar function. This exercise could be done with a dumbbell, kettlebell, cable, or bands. There are also some triceps machines that perform a similar purpose. Out of those that you suggested, the DB tricep extension would come the closest, but you would have to allow your arms to go back behind your head to get a similar benefit.

Matthew Maxwell
Posted on: Sun, 12/26/2021 - 12:31

All of these exercises are great, and the set and rep scheme is great for beginner to moderate level exercisers. Some are a bit difficult for beginners. Other exercises are not hard enough for the hard core body builder. Some are difficult for those with elbow tendinitis and joint problems. The key is to try each exercise out, and vary the components of the exercise to your liking or needs. All weight lifting exercises that are performed safely are good for the body on building muscle. When we build muscle, we will also be burning fat, because muscle needs the energy to perform. No more negative remarks are needed.

Harold Macapanas
Posted on: Fri, 08/27/2021 - 22:19

I am enjoying these kind of exercise because it help my body to built a strong muscle and healthy

Meljan Barzuela
Posted on: Fri, 08/27/2021 - 14:11

Nice one

Starlight Engram
Posted on: Sun, 11/27/2016 - 18:33

This is a standing skull crusher. also see Dorian Yates' prone isolated lats extension. Good term French standing t-cep extension.

Posted on: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 13:18

Why are so many comments ranked negatively by other users? It paints a bad picture when no-one can ask a question and another answer without so many people taking it bad.

Posted on: Fri, 11/28/2014 - 15:24

So many negative response because so many think they know everything when it come to using weights and bodybuilding.

A. "Doc"
Posted on: Sun, 06/09/2019 - 20:37

I know. Society is in a sorry state, and too many people have inflated egos. As a former personal trainer, I was always learning something new, listened to my clients (listening is key), and strived for becoming better.
We are all "construction in progress"... so, I wouldn't worry about those who seem emotionally crippled, they are what they are. Don't take it personal. Many of us continue to learn, regardless of our credentials, and simply disregard moronic and self-aggrandizing, negative comments.

Posted on: Wed, 01/13/2021 - 13:45

I am sitting here in cold England in my home gym( garage) and thanking my lucky stars that during yet another lockdown I can work out using the excellent programmes from M&S and read about different ways to hit a particular muscle group on the forum. Why do people have to moan, get a grip, if you have nothing positive to share then don't share it.

Steve Mulry
Posted on: Tue, 01/07/2020 - 04:42

That's a very good reply

Posted on: Tue, 05/13/2014 - 16:19

spent a couple months without any exersize equip.did nothing but push ups,dips and chin ups. Im certain if injured my shoulder sockets. reason?also any suggestions on rehabilitating them. cant even straightarm a gallon of milk into the fridge without extreme pain in my rotator cups,like jabbin a knife into them.

Posted on: Tue, 11/10/2020 - 13:24

Take a rest while doing ROM exercises for that hurt shoulder.

Posted on: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 22:22

I guess this french press is kind a triceps isolation,im right?

Steve Mulry
Posted on: Tue, 01/07/2020 - 04:43


g kay
Posted on: Wed, 04/24/2013 - 00:26

Is there a variation for French press I think this exercise is causing me a pain in my left elbow..........could be a tennis elbow

Steve Mulry
Posted on: Tue, 01/07/2020 - 04:50

Do it with no weight at all to see if you have an elbow issue. Also, check out Jeff from Athleanx on YouTube. He is a Physical Therapist & would have videos on other variations you can try which may be more comfortable for you

Posted on: Mon, 03/11/2013 - 11:39

Would doing a dumbbell triceps extension have the same benefits as this?

Steve Mulry
Posted on: Tue, 01/07/2020 - 04:46

Yes, you can utilise many other variations to this exercise. Find one that you're comfortable with & do that. Then, for a bit of a change, come back to this version

James Campbell
Posted on: Mon, 10/05/2020 - 00:41

According to his workout program, Bruce Lee was an exponent of the French Curl.

Posted on: Sat, 09/22/2012 - 09:58

Can u do this sat on a bench as I hav a slightly low roof in my garage lol

Adam Haze
Posted on: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 05:08
Starlight Engram
Posted on: Sun, 11/27/2016 - 18:42

I set back on a slanted seat with a dumbell gripped with both hands. Put it overhead then bend arms at elbows. Let hands/weight descend to level with C7 behind the seat back. Keep upper arms steady and extend only forearms to barely lockout. That is 1 rep. Beginners at 10 reps per set x 3 @ 10 - 20 pounds. 2nd year and up go 40 to 70 pounds @ 12 - 15 reps x 4-5 sets. 3rd year at capacity. 4th year going for the redline.

Posted on: Sun, 04/15/2012 - 14:36

Thanks, I have done this exercise before, but was keeping my hands in too close, and also moving too fast.