Tate Press Exercise Guide — How to, Benefits, & Alternatives

Tate press and triceps pushdown

The Tate press was invented by elite powerlifter Dave Tate for a stronger bench press

Strong triceps are fundamental to executing numerous pressing movements and are pivotal in bodybuilding exercises. They’re also crucial for strongmen in performing heavy overhead lifts. For Olympic weightlifters, robust triceps contribute to improved lockouts in routines like the snatch and the clean.

The Tate press, a tricep-focused exercise, stands out for its effectiveness. Invented by elite powerlifter Dave Tate, it was designed to enhance pressing techniques. The exercise allows for significant triceps development while minimizing stress on the elbows.

This article delves into the Tate press, outlining its benefits and efficacy. It includes a detailed, step-by-step guide on executing the exercise. Continue reading to discover this and additional tricep-strengthening exercises to incorporate into your training regimen.

Techniques & Muscles Worked

The Tate press is an isolation exercise that targets the triceps, especially the medial head. However, your shoulders also act as stabilizers when you do this routine, and bracing your chest and core, to some extent, activates them slightly. This movement also puts less strain on your elbows than other triceps isolation exercises, which makes it very effective.

To perform them, you only need a pair of dumbbells and a flat bench. However, you can also use resistance bands to do this exercise or try it on an incline. Below are step-by-step instructions for doing the Tate press with dumbbells on a flat bench. 

  1. Select dumbbells and then lie on a flat bench with your legs flat on the floor. 
  2. Press the dumbbells to lockout position overhead with a pronated grip that has your thumbs facing each other. The inner sides of the dumbbell should be touching and your elbows facing out. This is your starting position.
  3. Next, flex at the elbow and lower the insides of your dumbbells to touch your chest. Your dumbbells should be in contact as you lower them.
  4. Pause for a second and then reverse the movement to return to the starting position and complete the rep.
  5. Repeat for as many reps as you desire.  


The Tate press is useful for bodybuilders, powerlifters, Olympic weightlifters, and regular gym goers. It requires proper form but works for all training levels. Below are the benefits of adding Tate presses to your workouts. 

Build Horseshoe Triceps

They use a unique range of motion to target and build the triceps. Since it’s an isolation movement, other bigger muscles don’t take over, allowing the load to hit the triceps properly. This induces muscle hypertrophy, leading to more growth and bigger triceps. 

Increase Lockout Strength

Lockout is important in pressing movements and routines like the snatch, clean, and jerk. They strengthen your elbows and triceps and train them for lockout points. This improves your strength and form when doing other presses and Olympic lifts. Here’s a study showing that training your triceps increases your bench pressing strength (1).

Better Elbow Health

Since the Tate press trains your triceps by involving only the elbows, it increases blood flow to the area. This improves your elbow health as more oxygen and nutrients get there when you do the Tate press. Stronger elbows can help prevent injury and improve your form for many upper-body exercises. 


The Tate press is very versatile. You can do it with multiple pieces of equipment. You can also do this exercise unilaterally to find and fix any muscle imbalances. Finally, you can do it on an incline or decline bench to vary the mechanics of the routine. 

Improved Coordination

To do a Tate Press, you’ll be lowering two dumbbells slowly while keeping them together. You’ll also need your shoulders, chest, and core to stabilize the movement. All of these require good coordination, so doing the Tate press can improve your coordination over time. 

Tate Press Alternatives

Tate presses are great for your arm size and strength. However, they should be part of a routine composed of other exercises if you want to get the best from your workout. Here are some other exercises you can also perform alongside the Tate press to build your triceps. 

Skull Crushers

Skull crushers also target the medial head of the triceps like the Tate press does (2). This exercise is an isolation routine that uses dumbbells and activates the shoulders as stabilizers. However, unlike the Tate press, you shouldn’t try this routine if you have elbow issues. 

Overhead Tricep Extensions

The overhead triceps extension also targets the medial head but is more effective for the long head of the triceps. Since the triceps are a big part of the arms and the long head makes up a considerable part of the triceps, this can lead to more size. Overhead tricep extensions are a great way to build mass in your arms. Next, we have the triceps pushdown. 

Triceps Pushdowns

Tricep pushdowns are also isolation movements that focus on one joint, like the Tate press. Triceps pushdowns allow for more training volume, as other muscles won’t take over, leading to premature fatigue. More training volume leads to more muscle growth


What does the Tate press work?

The Tate press isolates and works on your triceps building both the medial and long heads. This leads to muscle growth in the arms and more strength. It’s also easier on the elbows than other tricep-isolating routines.

Is the Tate press better than skull crushers?

Both the Tate press and skull crushers offer a great way to build your triceps. However, the Tate press places less stress on your elbows. This might make the routine better for those with elbow injuries who still want to train.

Who invented the Tate press?

Dave Tate is the strength and elite powerlifter who invented the Tate press. He did it to help strengthen his bench pressing movements and make triceps training easier with elbow pain. 

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  1. Stronska, K., Golas, A., Wilk, M., Zajac, A., Maszczyk, A., & Stastny, P. (2022). The effect of targeted resistance training on bench press performance and the alternation of prime mover muscle activation patterns. Sports biomechanics, 21(10), 1262–1276. https://doi.org/10.1080/14763141.2020.1752790
  2. Kholinne, E., Zulkarnain, R. F., Sun, Y. C., Lim, S., Chun, J. M., & Jeon, I. H. (2018). The different role of each head of the triceps brachii muscle in elbow extension. Acta orthopaedica et traumatologica turcica, 52(3), 201–205. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aott.2018.02.005
Terry Ramos
As a personal trainer and writer, Terry loves changing lives through coaching and the written word. Terry has a B.S. in Kinesiology and is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and ISSA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He enjoys playing music, reading, and watching films when he's not writing or training.