The cable triceps pushdown exercise is a part of the workout regime of anybody who is looking for serious arm mass and strength.
The triceps actually make up around two-thirds of your upper arm! So, if you’re looking to fill out those sleeves, with well-developed arms, it’s important to activate all three tricep heads.
The cable tricep push down goes by many names: tricep rope press down, the cable tricep pushdowns, and others. No matter what you call it, the cable push down is one of the best exercises for triceps development.
In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about:
- What is Tricep Pushdown
- You will also learn its benefits.
- How to Do cable tricep pushdown.
- How to avoid common mistakes.
- Best variations of tricep cable pushdowns
- How To Incorporate Tricep Pushdown Into Your Workout Routine
- You will also learn some of the best alternatives of it.
- What is Tricep Pushdown
- Triceps Push down Muscles Worked
- Straight Bar Triceps Pushdown
- How To Do Tricep Push Down
- Tricep Pushdowns Variations
- 1. Reverse-Grip Cable Triceps Pushdown
- 2. Rope Triceps Pushdown
- 3. One-Arm Reverse-Grip Triceps Pushdown
- 4. Triceps Pushdown with V- Bar
- 5. One Arm Tricep Pushdown
- 6. One Arm Rope Tricep Pushdown
- 7. Cable Tricep Pushdown On Floor
- How To Perform A Triceps Pushdown At Home
- Resistance Band Tricep Pushdown
- Common Mistakes to Avoid During Tricep Cable Pushdowns
- 1. Wrist Positioning
- 2. Incomplete range of Motion
- 3. Not Focusing On All Three Heads
- 4. Elbow Flaring Out
- 5. Excessive Elbow Movement
- 6. Too Much Weight
- 7. Straining your Back
- Benefits Of Doing Triceps Cable Pushdown
- 1. Increased tricep strength and size
- 2. Improved elbow and shoulder stability
- 3. Better posture
- 4. Versatility
- 5. Provide Constant Tension To Tricep Muscles
- 6. Strength Athletes/Powerlifters
- How To Add Tricep Pushdown Into Your Workout Routine
- 1. Frequency
- 2. Volume
- 3. Progressive overload
- 4. Integrations
- 5. Variations
- 6. Rest time
- Set and Reps For Tricep Push Down
- Progressions Of Tricep Push down
- Tricep Cable Pushdown Alternates
- 1. Bench Dip
- 2. Two Arm Dumbbell Extension
- 3. Cable Overhead Triceps Extension
- 4. Close-grip bench press
- 5. Diamond push-ups
- Why You Need to Train Your Triceps
- What muscles does a triceps pushdown work?
- How many tricep pushdowns should i do
- Which tricep pushdown is best
- is tricep pushdown push or pull
- Best Cable Tricep Exercises for Strong and Defined Arms
What is Tricep Pushdown
The tricep pushdown is a weight training exercise that targets the tricep muscle. The exercise is typically performed using a cable machine and a straight bar, V-bar or rope attachment.
To perform the exercise, the person stands in front of the cable machine and grasps the bar or rope with an overhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart.
There are many ways to do the classic tricep pushdown that can make your workout more interesting and work different parts of the tricep muscles.
- Rope Pushdown: The rope allows for a greater range of motion at the bottom of the exercise, which can activate different parts of the tricep muscle.
- V-Bar Pushdown: Using a V-shaped bar helps isolate the tricep muscles more.
- Underhand Grip Pushdown: The use of an underhand grip (palms facing up) emphasizes different parts of the tricep muscle.
- Single-Arm Pushdown: It allows you to focus on each muscle and helps you fix muscle imbalances.
Triceps Push down Muscles Worked
The triceps pushdown is an isolation exercise rather than a compound motion. This makes it a great exercise for targeting your triceps.
The primary muscle group worked by the cable triceps press down is your triceps.
There are a variety of secondary muscle groups that activate during cable tricep press down are forearms, abs, obliques, and traps (trapezius). These secondary muscles engage to stabilize and support the push down motion.
In addition to the tricep muscle, the tricep pushdown also works other muscle groups in a less pronounced way, such as:
- Anterior deltoid: The muscle in the front of the shoulder that helps to stabilize the shoulder joint during the exercise.
- The brachioradialis: This muscle is located in the forearm, it helps to flex the elbow.
- The brachialis: This muscle is located beneath the biceps brachii, it helps to flex the elbow.
Straight Bar Triceps Pushdown
Straight bar cable tricep down is a great exercise to add to your routine if you are looking for a simple cable machine pushdown.
We will focus on the straight bar attachment variation of the traditional triceps pressdown, which is completed with a cable pulley system and a straight bar attachment. But we’ll talk more about pushdown variations below.
Unlike barbell or dumbbell exercises where the resistance varies during the lift, the cable provides a uniform resistance throughout the movement.
- Using the straight bar, a pronated grip (palms down) emphasizes the outer or lateral head of the triceps,
- whereas, a supinated grip (palms up) focuses effort on the medial head.
- An angled V-shaped bar switches the hands into a neutral grip (thumbs up), equally targeting all three triceps heads.
How To Do Tricep Push Down
- Set Up the Cable Machine: Attach a straight bar or rope to the high pulley on a cable machine.
- Position Yourself: Stand facing the cable machine, feet shoulder-width apart for balance.
- Grip the Handle: With your palms facing down, grip the straight bar. Your hands should be about shoulder-width apart.
- Initial Position: Start with your elbows bent at about a 90-degree angle. Keep your elbows close to your body and slightly in front of you. This is your starting position.
- Engage Your Core: Tighten your core muscles to stabilize your torso and prevent excessive movement in your lower back.
- Perform the Pushdown: Keep your elbows stationary and close to your body, extend your arms downward until they are fully extended. Focus on using your triceps to push the weight down, not your shoulders or back.
- Pause and Squeeze: At the bottom of the movement, briefly pause and squeeze your triceps for maximum muscle engagement.
- Return to Starting Position: Slowly allow the cable to pull your hands back up to the starting position, allowing your triceps to stretch.
- Repeat: Perform the 3-4 sets of 8-15 reps.
Tricep Pushdowns Variations
While the traditional triceps cable pushdown is a winner for sure, there are also a few other slight variations that are just as good, with many people even preferring them over the traditional pushdown.
Regardless, you know how we feel about having a balanced workout routine with a variety of exercises, so here are some other great triceps push down exercises, each with their own little benefit.
You can also do a modified version of the move at home or on the go with a resistance band.
Here are the 7 best Cable Triceps Push down exercises variations that help you to build stronger and bigger triceps.
1. Reverse-Grip Cable Triceps Pushdown
Tricep cable pushdowns are a variation of the straight bar pushdown in which the hands are positioned holding the bar with the palms facing up rather than down.
It works your entire triceps, but it focuses most of the tension in the middle of the triceps.
Taking an underhand grip can minimize the involvement of the forearms and help to place less stress on the elbows. Include these cable exercises in your tricep workout routine.
How To Do Reverse-Grip Triceps Pushdown
- Stand facing a high-pulley cable with a short straight bar attached to it.
- Slight bend your knees and feet should be about shoulder-width apart.
- Grasp the short bar with a supinated grip (Palm up) and hold the bar at chest level with your elbows tight against your sides.
- Keeping your elbows stationary, straighten your arms until they are fully extended.
- Pause at full arm extension, flex your triceps, and slowly return the bar to the starting position.
2. Rope Triceps Pushdown
The rope tricep push down is like the cable tricep pressdown, but with a rope instead of a short bar. The rope handle may activate the triceps to a greater degree than a straight bar.
It is easy to learn and perform, making it a favorite for both beginners and advanced lifters.
How To Do Tricep Rope Pushdown
- Keep feet shoulder-width apart, face a high pulley machine enabled with a rope attachment.
- Grasp the ends of the rope so that your palms are facing inward and your elbows are by your waist.
- Keep your body still and exhale as you lower the rope by extending your arms straight down by your sides.
- Hold for a moment and then inhale as you slowly return the rope to the starting position.
3. One-Arm Reverse-Grip Triceps Pushdown
When doing a cable tricep pushdown, there are plenty of single-arm exercises you can add to correct potential imbalances.
The cable one-arm reverse-grip tricep push-down is an isolation exercise that builds muscle and strength in all three tricep heads.
Push-downs are excellent regardless of the variation used, but the reverse grip may allow you to emphasize more of the medial tricep head.
How To Do One-Arm Reverse Grip Cable Triceps Pushdown
- Stand near the cable apparatus and grasp the single-grip attachment, with an underhand grip.
- Keeping your elbows at your body’s sides, press the weight downward, while exhaling throughout the movement. If desired, you may self-spot with your free hand.
- Slowly allow the weight to rise until your forearms are parallel to the ground, inhaling throughout the negative motion.
- Repeat steps 3-4 for as many sets as are desired.
4. Triceps Pushdown with V- Bar
This is one of the best two-arm cable rope tricep push downs you can do during your arm workout.
The cable V-bar pushdown is a great alternative for your triceps. The angled bar allows you to lift heavier weights than a straight bar or rope.
How To Do Triceps Pushdown with V- Bar
- Attach a V-Bar to a high pulley and grab with an overhand grip (palms facing down) at shoulder width.
- Standing upright with the torso straight and a very small inclination forward, bring the upper arms close to your body and perpendicular to the floor.
- Using the triceps, bring the bar down until it touches the front of your thighs and the arms are fully extended perpendicular to the floor.
- Pause at full arm extension, flex your triceps, and slowly return the V-bar to the starting position.
5. One Arm Tricep Pushdown
The one-arm tricep pushdown is a variation of the tricep pushdown exercise that is performed using one arm at a time.
This variation allows for increased isolation of the tricep muscle and the ability to use heavier weight.
How To Do One arm tricep pushdown
- Stand facing the cable machine and grasp the attachment with one hand, using an overhand grip.
- Keep your elbow close to your body and flex your tricep muscle by pulling the attachment down towards your thigh.
- Slowly release the attachment back to the starting position.
- Repeat for the desired number of reps before switching to the other arm.
6. One Arm Rope Tricep Pushdown
The one-arm rope tricep pushdown is a variation of the tricep pushdown exercise that is performed using a rope attachment and one arm at a time.
This variation allows for increased isolation of the tricep muscle, a greater range of motion.
How To Do One Arm Rope Pushdown
- Stand facing the cable machine and grasp the rope attachment with one hand, using a neutral grip.
- Keep your elbow close to your body and flex your tricep muscle by pulling the rope towards your thigh.
- Release the rope slowly back to the starting position.
- Repeat for the desired number of reps before switching to the other arm.
7. Cable Tricep Pushdown On Floor
The cable tricep pushdown on the floor is a variation of the tricep pushdown exercise that is performed on the floor, rather than standing.
It provides an alternative way of targeting the tricep muscle.
It is important to note that this variation is not commonly used and may not be suitable for everyone.
How To Do One Arm Rope Pushdown
- Lie on your back on the floor with your head close to the cable machine.
- Grasp the bar or rope with an overhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart.
- Keep your elbow close to your body and flex your tricep muscle by pulling the bar or rope down towards your chest.
- Slowly release the bar or rope back to the starting position.
- Repeat for the desired number of reps.
How To Perform A Triceps Pushdown At Home
If you’re working out at home, you’re less likely to have access to a cable machine.
A resistance band cable pushdown is a great at-home alternative that doesn’t need much equipment.
Resistance Band Tricep Pushdown
The bands are a great way to keep joints healthy, as they are low impact when it comes to your elbows and shoulders. Tricep resistance band pushdown is the best triceps press down exercise that you can do at home.
It is also very easy to add or remove the amount of tension just by changing hand position, making these a beneficial option in a number of regards.
How To Do Resistance Band Tricep Pushdown
- Place a resistance band around a hook above your head.
- Grab the resistance band with both hands (palms facing in) just below chest height.
- Keep your elbows tight into your side and drive your hands down towards your waist. Lock your arms out and rotate your hands slightly outward as you do.
- Hold for a second and then bring your hands back up to just below chest height.
Common Mistakes to Avoid During Tricep Cable Pushdowns
It is crucial to know the mistakes made by athletes and weight lifters while performing cable tricep pushdowns. It will help you gain a better perspective about your form.
1. Wrist Positioning
You don’t need to move your wrists in any direction if your elbows are extended. A wrist position that is neutral is preferred and recommended.
2. Incomplete range of Motion
It is important to fully extend your elbows at the bottom. Feel the deep stretch at the top and the hard contraction at the bottom.
3. Not Focusing On All Three Heads
It is essential to train all three parts of the triceps if you want to see overall arm progress. Developing all three heads will make your arm look more symmetrical, attractive and even. Try different cable attachments.
4. Elbow Flaring Out
During a downward push, people often tend to flaring their elbows outwards. This can put unnecessary stress on the shoulder as well as the chest muscles.
5. Excessive Elbow Movement
Many people adopt a looser posture, allowing their elbows to swing back and forth during the movement. While you can technically lift more weight using this momentum, you are actually using your lats to complete the exercise.
6. Too Much Weight
Adding more weights than required might not be a good idea. Overdoing this exercise can cause injury and make your muscles sore.
7. Straining your Back
Always remember that this is a tricep workout and not a back training one. Make sure you do not overextend your back while pushing down the weights.
Benefits Of Doing Triceps Cable Pushdown
The tricep muscle is an important muscle group for overall upper body strength and definition.
It is beneficial to incorporate tricep pushdowns into your workout routine for several reasons.
let’s have a look at some other benefits of triceps exercises.
1. Increased tricep strength and size
The tricep pushdown exercise is an effective way to build strength and size in the tricep muscle, which can improve overall upper body strength and definition.
2. Improved elbow and shoulder stability
The tricep muscle plays a role in stabilizing the elbow and shoulder joints.
By strengthening the tricep muscle with exercises like the tricep pushdown, you can improve the stability of these joints and reduce the risk of injury.
3. Better posture
Strong triceps can help to pull the shoulders back and improve posture, giving you a more confident and assertive appearance.
Tricep pushdown can be performed with different attachments such as rope, V-bar, etc, and can be integrated in different exercises and workout routines.
This can help to add variety to your workout and target the muscle in different ways.
5. Provide Constant Tension To Tricep Muscles
Triceps press down exercises are more evenly distributed, and you have more of a constant load on your triceps throughout the range of motion.
The cable setup gives your muscles almost uninterrupted time under tension, and a huge pump — each of which can help optimize muscle growth.
6. Strength Athletes/Powerlifters
The triceps cable push down is an ideal exercise for all athletes, bodybuilders, or anyone attempting to build arm strength.
Whether you are throwing a ball, lifting heavy objects at work, or simply want to boost the aesthetic appeal of your arms, this exercise can help you get stronger to accomplish your goals.
How To Add Tricep Pushdown Into Your Workout Routine
When programming tricep pushdowns into your workout routine, there are a few things to consider:
Tricep pushdowns can be performed 2-3 times a week, allowing for adequate recovery time between sessions.
The volume of the exercise can be adjusted based on your fitness level and goals.
- For muscle growth, a higher volume (more reps and sets) is typically recommended.
- While for strength, lower volume with heavier weight is more appropriate.
- A good starting point for most people is 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps, with a moderate weight.
3. Progressive overload
To continue making progress, it’s important to gradually increase the weight or reps over time.
This can be done by adding weight to the bar or increasing the number of reps per set.
Tricep pushdowns can be integrated into different exercises and workout routines.
For example, you can include them in an arm workout, a push workout, a pull workout or a full-body workout.
To target the muscle in different ways, it’s a good idea to include different variations of the exercise, such as using different types of equipment, or changing the angle of the movement.
6. Rest time
Make sure to rest enough between sets, especially if you’re using heavy weight, to allow your muscles to recover and prevent injury.
These are general guidelines that may need to be adjusted based on your individual goals and fitness level.
Set and Reps For Tricep Push Down
Of course, the number of sets and reps will be determined based on your fitness journey. The tricep muscle and strength can be built in a variety of set and rep ranges.
When programming triceps pushdown into training programs, remember the training goals and programming recommendations.
- Beginners: ~10 sets per week.
- Intermediate: ~15 sets per week.
- Advanced: ~20 sets per week.
- 3 to 5 reps for power
- less than 6 reps for strength
- 6 to 12 reps for hypertrophy
- 12 to 20+ reps for endurance
Beginners should do 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps. As you become more comfortable with the exercise, try different set and rep combinations and tempos to challenge your muscles.
Progressions Of Tricep Push down
- Increasing the weight: As you become stronger, you can add more weight to the bar or cable machine to continue challenging your tricep muscle.
- Increasing the reps: Doing more reps with the same weight will make the exercise more challenging as well.
- Pausing at the bottom of the movement: This will make the exercise more challenging by increasing the time under tension.
- Adding drop sets, pyramid sets or super sets: These will add volume and intensity to the exercise.
Tricep Cable Pushdown Alternates
There are several alternative exercises that can be used to target the tricep muscle, if you’re looking to switch up your workout routine or if you don’t have access to a cable machine.
Here are a few examples:
1. Bench Dip
The bench dip exercise is one of the most basic and best workouts for building the triceps and bigger arms.
Elevating the feet brings more chest and shoulder into the movement, and also allows for extra weight on the hips.
Overhead extension exercises are particularly useful in targeting the long head of the triceps muscle.
Cable tricep extensions are another great exercise for your cable arm workout.
Overhead tricep extension variations are especially good at targeting the long head of the triceps.
The denser your long head muscle is, the overall larger the triceps appear.
This exercise targets the tricep muscle while also working the chest and shoulders.
To perform the exercise, lie on a flat bench and grasp the barbell with a close grip (hands about 6 inches apart).
Lower the barbell to your chest and then press it back up to the starting position.
This exercise targets the tricep muscle as well as the chest and shoulders.
To perform the exercise, place your hands close together under your chest and perform a push up.
Why You Need to Train Your Triceps
Strong arms are important for almost every upper body movement you do each day, and your triceps are often the heavy lifters. Anytime you push something—whether it be a door, a stroller, a lawnmower, or a barbell—you’re using your triceps.
Apart from the aesthetic benefits of having a solid set of triceps, there are important functional benefits too.
- Strong triceps help with shoulder stability and improve your range of motion
- Triceps main responsibilities are extending the elbow joint or simply straightening the arm.
- Strong triceps help keep your joints healthy, particularly your elbow joint.
- Increase in overall arm strength, power and endurance.
- Allows you to lift heavier during other lifts like bench presses and shoulder presses.
What muscles does a triceps pushdown work?
The tricep pushdown exercise primarily targets the triceps brachii muscle, which is located on the back of the upper arm.
The triceps brachii muscle is made up of three heads: the lateral head, the medial head, and the long head.
The tricep pushdown primarily targets the lateral and medial heads of the tricep, and to a lesser extent the long head.
How many tricep pushdowns should i do
The number of tricep pushdowns you should do will depend on your fitness level, goals and the volume of your workout.
Generally, a good starting point is 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps, with a moderate weight.
This will provide a good balance of volume and intensity to challenge the tricep muscle while allowing for recovery.
If you are a beginner, you may want to start with 1-2 sets of 8-12 reps, and as you become more comfortable with the exercise, you can gradually increase the number of sets and reps.
If your goal is muscle growth and hypertrophy, you may want to increase the volume (more reps and sets) and use a moderate weight. This can help to increase muscle size and definition.
If your goal is strength, you may want to decrease the volume (less reps and sets) and use a heavier weight. This will help to increase muscle strength and power.
Which tricep pushdown is best
There are several variations of the tricep pushdown exercise that can target the muscle in different ways.
- Rope pushdowns: This variation allows for a greater range of motion and can better target the inner and outer heads of the tricep.
- Reverse grip pushdowns: By using an overhand grip (palms facing down) on the bar, which shifts the focus of the exercise to the lateral head of the tricep.
- Single arm pushdowns: It’s allows for increased isolation of the tricep muscle.
- V-bar pushdowns: This variation is performed with a V-shaped bar, which can target the tricep muscle in a slightly different way.
It’s difficult to say which variation is the “best” as they all have their own benefits, it’s more important to.
is tricep pushdown push or pull
The tricep pushdown is primarily a pushing motion, as the triceps contract to extend the arm and push the weight down.
It’s also worth noting that push/pull exercises are not limited to tricep pushdown, it’s a general categorization of exercises.
- Push exercises are those that involve pushing a weight away from the body, such as chest press, shoulder press, and tricep pushdowns.
- Pull exercises involve pulling a weight towards the body, such as pull-ups, rows, and bicep curls.
These triceps cable rope pushdown exercises are recommended for anyone who wants to build triceps muscles and gain strength.
Not only does it allow for targeted muscle development, but it also provides overall triceps and arm development. It is easy to do and does not require a lot of scientific information.
If done consistently, the results will speak by themselves.
Thanks for reading, enjoy!
- American Council on Exercise: ACE Study Identifies Best Triceps Exercises (source)
- The different role of each head of the triceps brachii muscle in elbow extension
- Tiwana MS, Sinkler MA, Bordoni B. Anatomy, Shoulder and Upper Limb, Triceps Muscle. [Updated 2021 Aug 6]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK536996/
- 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
Best Cable Tricep Exercises for Strong and Defined Arms
Manish brings over 10 years of hands-on experience in weight lifting and fat loss to fitness coaching. He specializes in gym-based training and has a lot of knowledge about exercise, lifting technique, biomechanics, and more.
Through “Fit Life Regime,” he generously shares the insights he’s gained over a decade in the field. His goal is to equip others with the knowledge to start their own fitness journey.