The tricep brachii makes up 60 to 70% of our upper body. Whether it’s working out, doing physical labor, or performing mundane tasks, we use our triceps heavily in subtle ways. Doing tricep pushdown exercises not only fuels our strength but also makes our arms more aesthetic. Furthermore, it supports shoulder stability which is important for push movements.

In the absence of Cable Machines & Tricep Bars, which are often used for major tricep workouts in commercial gyms, is it still possible to work on our triceps? Fortunately, it’s very much possible. In fact, there are many excellent tricep pushdown alternative moves you can try, whether you’re using bodyweight, real machines, or a Resistance Band! Check out the list of triceps pushdown alternatives we prepared below.

Tricep Pushdown Alternatives You Can Do Easily From A Home Gym

1. Close Grip Bench Press

The close grip bench press exercise is one of the best pushdown alternatives that work on several muscle groups including the triceps and the pectoral muscles. Compared with a wide grip or traditional bench press, the close grip bench press imitates triceps pushdowns by working on your triceps brachii while dialing down the effort exerted by your shoulders. 

In this exercise, you’ll need a bench and a barbel with average weights you can lift.

How To Do It

  • Lay on the bench with your back slightly arched and your feet pressed firmly on the ground.
  • Place your arms on a shoulder-width grip and unrack the barbell at your chest level.
  • Breathe in as you pull down the barbell towards the middle of your chest, keeping your elbows tucked in to maximize the tricep involvement.
  • Breathe out as you raise the barbell, maintaining a straight bar path all throughout.
  • When performing the close grip bench press, remember to keep the descending movement twice longer than the ascending motion as this improves your control over the movement rather than relying on momentum.
  • Accomplish the prescribed number of repetitions to complete one set.
  • Repeat until the exercise is done.

2. Resistance Band Triceps Push-Down

There are many replacement exercises that work rigorously on the triceps muscles. For instance, the resistance band pushdown exercise is a movement that works on the exact same muscles as a tricep pushdown. The main difference is the use of a resistance band in lieu of a cable machine. 

When performing the resistance band triceps pushdown, you are primarily working on your triceps; secondary are your chest, shoulders, and forearms. This movement is particularly great among pushdown alternatives especially when you work out at home and have limited equipment. It is also gentler on the elbow joint since it does not bear heavy volume. This exercise can be performed easily with your handy resistance band.

How To Do It

  • Find an anchor point above the head to loop your Resistance Band around.
  • Stand with your knees slightly bent, chest leaning forward slightly, and with the hips stable in place.
  • Grab the band with an overhand grip and pull towards eye level. This is your starting position.
  • From the eye level, bring the band down to your hips level or until your elbows are locked. Count this as one repetition.
  • Repeat the repetition to a certain number until the routine is done.

3. Single Arm Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extension

Another one of our favorites from the top triceps exercises you can try is the overhead tricep extension. Using both arms or a single-arm, tricep extensions essentially work on your triceps while involving your shoulders and core during the movement. 

Even with a light to medium weight, you can feel the tension on your arms as you would with a triceps pushdown. More so, using a heavier dumbbell increases the effort needed to perform the tricep extensions with proper form. The trick is to not overextend your arm, keep your upper arm as stable as possible, and brace your core all throughout during this triceps workout.

How To Do It

  • Stand with your feet at shoulder width.
  • Brace your core as you raise your arm and bend behind your head with the dumbbells angled at approximately 90 degrees. 
  • To start, contract your triceps and raise the dumbbell upward in a swift motion. Squeeze your triceps at the top.
  • Bring back the dumbbell downward in a controlled manner. That counts as one repetition. 
  • Accomplish the prescribed number of repetitions to complete one set.
  • Repeat until the exercise is done.

4. Cable Overhead Extension 

The cable overhead extension is a great alternative to cable tricep pushdown that has over 10 different variations. This exercise mainly works on the long head of your triceps while getting some leg drive from the quads. It is one of the many cable exercises that you can consider fundamental given the rigorous effort it requires. Adding this to your pushdown alternatives is a definite gamechanger to complement your biceps and make those guns pop.

You will need a cable machine, cable column, or rope attachment.

How To Do It

  • Attach the pulley slightly above head level using either a rope attachment or a straight bar.
  • Grab the attachment firmly on both hands then twist your body away from the machine so you’re facing outward while your elbows are bent behind your head.
  • Put one leg in front of the other to create balance and lean forward slightly. Remember to keep your core tight throughout the whole movement. 
  • Using your tricep strength, pull the attachment straight out while keeping your upper arms straight, steady, and strong.
  • When using a rope attachment, you could “split” the rope by pulling both ends away from each other as you stretch your arms forward. This creates more tension on your triceps.
  • Control the movement on the way back. That concludes one repetition.
  • Repeat until the routine is done.

5. Single-Arm Cable Tricep Pushdown 

If you want to work on your individual arm strength with tricep exercises, single-arm cable pushdown is the way to go. This alternative exercise targets the outer triceps while simultaneously working on your shoulders. Using the maximum weight you can pull, this accessory exercise creates significant progress on your triceps development and strengthens your whole arms for you to execute compound movements with more ease. This exercise will require a cable machine.

How To Do It

  • Set up the pulley above your head level.
  • Go to your starting position by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Use your single working arm to grip the attachment firmly. You may place your free arm on the side of your hip or on your rib area on your working side as a support.
  • With your chest out and your feet planted firmly on the ground, pull the attachment downward until your elbow is locked.
  • Remember to keep your elbow as close to your body to keep it from flaring out.
  • Control the movement upward and keep it a few seconds longer for more triceps activation.

6. Body Weight Skull Crushers 

No cable machine near you? No worries, bodyweight exercises are always ideal for home workouts minus the big machines! You also won’t need any resistance band for this particular triceps exercise. Using your body weight, you can have more control over your body, avoid joint aches, and do a tricep exercise even with limited machines around you.

Body weight skull crushers could really test one’s upper body strength. However, when you master this movement, it will give you more reasons to appreciate your triceps muscle development over time and make tricep pushdown more manageable for you.

Prepare your smith machine or barbell (on the squat rack).

How To Do It

  • Angle your body against the barbell at 45º with your arms gripping the barbell in front of you securely. Maintain a shoulder-width grip throughout the whole movement.
  • Keeping your legs straight, lower yourself enough to tuck your head under the barbell.
  • Remember to keep your elbows tucked in and not flaring out. Also, avoid raising your hips to keep your tricep muscles well activated.
  • Raise your body again until your arms are fully extended in front of you. Count that as one repetition.
  • Repeat the movement for a number of repetitions until you complete a set.

7. Diamond Push Ups 

Diamond push-ups coined their name from the way the hands are positioned while performing the movement. Compared with a standard push-up with your hands at shoulder width, diamond push-ups require your hands to be positioned at a closer range, forming a diamond shape. 

This engages the lateral head of the triceps (outside head) while working on the pecs and deltoids as well. Overall, it not only strengthens your triceps but also gives you an impressive muscle mass you can take pride in.

This exercise will require nothing but your own body weight and can be conveniently done anywhere.

How To Do It

  • Like with standard Push Up Variation, place your feet shoulder width apart and keep your back straight and strong.
  • Position your hands in front of you in a diamond shape.
  • As you descend, aim to achieve a 45º angle with your arms, thereby also creating a diamond shape from the frontal point of view.
  • If the tricep contraction is too much against your body weight, you may opt for a knee push ups variation that gives you less weight to work with.

8. Lying Tricep Extension

The lying tricep extension is oddly similar to a skull crusher that involves the exact same movement. The main difference is that skull crushers can be more extensive and customizable. Going back to triceps extensions – using an overhand grip, this particular exercise works on the triceps alone in an isolated fashion. It’s best performed with a barbell for a balanced weight.

Get your bench and barbell, or dumbbell.

How To Do It

  • Start by laying on a flat bench with your feet at shoulder length apart. Raise your arms straight upward as your starting point.
  • To do one repetition, bend your elbows backward towards your ears, with the dumbbells on the sides of your head.
  • Make sure to keep your upper arms straight with your elbows locked and not flared out.
  • Raise your arms back to the starting position and count it as one repetition.
  • Do this until you complete a set and finish the whole routine.

9. Triceps Kickback 

The Triceps Kickback exercise holds different variations that allow you to do it with dumbbells or a cable machine and while standing or kneeling one leg on a bench. This does major work on the tricep brachii for significant muscle growth over time and allows you to get stronger with your tricep pushdown.

Tools/Equipment Needed: Weight bench, Dumbbells, or Cable Machine

How To Do It

  • Bend one knee on a flat bench and use your hand on the same side as a support. Stand on the other leg with your foot firmly planted on the ground, and use the other hand to perform the exercise.
  • Place your working arm on your side, with your upper arm parallel to the floor.
  • Extend your forearm backward, creating a straight line on your arm and squeezing your triceps muscles at the top. This counts as one repetition.
  • Avoid swinging your arm with momentum. Instead, control every ascending and descending motion, making sure your arm muscles are properly squeezed at the top of every rep.

10. Parallel Bar Dips 

Among all the alternatives to triceps pushdown in this article, the parallel bar dips might be the most challenging one yet. It’s not an easy movement to do, especially when you’re carrying your full body weight using only a portion of your arm muscles. But when performed well, it’s a game-changer for your triceps brachii and pectoral strength. It also adds emphasis to your deltoids, giving you boulder shoulders for days and an attention-grabbing horseshoe triceps to boot.

A Dipping Bar or Portable Dip Stand is ideal but any two equal-sized objects with waist height and are sturdy enough to support your movements should do just fine.

How To Do It

  • Hold the bars and suspend yourself in the air with your core tight and your arms stretched to signal your starting point. You can cross your legs behind you or rest them on a platform for support and decreased body weight.
  • Breathe in as you lower yourself on the bar, keeping your triceps as close to your body as possible.
  • Breathe out as you raise yourself up and return to your starting point.


Tricep exercises are always challenging, be it a couple of triceps pushdowns or a close grip bench press, yet the benefits are always worth it. From this article, we conclude that the resistance band tricep pushdown is the closest alternative to the original cable pushdowns. 

With no machines or equipment at arm’s length, you can always turn to your own body weight to help you through, performing exercises like diamond push-ups or body weight skull crushers. When it comes down to it, the best exercises for your triceps enable you to perform each rep with the best form possible while being gentle on your elbow joint for safe measures. 

Frequently Asked Questions

For one, triceps pushdown with a resistance band is an excellent alternative. Other exercises that involve the triceps muscle without a machine include parallel bar dips, push-ups, and close grip bench presses.

It can be risky to perform a tricep pulldown only using dumbbells with no stable anchor point. However, you can still improve your tricep strength and build your chest muscles with alternative exercises such as lying tricep extension, which involves the use of dumbbells.

A tricep pushdown primarily works on the medial and lateral heads of the triceps. The secondary muscle groups activated in this movement may include the shoulder joints, abdominal muscles, trapezius, pecs, and in some instances, even the glutes.

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