Your triceps actually account for about three-quarters of your upper arm muscle. Not the biceps. So if you feel like your endless curls don’t produce visible results sooner, it’s about time you give focus on your triceps too. 

In this ultimate Triceps Pushdown guide, You’ll learn how to increase your upper body arm size, enhance your general pressing strength, and improve the performance of your triceps muscle, chest, and shoulders. 

The Triceps Pushdown exercises are ideal for everyone regardless of fitness levels and can be done at home using minimal equipment. As long as you’re able to perform this exercise regularly and in the proper form, you’ll be able to enjoy well-toned and stronger arms in no time. 

We’ll Guide You On:

  • How To Do Tricep Pushdown
  • 5 Triceps Pushdown Benefits 
  • Common Tricep Pushdown Mistakes to Avoid
  • Tricep Pushdown Muscles Worked
  • Tricep Pushdown Rope vs Bar
  • Our Trainer’s Suggested Reps, Sets, and Programs
  • Tricep Pushdown Variations
  • Tricep Pushdown Alternatives

How To Do Tricep Pushdown

What You’ll Need:

  • Cable Machine or Pulley System: A cable machine or pulley system allows you to perform triceps pushdown with light or heavy resistance. Having this option is beneficial, especially if you’re a beginner. 

Alternative Equipment:

  • Resistance Bands: You can use resistance bands in place of a cable machine as these also provide different levels of resistance. 

Step 1: Start setting up

Start by setting the pulley to the highest height setting on the cable machine. Grab the handle with an overhand grip. Once you’re comfortable with the grip, move backward to move the weight off of the weight stack. 

Step 2: Maintain an upright position

Stand tall with your feet slightly wider than a hip-width apart stance and slightly bend your knees. Your shoulders should be directly over your hips as you maintain a neutral neck and head position. Your chin should be tucked throughout the movement as if you’re holding an egg under your chin. 

Step 3: Make a stable feet position 

Evenly distribute your weight on your feet and grip the floor to build a stable foot position. Both of your upper arms should be against your ribcage and your lower arms in contact with your upper arm with your shoulder blades in a neutral position. Engage your core and pre-tension your hips and shoulders. All repetitions of the triceps pushdown exercise should begin in this position. 

Step 4: Complete the movement

As you maintain the alignment in your body, gently squeeze your triceps to begin pulling the cable or rope. Ensure to put stress on your triceps as you pull. 

Complete the movement by squeezing your triceps and slightly bending your elbows. All movements throughout the triceps pushdown exercise should only take place in your elbows. 

Step 5: Return to the starting position

Slowly bend your elbows as you return to the starting position. Repeat steps one to four until you reach your desired number of repetitions.

5 Triceps Pushdown Benefits 

1. Improves Lockout Strength

Being able to improve your lockout strength is just one of the many tricep pushdown benefits. Your triceps are responsible for your elbow extension and upper body stability in the extended position of the triceps pushdown exercise. These movements will build stronger lockout strength, necessary for overhead press, bench press, and other overhead loaded positions. 

2. Builds Bigger Arms

The triceps make up more than half of your arm, which is why it’s essential to train them to improve the strength and size of your arms. Since the triceps pushdown exercise relies heavily on your triceps muscle, this exercise is one of the most effective ways of building bigger arms. 

3. Works Muscles Throughout Your Upper Body

Although the tricep pushdown is an isolation exercise, it can also activate other muscles in your upper body. Performing the tricep pushdown exercise also targets your pecs, traps, abs, lats, and glutes.

4. Tones Your Arms

Triceps pushdown targets the medial and lateral heads of your triceps. With regular practice and proper form, the tricep pushdown exercise can tone the muscles at the back of your arms, as well as increase the stabilization around your shoulder joint. 

5. Improves Posture

Are you having problems maintaining proper posture? Performing the triceps pushdown regularly might be the solution. Since this exercise effectively targets your core muscles and puts stress on your arms, back, shoulders, and neck, it can eventually help improve your posture.

Common Tricep Pushdown Mistakes to Avoid

Excessive elbow movement

It’s common for some to sway their elbows back and forth when performing the triceps pushdown exercise. While this enables you to lift more weight, it will require you to use your lats instead of your triceps to complete the movement. To maintain the stress on your triceps, keep your elbows tucked into your body until you feel a superior contraction. 

Elbows flaring out

When your elbows flare on the side, your shoulder and chest muscles take over. As a result, the triceps pushdown exercise becomes a jackhammer-like movement, which can trigger pain and discomfort. Always maintain proper form when doing the tricep pushdown to ensure that you get to target your upper arms.

Curling your wrists

Some tend to curl their wrists at the bottom of each pushdown, thinking that this “completes” the repetition. Curling your wrists removes tension from your triceps muscles and puts unwanted stress on your wrist. Prevent this problem from happening by keeping your wrists in a neutral grip throughout each rep. 

Poor form

To enjoy the benefits of the triceps pushdown exercise, maintaining proper form and observing the right techniques is essential. As soon as your elbows lose control, the tension will be shifted from the triceps towards your chest and shoulders. This poor form usually happens due to lifting too much weight or using improper techniques. 

Using the knees and torso 

The triceps pushdown is an upper body exercise, which means that you don’t need to rely on your knees and torso to maintain stability or form. Using your knees and torso to complete the movement shifts the load away from your triceps muscles and into your back and legs. One easy fix for this problem is to assume a comfortable starting position and maintain it throughout the movement. 

Tricep Pushdown Muscles Worked 

The triceps pushdown exercise targets different muscles in your upper body, namely:

  • Triceps Brachii
  • Latissimus dorsi
  • Abs
  • Obliques

As you incorporate triceps pushdowns into your workout regimen, you’ll eventually have stronger and well-toned triceps muscles. As a result, you’ll enjoy more stable shoulders and arms, improved flexibility, and increased range of motion. 

Performing the tricep pushdown puts stress on your lats, abs, and obliques. These muscle groups stabilize your spine, help with proper shoulder and arm movement, boost your overall balance, and support good posture.

Tricep Pushdown Rope vs Bar

Although both exercises use a similar form, there are differences when performing the tricep pushdown using a rope and straight bar. For one, using a straight bar allows you to lift heavier weights because bars are easier to stabilize than rope attachments.

The intensity of triceps pushdown muscles worked on each exercise also differs. Using a rope attachment when you perform the tricep pushdown brings more tension to your triceps because you need to “split”  the ends of the rope by moving them away from each other. This movement intensifies the peak contraction in your tricep muscles.

If you want to specifically sculpt your triceps symmetry, it’s best to perform pushdowns using a rope attachment. This is because as you lift both sides of the rope, both your triceps receive the same amount of work.

Our Trainer’s Suggested Reps, Sets, and Programs

Convinced that the tricep pushdown is an effective exercise for your upper body? Achieve the strongest and most well-toned upper body by following any of our recommended reps, sets, and programs below:

To Improve Strength 

Perform six sets of eight reps of the tricep pushdown exercise. Rest for one minute every after set. You can pair this routine with other exercises, namely dips and heavier pushdowns. 

To Achieve Hypertrophy

Do ten sets of 20 reps of tricep pushdown. To achieve hypertrophy using this program, focus on muscle contractions rather than mindlessly moving weights. Don’t lift too heavy as this doesn’t guarantee better and faster results.

Tricep Pushdown Variations

You need to regularly perform triceps exercises to see results — but accomplishing this goal is often tough if you perform the same workout every day. We understand your dilemma and listed down some of the most common pushdown variations below:

Reverse Grip Triceps Pushdown

As the name suggests, the reverse-grip tricep pushdown requires a different hand grip. Unlike traditional triceps pushdown, this variation requires you to grip the bar or rope with palms facing up instead of facing them down. Although you can’t lift as much weight with this variation, it allows you to prevent your elbow from flaring and ensure that your triceps muscles are engaged. 

Resistance Band Pushdown

As mentioned earlier, you can perform the triceps pushdown using Resistance Bands as an alternative to a cable machine. This variation provides a different form of resistance than the standard cable pushdown. The resistance band pushdown is an excellent variation for individuals who travel a lot, prefer working out at home, or have no access to a cable machine. 

Alternating Triceps Pushdown

Unlike other pushdown variations, this one is meant to be performed with one arm at a time. This single-arm exercise is a great option for individuals who want to eliminate muscle imbalances between a weaker and stronger arm.

Tricep Pushdown Alternatives

Is building strong triceps your primary goal? Are you still looking for other exercises to complete your triceps training? If you answered “yes” to these questions, consider the following alternatives to bolster your workout:

Close Grip Bench Press

The close grip bench press engages your triceps significantly more than traditional triceps pushdowns. This exercise guarantees more upper chest activation, reduced elbow flaring, and is more time-efficient and convenient.

Skull Crushers

The Skull Crusher is an excellent exercise to activate the medial head of the triceps, compared to other triceps exercises that are done in a standing position. Performing this exercise is a must if you want to increase injury resistance on your elbow joint and improve overall elbow extension abilities. 

Overhead Triceps Extension

Performing the Overhead Triceps Extension regularly enables you to target all three heads of your triceps. This exercise also helps extend or straighten your elbows and aids your shoulder muscles to extend the arm. Add this exercise to your routine, and you’ll be able to improve your arm strength fast!

Frequently Asked Questions

As long as performed properly and regularly, triceps pushdowns are great for toning the muscles at the back of your arms and increasing the stabilization around your shoulder joint. Triceps pushdowns generally work all of the muscles in your upper body. 

  • Triceps Brachii
  • Latissimus dorsi
  • Abs
  • Obliques

Yes, triceps pushdowns are better with a rope because it brings more tension to your triceps and sculpts your triceps symmetry. This allows you to enjoy more benefits from one exercise. 

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