How to Do the Triceps Pushdown for Bigger Arms – Breaking Muscle

Obtained a cable machine? Then you definitely’ve obtained entry to one of the crucial basic workouts to immediately goal and isolate the triceps. The triceps pushdown, typically referred to as a pressdown, is completely suited to rookies and skilled lifters alike.

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The cable’s pulley system places rigidity — and many it — proper the place it belongs. All it is advisable do is straighten your arms and construct some muscle. Okay, there’s somewhat extra to it than that. Listed here are all the main points.

Do the Triceps Cable Pushdown

The cable pushdown is fairly simple. To place most rigidity on the triceps and decrease involvement of different muscle groups, your elbows ought to stay pinned to your sides as you lengthen your arms down. Right here’s a extra in-depth take a look at methods to get arrange and methods to get probably the most out of the train.

Step 1 — Set Up On the Pulley Station

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Connect a straight bar to a high-cable pulley. Seize the bar with each arms in a palm-down grip. Take a small step again right into a staggered stance. This will provide you with extra total-body stability, particularly when utilizing heavier weights.

Bend your knees barely and tighten your core. Pull your elbows towards your ribs to boost the load from the stack. Your arms ought to be roughly in step with your chest, able to carry out the primary rep.

Kind Tip: The farther you progress from the load stack, the extra your again and shoulders muscle groups shall be engaged to maintain your elbows pinned to your ribs. The cable operating from the deal with to the pulley ought to be at a slight angle.

Step 2 — Straighten Your Arms

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Squeeze your higher arms into your sides and fake you’re gluing them in place. Push straight down with each arms till your arms are straight however not totally locked. This maintains slight rigidity on the muscle and will increase the muscle-building stimulus. Maintain your arms in step with your forearm with out bending your wrists.

Kind Tip: Maintain a powerful, tall posture and an engaged core. You must solely be transferring on the elbows, not on the waist, as you drive the weights down.

Step 3 — Bend Your Arms to Decrease the Weight

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From the practically locked out place, bend your arms and slowly return your arms upwards. Maintain your elbows caught to your ribs. When your arms are within the prime place, the weights ought to be hovering barely above the remainder of the stack. If the weights relaxation fully on the stack, regulate your stance and take a really small step backwards.

Kind Tip: Don’t permit the weights to drag your elbows ahead. Tense your abs, grip the deal with laborious to interact your grip and management the bar, and pull your shoulder blades again to maintain a steady physique place.

Triceps Cable Pushdown Errors to Keep away from

The cable pushdown requires tightness and stability by your total physique. This generally is a profit as a result of holding your again, shoulders, arms, abs, and legs totally engaged builds muscular coordination.

Nonetheless, this total-body recruitment additionally creates a number of alternatives for method issues to happen. Listed here are probably the most important points to look at for.

Misaligned Posture

Hunching ahead or arching your again when lifting or decreasing the load will forestall you from totally stabilizing your core. You possibly can’t tense your abs successfully with out a impartial backbone.

person in gym bent forward holding handle attached to cable
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Having an unstable or angled higher physique reduces your potential to manage the motion. When your arms and torso aren’t vertical, you’re working by a unique angle of resistance and recruiting completely different muscle groups. Extra importantly, an absence of core stability means you may harm your again.

Keep away from It: Stabilize your posture and alignment earlier than every rep. Pull your core muscle groups up and in. Staggering your ft can even reinforce a powerful higher physique place as a result of it will increase decrease physique stability, which is transferred by the higher physique.

Transferring on the Shoulder

The first motion ought to be out of your elbows, not out of your shoulders. When your shoulders work to maneuver the load, stress is taken off your triceps and shifted onto your deltoids (shoulders) and higher again.

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Don’t permit shoulder rotation to flare your elbows. In case your elbows level sideways to the partitions as an alternative of behind you, you’ve shifted out of place.

Keep away from It: Test your elbow creases. In the event that they flip in, tightness in your shoulders or chest could also be pulling your arms ahead. Begin practising shoulder and chest flexibility workouts to loosen up the realm. Maintain the shoulder and higher arms locked into place. Maintain your elbows pinned to your sides and pay attention to if/when your elbows begin to come ahead.

Bending Your Wrists

Don’t let your wrists crane again or bend ahead. Doing so will increase pressure on the smaller wrist joint and will increase the danger of harm. Maintain your arms in step with your forearms, with a straight line out of your elbow to your knuckles.

long-haired person in gym performing triceps cable exercise
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Keep away from It: If breaking on the wrist is a matter for you, contemplate a glove with wrist wraps or wrist wraps. This exterior assist reminds you to maintain the joints in line. Gripping the bar laborious, as an alternative of passively urgent by your arms, can even reinforce a steady hand place.

Advantages of the Triceps Cable Pushdown

The cable pushdown locations the triceps muscle below fixed rigidity all through the set. This lengthy period of muscular stress is a key issue liable for muscle progress. (1)

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Pushdowns are a foundational triceps train, permitting lifters to focus solely on their triceps, which may enhance the mind-muscle connection for better activation and progress. (2)

Higher Physique Power

The triceps play a task within the majority of higher physique workouts, both aiding in chest and shoulder urgent actions or as stabilizers throughout pulling actions. Growing triceps-specific power with cable pushdowns can carry over to improved power in bigger higher physique workouts.

Aesthetic Muscle-Constructing

Cable pushdowns works all three heads of the triceps muscle, creating well-balanced muscle progress. The triceps are labored by a full vary of movement with fixed rigidity, making the pushdown an environment friendly method to immediately goal the tris.

Muscle groups Labored by Triceps Cable Pushdown

The triceps cable pushdown is primarily for the triceps, although a number of muscle teams stabilize the higher physique and permit right efficiency.

person in gym performing cable pressdown exercise for triceps
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If different muscle groups get fatigued earlier than the triceps throughout a set of pushdowns, it’s an indicator that your method is off. Scale back the load and be extra centered on making use of correct type.

Triceps Brachii

The triceps is a three-headed muscle liable for elbow extension, or straightening the arm. It’s made up of the lateral and medial heads, which connect on the higher arm and beneath the elbow, and the lengthy head which attaches to the shoulder blade and beneath the elbow. (3) As a result of the lengthy head runs alongside the shoulder joint and attaches to the shoulder blade, it is usually activated throughout shoulder actions when the higher arm is raised.

Pectoralis Main

The pectoralis main, or pecs, are the principle chest muscle. The pecs are liable for pulling your arms towards the centerline of your physique. Whereas the chest isn’t a main mover throughout pushdowns, it’s labored statically to offer higher physique stability and to maintain your elbows by your sides, significantly within the locked out place.

Higher Again

The higher again muscle groups embrace the trapezius, rhomboids, teres, and rear deltoids. This assortment of muscle groups work in related roles to manage the shoulder blades, shoulder place, and posture. Throughout cable pushdowns, the higher again is extremely activated to stabilize your higher physique and preserve a steady higher arm place because the decrease arm strikes the load.

Who Ought to Do the Triceps Cable Pushdown

The pushdown can be utilized by any lifter seeking to emphasize their triceps. The motion will be applied into strength-building applications, in addition to any arm day or muscle-specific routine designed to build size.


When you’re first learning how to train various muscles of the body, the triceps cable pushdown is a useful movement to start with because it isolates the muscle group. This targeted work allows new lifters to feel the muscle working throughout the entire range of motion.

Training for Muscle Growth

Whether you’re a physique competitor or training for general aesthetics, this exercise can help to build to triceps. Increased triceps activation without interference from other muscles stimulates greater muscle growth in the target muscle leading, simply, to bigger arms.

How to Program the Triceps Cable Pushdown

The triceps cable pushdown is easy to implement into most routines as long as you have access to a cable machine. The exercise isn’t well-suited to extremely heavy weights and low-rep sets, because strict form becomes unmanageable and additional muscles are recruited. However, light or moderate weights can be highly effective for muscle growth due to the high tension provided by the cables.

Moderate Weight, Moderate Reps

Training the cable pushdown with three to four sets of eight to 12 reps is a classic muscle-building approach. This is a time-tested way to pack on triceps size and build larger arms.

Light Weight, High Reps

Using the pushdown as a finisher or burnout is a very high-intensity way to end any arm workout. One or two sets of 15 to 25 reps, reaching muscular failure at the last rep, is an excellent method for increasing training volume. The lighter weights make this approach is particularly useful for lifters who need to minimize joint strain.

Paired with Biceps Training

Because the cable pushdown requires minimal setup, one extremely effective way to program the exercise is to superset it with any biceps exercise. By alternating between a biceps curl and triceps pushdown, you can quickly and efficiently train your entire arm with high intensity.

Triceps Cable Pushdown Variations

The triceps pushdown is extremely versatile. With a simple adjustment of the handle attachment, you can change things up, add an extra challenge, and work the triceps in slightly different ways.

Rope Pushdown

Using a rope attachment puts your hands in a neutral (thumbs-up) grip, which can be beneficial for lifters dealing with wrist or elbow pain because it places the muscles around those joints in a stronger position, which relieves stress on the joints.

While this variation doesn’t necessarily recruit the triceps muscle differently, it offers a slightly longer range of motion. The hands begin close together in the top position and flare out to the sides in the bottom position. Your elbows should remain stuck to your ribs, only your hands should move.

Reverse-Grip Pushdown

The reverse-grip pushdown isn’t often seen in gyms, but it can be an effective variation to reinforce strict form. With a supinated (palm-up) grip, swinging your torso is less effective since the bar is only held in place with your fingers, compared to a more secure a palm-down grip which covers the bar with your entire hand.

This underhand grip also reinforces proper elbow position because it becomes more difficult to flare your elbows out with this setup.

Single-Arm Pushdown

Performing a single-arm pushdown emphasizes each individual arm during a set. This one-sided attention helps to fight strength and muscular discrepancies that may develop from over-focusing on bilateral (simultaneous two-arm) exercises.

Single-arm pushdowns can be performed with a single-handle, a rope attachment, or no handle at all holding just the attachment anchor.

Triceps Cable Pushdown Alternatives

If you don’t have access to a cable pulley, there are still plenty of effective options to work your triceps. It’s always fun to mix it up, and it’s important to challenge the muscles in different ways.

Diamond Push-Up

The diamond push-up, or close-grip push-up, is a reliable bodyweight exercise to emphasize the triceps. The narrow hand position recruits more triceps and relatively less chest muscles to complete the movement.

This is another extremely efficient exercise to alternate with biceps training to create a quick arm-building workout. Perform any set of curls, drop and perform diamond push-ups, rest briefly, and repeat.

Triceps Kickback

This dumbbell movement is often performed with very light weights for very high reps. However, maintaining good form while moving more challenging weights in the 10-12 rep range can be a serious muscle-building exercise.

The key is to keep your elbows stuck to your ribs and not recruit the back or shoulder muscles to move the weights. You can increase the time under tension and muscle-building stimulus for the triceps by pausing in the top position for a full one or two seconds.

Dumbbell Skull Crusher

This exercise works the triceps in a slightly different plane of motion, with the arms perpendicular to the body instead of alongside the torso. This can slightly change the muscle recruitment of different triceps heads and lead to a new muscle-building stimulus. (4)

Utilizing dumbbells additionally permits extra freedom for the wrist and elbows to maneuver, which may scale back pressure on the joints. Maintain the dumbbells in step with your shoulders. Within the backside place, the weights ought to be close to your ears.


Do I must work my triceps particularly?

Whereas the triceps are labored actively throughout most chest and shoulder workouts, in addition to serving a supportive function throughout most again workouts, direct triceps coaching is important for max muscle progress.

The triceps additionally play a purposeful function in lots of every day actions, from closing a automobile door to getting up off the bottom after falling. Constructing the triceps particularly, inside a complete coaching program, can play a essential function in enhancing general purposeful power.

What if my arms can’t keep by my sides?

A bodily lack of ability to maintain your arms at your sides towards resistance could also be attributable to chest or shoulder immobility. When the chest or shoulders are excessively tight, they wish to pull the arms ahead and inward.


Performing a easy doorway chest stretch every day is one environment friendly place to start out. As well as, work on  general posture and alignment to encourage general power and stability.

Get Down with Pushdowns

The triceps cable pushdown is such a primary and efficient motion within the fitness center, it’s straightforward to pepper into your exercise routine. Utilizing strict type and a full vary of movement will add measurement to your triceps, assist to maintain your elbows and shoulders wholesome, and assist all your massive urgent objectives.


  1. Burd NA, Andrews RJ, West DW, et al. Muscle time below rigidity throughout resistance train stimulates differential muscle protein sub-fractional artificial responses in males. J Physiol. 2012;590(2):351-362. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2011.221200
  2. Calatayud J, Vinstrup J, Jakobsen MD, Sundstrup E, Brandt M, Jay Okay, Colado JC, Andersen LL. Significance of mind-muscle connection throughout progressive resistance coaching. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2016 Mar;116(3):527-33. doi: 10.1007/s00421-015-3305-7. Epub 2015 Dec 23. PMID: 26700744.

  3. Kholinne, E., Zulkarnain, R. F., Solar, Y. C., Lim, S., Chun, J. M., & Jeon, I. H. (2018). The completely different function of every head of the triceps brachii muscle in elbow extension. Acta orthopaedica et traumatologica turcica52(3), 201–205.

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