August 29

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How To Do Cable Tricep Pushdowns The Correct Way – Proper Form, Benefits, and Alternatives


The Cable Tricep Pushdown or Tricep Rope Pushdown or just Tricep Pushdown is an excellent isolation exercise for the triceps. It targets all three tricep heads with a major emphasis on the medial and lateral heads. 

Although people usually perform it with a cable system, you can use a resistance band instead to do tricep pushdown at home. The tricep pushdown is an important exercise for people of all ages and fitness levels. 

proper cable triceps pushdown

How to Do Cable Tricep Pushdowns

Follow the instructions below to perform cable tricep pushdowns properly: 

  • First of all, join a cable bar attachment to the pulley
  • Hold the bar with palms facing downwards
  • Keep your shoulders pinned at the back and elbows close to your sides
  • Position your knees slightly bent and feet somewhat close
  • Now, once you are in position, lean forwards, exhale, and push the bar down
  • During the movement, try to engage your triceps only
  • Push the bar down until it hits your upper thigh or hip region. 
  • At this position, with arms fully extended, you should be able to feel a little tension on your triceps 
  • Squeeze your triceps for a few seconds and allow your triceps to contract
  • Now, inhale and slowly release the bar back to the original position
  • Throughout this cycle, try to hold your arms and shoulders still while moving only your forearm muscles
  • Repeat it as many times as you want

Expert Advice – Golden Rules to Remember While Performing Tricep Pushdowns

Below are our three golden rules to help you perfect your tricep pushdown form.

  1. Go through the complete range of motion – don’t do half pushdowns. 
  2. Stick your chest out to help you press down maximum weight.
  3. You can experiment with different cable attachments (V-bar, straight bar, etc.) to get the same effect.
Triceps Cable Rope Pushdown

Benefits of Cable Tricep Pushdowns

Below are the major benefits of this exercise:

Bigger Arms

The cable tricep pushdown is one of the best tricep exercises for huge arms. As it targets the lateral and medial heads of your triceps, incorporating it in your routine can increase the muscles at the back of your arms. Not just that, it can also improve the stabilization around your shoulder joints because they are an extensor of the shoulder and elbows. When you strengthen your tricep muscles, the stability of your shoulders and elbows increases. 

Prevents Injury

The tricep muscles are highly vulnerable to overuse injury. If you often perform repetitive activities such as swimming, hammering, throwing, etc., you are at risk of a tricep injury. However, tricep pushdowns can prevent these injuries by training your tricep muscles. 

Increases Upper Body Strength

Tricep pushdowns engage your core, back, and shoulder muscles. Therefore, this movement increases your upper body strength and endurance levels. You can lift more weight and build more strength around other muscle groups if you have stronger triceps. It also helps you build stronger lockout strength vital for bench presses, overhead presses, and other similar overhead exercises. 

Improves Posture

If you are having trouble with a bad posture, performing triceps pushdowns on a regular basis can solve your problem. As this exercise effectively targets your core and increases stress on your shoulders, back, neck and arms, it can gradually help you improve your posture. 

Improves Grip

Squeezing the handles as you perform tricep pushdowns activates the wrist micro muscles. A stronger wrist means you can then have a stronger grip. This ultimately leads to better strength as you can lift heavier weights and train much better. 

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    Triceps Cable Pushdown

    Other Variations of Cable Machine Tricep Pushdown

    Resistance Band Tricep Pulldowns

    If the cable tricep pushdown machine isn’t available, then using a resistance band is the perfect alternative. You will need a durable metal block or a hook on top of your head to perform this exercise and a good resistance band. Simply set the band around the strong purpose at the height of your chin. Hold the ends properly and practice this exercise as you would do on the cable machine. Triceps can be trained with both or a single hand. 

    Grip Bar Modifications

    If your gym has a cable and pulley machine, it will probably also have a variety of grip attachments. Most gyms have a cable tricep pushdown straight bar, along with multiple bent bars such as V, E, or Z-shaped ones. So, you can use various gym equipment to get the same results. However, you may find one (or more) rather comfortable to use than others. 

    Single Arm Cable Tricep Pushdown

    You can also perform tricep pushdowns with one or both hands. Two-handed tricep pushdown works great, whether on a machine or using a resistance band. But, a one-handed tricep pushdown allows you to really slow down and focus on correcting your form. It’s very helpful, especially if you are facing an injury or your one side is relatively weaker than the other, and you want to balance the two sides. 

    Rope Pushdowns

    Rope pushdown is also known as the cable tricep extension or cable rope tricep pushdown. It adds more variety to your tricep exercise. You simply have to replace the bar with a rope. Rope pushdowns are a little difficult to stabilize because ropes are somewhat free moving. Moreover, they expose your triceps to more tension because you can split the rope ends (by moving the ends away from one another) to intensify the peak contraction. Therefore, rope pushdowns are better at sculpting a better tricep symmetry. 

    Triceps Pushdown for bigger arms

    Cable Tricep Pushdown Common Mistakes

    While cable tricep pushdown is very effective, you must do it correctly to prevent injury and reap maximum benefits. Below are some mistakes people make and how to avoid them. 

    Using Your Back Too Much

    Sure, you have to push the weight down, but don’t bend over at the back. In fact, you shouldn’t even be using your back too much. To get the most benefits, you should lean forwards slightly and allow your knees to bend as you force down. This position will ensure you are engaging all the tricep muscles equally. 

    Not Using Both Sides Equally

    Like other push-pull workouts, you should note whether you are using both sides equally. Push down in a smooth and even manner with both of your arms. If pushing down with both arms is getting difficult for you, you have some strength imbalance. You need to do some one-arm tricep pushdowns on the weaker arm side to equalize the strength. 

    Your Elbows Flare Out

    Don’t flare out your elbows whenever you are on the downward push. Doing so will negate all the good work this exercise can do on your triceps. It also places extra stress on your shoulders. So, make sure your elbows stay as close to your side as possible throughout the movement. 

    Curling Your Wrists

    Another common mistake on the downward push is curling your wrists outwards. While many think curling their wrists will give triceps extra strain, the truth is that it makes no difference at all. Curling your wrists while performing tricep pushdown does not help extend your elbows. On the contrary, it places unnecessary strain on your wrists, which can lead to Injury. 

    learn tricep pushdown

    Cable Tricep Pushdown Alternatives

    Try these tricep pushdown alternatives for a better upper body and bigger arms.

    Dumbbells Skull Crushers

    This is another exercise that targets and isolates your triceps. It helps you focus on what muscle group you want to focus on and build strength. 

    To do dumbbell skull crushers: 

    • Place your body on the floor or any flat surface/bench. 
    • Make sure your feet are firm on the group. 
    • Now, engage your core so that you’re holding blockheads above your chest. 
    • Your palms should confront each other. 
    • Then, join the elbows – while your elbow has a fastened position – to draw the dumbbells below just behind your ears.
    • Finally, engage your triceps in order to stretch the arms into the exact same position at the top. 

    Repeat as many times as you need. Skull crushers increase the size of your triceps and enhance your arms’ stretchability. 

    Dumbbell Kickbacks

    Dumbbell kickbacks are no doubt one of the best tricep pushdown alternatives. This exercise specifically targets the long-head triceps, just like the tricep pushdown. 

    To do this exercise: 

    • Get your hands on a dumbbell pair. 
    • Engage your core, hinge slightly forward at the waist, and keep your spine straight and torso parallel to the floor. 
    • Then lift your elbows and bring them in line with your torso. 
    • Make sure your elbows bend 90 degrees while doing so. 
    • Try to extend your arms fully (parallel to the floor) while keeping the elbows fixed. 
    • Now bring the dumbbells back to the initial position. 

    Repeat as many times as you want. 

    Diamond Pushups

    Push-ups are an all-encompassing exercise. They work out the core as well as the triceps. However, if you want to really engage the tricep muscles, consider doing the diamond pushups. 

    To do this cable tricep pushdown alternative exercise: 

    • Get down on all fours
    • Hold your feet back and get on tiptoes
    • Keep your hands flat, elbows extend, hips & the spine making a straight line
    • Move your hands close to form a diamond with your index fingers and thumbs
    • Now, perform the pushup. Keep your beck, spine, and hips in line
    • Don’t touch the floor. Bring yourself back up when your elbows extend fully

    Repeat as many times as you want

    Safety and Precautions

    A correct workout routine is crucial to building strength and achieving your training goals. However, discuss the exercise with your doctor before starting any program if you have any past or existing health conditions. You may have to modify these exercises a bit to achieve maximum benefits. 

    Moreover, you should choose a suitable weight. Kgs that enable you to own the entire movement and manage your body easily is perfect. You shouldn’t feel discomfort or anything wrong in your body during this exercise with your chosen weight. Otherwise, consult a doctor promptly to avoid any injury. 

    Final Thoughts

    The cable straight bar tricep pushdown is an excellent crossfit arms workout. It is an ideal exercise for athletes, bodybuilders, weightlifters, or anyone who wants to build arm strength. Whether you’re throwing a ball, lifting heavy weights at work, or just want to boost the aesthetics of your arms, this exercise can help you improve your arm muscles to achieve your goals. We hope the information in this article proves helpful in your journey towards a healthy lifestyle. Thank you for reading!

    Cable Tricep Pushdown FAQ

    What muscles do cable triceps pushdown work?

    The tricep muscle has three major components: the long, medial, and lateral heads. Cable triceps pushdown works on all three tricep head with a particular focus on the medial and lateral heads. 

    Are cable tricep pushdowns good?

    Of course, cable tricep pushdown is one of the best tricep development exercises. While this versatile upper body exercise is done on a machine, you can also perform its different variations at your home garage gym or on the go. 

    Are rope tricep pushdowns better?

    Yes, using the rope instead of the bar allows for a greater range of motion. This is because the rope changes the position of your hands. When your knuckles face outwards, it directs more of the work done by pushdown towards the lateral tricep head, giving you better triceps.