Got a cable machine? Then you’ve obtained entry to one of the vital basic workout routines to immediately goal and isolate the triceps. The triceps pushdown, typically known as a pressdown, is completely suited to inexperienced persons and skilled lifters alike.

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The cable’s pulley system places pressure — and many it — proper the place it belongs. All it’s worthwhile to do is straighten your arms and construct some muscle. Okay, there’s somewhat extra to it than that. Here are all the small print.

How to Do the Triceps Cable Pushdown

The cable pushdown is fairly easy. To put most pressure on the triceps and decrease involvement of different muscle groups, your elbows ought to stay pinned to your sides as you prolong your arms down. Here’s a extra in-depth take a look at find out how to get arrange and find out how to get probably the most out of the train.

Step 1 — Set Up At the Pulley Station

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Attach a straight bar to a high-cable pulley. Grab the bar with each fingers in a palm-down grip. Take a small step again right into a staggered stance. This provides 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 burden from the stack. Your fingers needs to be roughly according to your chest, able to carry out the primary rep.

Form Tip: The farther you progress from the burden stack, the extra your again and shoulders muscle groups will likely be engaged to maintain your elbows pinned to your ribs. The cable working from the deal with to the pulley needs 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 fingers till your arms are straight however not absolutely locked. This maintains slight pressure on the muscle and will increase the muscle-building stimulus. Keep your fingers according to your forearm with out bending your wrists.

Form Tip: Keep a powerful, tall posture and an engaged core. You ought to solely be shifting on the elbows, not on the waist, as you drive the weights down.

Step 3 — Bend Your Arms to Lower the Weight

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From the almost locked out place, bend your arms and slowly return your fingers upwards. Keep your elbows caught to your ribs. When your fingers are within the high place, the weights needs to be hovering barely above the remainder of the stack. If the weights relaxation utterly on the stack, alter your stance and take a really small step backwards.

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

Triceps Cable Pushdown Mistakes to Avoid

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

However, this total-body recruitment additionally creates a number of alternatives for approach issues to happen. Here are probably the most vital points to observe for.

Misaligned Posture

Hunching ahead or arching your again when lifting or reducing the burden will stop you from absolutely stabilizing your core. You can’t tense your abs successfully and not using a impartial backbone.

person in gym bent forward holding handle attached to cableCredit: Vladimir Sukhachev / Shutterstock

Having an unstable or angled higher physique reduces your means to manage the motion. When your arms and torso aren’t vertical, you’re working by a distinct angle of resistance and recruiting completely different muscle groups. More importantly, a scarcity of core stability means you can harm your again.

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

Moving on the Shoulder

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

Bodybuilder in gym performing triceps cable exerciseCredit: BLACKDAY / Shutterstock

Don’t permit shoulder rotation to flare your elbows. If your elbows level sideways to the partitions as a substitute of behind you, you’ve shifted out of place.

Avoid It: Check your elbow creases. If they flip in, tightness in your shoulders or chest could also be pulling your arms ahead. Start working towards shoulder and chest flexibility workout routines to loosen up the realm. Keep the shoulder and higher arms locked into place. Keep 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 damage. Keep your fingers according to your forearms, with a straight line out of your elbow to your knuckles.

long-haired person in gym performing triceps cable exerciseCredit: Luka Funduk / Shutterstock

Avoid It: If breaking on the wrist is a matter for you, take into account a glove with wrist wraps or wrist wraps. This exterior assist reminds you to maintain the joints in line. Gripping the bar arduous, as a substitute of passively urgent by your fingers, may also reinforce a secure hand place.

Benefits of the Triceps Cable Pushdown

The cable pushdown locations the triceps muscle beneath fixed pressure all through the set. This lengthy period of muscular stress is a key issue answerable 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 higher activation and progress. (2)

Upper Body Strength

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

Aesthetic Muscle-Building

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 pressure, making the pushdown an environment friendly technique to immediately goal the tris.

Muscles Worked 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.

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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 approach is off. Reduce the burden and be extra centered on making use of correct kind.

Triceps Brachii

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

Pectoralis Major

The pectoralis main, or pecs, are the primary chest muscle. The pecs are answerable for pulling your arms towards the centerline of your physique. While 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, notably within the locked out place.

Upper Back

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

Who Should 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 packages, in addition to any arm day or muscle-specific routine designed to construct measurement.


When you’re first studying find out how to practice varied muscle groups of the physique, the triceps cable pushdown is a helpful motion to begin with as a result of it isolates the muscle group. This focused work permits new lifters to really feel the muscle working all through the complete vary of movement.

Training for Muscle Growth

Whether you’re a physique competitor or coaching for normal aesthetics, this train can assist to construct to triceps. Increased triceps activation with out interference from different muscle groups stimulates higher muscle progress within the goal muscle main, merely, to larger arms.

How to Program the Triceps Cable Pushdown

The triceps cable pushdown is simple to implement into most routines so long as you might have entry to a cable machine. The train isn’t well-suited to extraordinarily heavy weights and low-rep units, as a result of strict kind turns into unmanageable and extra muscle groups are recruited. However, gentle or average weights will be extremely efficient for muscle progress as a result of excessive pressure supplied by the cables.

Moderate Weight, Moderate Reps

Training the cable pushdown with three to 4 units of eight to 12 reps is a basic muscle-building strategy. This is a time-tested technique to pack on triceps measurement and construct bigger arms.

Light Weight, High Reps

Using the pushdown as a finisher or burnout is a really high-intensity technique to finish any arm exercise. One or two units of 15 to 25 reps, reaching muscular failure on the final rep, is a wonderful technique for growing coaching quantity. The lighter weights make this strategy is especially helpful for lifters who want to attenuate joint pressure.

Paired with Biceps Training

Because the cable pushdown requires minimal setup, one extraordinarily efficient technique to program the train is to superset it with any biceps train. By alternating between a biceps curl and triceps pushdown, you’ll be able to rapidly and effectively practice your whole arm with excessive depth.

Triceps Cable Pushdown Variations

The triceps pushdown is extraordinarily versatile. With a easy adjustment of the deal with attachment, you’ll be able to change issues up, add an additional problem, and work the triceps in barely alternative ways.

Rope Pushdown

Using a rope attachment places your fingers in a impartial (thumbs-up) grip, which will be useful for lifters coping with wrist or elbow ache as a result of it locations the muscle groups round these joints in a stronger place, which relieves stress on the joints.

While this variation doesn’t essentially recruit the triceps muscle in another way, it presents a barely longer vary of movement. The fingers start shut collectively within the high place and flare out to the edges within the backside place. Your elbows ought to stay caught to your ribs, solely your fingers ought to transfer.

Reverse-Grip Pushdown

The reverse-grip pushdown isn’t typically seen in gyms, however it may be an efficient variation to bolster strict kind. With a supinated (palm-up) grip, swinging your torso is much less efficient for the reason that bar is simply held in place along with your fingers, in comparison with a safer a palm-down grip which covers the bar along with your whole hand.

This underhand grip additionally reinforces correct elbow place as a result of it turns into tougher to flare your elbows out with this setup.

Single-Arm Pushdown

Performing a single-arm pushdown emphasizes every particular person arm throughout a set. This one-sided consideration helps to battle energy and muscular discrepancies which will develop from over-focusing on bilateral (simultaneous two-arm) workout routines.

Single-arm pushdowns will be carried out with a single-handle, a rope attachment, or no deal with in any respect holding simply the attachment anchor.

Triceps Cable Pushdown Alternatives

If you don’t have entry to a cable pulley, there are nonetheless loads of efficient choices to work your triceps. It’s all the time enjoyable to combine it up, and it’s vital to problem the muscle groups in several methods.

Diamond Push-Up

The diamond push-up, or close-grip push-up, is a dependable body weight train to emphasise the triceps. The slim hand place recruits extra triceps and comparatively much less chest muscle groups to finish the motion.

This is one other extraordinarily environment friendly train to alternate with biceps coaching to create a fast arm-building exercise. Perform any set of curls, drop and carry out diamond push-ups, relaxation briefly, and repeat.

Triceps Kickback

This dumbbell motion is usually carried out with very gentle weights for very excessive reps. However, sustaining good kind whereas shifting tougher weights within the 10-12 rep vary generally is a critical muscle-building train.

The key’s to maintain your elbows caught to your ribs and never recruit the again or shoulder muscle groups to maneuver the weights. You can improve the time beneath pressure and muscle-building stimulus for the triceps by pausing within the high place for a full one or two seconds.

Dumbbell Skull Crusher

This train works the triceps in a barely completely different airplane of movement, with the arms perpendicular to the physique as a substitute of alongside the torso. This can barely change the muscle recruitment of various triceps heads and result in a brand new muscle-building stimulus. (4)

Using dumbbells additionally permits extra freedom for the wrist and elbows to maneuver, which may scale back pressure on the joints. Keep the dumbbells according to your shoulders. In the underside place, the weights needs to be close to your ears.


Do I must work my triceps particularly?

While the triceps are labored actively throughout most chest and shoulder workout routines, in addition to serving a supportive position throughout most again workout routines, direct triceps coaching is important for max muscle progress.

The triceps additionally play a useful position in lots of day by day actions, from closing a automotive door to getting up off the bottom after falling. Building the triceps particularly, inside a complete coaching program, can play a essential position in enhancing total useful energy.

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 brought on by 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 day by day is one environment friendly place to begin. In addition, work on  total posture and alignment to encourage total energy and stability.

Get Down with Pushdowns

The triceps cable pushdown is such a fundamental and efficient motion within the fitness center, it’s simple to pepper into your exercise routine. Using strict kind and a full vary of movement will add measurement to your triceps, assist to maintain your elbows and shoulders wholesome, and assist your whole large urgent targets.


  1. Burd NA, Andrews RJ, West DW, et al. Muscle time beneath pressure 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 Ok, Colado JC, Andersen LL. Importance 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. 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:

  4. Kholinne, E., Zulkarnain, R. F., Sun, Y. C., Lim, S., Chun, J. M., & Jeon, I. H. (2018). The completely different position of every head of the triceps brachii muscle in elbow extension. Acta orthopaedica et traumatologica turcica, 52(3), 201–205.

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