Tricep Pushdown: The Key to Bigger Arms

The triceps pushdown can be referred to under various names, including the tricep pulldown, rope pushdowns, and cable triceps pushdown, among others. Whatever you decide to refer to it, the triceps pushdown is among the most effective exercises to develop triceps.

While it is typically done using the cable system, you can use a resistance band to perform training at home for the triceps. The triceps pushdown is a vital exercise for all fitness levels.

The Tricep Pushdown: Working Muscles

The Tricep Pushdown Working Muscles

Primary Muscle Group

The triceps pushdown can be described as an exercise for isolation, not an exercise that is a compound movement. This makes it an ideal exercise to target your triceps. The main muscle group targeted in the triceps pushdown is likely to be, as you’ve already guessed, that is your triceps.

The scientific name for the muscle is tricep Brachii (Latin meaning “three-headed muscle of arm”). The triceps’ medial heads, lateral heads, and long heads work together when you raise your arm.

The triceps pushdown separates the medial and lateral parts of the triceps in the motion of pushdown.

Secondary Muscle Group

This exercise also stimulates several other muscle groups, like the muscles of the lats (latissimus dorsi) as well as your abdominals (rectus abdominis) as well, Obliques (exterior Obliques) as well as the pecs (pectoralis principal and minor pectoralis), and trapezius (trapezius).

The secondary muscles are engaged to help stabilize and support the pulldown movement. But using your shoulders, back, or chest to lower the weight could cause injury and negates the main advantages of the triceps pushdown.

The Tricep Pushdown: Benefits

The Tricep Pushdown Benefits

#1 Gains In Strength

There are many benefits to strengthening your triceps muscles.

Strong triceps can help stabilize your shoulder joint because they serve as an extension of the shoulder and elbow. If you work on strengthening your triceps, the stability of your shoulders and elbows will improve.

Strong triceps muscles will enable you to raise more weight and increase the strength of the muscles in your upper arms.

The triceps pushdown is an excellent exercise for bodybuilders, athletes, or anyone who wants to build strength in the upper arms. It doesn’t matter if you’re throwing an object, lifting heavy objects for work, or just want to improve the appearance of your upper arm; this routine will help you build strength to achieve your goals.

#2 Isolation

As we have mentioned before, the triceps pushdown is an isolated exercise. This is advantageous if you suffer from any muscular size or strength imbalances; you can focus on your triceps.

If, for instance, your chest is stronger than your arms, you could perform the triceps pushdown to make up for the imbalance.

Your bench press with barbells specifically designed for the chest will increase when you strengthen your triceps. They play a synergistic role when you bench press.

#3 Convenience

Certain tricep exercises require costly heavy equipment that is only located at gyms. Although the traditional triceps pushdown employs a cable system, all you require is a resistance band to perform this exercise.

With a strong rod or hook, you can connect the light resistance band to increase the strength of your triceps, no matter the location you’re in.

Continue reading to learn more about the pushdown of resistance bands!

The Tricep Pushdown: Instructions


  • When you have your feet shoulder-width apart, you can face a pulley with a straight bar or rope that is solidly hung at chest level.
  • If you’re employing a rope, grasp the rope toward the butt side with your palms toward each other. Grasp the bar by placing your palms on the ground if you’re employing a bar.
  • Make sure your chest is elevated and your shoulder blades are close and bent slightly to begin the exercise.


  1. With your elbows folded tightly to your sides, pull the attachment downwards to extend your arms fully.
  2. Stop at the end of the exercise and extend your triceps to get maximum contraction. Keep an upright wrist position throughout the whole duration.
  3. Then slowly release the weight and return to the initial position.


You should do three sets of between 8 and 10 reps for the beginner. Once familiar with this workout, experiment with different sets/rep combinations and speeds to push your muscles.

The Tricep Pushdown: Mistakes

The Tricep Pushdown Mistakes

#1 Excessive Elbow Movement

Many people allow their elbows to move forward and back when they move. Although you technically can increase your weight with this type of motion, you are using your elbows to finish the workout.

If you’re looking to increase the strength of your triceps muscles, keep your elbows snugly in your body. You’ll experience a much more powerful contraction of your triceps.

#2 Flaring Elbow

Another blunder that involves the elbows is the famous flaring elbow. When flaring the elbow towards the sides, the shoulder and chest muscles become the dominant muscles. In turn, the triceps pushdown exercise turns into a jackhammer-like motion.

Correct form is crucial if you’re looking to develop the triceps muscle efficiently.

#3 Curling The Writs

Many people will curl their wrists at the bottom of every pushdown in the hopes of completing an apparently more “complete” exercise. However, the opposite is true. Curling your wrists removes the tension in your triceps muscles and causes unnecessary stress to your wrist.

Keep your wrists neutral throughout each repetition!

The Tricep Pushdown: Variations

#1 Resistance Band Triceps Pushdown

As we mentioned earlier, the exercise is possible using an exercise band akin to using a cable system. The triceps pushdown exercise with a resistance band is a different kind of resistance compared to the typical cable or rope pushdown.

As the band gets longer, the resistance increases, while a cable offers the same resistance across. The resistance bands are a less expensive and more practical option for those who often travel or simply like to exercise at home!

#2 Alternating Triceps Pushdown

The alternating triceps pushdown exercise is accomplished with just one arm. Lower the weight and then stick the same way as the two-arm pushdown triceps. The single-arm triceps exercises are the perfect option for athletes to remove the muscle imbalances between the stronger and weaker upper arm.

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#3 Reverse Grip Triceps Pushdown

A reverse grip triceps pushdown exercise is an additional great variant to the traditional. The palms face upwards in reverse grips, with the palms facing downwards.

Using this technique, you won’t be able to do as a heavyweight. Still, it’s an excellent way to assist those with issues with elbow flare, maintain their elbows as tight as they can, and mindfully engage the muscles of the triceps.

The Tricep Pushdown: Alternatives

If you liked the triceps pushdown, check out these other exercises to boost your exercise routine for triceps:

#1 Dumbbell Skull Crushers

Dumbbell skull crushers permit you to concentrate on the triceps’ isolation making them an excellent alternative to tricep presses. Suppose you aren’t able to access the equipment used for tricep presses. In that case, all you require is an assortment of dumbbells to perform this exercise.


  • Two dumbbells are held, with your palms facing toward the middle of your body.
  • Remain on the bench, laying back until your head, shoulders, hips, and feet contact the bench and ground.
  • Elbows must be fully extended to the front.
  • Lower the dumbbells down until the elbows are 90 degrees of flexion, or both dumbbells are parallel to the forehead.
  • Following this, pull the dumbbells into the extension.


Engaging your lats and lifting dumbbells closer to your head and forward will lead to greater strength and tricep muscle contraction.

This permits hyperflexion (greater lower) and extensibility (greater contraction) throughout the exercise.

#2 Resistance Band Pressdowns

Resistance band presses are akin to the triceps pressdowns, but they can be accomplished in the car and at home. This makes them an ideal triceps pushdown alternative. It’s precisely the same pattern you’d expect to see in a pressdown; however, it’s a band instead of a stacked machine.


  • Hold each side of the resistance band using each hand.
  • Maintain a proper posture to maintain your posture by keeping your head straight and squeezing your shoulders to keep them together.
  • Bring the band back down until your elbows are fully extended While allowing for the increasing tension as bands grow longer.
  • Keep your elbows in a tucked position and your resistance to flare outward as you complete this final step.
  • Manage the resistance of the band back to full elbow flexion.


Banded versions employ extremely low absolute loads that permit you to perform the resistance band to failure multiple times during the week.

To this end, you can gain great benefits by programming multiple sets of resistance band press down at the close of your exercise.

Resistance band press downs are a great option to pair effectively with banded curls for the bicep that increase the effectiveness of your arm workout up a notch.

If you’re looking for more resistance, you could use different bands. For instance, I’ve used 2 inches band with a one-inch and a 0.5-inch band in reps ranging from 10-12. I’m not looking to perform a burnout set.

#3 Cable French Press

This French cable press can be compared to the triceps pushdown. The angle at which the exercise is done maintains constant tension on the triceps. However, in the press down, you don’t feel the tension in the triceps near the lower levels of the exercise. This is why many lifters favor using the french cable press instead of the triceps pushdown.


  • When you are away from the stack of cables, pull each rope in the air with elbows fully extended.
  • Then lower the rope till the elbows are fully bent.
  • To finish the repetition, push the arms back to full extension.


The Cable French Press is a versatile exercise with many options that may be performed through several training blocks. This can help in not causing plateaus during training for strength and size in the triceps.

#4 Dumbbell Kickbacks

The dumbbell kickback is similar to the triceps pushdown exercise in that it does not cause a great deal of strain from the move. This is because you can utilize a lighter weight for the dumbbell kickback. Your triceps will be in high activation as you follow an exact method.


  • Put a dumbbell on one hand, then move your torso to 45 degrees.
  • Set your knee up with firmness on the bench while gripping the bench’s head with one hand.
  • Lift your elbow until it’s in line with your torso.
  • Bend your elbow until it reaches 90 degrees of flexion.
  • “Kick into the back” with the dumbbell till your arm is fully extended.
  • Bring the dumbbell back into flexion and complete the exercise.


Dumbbell kickbacks permit you to push the shoulder further back to increase the strength in the triceps. Because of the position of the shoulder, it is possible to go very light in this workout and still reap the advantages.

The best way to approach this exercise is to include low-intensity/high repetitions until exhaustion. This will encourage optimal triceps development as long as you practice a disciplined technique, i.e., not swinging your arm while moving the dumbbell. Instead, you should move its focus on the extension beyond the elbow.

#5 Incline Close Grip Bench Press

The Close grip incline bench press is an under-appreciated exercise that puts more focus on the isolation of the triceps over the pecs. It’s evident that it’s more complex than the other versions I’ve talked about; however, it’s a good alternative for the triceps pushdown exercise if you only possess a weighted barbell.


  • You can lay down on a bench set up with an inclined.
  • Check that your feet and hips are securely anchored to the bench and the floor.
  • Grab the bar with your shoulder width or narrower than a regular bench.
  • Create tension by pressing the palm of your hand into the bar’s weight.
  • Wrap your fingers tightly around the bar like you were breaking it.
  • Press your shoulder blades into each other as you build a chest.
  • Unrack the bar, then move it forward until it’s aligned with your chest.
  • You can row the bar to your upper chest while keeping your elbows tucked.
  • Once the bar has made contact with the chest’s upper area, push the weight until the elbows are fully extended.


Between each rep, you should rebuild tension to increase the workout’s effectiveness. If tension is lost and you don’t target the triceps correctly, your power output decreases.

Create tension by pressing your hips to the bench’s seat and then putting your feet on the floor. After each rep, move like you’re closing your armpits while squeezing your shoulder blades tense.

Temporeps could test your ability to hold tension (i.e., dropping the barbell to 4 to 5 seconds), improving your capacity to finish the bench press.

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#6 Close Grip Dips

A close-grip dip exercise is a great way to isolate and enhance the strength of the triceps and size. However, it may be difficult to shoulder for some if you do not have enough shoulder mobility. My advice is to start by using your own weight to gauge how it feels and then increase the load until comfortable.

It is also possible to test the range of movement. Even if you’re doing half reps (i.e., only the top portion in the motion range), it will stimulate your triceps in a powerful way which is why it’s worth it if you’re searching to substitute the press down of the triceps.


  • Find two parallel bars that are slightly wider than shoulder widths apart.
  • Put the bottom of your hands on each bar.
  • Bring the weight of your body upwards to extend your elbows.
  • Slightly lean toward the forward direction, then bring your back down until it reaches 90 degrees of flexion in your elbows.
  • To complete the exercise to finish the exercise, you must push yourself into an extended elbow.


There are a variety of strategies that can be employed to make the close-grip dip more challenging. The use of a Dip belt could increase the intensity and difficulty of the exercise.

Other methods that could make the close grip dip more difficult are tempo adjustments that could aid in learning how to do the dip by slowing down the speed of the dip.

In addition, tempo fluctuations also increase the time under tension and capacity for the work of the dip. This can lead to an increase in the size and strength of the triceps.

#7 Single-Arm Dumbbell Overhead Grip Tricep Extension

The overhead grip single-arm dumbbell tricep extension is a workout that targets the three heads of the tricep. It’s similar to the triceps pushdown. However, it’s done with only one arm at a that allows you to eliminate any imbalances between the left and right sides.

Suppose you perform the triceps pushdown exercise and don’t feel the same amount of activation on the right and left sides equally. In that case, I’d replace it with a simple dumbbell that is an overhead grip triceps extension.


  • This exercise can be completed either standing or seated.
  • Ensure that your elbow is fully extended overhead grip, with the palm towards the side.
  • In front of your head, pull the dumbbell to your opposite side until your elbow is bent 90 degrees.
  • Bring the dumbbell back up towards the upward position until your elbow is fully extended.


Intensify each part of the exercise by stretching and flexing the elbow joint. And then focus on the triceps muscle to a greater extent.

Also, it is recommended to perform this exercise using lower intensity or a higher volume to help you work out the triceps muscles.

There are times when I see people doing this exercise very hard; however, they’re compensating using their shoulders. It is important to make sure you’re not using your triceps to move the weight if you’re seeking alternatives to the triceps pushdown.

#8 Single Arm Triceps Pressdown

Single-arm triceps pressdowns can be an excellent alternative to the triceps pushdown in isolating the triceps. However, just like in the previous exercise, only one arm is utilized for this exercise, which can be beneficial in preventing imbalances and enhancing single-sided (single-sided) power.

Typically, the bilateral (two-sided) press down may be the reason for imbalances in the muscle growth of the triceps between the right and left arm. This is why I recommend doing at the very least a unilateral (single-sided) training routine for the triceps every 3-to 4 months as part of your program to correct any imbalances that naturally happen.


  • Make use of the handle attachment by clipping it onto the pulley on the cable machine.
  • Hold the handle while keeping your entire arm aligned and with your shoulder.
  • Untack the weight until you have your initial tension to the tricep.
  • With your elbow slightly leaning forward, you can begin by keeping the elbow bent.
  • Pull the handle to the point that your elbow has fully extended.
  • To finish the exercise, bend the elbow while allowing the handle to return up.


The handle attachment is rather restrictive in terms of flexibility of movement. At the same time, the pulley’s bottom can be pushed down with greater freedom.

Take off the handle attachment and grab the pulley’s bottom to extend your range of motion during the exercise and promote greater triceps contraction.

#9 Diamond Push-Ups

We may not possess a cable stack on the road to perform the triceps pushdown. However, we can still perform push-ups as a great alternative on the road.

If you’d like to put on more weight, you can wrap an 0.5-inch or 1-inch band around your back and place each end inside your fingers. While performing push-ups, your upper range of motion will be pushed to a larger degree when the band is stretched out which puts additional strain on your triceps.

With a bench press of 315lbs over 10-12 reps, I find a push-up with a band quite difficult for the triceps muscles in that 20-30 reps range.


  • This exercise is done in an upright (face downwards) position.
  • Begin with your elbows fully extended, placing your hands directly under your shoulders.
  • Maintain neutral hip postures and avoid hip shifts and dropping of the hips during the exercise.
  • Reduce the mass of your body till your body is close to being in contact with the ground.
  • From the lowest place, press as hard as you can until your elbows reach the point of complete lockout.


To make this exercise easier, you can either lift your hips or put your knees on the ground. To make the exercise more challenging, adding speed and stopping just from touching the ground is possible.

To focus on the triceps, take your hand closer while moving your hand out further to focus more on your pecs.

#10 Machine Triceps Extension

Machine triceps extensions, which are opposite that of the preacher’s curl, restrict the motion of elbow extension to target the triceps. Instead of isolating the upper muscles of the cable triceps pushdown, machine triceps extension as it is referred to, utilizes the machine.

The drawback to this workout is that not every gym offers a machine tricep extension. It’s definitely a “luxury thing in the realm of fitness equipment. You might need to work out in a huge box gym, such as GoldsGym, to have access to one.


  • Be sure you have the right back pad, and the seat height is at an angle of 90 degrees to the point where the machine pivots.
  • For stability, take a moment to ease your shoulders and place your feet on the ground.
  • Take firm hold of the handles and put your elbows on the padding.
  • Concentrate on the isolation of the triceps muscles by stretching the arms.
  • Perform the repetition until you return to the starting point with the arms extended.
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In this exercise, You can lower your chin to the side and then drive your elbows toward the pad to concentrate on the motion of your elbow extension.

In general, it’s extremely difficult to pull out support muscles during any exercise. Therefore, it is important to make every effort to keep the targeted muscles as far as possible.

In my case, I discover that I can isolate my triceps more when I lower the seat down to make my arm slightly above when locking my elbow.

#11 Close Grip Bench Press

In contrast to the standard bench press, the close grip bench is a great choice for targeting the triceps muscles to a greater degree, making the close grip benches a fantastic alternative to the triceps pushdown.

Apart from enhancing tricep strength Close grip bench press also has many additional advantages. One of the things I like about it is that it offers a wider movement range than a regular bench press.

It is important to note that the close grip bench press can be described as a “compound exercise, ” meaning you’ll still be getting shoulder and pec activation. It’s therefore not as specific to the triceps pushdown exercise as some other exercises. But, it has an emphasis on the triceps. This is why I suggest it as an option to replace the presses.


  • You should lie face down on the bench, with your shoulders towards the bar.
  • Hand placement should be approximately the width of your shoulders or wider than your normal grip.
  • To create tension, drive the palm of your hand through the bar.
  • Bring your shoulder blades in and drive them into the bench.
  • After the unrack, pull the bar back until it aligns with your upper and lower abdomen.
  • Lower the bar slowly in controlled movements until it touches the upper abdomen and lower chest.
  • Then, push the bar’s weight away from your torso by pushing it on your elbows until your elbows are in full extension.


Close grip bench I believe that it can be a major breaker of plateaus for many who have difficulty in bench pressing.

The execution of bench presses relies on the strength of the triceps muscles, making it an integral component of our training to increase the strength of our exercise bench.

Also, you should incorporate more close grip bench press exercises into your exercise routine, especially for those who want to get better at bench pressing.

#12 TRX Skull Crusher

TRX skull crusher TRX skull crusher can be yet another option for body-weight tricep extensions. It can be performed in some hotels, the gym, or at home.

I’ve just started performing this exercise in my “upper body push days” It’s actually quite difficult. It is possible to make the exercise easier or more difficult by changing your body’s angle (more vertical toward the ground, which makes it more difficult).


  • Start the exercise with your back to your anchoring point on the TRX installed.
  • Take each TRX handle in your palms, facing away from you.
  • Begin the exercise leaning toward the front with elbows in a straight position.
  • The arms should be curved towards your forehead with a controlled motion.
  • Lengthen your elbows and keep them to the side while you squeeze the triceps.


You should be inclined (face down) to make the exercise more difficult. To make the exercise simpler, do it in a more upright position.

Why You Need To Train Your Triceps

Beyond the aesthetic benefits of having strong triceps muscles, they also have practical advantages.

Triceps can be described as synergistic muscles, which means they’re “helper’s muscles.” They are composed of pectoral muscles. The front deltoids and the triceps all collaborate to create strong push movements.

Additionally, the triceps can be a valuable tool in the strength of lockout in push-type movements.

The triceps tend to be neglected when it comes to the shoulder’s stability. They are directly connected to our shoulder blades. They play a crucial function.

So, as you observe, the triceps are an important part of your workout. However, there are no triceps pushdown. Don’t worry! Check out these amazing alternatives to keep your triceps protected!

What’s The Best Way To Train Triceps?

Though the triceps contain 3 different muscles, they are very small in size. There’s no reason to schedule a day within your training program entirely focused on training your triceps. The best method of training your triceps muscles is to do them the same day as you do your biceps. This way, you will be able to increase the power of your arm muscles and work them effectively and efficiently.

What Is The Best Triceps Training?

No single workout is better than the others for strengthening the triceps muscles. Instead, it is suggested to incorporate a variety of exercises into your routine to target the three muscles of the triceps. Altering the tricep workout sets reps, weights, and sets can also aid in the muscle growth of the tricep and help prevent injuries.

Is Underhand Grip Tricep Pushdown Or Overhand Grip Tricep Pushdown Better?

It is generally accepted that it doesn’t make any difference to the triceps muscle if your grip is overhand grip (pronated) or underhand grip (supinated). However, there are still some benefits to going underhand.

Last Words

As you will see, the triceps pushdown exercise is only one of the many exercises that can help build and define your triceps!

We shared 12 of the best triceps pushdown alternatives, and I hope you will take pleasure in trying them and working through their progress. The triceps of your body is an essential element in facilitating the strength of your push. They are a must, and they merit being given attention!

Who needs an exercise machine with a cable? From body weight to resistance bands, dumbbells, barbells, and TRX cables, There’s a tricep workout to suit any place!

What are your top exercises for triceps? Please share them with us in the comments below!


  • Timothy P. Carnes

    Timothy P. Carnes is a certified personal trainer with a Bachelor's degree in Exercise Science from the University of Florida. With over 8 years of experience in the fitness industry, Timothy is an expert in strength and conditioning, body composition, and overall health and wellness. He also holds certifications in strength and conditioning through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and corrective exercise through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). As an author at FitGAG, he shares his knowledge and expertise on a variety of topics, including strength training, body composition, and overall health and wellness tips. Timothy believes that consistency and discipline are the keys to achieving fitness goals, and he strives to inspire his readers to prioritize their fitness and wellness journey. Through his articles, Timothy aims to empower his readers to take control of their health, enhance their performance, and live their best lives.

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