Triceps Pressdown: The Must-Try Exercise for Stronger Arms

If you’re seeking to build strong and thick triceps, you’ve likely seen an exercise called the triceps pressdown or the triceps presses.

It’s an old-fashioned bodybuilder’s exercise that isolates the triceps, making you raise your arms and squeeze your triceps.

Also, it’s often carried out in a way that allows you to get rid of important muscle-building stimuli.

Muscles That Are Used In The Triceps Pressdown

How To Do Triceps Pressdown Perfect

The muscles that are used during the triceps pressdown are:

  • Head Lateral Triceps
  • Triceps Medial Head
  • Long Triceps for Head

Triceps pressdown is the result that involves elbow extension, and thus it targets all three heads on the triceps.

Triceps Isolation

Triceps Pressdown Step By Step Instruction

Since the triceps tend to be the second muscle used when performing compound movements (like the overhead press or bench press).

Stating the triceps by pressing down the triceps is an essential part of a successful workout routine.

Triceps account for two-thirds of the length of your arm and are essential in aiding in the execution of overhead press, bench press, jerk, and other pressing actions.

Therefore, the position of the triceps muscles makes it easy to isolate them, resulting in less body fatigue. 

This permits us to prescribe greater volumes and more intense levels of isolation exercises to stimulate the high-intensity (muscle-building) action.

Triceps Pressdown Step By Step Instruction

Triceps pressdown is an isolated exercise that improves the strength and dimension of the triceps while activating the shoulder’s front.

Follow these step-by-step directions to correctly complete this move and maximize the benefits of your exercise. 

Beware of injuries and unnecessary motion by following these suggestions.

How Do I Do Triceps Pressdowns?

Step 1

The V-handle attachment is set at the highest setting; turn your back towards the machine and hold the handle with an overhand, shoulder-width grip. 

Keep your elbows at your sides to parallel your forearms with the floor.

Step 2

Then extend your forearms straight down by contracting the triceps and moving the attachment slightly to ensure that your knuckles touch the floor on the bottom. 

Once the arms have been fully extended, stop and reverse the motion to return to your starting position.

12 Highly Effective Triceps Pressdown Alternatives

#1 Dumbbell Skull Crushers

Dumbbell skull crushers let you concentrate on isolating your triceps muscles, making it an excellent triceps pressdown alternative. 

If you can’t access the equipment used for triceps presses, you only require an assortment of dumbbells to perform this type of exercise.

How To Do It

  • Place two dumbbells in your hands, with your palms facing toward the center of your body.
  • Reposition yourself onto the bench till your head, shoulders, hips, and feet touch the floor and the bench.
  • Your elbows must be fully extended forward towards the front.
  • Lower the dumbbells until the elbows reach 90 degrees of flexion, or the two dumbbells parallel the forehead.
  • Then, pull the dumbbells back to extension.


Involving your lats and lifting the dumbbells farther than the head and forward will lead to stronger strength and triceps contraction.

This permits hyperflexion (greater reduction) and hyperextension (greater contraction) during each exercise stage.

#2 Resistance Band Pressdowns

Resistance band presses are similar to the triceps pressdown; however, they can be accomplished at the go and home, making them a great triceps pressdown alternative. 

The exact movement pattern you’d expect to see in a pressdown; however, instead of a stacked machine, it’s a band.

How To Do It

  • Hold each end of the resistance band using each hand.
  • Maintain a proper posture to keep your shoulders straight and press your shoulder blades to keep them together.
  • Pull the bands downwards until your elbows are fully extended while tolerating the increased resistance when the bands stretch.
  • Keep your elbows in a tucked position and resistance outward flare as you complete this final step.
  • Manage the band’s resistance and return to full extension at the elbows.


Banded variations use extremely low absolute loads, allowing you to do resistance band pressdowns until failure throughout.

This is why you can reap the benefits by programming multiple sets of the pressdown exercise at the close of your exercise.

Resistance bands can be used to pressdown perfectly with banded bicep curls to elevate your arm workout into the upper echelon.

If you’re looking to increase your resistance, you can choose various bands. 

For instance, I’ve used two inches of a band with a 1-inch and 0.5-inch band for reps between 10-12. 

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I’m not looking to do a “burnout set.”

#3 Cable French Press

This cable french press exercise is like the triceps pressdown. 

But the angle at the exercise maintains constant tension on the triceps. 

However, in the pressdown, you don’t feel tension on your triceps at lower move levels. 

This is why most lifters favor using the french cable press instead of the triceps pressdown.

How To Do It

  • Hold each rope end over the shoulder with elbows fully extended if you are facing off from the cable pile.
  • Then lower the rope till the elbows have fully bent.
  • For the final repetition, push the arms back into full extension.


The French press comes in various options that may be cycled through several training blocks. 

This can help in not causing plateaus during training for the size and power of the triceps.

#4 Dumbbell Triceps Kickbacks

The dumbbell kickback is similar to the triceps presses. 

They don’t cause an excessive amount of fatigue performing the exercise. 

This is because you utilize a lighter weight for the kickback with a dumbbell. 

If you follow a strict method and your triceps muscles are in good shape, they should be functional.

How To Do It

  • Grab a dumbbell with one hand and move your body to a 45-degree angle.
  • Firmly place one knee on the bench, and grasp the bench’s head using one hand.
  • Lift your elbow until it’s in line with your torso.
  • Bend the elbow up to 90 degrees of flexion.
  • “Kickback” the dumbbell until your arm is fully extended.
  • Pull the dumbbell back into flexion for the final repetition.


The dumbbell kickback can help you pull the shoulder forward further for stronger strength in the triceps. 

Because of the shoulder position, you can do very light in this workout and reap the benefits.

The best way to approach this exercise is to include low intensity/high repetitions until exhaustion. 

This will encourage optimal development of the triceps as long as you follow a strict method, i.e., not swinging your arm when you move the dumbbell but instead focusing on stretching away from your elbow.

#5 Incline Close Grip Bench Press

The close grip incline bench press is a largely underrated exercise that focuses 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, this is an excellent alternative for triceps pressing down if you have access to a barbell.

How To Do It

  • Sit your back on the bench with an upward slope.
  • Ensure that the feet and feet are secure to the bench and the floor.
  • Hold the bar shoulder width or smaller than a regular bench.
  • Create tension by pressing the palm of your hand into the bar’s weight.
  • Wrap your hands around the bars as if you were breaking them.
  • Press your shoulder blades while making a large chest.
  • Take the bar off, and lift it until it’s in line with your chest.
  • Raise the bar to your upper chest with your elbows tucked in.
  • Once the bar is in contact with the chest’s upper part, push the weight until the elbows are fully extended.


After each rep, build tension to ensure the efficacy of the workout. 

The power output is reduced if you experience tension loss and don’t target the triceps correctly.

Increase tension by putting your hips on the bench’s seat, and you should be able to lock your feet to the floor. 

It would be best to act like you were closing your arms and pressing your shoulders together, following each rep.

Tempo reps could test your ability to keep tension (i.e., lifting the barbell at 4 to 5 seconds), improving your capacity to finish the close grip incline bench press.

#6 Close Grip Dips

A close-grip dip exercise isolates and increases the strength of the triceps and size. 

However, it cannot be easy to shoulder for certain individuals if you do not have sufficient shoulder mobility.

My advice is to begin using your weight to gauge how it feels and increase the load until comfortable.

You might also want to experiment with the range of movements. 

Even if you’re doing half reps (i.e., the upper half of your range of motion), you’ll still strongly stimulate your triceps, which is why it’s beneficial if you’re looking to replace the pressdown of your triceps.

How To Do It

  • Find a pair of bar parallels slightly larger than shoulder length apart.
  • Put the bottom of your hands on each bar.
  • Push on your bodyweight upwards until you can fully extend your elbows.
  • Slightly leaning toward the forward direction, then reduce your weight until it reaches 90 degrees of flexion at the elbows.
  • To finish the rep, push yourself to an extended elbow.


A variety of methods can be used to help make the close-grip dip workout more difficult. 

A dip belt thrown on could increase the intensity and level of difficulty in this close-grip dip.

Other techniques that make the close grip dip more difficult are tempo changes that can aid in learning how to perform the dip by slowing down the motion.

In addition, tempo fluctuations also increase the duration under strain and the capacity to work the dip. This could increase the size and strength of the triceps.

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#7 Single Arm Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Extension

The overhead single-arm dumbbell triceps extension is a workout designed to target all three heads on the triceps, similar to the triceps pressdown. 

However, it’s executed by using only one hand at a given time and allows you to eliminate any imbalances on those on the right and the left sides.

When you do the triceps pressdown, and you don’t feel the same amount of activation on the right and right side equally, I’d replace it with a dumbbell overhead with one arm for triceps extension.

How To Do It

  • It can be performed sitting or standing.
  • Keep the elbow extended over the shoulder with the palm towards the side.
  • Behind your neck, lower the dumbbell toward your opposite side until your elbow is bent 90 degrees.
  • Return the dumbbell towards the upward position until your elbow is fully extended.


Increase the intensity of each phase of this exercise that involves flexion and exaggeration of elbow joints. 

And then focus on the triceps muscle to a greater extent.

Additionally, you must perform this exercise using lower intensity or a higher volume to work out the Triceps muscles effectively.

Sometimes I see people doing this exercise very hard; however, they compensate by employing their shoulders. 

It is important to make sure you’re using only your triceps to lift the weight if you’re looking for a different option to the triceps pressdown.

#8 Triceps Single Arm Pressdown

Single-arm triceps pressdown can be an excellent alternative to triceps because they isolate them. 

Like the previous exercise, only one arm is utilized to prevent the imbalance of and build single-sided (single-sided) power.

Typically, the bilateral (two-sided) pressdowns may be the reason for imbalances in Triceps development across those on the right and right arms. 

So, I suggest using a unilateral (single-sided) training routine for the triceps every 3-4 months during your training to correct any imbalances that may naturally develop.

How To Do It

  • Use the handle attachment by clipping it onto the pulley on the cable machine.
  • While keeping your entire arm aligned and with your shoulder, securely hold the handle.
  • Remove the weight to create the initial pressure on your triceps.
  • When leaning in the forward direction, start with your elbow bent.
  • Pull the handle downwards till the elbow becomes fully extended.
  • To finish the rep, bend the elbow, allowing the handle to rise back up.


The handle attachment could be very restricted in its movement; however, the pulley’s base can be pressed down for more flexibility.

Remove your handle attachment and grasp the pulley base to increase exercise flexibility and the triceps’ contracting.

#9 Push Ups

We may not possess a cable rack on the road to do triceps pressdowns. 

However, we can still perform push-ups as a suitable alternative for the road.

If you’d like to add more weight, take the 0.5 inches or 1-inch wrap around your lower back and put the ends of the band between your hands. 

While performing push-ups, your highest range of motion will be stretched to a larger degree because the band gets longer and puts additional strain on your triceps.

With a bench press of 315lbs over 10-12 reps, I find a push-up with a band difficult on my triceps during that 20-30 reps range.

How To Do It

  • This exercise is executed in the prone (face to the side) position.
  • Begin with your elbows fully extended and your hands directly beneath your shoulders.
  • Keep hips in a neutral position and beware of hip shifts or drops of the hip during the exercise.
  • Reduce the mass of your body till your body is just in contact with the ground.
  • From the lowest position, push to the maximum force possible until elbows reach full lockout.


You can make this exercise easier by lifting your hips or placing your knees on the ground. 

To make the exercise more difficult, you can increase the speed and stop just before reaching the ground.

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

#10 Machine Triceps Extension

This machine-based triceps extension is the opposite of the preacher’s curl and restricts the movement of elbow extension, allowing it to focus on the triceps. 

Instead of isolating the upper muscles of the triceps by using cables, as with the Triceps pressdown machine, triceps extension, as it is referred to, utilizes the machine.

The disadvantage of this exercise is that not every gym offers an extension machine for the triceps. 

It’s certainly a luxury product regarding fitness equipment, and you might have to work in a large box gym, such as GoldsGym, to have access to one.

How To Do It

  • Ensure you have the right back pad and seat height. 
  • Place your elbows 90 degrees in line and center point on the machine.
  • Relax your shoulders and securely place your feet on the ground to keep your balance.
  • Take firm hold of the handles and put your elbows on the padding.
  • Concentrate on separating the Triceps muscles by stretching the arms.
  • Complete the exercise in a reverse beginning position while the arms are flexed.


In this exercise, you can lower your chin downwards and put your elbows on the pad to concentrate on the motion that is the extension of your elbow.

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In general, it’s extremely difficult to pull out support muscles when exercising. 

Therefore, keeping the targeted muscles as far as possible is beneficial.

In my case, I notice that I can isolate the triceps to a greater degree by dropping the seat to ensure that my elbow is slightly above when locking my elbow.

#11 Close Grip Bench Press

In contrast to the standard bench press, the close grip bench is more focused and concentrates on the Triceps muscles to a higher degree, making the close grip bench an excellent alternative for Triceps presses.

Besides enhancing triceps strength, a close grip bench press also has many advantages. 

One thing I like about it is its wider movement range compared to the standard bench press.

The close-grip bench press can be described as a “compound exercise.” 

This means that you’ll still experience your pec and shoulders activation. 

This means it’s not as particular to the triceps presses as other exercises. However, it does have an emphasis on the triceps. 

This is why I suggest it as an alternative for the triceps pressdown.

How To Do It

  • Lay face down on the bench, with your shoulders slightly in front of your bar.
  • Hands should be placed at least shoulder-width apart or more narrow than your usual grip.
  • To increase tension, run your hands’ base across the bars.
  • Bring your shoulder blades in and drive your shoulders into the benches.
  • After unpacking, move the bar back until it aligns with your upper and lower abdomen.
  • Lower the bar slowly in a controlled manner until it touches the lower abdomen/upper chest.
  • In the middle, push the bar’s weight away from your body by pushing through your elbows until they reach full extension.


Close grip benches, to my mind, is a major plateau-breaking exercise for people struggling with bench pressing.

The bench press performance is based on the strength of the triceps, making it an integral element of our training program to improve our bench press.

Also, it would be best if you incorporated more close grip bench press exercises into your training program for those who want to get better at bench pressing.

#12 TRX Skull Crush

The TRX skull crusher is another option to extend your triceps using bodyweight that can be performed in some fitness centers, hotels, or at home.

I’ve only recently started doing this workout to help me with my “upper body push days,” and it’s surprisingly difficult. 

It is possible to make the exercise easier or more difficult by changing the angle on your back (more vertical toward the ground, which makes it more challenging).

How To Do It

  • Begin this exercise by separating yourself from an anchor of TRX installed.
  • Hold each TRX handle, keeping your hands facing away from you.
  • Begin the exercise by leaning towards the side with elbows straight.
  • Curl your arms toward your forehead with a controlled motion.
  • Keep your elbows a few inches from your body while you squeeze the triceps.


You should be in an upright (face down) posture to increase the difficulty of this exercise. 

To make this exercise easier to complete, you should be in an upright position.

Last Words On Triceps Pressdown

The triceps pressdown is one of the most effective exercises for building and isolating the muscle groups in the triceps. 

But, all the exercises listed in this article can be used as effective options for the pressdown by the Triceps muscles and isolate the triceps muscles.

If you have a full in-place gym, a selection of barbells, cable dumbbells, bodyweight, and banded exercises can be great exercises to add to your Triceps routine.

The Triceps pressdown, regardless of whether you are doing it sitting or on an inclined bench, can fit into your workout routine in many different ways.

It’s the perfect exercise to incorporate into an upper-body or chest-based day, following bigger exercises such as push-ups, bench presses, and incline presses.

It could also be incorporated into virtually any arm day. 

But regardless, do not make it your primary exercise; do it as one of the final exercises for arm day.

You can do it in any exercise that is a total body workout. 

It could be one of the final exercises of the set.

You’ll blast an under-appreciated muscle group with a powerful pump.


  • 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.

    [email protected] Carnes Timothy P.
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