How to Do Triceps Pushdowns: Techniques, Benefits, Variations and Alternatives

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Triceps Pushdown

Triceps pushdown is a strength training exercise that targets your tricep muscles in the back of your arms. This is performed while pushing an object downward against resistance.

It is also known as pulldown, cable tricep pushdown, tricep rope pushdown, etc.

It is one of the first exercises that lifters perform that helps them building muscles as the back of their arms.

UtilityBasic or Auxilliary

Muscles Worked by the Tricep Pushdowns

Muscles Worked by the Tricep Pushdowns

Unlike other major exercises, tricep pushdowns focus only on your triceps. So, the primary muscle group targeted by this strength training exercise is the tricep.

When you extend your arm, the long, lateral, and medial head of the tricep move together. This is why it is also known as tricep brachii. The literal translation for the same is “three-headed muscles of the arm.”

However, only your medial and lateral heads are used while performing tricep pushdowns.

Besides that, it also targets secondary muscles groups like abs, lats, obliques, pecs, traps, etc.

Benefits of Tricep Pushdowns

Tricep pushdowns help you build more robust and toned triceps. But several subtle benefits come along with it, like the following:

Build your Strength

As tricep pushdown is a strength training exercise, it goes without saying that it builds strength over time. It helps in stabilising your shoulder joint as well as the stability of your elbows. This will eventually help you lift more weight.

According to our study, this exercise is loved and favoured by bodybuilders as well as athletes. Weight lifters use it to their benefit to extend their capacity and build strength. On the other hand, athletes use it to improve their ability to lift or throw an object.

If you are neither of them, do not worry, as the merits go beyond that. This exercise will help you facilitate your ability to perform everyday tasks like lifting heavy boxes or pushing jammed doors.

Convenient to Perform

Are you tired of waiting for somebody to vacant the equipment at the gym so that you could get your turn? Yes, we have all been there. But, if somebody takes up too much time, it can also frustrate us, and we could give up on that exercise altogether. But not with tricep pushdowns.

Even though you can perform this exercise in the gym, you can conveniently do it at home as well. Just use a resistance band, and you are good to go!

Attach the band to a bar in such a way that its midpoint hangs over the bar. Grab the ends in your hands, and you have your own tricep pushdown mechanism.

Whether you are at home or travelling, you will never miss a day of training!


As mentioned earlier, tricep pushdown focuses on only one muscle group, the triceps. You can use this to your advantage as it can address muscle weakness while improving any imbalances.

For example, if your chest is more substantial than your arms, you can prevent the imbalance with the help of tricep pushdowns. On the other hand, if the front of your arm is strong, but there is a visible discrepancy in the back of the arm, you can use tricep pushdowns.

How to Perform the Tricep Pushdowns

It is necessary to have the right form while performing tricep pushdowns. One wrong move, and you could end up with sore muscles, or worst, an injury.

To make things simpler for you, we have presented an easy-to-understand step-by-step procedure of tricep pushdown. If you are a beginner, you must adhere to the steps to correct your form and posture.

How to Perform the Tricep Pushdowns
  1. Choose the gym equipment for tricep pushdown. You can use the cable machine and grab the cable bar or the rope attachment. Ensure that you have an overhand grip.
  2. Bring the bar grips to your chest level.
  3. Adjust and set it to a low weight in the beginning.
  4. Brace your abdominals and tuck your elbows while keeping your feet apart.
  5. Inhale slowly and push down till your elbows are extended but not in a square frame.
  6. Your elbows must remain close to your body while bending your knees.
  7. You must feel like bending forward, but you must fight this feeling. Keep your back straight during the pushdown.
  8. Exhale and return to the original position.

Common Mistakes to Avoid During Tricep Pushdowns

Common Mistakes to Avoid During Tricep Pushdowns

It takes a split second to commit a mistake while working out and bearing its consequences for years. If you wish to skip that part, it is crucial to know the mistakes made by athletes and weight lifters while performing tricep pushdowns. It will help you gain a better perspective about your form.

Wrist Positioning

During our research, we saw most of the people twisting their wrist out while doing tricep pushdowns. We found out that most of the people believed that by doing so, they are maximizing their tricep engagement. But that is not the case.

As long as your elbows are extended, you need not move your wrists in any direction. A neutral wrist position is favourable and recommended.

Elbow Flaring Out

During a downward push, people tend to flare their elbows outwards. This can put unnecessary stress on the shoulder as well as the chest muscles.

Focusing on One Arm

You need to put your entire strength while performing tricep pushdown. Using only a single arm’s strength can strain it and cause pain and injuries. Ensure that the weight is equally distributed while pushing it down.

Too Much Weight

Adding more weights than required might not be a good idea. Overdoing this exercise can strain your muscles, making them sore. If you are uncomfortable with weights, you can also use a rope. If not, a V-bar is a good option. It will allow you to press more weight without overestimating your strength.

Straining your Back

Always remember that this is a tricep workout and not back training. Do not bend your back while pushing down the weights.

  • Sets, Reps, Programming Recommendations for Tricep Pushdowns

Generally, 8-12 reps are recommended for tricep pushdown by aiming for completing one set within 40 seconds. But this can vary according to your area of expertise and experience.

The following are some of the tricep pushdown programs that can help you gain a better idea.


If you wish to strengthen your triceps, you must complete 4-6 sets of 3-8 repetitions.


This focuses more on muscle contractions and pumping. You can undergo 5-10 sets of 8-20 repetitions.

Variations of Tricep Pushdowns

Variations of Tricep Pushdowns

Do you wish to bring in some variation in terms of movement while performing tricep pushdowns? Well, say no more as we have explained the best variations for this workout option.

Partial Rep Triceps Pushdowns

This can increase training volume while targeting strength at specific angles.

Rope Pushdowns

This attachment can be placed to alter the angle and wrist position. Therefore, it helps in giving more power to the athlete to change his/her movements as quickly as possible.

Reverse Grip Triceps Pushdowns

This puts more pressure on the inner head of the tricep, helping you with stability and overall strength.

Band Tricep Pushdowns

This can be used as a warm-up exercise. It is also convenient to use outside of the gym.

Tricep Pushdowns with V-bar

If you wish to move more weight, this variation is highly useful.

Safety & Precautions for Tricep Pushdowns

The following are some of the safety tips and precautionary measures that one must keep in mind while performing tricep pushdowns:

Use a V-bar

According to our study, it is better to use a V-bar if you want more strength. As it allows a neutral grip, you can challenge yourself and push your limits.

Focus on your Core

Tricep pushdown engages your core. This makes it essential for you to keep your core rigid during the entire workout. Moreover, you can press your back against the equipment to maintain your posture.

Maintain the Cable Pulley Height

You must alter the cable pulley height as per your height to avoid overstraining. If you put it too high, your motion will be affected.

Do not Perform with an Elbow Injury

It is not advisable to perform this exercise while you have an elbow injury. As tricep pushdown requires you to extend your elbow, it will just cause more pain.

Check with your Doctor

Do not change your normal workout routine without consulting your doctor. This is a must if you have any underlying illness.

Alternatives of Tricep Pushdowns

Do you wish to enhance your workout routine by inculcating more exercises like tricep pushdowns? The following are some of the alternatives that can help you get your desired workout goal.

  1. Close-grip Bench Press
  2. Skull Crushers
  3. Overhead Tricep Extension
  4. Lying Dumbbell Tricep Extensions
  5. TRX Tricep Extensions
  6. Diamond Push-Ups
  7. Triceps Kickback

The best part is you can consider doing these exercises even if you have elbow pain.

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