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Triceps Cable Pushdown | Exercise Technique & Common Mistakes

Writer and expert7 years ago
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By Myprotein Writer

Jamie Wykes Hobday

In terms of developing the triceps, there are three sections that must be equally targeted (hence the ‘tri’ implication).

In order to do this, different exercises can be applied to target each section. See below exercise examples:

Long Head

Overhead movements such as dumbbell overhead press, skull crushers, overhead cable triceps Extension.

Medial Head

Reverse grip movements such as cable reverse grip push-downs or reverse skull crushers.

Lateral Head

Pressing down Movements such as the triceps rope push-down, cable push-down, single arm push-downs.

However, whilst all of these exercises are equally as effective, one of the most common exercises you will see performed in the gym today is the triceps cable push-down.

A combination of its simplicity and effectiveness has made the cable push-down a staple exercise for anyone looking to develop their arms in terms of size, strength and overall aesthetic appearance.

Below is a step by step guide on how to perform this exercise;

Triceps Cable Pushdown |

Exercise Technique

Use a flat bar attachment on the cable pulley machine

1) With your arms shoulder width apart, grip the cable with a pronated grip (overhand grip), remain facing forwards with back straight and stand upright.

2) Leaning slightly forwards towards the machine, pull the cable close to your body and ensure that your arms/elbows are tucked close into your body.

3) As you exhale your breath, aim to generate an extension at the elbow joint and push the cable down until your arms are fully extended. At this point, the cable should be almost touching your hips.

4) Throughout this phase of the movement, try to prevent any swinging momentum from occurring. All of the movement should be solely in your triceps and at the elbow joint; hence why this is such an effective isolation movement.

5) As you hit the point of contraction, pause and squeeze the triceps before slowly releasing back to the position you began in.

6) During the eccentric phase of the movement (releasing the bar); inhale your breath. The idea here is to exert your breath powerfully on the concentric phase of the exercise and inhaling on the eccentric phase.

7) Once you have returned to the starting position, recompose and perform repeatedly or the designated number of repetitions.

Note| The tempo in this exercise is key so ensure that you have an effective pattern such as an explosive concentric (1 second), a stimulated contraction (2 second pause at the bottom) before releasing slowly eccentrically (3-second release).

Triceps Cable Pushdown |

Common Mistakes

Whilst this exercise itself is rather simple to perform and is one of the more straight forward triceps movements, there are still some mistakes that you can expect to see people doing in the gym and in regards to triceps training in general.


Neglecting Elbow Positioning

Elbow positioning is vital when training the triceps. The minute that the elbows become flared and move out to the side, backwards or forwards; almost all of the tension generated shifts from the triceps and instead to the deltoids (shoulders). This shows just how much a minimalistic movement such as elbow flaring can completely nullify the effectiveness of an exercise.

In order to prevent this, ensure that your elbows are positioned correctly throughout every triceps exercise, especially on the cable push-down. An effective way of doing so is by making sure you can feel the elbow on the side of your torso throughout the whole exercise.

Too Much Weight

Like many gym exercises, excessive weight that the athlete cannot properly handle automatically decreases the likelihood of muscle stimulation, but also an increases the possibility of injury. With the triceps push-down, if too much weight is placed on the machine, the most essential phase of the movement can be taken away and made almost totally ineffective. The pause at the bottom of the movement is a major key to this exercise, however, if there is too much weight for the athlete to handle then they can usually find themselves not being able to perform the whole range of motion and therefore the pause for the push-down.

As a result, they are then left being incapable of pausing at the bottom of the contraction and squeezing the triceps. If there is an unrealistic resistance placed on the push-down, the effectiveness is significantly reduced, therefore so are all of the benefits that you can expect if it were performed correctly.


Triceps Training | TIPS

? Compound Movements

Due to the fact that the triceps are not large muscle groups in comparison to the legs or the back, people assume that you do not have to perform a compound movement (movement where there is a movement at more than one joint) during a workout. Whilst you don’t need to perform a compound exercise, they can provide some serious benefit to your workouts such as: CNS Stimulation, high calorie burn, time efficient and testosterone/growth hormone release.

Try adding the following exercises to the beginning of your triceps training (they should be at the beginning due to the fact they require probably the forefront of your energy levels); close grip bench press, triceps dips or close grip press ups.

? Cables & Machine Balance

Whilst some of the key triceps movements are free weights (dips, close grip bench press, overhead dumbbell extension etc), performing exercises with free weights will also provide the following benefits; increased balance and stability required, higher calorie burn due to increased effort exerted, injury prevention and functionality.

Like anything, the key is balance; so try to incorporate both free weight and cable/machine movements throughout your triceps training routine in order to reap the benefits of them both!



Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you're concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.

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