Triceps Pushdowns (How To & Alternatives)


Triceps Pushdown

Triceps Pushdowns are hands down a first-ballot Hall of Fame arm exercise. Walk into any gym in the country right now and I can almost guarantee you you’ll find someone at the cable machine doing Triceps Pushdowns.

In this guide, I’m going to teach you how to do Triceps Pushdowns including coaching points for doing them correctly. I’ll also give you a few alternatives in case you don’t have access to a cable machine.


How To Do Triceps Pushdowns


Equipment Needed

  • Cable Machine
  • Cable Attachment of your choice (V-Bar, Straight Bar, Rope, etc)

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Step up a cable machine by sliding the pin all the way to the top of the beam.
  • Attach the rack attachment of your choice.
  • Grab the attachment and pull the attachment down until your elbows are next to your sides (arms should still be bent).
  • Now, extend the arms down by flexing the triceps and driving the attachment toward the floor.
  • Squeeze the triceps at full extension for one second and then slowly allow the attachment to raise back to the starting position.
  • Keep elbows tucked into the sides throughout the movement.

Coaching Points

Do not swing and use momentum at the top of the movement in an attempt to use more weight. Stay in control of the weight at all times and use proper form.

If using a heavy weight, you can lean slightly forward at the waist to give yourself more stability and to help keep yourself anchored to the floor.


Muscles Worked


Triceps Pushdowns work all three heads of the Triceps muscle as well as the Anconeus (the muscle that wraps down across the elbow)

  • Triceps Brachii lateral head
  • Triceps brachii long head
  • Triceps brachii medial head
  • Anconeus

Pro Tip: Using a Rope will emphasize the lateral head of the triceps and using an underhand grip on a straight bar will emphasize the medial head of the triceps.


Triceps Pushdowns Alternatives


If you can’t do Triceps Pushdowns, for whatever reason, then here are a few alternatives that you may be able to use as a substitution.

Band Triceps Pushdowns

The closest alternative to Triceps Pushdown with a cable machine is doing the same movement using a resistance band.

Simply loop a resistance band around the top of a squat rack and you can do Triceps Pushdowns. In my opinion, it’s worth paying a few bucks for a resistance band for your home gym if for nothing else than being able to do Band Triceps Pushdowns.

Skull Crushers

Skull Crushers (1)

Skull Crushers are another extremely popular triceps exercise. Lay on your back on a bench (or the floor if necessary), extend your arms straight up from your chest and then bend and extend your arms.

Skull Crushers can be done with a bar or you can do the dumbbell version if you prefer.


More Links and Info


Looking for more biceps, triceps and forearms exercises? Check out the Arm Farm in our Exercise Library. It has dozens of exercises dedicated to building bigger and stronger arms all with complete step-by-step instructions.

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Ryan Horton

Horton Barbell was created by Ryan Horton who has served as a Sports Performance Coach for almost 20 years. My mission is to create a training resource to help as many coaches and athletes as possible maximize athletic potential.

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