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Strong triceps play a pivotal role in overall upper body strength and functionality. These three-headed muscles, located on the back of the upper arm, are essential for a wide range of everyday activities and athletic endeavors. An amazing exercise for the triceps is the tricep pushdown. This guide will teach you the muscles involved in tricep pushdowns, the benefits and common mistakes associated with tricep pushdowns, how to perform the tricep pushdown properly, and give you ideas to complete your tricep workout.

What Muscles Do Tricep Pushdowns Work?

Primary Muscles in Tricep Pushdowns

  • Triceps Brachii: The triceps brachii is composed of three muscle strands (the long, medial, and lateral heads) – therefore the root of the name tri. It specifically targets the long head of the tricep. The triceps help extend or straighten the elbow and the forearm. They also play a role in shoulder adduction and extension, which allows the arms to pull down. In addition, the tricep muscles help to stabilize the shoulder joint.

Secondary Muscles

  • Forearms: Located in the lower part of the arm – between the elbows and the wrists. This area encompasses several muscles that help pronate, flex, abduct, and adduct the hands.

Benefits of Tricep Pushdowns

  • Aesthetics: Well-developed triceps can enhance the appearance of the arms, making them look more defined and muscular. Tricep pushdowns help you deal with “batwings” or “grandma-arms” -fatty accumulation on the back of the arm.
  • Strength: Tricep pushdowns strengthen the triceps, helping in daily movements like pushing, lifting, and reaching. The triceps are heavily involved, whether you’re pushing open a heavy door, lifting a suitcase, or extending your arms during a bench press.
  • Athletic Performance: Triceps are vital for activities like throwing a ball, serving in tennis, performing gymnastics routines, and other exercises, such as push-ups or chest presses.
  • Hypertrophy: Tricep pushdowns help increase the size of the muscles on the back of the arms.
  • Isolation: This is a great isolation exercise, helping you to concentrate on those tricep muscles.
  • Injury Prevention: Having strong triceps contributes to improved stability and balance, reducing the risk of injury in the shoulders and elbows.

How to Do Tricep Pushdowns 

  • Face the tricep pushdown cable machine and stand with your back straight, chest up, shoulders back, and your core tight (you can also use resistance bands).
  • Position your feet slightly apart with your knees slightly bent.
  • Tuck your elbows in at your sides but slightly in front of your body. Grab the cables and flex your elbows.
  • Inhale before you get started. Proceed to push down, as you exhale, until your elbows are fully extended but not locked. Keep your elbows close to your body throughout the movement
  • Slowly return to the starting point in a controlled manner.
  • Repeat
  • Perform 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions 

Tricep Pushdowns Mistakes

  • Rounding Your Back: A straight back helps you perform tricep pushdowns properly while maintaining proper alignment. Remember to keep your back straight and engage your core.
  • Flaring Out Your Elbows: You want to keep your elbows tucked in by your torso during the entire movement in order to perform the exercise properly. Flaring out your elbows allows your biceps and shoulders to assist in the movement, instead of isolating your triceps.
  • Favoring One Arm Over the Other: Make sure to push down evenly with both arms. Sometimes people favor one arm more than the other due to strength imbalances between the two sides. If that’s the case, try doing one-armed tricep pushdowns on your weaker side to help balance out your arms.
  • Using a Short Range of Motion: You should perform the exercise with a full range of motion. Your arms should start at least on a 90-degree bend at the elbow and move toward full extension. You can get all the benefits of the exercise by avoiding shortening the motion of the tricep pushdown.  
  • Using Your Body Weight to Push the Weight: Make sure that you are isolating your triceps, not using the weight of your body or your back to help push down the weight.
  • Swinging Your Upper Arms or Elbows: This is an isolation exercise that should be performed in a controlled manner. Avoid swinging the upper arms or elbows because this produces momentum, which can negate tricep emphasis and engage other muscles such as the deltoids or lats.

Tricep Pushdowns Video Tutorial

Tricep Workout

You can complete your tricep workout by performing the following exercises:

As you can see the tricep pushdown is a wonderful tricep exercise. It offers tremendous benefits associated with hypertrophy, strength, performance, and aesthetics. From everyday tasks to sports performance and aesthetics, strong triceps are essential for maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle. Now that you know how to properly perform tricep pushdowns, you can avoid the most common mistakes associated with the exercise and enjoy their benefits. Remember, whether you want to lose weight, tone your body, or gain strength or size, all muscles must be trained.

Lift, Burn more Fat, Get Stronger, and Live Healthier!

To a Fitter Healthier You,

Adriana Albritton

The Fitness Wellness Mentor

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