6 reasons to try tricep pushdowns for toned upper arms and bodybuilding

If you want to tone your back and upper arms, try the intense and effective tricep pushdowns. Here's how to do it properly!
A woman doing tricep pushdowns
Strengthen your upper arms with tricep pushdowns! Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Shruti Bhattacharya Published: 10 Jun 2024, 08:59 am IST
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Are you looking for ways to build defined triceps on the back of your upper arms? Adding tricep pushdowns can be an excellent workout for targeting this area. This exercise involves pushing down against resistance with a cable machine and a rope or bar attachment. Tricep pushdowns are a popular workout among bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts as this exercise can effectively isolate and strengthen your triceps for a more toned and defined look. Moreover, this exercise is ideal for both newbies or fitness professionals, as it can be adjusted to fit your needs. Let us tell you everything you need to know about this effective exercise to tone your upper body, its benefits, and how to do it.

What are tricep pushdowns?

Triceps pushdowns are a strength training exercise that primarily target the tricep muscles located on the back of the upper arm. This exercise works at a cable machine, where you push a bar or handle down against resistance. “By controlling the movement up and down, you isolate and strengthen your triceps, leading to a more defined and sculpted look in your arms. It is a great exercise for beginners because it is easy to learn with proper form, and you can adjust the weight to fit your fitness level,” says fitness expert Yash Agarwal.

What are the benefits of tricep pushdowns?

Here are some of the notable benefits of tricep pushdowns:

1. Target tricep development

The exercise isolates and works the triceps brachii, the three muscles that make up the horseshoe shape on the backside of your upper arm. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that tricep pushdowns along with other tricep exercises were highly effective in increasing tricep muscle strength and size.

2. Tones arms

“Strong triceps are crucial for overall arm strength because they help with many types of pushing motions, including bench presses, overhead presses, and push-ups. Tricep pushdowns help build and tone the triceps, resulting in increased arm strength and power,” says the expert.

Woman building triceps
Strong triceps are important for multiple reasons. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

3. Improves functional fitness

Tricep strength is essential for any exercise that requires extending your forearms from the elbow, as found in a study published in the Acta Orthopaedica et Traumatologica Turcica. Some daily actions would be impossible to complete without the assistance of your triceps. Maintaining them strong enables you to carry out several everyday tasks.

4. Prevents injury

The triceps muscles are prone to overuse injuries from repetitive activity such as throwing, swimming, and hammering. Training the triceps, including tricep pushdowns, can help prevent repetitive stress injuries. However, more research is needed to prove this claim.

5. Versatility

Tricep pushdowns can be done with various equipment, including cable machines, resistance bands, and dumbbells. “They are an excellent workout for those with varying levels of fitness and access to various kinds of equipment because of their adaptability,” says the expert.

6. Improved definition

When you perform tricep pushdowns to target and strengthen your triceps, the exercises emphasise the definition and separation of muscular fibres within the triceps. This results in a more prominent and sculpted arm appearance, which improves their overall muscle definition. However, more research is needed to prove this claim.

How to do tricep pushdowns?

Here is a complete guide on how to tricep pushdown, as explained by the expert.

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  • Attach a straight or V-shaped bar to the high pulley of a cable machine. Adjust the weight stack according to your strength level.
  • Stand facing the cable machine with feet shoulder-width apart. Grab the bar with an overhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart, and elbows tucked in close to your sides.
  • Your arms should be fully extended, and the bar should be in front of your thighs.
  • Keeping your upper arms stationary, exhale and push the bar downward by extending your elbows until your arms are fully extended.
  • Squeeze your triceps briefly at the bottom of the exercise to increase muscular engagement.
  • Inhale and slowly release the bar back to the starting position, controlling the movement.
  • Aim for 8-12 repetitions per set, adjusting the weight as necessary to maintain proper form.

Also read: Spice up your arm workout with these at-home exercises

Are there side effects of tricep pushdowns?

If the form is not maintained properly while doing tricep pushdowns, you are likely to end up with the following:

1. Overuse injuries: Excessive or improper execution can lead to overuse injuries like tendinitis or elbow pain.

2. Muscle strain: Using too much weight or poor form can strain the triceps or surrounding muscles.

3. Joint stress: Improper technique may put unnecessary stress on the elbow joint, leading to discomfort or injury.

4. Fatigue: Performing triceps pushdowns excessively without adequate rest can lead to muscle fatigue and decreased performance.

Woman learns how to do tricep pushdown
Take expert guidance on how to do tricep pushdowns. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Who should avoid tricep pushdowns?

1. Anyone with an injury

Those with existing elbow or triceps injuries should avoid triceps pushdowns or consult a physical therapist before attempting them.

2. Medical conditions

People with medical conditions affecting the elbows or triceps should avoid this exercise or seek medical clearance before attempting it.

Keep this in mind!

Anyone new to strength training should focus on mastering basic movements before incorporating advanced exercises like tricep pushdowns. Also, it is important to consult with your doctor or healthcare provider before starting triceps pushdowns.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What happens if I do triceps every day?

Training your triceps every day is not suggested since it might result in overtraining and injury. Training your triceps two to three times a week with a minimum of 48 hours in between is recommended for optimal growth.

2. How many tricep pushdowns should I perform?

For the tricep pushdown, start with a weight you can control for 2-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions. Select a weight that will allow you to retain proper technique throughout all sets and repetitions.

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About the Author

Shruti Bhattacharya is a content writer and editor for over 2 years. She specialises in writing on a variety of topics such as wellness, lifestyle, beauty, technology and fashion. Her current focus is on creating factually correct and informative stories for readers. ...Read More

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