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Triceps Pushdown: Tips, How-To, Common Mistakes + FAQ

The triceps pushdown is part of the arsenal of frequently used exercises for many gym-goers. The exercise is not difficult to learn, so even beginners can use it fairly quickly. In addition, almost every gym has a pully, which makes the exercise very accessible.

On this page, you will find an explanation about the execution of the triceps pushdown, what the most common mistakes are, and which variants there are. In addition, we answer several frequently asked questions about this exercise.

Which muscle groups do you train?

It will come as no surprise that you train the triceps with a triceps pushdown. The movement is quite small and therefore mainly targets one muscle group. However, you should also grip the rope (or handle) firmly.

This will also put your forearms to work and grow somewhat with your triceps. Other than that, it stays there. We can therefore describe this exercise as an isolation exercise.

Triceps Pushdown

Performing the Triceps Pushdown

The explanation below describes all the steps you need to take to successfully perform the triceps pushdown. It's a fairly simple exercise, so the steps aren't difficult to learn.

  1. Take a rope and hang it on the pully

    Raise the pully as high as possible so that you have enough room to move for a full movement. Grab the rope and stand straight in front of the pully.

  2. Grab the rope and pull it down

    Grab the rope with your palms inward. Pull it down until your arms are at a 90-degree angle. It's also fine to keep your arms a little higher. This is your starting position.

  3. Move your arms down until they are straight

    Now extend your arms in a controlled motion. Make sure your upper arm hangs straight down to your elbow. Keep your elbows close to your body, but you don't have to push them all the way against your body. Squeeze the rope hard and make sure your arms are fully extended.

  4. Move your arms back to 90 degrees

    Now you can move your arms back up. Again, make sure that your upper arm remains straight down from the floor up to your elbow. So move it as little as possible. The entire movement must be performed in a controlled manner.

  5. Repeat as many times as you want

    You have now done one repetition of the triceps pushdown. You can then repeat this as many times as you want. A good number to start with is around 8 to 12 reps.

If you don't quite manage to stretch your arms while performing, you may have taken too much weight. Try again with a little less weight. Isn't weight the problem? Then try taking a step back. You may then have a little more space to perform the exercise correctly and to get your arms straight.

The most common mistakes

Of course, mistakes are also made in the triceps pushdown. To make sure you don't make these mistakes, we've detailed the most common mistakes here. Do you recognize any of the situations below? Then try to solve this in order to perform the exercise as optimally as possible.

  1. The upper arm does not stay straight down
    One of the mistakes that are made very often is that the upper arm does not stay straight down. Often people let the rope go back up too far, causing the upper arm to start moving. This releases tension from the triceps and allows you to (unconsciously) use more momentum for the downward movement. This means less work for the triceps. Always try to keep your upper arms completely still to avoid making this common mistake.
  2. The arms are not fully extended You
    often see people not fully pushing the triceps pushdown. The last part is skipped, while this is the part where your triceps are needed the most. So focus on squeezing the bar hard and fully extend your arms to get the most out of the exercise.
  3. Standing too close to the pully
    If you stand too close to the pully, it can become a bit uncomfortable to perform the exercise. So if you notice that it is not quite possible to perform the exercise as it should? Try stepping back and see if it works.

Variations of the triceps pushdown

The standard triceps pushdown is done with a rope and two arms at the same time. There are, of course, variations on this. Below are the three most common variations of this exercise.

Triceps pushdown with a handle

Instead of a rope, it is also possible to use a handle designed for this purpose. This can be a straight handle, but also a handle with a curvature, such as with an EZ barbell. Both variations work fine, but the variation with the curvature will be less taxing on your wrists. Do you have a choice of both? Try them both out and see which one you like better. By default, do this variation with your palms down.

One Arm Triceps Pushdown

Instead of using two arms at the same time, it is also possible to use only one arm at a time. This puts the full focus on one arm and you notice, for example, whether one arm is stronger than the other. You can perform this variant with both a rope and a handle.

Triceps pushdown with reversed grip

If you choose to use a handle, it is also possible to do the exercise with a reversed grip. In this variation, your hands are turned and your palms are facing up instead of down. You will probably find this variant a bit heavier than the regular triceps pushdown with a handle.

Frequently Asked Questions

We round out this information about the tricep pushdown with a few frequently asked questions. If you still have questions after reading this and they are not answered below? Please let us know. Who knows, we may be able to help you.

What is a good weight for triceps pushdowns?

This does not only depend on how strong you are but also on the pully with which you do the exercise. For example, 20kg will feel different on a pulley with one pulley than on a pulley with two pulleys. So first just start with a lightweight to warm up and then increase the weight until it is heavy enough.

Should I choose a rope or a handle?

With a rope, you can squeeze a little harder in the last part of the exercise, but with a handle, you can pick up a heavier weight. It is fine to alternate the two exercises.

What is a good alternative to the triceps pushdown?

Do you not like the triceps pushdown, or can you not perform the exercise, for example, because there is no pully at your disposal? Fortunately, there are more than enough triceps exercises that you can do.

Think for example of a close grip bench press or triceps dips. View the overview of all exercises for triceps and choose exercises that are possible.

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