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The Pushdown Exercise for the Triceps Muscles

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Tricep Pushdowns
Home -> Advanced Training -> Exercise Technique -> Tricep Pushdowns

Primary Movers:
Triceps Brachii

Secondary Movers:

Anatomy of the Triceps

Click the Professor to review the anatomy of the Triceps.

Pushdowns are an isolation exercise for the triceps done using a high pulley or pulldown machine. This is one of the most common and easy to learn tricep exercises.

How to do it:

Top position of the tricep pushdown
  • Stand facing a high pulley with a straight, cambered or V bar.
  • Grip the bar with a palms-down, less than shoulder width grip.
  • Start with the bar at about chin level and your upper arms angled slightly up.
  • Begin the movement by bringing your elbows down in line with your body. This involves the long head of the triceps.
  • When your elbows are pointing down, continue the movement by pushing down and around in a wide arc
Bottom position of the tricep pushdown

  • Keep your elbows pinned tightly in to your sides and your wrists straight. Do not let your wrists bend back. Squeeze hard.
  • Let the bar up. Let up your upper arms angle up again until the bar is at chin level. Repeat.
  • Keep your lower back arched and your chest out.


  • When you come to the bottom of the pushdown, try to push the bar towards the ground by dropping your shoulders. This extra squeeze on the triceps will increase the contraction greatly.

Common Error:

  • Not controlling the weight on the way up and using momentum on the way down - this is a combination of errors. If you don't control the weight as it comes up, you will have to use elastic force from the back muscles to rebound the weight back down. This rebound back down reduces tricep activation. If you continue to use momentum on the way down and don't squeeze the triceps during the movement then you will get very little out of this exercise except perhaps a backache. Do this exercise in a slow and controlled manner.


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