You’ve probably asked yourself “What is triceps?“And how do I work them? Well, they’re the muscles at the back of the upper arm, which are responsible for fully extending the elbow joints and bending the arm toward the body. But instead of being a single muscle, they’re made up of three heads: Lateral, longAnd intermediate.
Your triceps are an important cluster whether you want to avoid joint injuries, perform endless pull-up sets at the gym, or hold that over-packed grocery cart steady as you push it through the parking lot. So, what tricep exercises can you do to strengthen this muscle group? While you can do plenty of tricep exercises with dumbbells, not everyone is comfortable with them or likes to use them. Here, find 5 ways to use your gym’s cable machines to build tricep strength and give your arms a 360º tone-up.
#1 Triceps pushdown
To kickstart your next triceps workout, aim for yours lateral head With a tried and true exercise: the triceps pushdown. Whether you’re early on in your fitness journey or not, the tricep pushdown is a great exercise that not only strengthens the triceps muscle group and targets the lateral head, but can help prevent muscle injuries.
To perform this tricep exercise, you need to set up a cable machine at a comfortable weight a few feet apart. Here’s what to do:
- Facing the cable machine with a straight spine and shoulders pulled back
- Keep your elbows at your sides and grab the bar with both hands
- Bending at the elbows, pull the bar down until your arms are fully extended
- Slowly allow the elbows to flex and lift the bar. Repeat.
Workout tip: If you find that you have to move your back, shoulders or hips to pull the bar down, that’s your sign to choose a lower weight. The more you can isolate the motion in your arms, the better you will work your triceps.
#2 One-arm overhead extension
The overhead triceps extension (otherwise known as the “Superwoman extension”) trains you long head one arm at a time. Although a variation of this tricep exercise works both arms simultaneously, exercising the muscles individually can help isolate and correct muscle imbalances.
To get started, you just need a handle grip with cables installed below chest level. Here’s how to do a cable overhead triceps extension:
- Facing away from the machine, place the foot opposite the hand you started with in front of the other foot. Begin by gently bending your knees and leaning your body slightly forward (like how a runner might start a run).
- Grab the handle with one hand and raise your elbow to your ear, maintaining a 90-degree bend in your elbow.
- Pull the bar to fully extend your arms while keeping your active wrists stable. Repeat, then switch to the other side.
#3 Lying triceps extension
This is the workout target three heads Tricep’s at once. For tricep extensions, you need a flat bench, a pulley installed near the base of the machine, and a narrow overhand grip.
Place the bench a foot or so in front of the pulley and begin this tricep workout:
- Lie on the bench on your back and place your feet firmly on the ground at a 90-degree angle.
- Extend your arms straight above you and grasp with both hands. Arms and wrists should be perpendicular to the rest of your body.
- Stabilize your upper arms, tuck the elbows and bend at the elbows. The pulley should stop just above your forehead before you begin the next rep.
#4 Reverse-Grip Pushdown
This exercise is similar to the triceps pushdown, but it targets the long and middle head.
Start on a chin up machine with a straight bar and begin:
- Facing the machine, hold the ends of the bar with both hands and lean forward slightly.
- Pull the bar down in front of your chest, guiding the elbows against your torso. Your elbows should have a 90-degree angle.
- Now, pull the bar from the elbows until your arms reach full extension. Repeat.
#5 One-arm horizontal tricep extension
Complete triceps day with an exercise that targets the lateral, long and medial heads in one fell swoop—when Build elbow strength. This tricep extension workout is unique, as it involves pulling the cable sideways instead of up and down.
Set up your dumbbells at chest height and begin:
- Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and only one side of your body facing the machine. Hold the handle with the hand farthest from the machine.
- Raise your arms to chest height, parallel to the floor. Bend the elbows so that your hands are at 90 degrees towards you.
- Now, move your upper arm back and let your arm extend with it. In the final position, your entire arm should be completely straight and parallel to the floor.
- Repeat for several repetitions. Then, repeat on the other side.
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With each tricep exercise, you’ll be on your way to strengthening the muscle group and building stronger triceps. As you’re playing with this cable tricep exercise, 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions each is a good jumping-off point. That said, it never hurts to get workout recommendations tailored just for you—and if you’re looking for guidance, that’s where we’ve come.
A Choose Fitness, our friendly fitness experts want to send you on your fitness adventure with the advice and inspiration you need to boost your confidence and achieve your goals. Our community of fitness enthusiasts welcomes people at every stage of their fitness journey—to get you started, search to find a location near you.gym near me“Online and Now let’s start Today.
Ani is Vice President of Fitness at Chuz Fitness and oversees the Group Fitness and Team Training departments. He had a 25+ year career in club management, personal training, group exercise and instructor training. Annie lives in San Diego, CA with her husband and son and loves hot yoga, snowboarding and all things wellness.
- University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Muscle strength and balance are important for healthy joints. https://uihc.org/health-topics/muscle-strength-and-balance-are-important-healthy-joints
- ACE Fitness. One-sided training facility. https://www.acefitness.org/resources/pros/expert-articles/7035/the-benefits-of-unilateral-training/
- Fits very well. How to do tricep pushdowns: proper form, variations, and common mistakes. https://www.verywellfit.com/how-to-do-the-triceps-pushdown-3498613
- NCBI. Anatomy, Shoulder and Upper Limb, Triceps Muscles. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK536996/