For most people, muscular arms invoke images of biceps that bulge like Popeye. But in actuality, strong triceps are the foundation for strong arms even though they are less visible. A triceps pushdown is a great exercise to do to isolate training on this important muscle group.
- Approach the triceps pushdown station. Many universal weight stations will include this exercise. There is a cable with a bar attached to it that you can pull down to perform a number of different exercises.
- Adjust the weight setting on the weight station. You should start with a low weight setting that provides just enough resistance to produce a slight burn after a few repetitions.
- Grasp the bar with your knuckles on top and hands close together. The range of motion should start about chest level. Feet should be about shoulder width apart with your knees slightly bent.
- Push down the bar to fully extend your arms without locking your elbows. Tuck in your elbows in close to the body. Tighten your abdominal muscles to help keep your back straight as you push down. You don't want to bend too far forward and engage your shoulder or back muscles in the exercise. All of the effort should be isolated in the triceps muscles.
- Follow the upward motion of the bar to return to the starting position. Try to keep a smooth, continuous motion on the way up without hitting the stops at the top or bottom of the range of motion. Sudden starts and stops will contribute to more muscle soreness.
- Repeat this process until you have completed the desired number of repetitions for your training regimen. Follow this exercise with one that works a muscle group in a different part of the body to allow your muscles time to recover.
- To work your entire triceps more, you can perform this exercise using a rope attachment, instead of a straight or V-shaped bar. Grasp an end of rope in each hand, with your palms facing each other. Then perform the same exercise as described in the steps, except push the rope to the outside of your thighs.
- Focusing one arm at a time can help balance your triceps. Attach a horseshoe handle to the cable and grip the handle with your palm down. Facing your palm up will work the inner part of your triceps more. Then perform the exercise as described in the steps.
- Do not allow your elbows to move out to your sides as you push the bar down.
- Do not lock your elbows when you straighten your arms.
- Do not lean forward or hunch your back as you push the bar down. Keep your back straight and head up.
- Do not bend your wrists or lock your knees.