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October 08, 2021 8 min read

Training your triceps is important for upper body mass and stability. The triceps pushdown is a popular exercise for bodybuilders and regular gym rats alike since it works all three heads of the triceps and can allow for more weight compared to an overhead triceps extension. 

The one drawback of the triceps pushdown is it’s most commonly performed on a cable machine, which is a highly sought piece of equipment in the gym. Even if you don’t have a cable machine at your disposal, there are alternatives to the tricep pushdown that you can even do from home.

Exercise for triceps in the gym

What Exactly Is A Tricep Pushdown?

The tricep push-down is one of the greatest workouts for triceps growth

Although it is most frequently done with a cable system, at-home tricep exercises may be done using a resistance band. The triceps push-down is a must-do workout for all fitness levels.

How to do the Tricep Pushdown 


To begin, use the pin-and-place adjustment and a little weight. Other weighing methods may be included in different versions of the machine.

When you're ready to get started, do the following:

  • Begin by bracing your abdominal muscles.
  • Next, tuck your elbows in at the sides and place your feet slightly apart.
  • Contract your abs and obliques as you take a deep breath in. 
  • As the air hits your nostrils, close off any air that may have previously been there by pushing down on top of yourself with both hands while bending at the elbows so they are completely stretched out but not locked straight.

For newbies, aim for four sets of eight repetitions. Contract those muscles again when returning back to starting position for 1 minute before releasing each time through this whole routine.

Benefits of the Tricep Pushdown

Before we jump into the alternatives, let’s talk about why the triceps pushdown is popular and beneficial. Knowing the benefits and the muscles worked by this exercise can help you choose the best variation. 

  • Pressing strength: Having strong triceps can help your upper body look sculpted and healthy, but they can play a larger role than just looks. Your bench press, overhead press, and almost any other pressing movement relies on the triceps to help with the lockout phase. In the final push of the bench press to extend your arms is where your triceps come in. Keeping them strong can help you load heavier weight onto the bar and get past that sticking point.  

  • Shoulder stability: The arms and the shoulders work together for movement and function, and stronger triceps could mean greater shoulder stability. The triceps pushdown activates all three heads of the triceps, the long, medial, and lateral head.  The long head specifically plays an important role in shoulder stability, meaning if your triceps are weak, you could be at a higher risk of a shoulder injury.  

  • Builds arm mass: The triceps help make up about ⅔ of your arm, so building this muscle group can contribute to bigger arms overall. Pair your upper body day with  Whey-Pro and start seeing more rapid muscle growth.    

  • Less shoulder strain: Although the overhead triceps extension can be one of the better triceps exercises, lifters with poor shoulder mobility or injuries may not be able to perform this exercise properly or without pain. Keeping the shoulders in their natural position, like in the triceps pushdown, can help take the strain off the shoulders while still building triceps strength and muscle.

  • Isolates the triceps: An exercise like the close-grip chest press can be beneficial for building the triceps, but this muscle group could be overshadowed by the bigger pectoralis major. Isolation exercises can help maximize hypertrophy and can strengthen one targeted area compared to being overlooked during compound exercises.  

Why Do We Need Alternatives? 

The simple answer to this question is variety. Your mind, just like your muscles, can adapt and plateau. Doing the same upper body program over and over again can become monotonous and boring, so having alternative exercises on deck can help your motivation. 

Variety is also important for targeting different parts of the muscle.

The triceps pushdown activates all three heads of the triceps, and although you can’t isolate one head from the other, you can choose exercises that emphasize each head more.

The long and medial head of the triceps are emphasized in the triceps pushdown, but this may be altered with speed and intensity. 

The triceps pushdown is also most commonly performed on a cable machine, and if they’re all full at the gym, or you workout from home, it’s good to know how you can still achieve similar benefits with a different exercise.

7 Tricep Pushdown Alternatives    

Unless you have a home gym in your garage, chances are you probably don’t have a bunch of fancy gym equipment at your disposal. With these seven alternatives, you can strengthen your triceps from anywhere.

Resistance Band Triceps Pushdown

Although this alternative does require a small amount of equipment, resistance bands are easily accessible and fairly inexpensive. You can carry them in your gym bag or store them in your nightstand for a convenient home workout. 

Barbells and dumbbells are often thought of with resistance training, but  resistance bands can provide similar gains in strength

To do the Resistance Band Triceps Pushdown:

  • Loop the resistance band around a secure, stable apparatus above your head.
  • Hold the resistance band with both hands, palms facing in, starting at chest height.
  • With your elbows tight to your sides, push your hands down to your hips, squeezing your triceps at the bottom. 
  • Control the band as you slowly return to the starting position. 
  • Complete 8-12 repetitions. 

Resistance Band Triceps Kickback 

Another popular triceps exercise that can eliminate stress on the shoulders is the triceps kickback. The hip hinge position is what makes this exercise different from the triceps pushdown. Getting your muscle to full contraction can be challenging enough without the extra resistance of bands or weight. 

The kickback can activate the triceps more than its neighboring exercises, making it a great alternative to the pushdown.

To do the Resistance Band Triceps Kickback: 

  • Loop the resistance band around a secure, stable apparatus in front of you, or you can secure it under your feet.
  • Hold the other end of the band in both hands, palms facing in, elbows bent at 90 degrees and stuck to your sides.
  • Hinge over at your hips while maintaining a neutral spine until your back is almost parallel with the ground. 
  • Start to extend your arms until your triceps are fully contracted.
  • Slowly return to the starting position.

Triceps Dips

Isolation exercises can be beneficial for building triceps size and strength, but compound exercises can also contribute to a bigger, stronger upper body. 

Triceps dips mainly work the triceps, but they also recruit the pectorals and shoulders.

There are plenty of variations just for this exercise, and it’s easily adjustable to your fitness level. All you need is a stable surface in your home to get started. 

To do Triceps Dips: 

  • Set yourself up on a stable surface such as a sturdy chair or on the steps.
  • Face away from the stable surface and place the palms of your hands on it, fingers pointing towards you.
  • Push up so your arms are fully extended.
  • Extend your legs out in front of you and plant your heels on the ground with your toes pointing up. For less intensity, keep your knees bent.
  • Slowly bend your elbows until they reach a 90 degree angle.
  • Press through your palms to extend your arms again. 

Triceps Push-Ups

Just one rep of a push-up can be difficult enough, let alone when you rely on a smaller muscle group to do the work. Positioning your hands closer and keeping your elbows tighter than a normal push-up  can put greater emphasis on your triceps.

Your pectorals and deltoids are also targeted with the triceps push-up, so this alternative can be a great option for building upper body strength. 

To do Triceps Push-Ups:

  • Place your hands on the ground directly underneath your shoulders. 
  • Extend your legs behind you, so your toes are planted and your back is flat.
  • Squeeze your core and keep your elbows tight to your sides as you start to lower your body to the ground.
  • When your chest reaches the ground, press all the way back up to the starting position.

Bodyweight Triceps Extension

Triceps extensions can be beneficial for triceps mass because of the great lengthening of the muscle, but they do typically require free weights. The bodyweight triceps extension performs a similar movement pattern to target the triceps with just your own body weight.

This exercise essentially transitions your body from a forearm plank to a high plank, requiring the triceps to push up and fully extend the arms.

To do the Bodyweight Triceps Extension: 

  • Start off in a position similar to a plank but position your hands higher, so they are in line with your eyes and not your shoulders. 
  • Keep your back flat and core tight as you begin to bend your elbows.
  • Once your elbows reach the floor, press back up to extend your arms.
  • To modify this exercise, place your knees on the ground or perform it from a bench.

Resistance Band Skull Crushers 


When a muscle is under load when it’s lengthened,  it can induce almost three times more hypertrophy.

Skull crushers can be extremely effective due to this, and even without free weights, you can perform this exercise. Using a resistance band can be a convenient way to build up your triceps at home, and skull crushers are guaranteed to get your arms burning.

To do Resistance Band Skull Crushers: 

  • Attach the resistance band to a secure apparatus behind you or under you.
  • You can lie on the floor or a bench for this exercise as long as slack remains in the resistance band throughout.
  • Hold the band with both hands, palms facing each other, and arms extended towards the ceiling.
  • Keep your arms in line with the ceiling as you hinge at your elbows.
  • Stop when your hands have reached your head.
  • Push back up through the same path to the starting position.  

Plank Up Downs 

Whenever you perform a pressing movement, you recruit your triceps. That’s why triceps are important for exercises like the bench press, push-ups, and plank up downs. Plank up downs use your triceps, chest, shoulders, core, and even your glutes to perform this movement. If holding a plank wasn’t challenging enough, adding a dynamic element to it can be great for your whole body.

To do Plank Up Downs: 

  • Begin in a plank position with your hands stacked under your shoulders, your back flat and core tight.
  • Lower your right forearm to the ground, followed by your left to transition into a forearm plank. 
  • Press your right palm down to extend your right arm and do the same on your left side. 
  • Repeat with your left side coming down first and continue to alternate. 

Build Bigger Arms at Home 

You don’t have to spend hours in the gym to achieve bigger, stronger muscles. Many of the exercises you perform in the gym can be modified somehow to accommodate a home workout.

Strength training is important for gaining lean muscle mass, but there’s nothing wrong with a good workout from home. 

If you’re committed to working out from home long-term, it can be a good idea to invest in different types of resistance bands or dumbbells to ensure you’re challenging your muscles enough for them to transform. 

Wherever you choose to exercise, know that staying active is important for maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle.