woman performing tricep pushdown

How to Do Tricep Pushdowns – A Step by Step Guide

Your triceps are one of those underworked areas of the body that you probably need to do specific exercises to target.

I want to share with you how to do tricep push downs, which definitely target this area and help develop your triceps to give you more well-rounded upper body strength.

People sometimes do this exercise incorrectly, which means they won’t get much use out of it or they could even injure themselves. K

nowing how to do tricep pushdowns correctly is important in order for them to be effective, so that you don’t waste your time and so that you reduce your risk of injury.

I’ll walk you through step by step how to do this exercise and talk about how it helps you as well.

Tricep Pushdowns – Step by Step

Let’s go through the process of doing tricep pushdowns in detail. You’ll need a push down cable machine, and you begin by grabbing the horizontal bar or the rope attachment.

Which one you grapple will depend on what kind of machine is available in your gym. Use the overhand grip for grabbing and adjust the height of the bar so that the grip is about chest level.

Begin with a low weight, keeping in mind that each machine may be a little different and use different weighting mechanisms. Some use a pin and place mechanism, but the machine you’re using may be different.

To begin, brace your abdominals first. Your feet should be positioned a little bit apart and your elbows should be tucked in by your sides. Breathe in and extend your elbows outward but don’t lock them into a straight position. Keep them near your sides and allow your knees to bend slightly as you push down.

Try not to bend forward as you do this exercise. Your back should stay straight while you are in the push down movement.

When you breathe out, go back to the starting position with a smooth movement. Make sure your movements are not jerky and don’t let the weights crash as you do this.

You can start out with eight reps and four sets of these and then work your way up from there.

tricep pushdown

How to Do Tricep Pushdowns with Resistance Bands and Pull Up Bar

You don’t have to have a push down cable machine to do this exercise. I want to show you a method for how to do tricep pushdowns without machine. All you really need is a pull up bar and some resistance bands.

This method for how to do tricep cable pushdowns is fairly simple, and it can be done almost anywhere.

You don’t need an actual pull up bar; you can use any horizontal bar where you can attach resistance bands to it and where you have enough free space to work.

Once the bands are attached to the bar, pull them back with an overhand grip and keep them close to your chest. Go through the same movements I gave you above, using slow, measured movements rather than jerky ones.

How to Do Tricep Pushdowns with Free Weights

You may not always have the necessary equipment to do tricep pushdowns. You can do a similar exercise using free weights, or you can use dumbbells.

This works your triceps in the same way, giving you the same benefits as tricep pushdowns but without the equipment requirement.

The tricep kickback is a great alternative to tricep pushdowns. You need either one or two dumbbells and then a weight bench or some other surface that will support you.

Pick one hand to begin with. Let’s say you start with your left hand. So, as you do that, bend your right knee and put it on the workout bench.

Bend forward like a hinge, pivoting from your hips use your right arm to provide support for the rest of your weight while trying to keep your back as flat as possible. Don’t let it curve as you do this exercise.

Try to keep your left elbow right up against your body while straightening the left arm. As you do this, raise the dumbbell until your arm is in a horizontal line parallel to the floor. From that position, lower the dumbbell as you bend your elbow, but ensure that the elbow stays close against you.

Doing a set of these extensions, make sure you switch over to the other arm and work out your right side. To do that, you’ll use the opposite knee on the bench, working the other side of your body for a balanced workout.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Doing Pushdowns

There are a few things that people get wrong when they do pushdowns sometimes. I want to point out some of the more common errors so you can avoid them when you do yours.

Letting your Elbows Spread

Keep your elbows close to you as you push downward. If you allow them to flare, this will put extra stress onto your shoulders, making them bear more of the brunt.

This also minimizes the impact on your triceps, negating a lot of the work you’re trying to do.

Not Working Both Sides

Make sure you’re putting in even work on both sides of your body. No matter which variation of the push down you’re doing or whether you’re doing the classic one, you want to exert with both sides of your body.

If you’re alternating, be sure you worked both sides equally.

Overusing your Back

This is another common mistake and one that’s pretty easy to make. As you push the weight down for this exercise, make sure you’re not allowing your back to bend.

You may want to lean forward a little bit as you push down and let your knees bend ever so slightly, but make sure that your back isn’t becoming rounded as you push.

If you’re not careful, you can stress your back and cause an injury. By leaning slightly at the hips and bending at the knees, you’ll be able to work your muscles fully and get the most benefits from this exercise.

Tricep Pushdowns Benefits

Doing tricep pushdowns regularly can help boost your overall strength. It gives you greater lifting strength, and more strength to push and pull.

This is an adaptable exercise where you can increase the amount of weight you use, so that you can get more out of it as you build muscle and become stronger.

Tricep pushdowns work your back, shoulders, and your core, benefiting a lot of the body once.

While their primary target is definitely the triceps, working those other areas ensures a wide range of benefits that makes the tricep pushdown a great addition to any upper body workout.


Doing tricep pushdowns means that you’re going to be building your isolation skill, and that’s something you’ll use for numerous other exercises, so it’s a great way to improve your overall workout.

You’ll have to work all three tricep heads to get the maximum tricep benefits, which includes the lateral, long, and medial tricep heads. The tricep pushdown works all three of these for you.

I’ve given you a few different methods for how to do tricep pushdowns for the medial head, and the other tricep heads as well.

These exercises will work your entire triceps, providing more benefits then you normally get with conventional workout moves.

If you feel that your triceps are under developed and could use some improvement, use tricep pushdowns and tricep kickbacks to make a huge impact on that part of your body.