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Forget endless push ups or bodyweight dips for packing on size to your tricep muscles.
All you need is an effective cable tricep workout to increase strength and muscle mass to the back of your upper arms.
Recommended Reading – 6 Best Tricep Medial Head Exercises For Bigger Arms
In fact, cable exercises are the best way to isolate all three heads of the triceps.
Why Are Cable Exercises So Good?
Better For Eccentric Training
The eccentric phase of an exercise is when you lower the weight back down.
When you do this slowly, this leads to more muscle growth.
You can control the speed of the eccentric phase more effectively with cables, which can lead to greater muscle hypertrophy and strength gains.
Constant Tension on the Muscles
You’ll probably find that when using free weights such as dumbbells, the exercise gets easier towards the end of the repetition and that’s perfectly normal.
However, when using a cable machine, the resistance on your muscles stays the same throughout the entire movement.
When the resistance is consistent then you’ll be able to build more muscle.
Less Risk Of Injury
Typically, there’s less chance of injuring yourself when using a cable machine compared to free weights.
Whilst you can pull the cable in multiple directions and at different angles, the machine tends to keep you in more of a fixed position so you can do them with proper form.
Plenty of Versatility
Aside from cable triceps exercises, there’s a huge variety of movements you can perform on a cable machine so you can target pretty much every muscle in your entire body.
This versatility means you can easily achieve a full body workout using just cables.
Cable Tricep Workout For Size And Strength
Let’s jump into the best exercises for your tricep cable workouts.
Cable Tricep Pushdown
Cable triceps pushdowns are probably the most well-known out of all the exercises.
A common mistake with this one is allowing your elbows to come up too high at the top of the movement.
By doing this, you’ll remove tension from your tricep heads, minimizing the effects of the exercise.
So, keep your elbows locked in place. If this is hard to do, then consider dropping the weight.
How To Do The Cable Tricep Pushdown:
- Make sure the pulley is located to the top of the machine with a rope attachment.
- Take hold of it with both hands and take a step back from the machine.
- Keep your feet together with a slight bend to your knees.
- Lean your torso forwards slightly as this will increase your range of motion.
- With your elbows tucked into your side, push the weight down until your elbows lock out.
- Hold briefly and squeeze your triceps.
- Slowly allow your arms to return to the starting position.
- Do 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps.
Single Arm Cable Rope Kickback
This is a unilateral exercise meaning that you’ll be working one arm at a time.
It’s a great way of working on any imbalances activating all the muscles to the back of the upper arm.
How To Do The Single Arm Cable Rope Kickback:
- Stand facing the cable machine with the pulley set to around hip height.
- Take hold of the cable with one hand and bend forward at the hips until your upper body is around parallel to the floor.
- Place your free hand on the machine for support.
- Keeping your elbow tucked in and back flat, extend your arm backwards bending at just the elbow joint.
- Lower the weight back to the start while keeping your elbow fixed in position.
- Repeat for 2 sets of 10 reps then switch to work the opposite arm.
Cable Overhead Triceps Extension
This overhead extension is a great exercise for targeting the long head of the triceps helping to add fullness to the back of your arms.
A common mistake with this exercise is to overarch the back, so make sure to maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement.
How To Do Overhead Tricep Extensions:
- Set the pulley to hip height and clip on a rope attachment.
- Grab hold of the attachment with both hands and then rotate your body so that machine is now behind you.
- At this point, your hands should be over your shoulders.
- Place one foot in front of the other to help with stability.
- From here, extend your arms straight up to lift the weight until your elbows are locked out.
- Slowly return back to the starting position making sure you allow for full elbow extension.
- Complete 3 sets of 8 to 15 repetitions.
Standing Cable Reverse Pulldown
As well as targeting your triceps brachii, this exercise will also help to build strength to your upper back muscles and your rear delts.
When performing this exercise make sure to keep your upper body as stable as you can.
How To Do The Cable Reverse Pulldown:
- Start by positioning the cable to its highest setting and attach something like a straight bar or ez bar.
- With both hands take hold of the attachment using an underhand grip.
- Take a small step back and maintain a slight bend to your knees.
- Lean forwards slightly to allow for a better range of motion.
- With your upper arms parallel to the floor and elbows tucked into your sides, begin to pull the bar down to the front of your upper thighs.
- Squeeze your triceps and allow your arms to return back to the start.
- Repeat for 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps.
Cable Skull Crushers
The skull crusher is another great isolation exercise for your triceps workout and is perfect for hitting the triceps muscle group and building bigger arms.
As with the other exercises, don’t be tempted by heavier weights, use less weight and for more reps.
How To Do Cable Crushers:
- Begin by setting a flat bench just in front of the cable pulley and position the pulley to the bottom of the machine.
- Attach a straight bar or EZ bar (the EZ bar will put less stress on your wrist joints).
- Lie back on the bench so your head is just in front of the machine. Make sure your upper body and head are fully supported.
- Take hold of the attachment with both hands using an underhand grip (palms facing the ceiling).
- Start with your elbows bent to 90 degrees and keep them tucked in throughout.
- Bending just your elbow joint, extend your arms straight up bringing your hands up towards the ceiling.
- Hold this position for a second or two before lowering your arms back down.
- Aim to do 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps.
Single Arm Cable Pushdown
This unilateral exercise is a good way to finish the workout.
It’s very similar to the standard tricep pushdown exercise but instead of using both hands, you work each arm at a time.
How To Do Single Arm Cable Pushdown:
- With the pulley set to the top, attach something like a rope or stirrup handle.
- Stand just in front of the machine and take hold of the handle with one hand.
- Bend your torso forwards slightly and maintain a bend to your knees.
- Place your freehand on the machine for stability.
- Start with your working arm bent to a 90-degree angle with your elbow tucked in to your side.
- Extend your elbow and straighten out your arm.
- Once locked out, squeeze your triceps and then lower the weight back down.
- Perform 3 sets of 10 reps and then switch to work the other arm.
How Often Can You Train Triceps
If you reduce the intensity of the exercises, you can train your triceps every day.
It’s important to keep the sets and weight low and don’t train to failure as this is counter productive.
You’ll only run the risk of overtraining if you go too heavy.
When this happens, your muscles won’t have sufficient time to recover and this could lead to muscle fatigue, decreased performance, and a higher risk of injury.
Remember to prioritize good form, progressively increase the intensity of your workouts, and listen to your body.
If you experience persistent soreness, fatigue, or signs of overtraining, it’s essential to adjust your training frequency and give your muscles the rest they need for optimal growth and recovery.
As well as using cables for building strong triceps, you could also use resistance bands.
Banded exercises differ slightly in that the movement gets progressively harder as it nears the top.
Keeping your workouts varied by incorporating bodyweight exercises and resistance-based workouts will ensure you can increase muscle size and strength whilst helping to prevent any plateaus.
Before you go, head on over to our article with some suggestions on tricep exercises using just bands.