The Best Triceps Cable Exercises: Muscle-Building, Technique & Variations

Updated: 21 hours ago


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When it comes to working the triceps, most people think of exercises like the bench press or skull crushers. While those exercises are definitely effective, they're not your only options. In fact, using a cable machine can provide you with a wealth of different triceps exercises to choose from. In this article, we will discuss the best cable tricep exercises and how to perform them correctly. We'll also focus on the variations you can use to keep your workouts interesting and challenging.


Before we dive in: check out our full-body training program to develop a strong body and aesthetic physique; you will benefit from one of our programs. We designed a program that gives you the tools to build muscle with an easy-to-follow routine that will fit any schedule. To find out more:


Anatomy of the Tricep

Before we get into the exercises, let's take a quick look at the anatomy of the tricep. The triceps brachii is made up of three heads:


Each of these heads has a different origin and insertion point. However, they all come together to attach at the elbow. The triceps is responsible for extending the elbow, which is why it's such an important muscle group for exercises like the bench press and overhead press.


As we discussed before, there are three parts to the triceps muscle: the long head, the lateral head, and the medial head. The long head is in the middle of all of them. It helps to extend your arm. The lateral head is on the outside of your arm. It also helps to extend your arm, but it also does something else called “shoulder adduction”. The medial head is on the inside of your arm and it only helps with elbow extension.


Why are the triceps important?

The triceps are important for a few reasons. The first reason is shoulder stability. The triceps make up about two-thirds of the mass of your upper arm, so they play a big role in keeping your shoulder joint stable.


The second reason is that the triceps are involved in a lot of exercises. The bench press, overhead press, and dips are all exercises that rely heavily on the triceps. Even exercises like the pull-up and chin-up use the triceps to some extent.


The third reason is that strong triceps can help to prevent injuries. The triceps help to stabilize the elbow joint, which can help to prevent injuries like tennis elbow.




The Benefits of Cable Exercises

Now that we've covered the anatomy of the triceps and why they're important, let's discuss the benefits of cable exercises. First, cable exercises allow you to target each head of the tricep muscle individually. This is important because you can then focus on developing each head equally. Second, cable exercises provide constant tension on the muscle, which is ideal for building strength and size. Third, cables offer a wide range of motion, which helps to improve your range of motion and flexibility. Finally, cable exercises are relatively easy to perform and they're a great addition to any triceps workout.


Tricep Cable Exercises

Now that we've discussed the benefits of cable exercises, let's get into the best tricep cable exercises.


Exercise #1: Tricep Pushdowns

The first exercise is the cable pushdown. This exercise is great for targeting all three heads of the triceps muscle.


To perform this exercise:

  • Attach a straight bar or rope attachment to a high pulley.

  • Grasp the bar with an overhand grip and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.

  • Keeping your elbows close to your sides, extend your arms and squeeze your triceps at the top of the movement.

  • Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.


Cues

  • Keep your elbows close to your sides throughout the entire movement.

  • Do not use momentum to swing the weight up.


Exercise #2: Tricep Cable Kickbacks

The second exercise is the cable kickback. This exercise is great for targeting the long head of the triceps muscle.


To perform this exercise:

  • Attach a single-handle attachment to a low pulley.

  • Grasp the handle with your right hand and place your left hand on your hip.

  • Keeping your elbow close to your side, extend your arm and squeeze your triceps at the top of the movement.

  • Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.


Cues

  • Avoid flaring the elbow out to the side.

  • lower the weight under control and do not use momentum.


Exercise #3: Tricep Rope Extensions

The rope tricep extension is the third exercise. This triceps exercise is excellent for hitting all three heads of the triceps muscle. The rope aspect of this exercise also allows for a greater range of motion.


To perform this exercise:

  • Attach a rope attachment to a high pulley.

  • Grasp the rope with an overhand grip and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.

  • Keeping your elbows close to your sides, extend your arms and squeeze your triceps at the top of the movement.

  • Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.


Cues

  • Throughout the whole exercise, keep your elbows close to your sides.

  • Do not swing the weight up with momentum.


Exercise #4: Seated Tricep Extensions

The seated position helps to keep your shoulder joint stable because the seated position limits your ability to use momentum. The seated tricep extension is a great exercise for targeting all three heads of the muscle.


To perform this exercise:

  • Attach a straight bar or rope attachment to a low pulley.

  • Sit on the edge of a bench and grasp the bar with an overhand grip.

  • Keeping your elbows close to your sides, extend your arms and squeeze your triceps at the top of the movement.

  • Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.


Cues

  • Keep your upper arms close to your sides and do not swing the weight up with momentum.


Exercise #5: Lying Tricep Extensions

Lying tricep extensions allow you to really focus on the triceps muscle because there is no other muscle group assisting in the movement. This triceps workout is great for hitting all three heads of the muscle.


To perform this exercise:

  • Attach a straight bar or EZ-bar attachment to a low pulley.

  • Lie on a bench and grasp the bar with an overhand grip.

  • Keeping your elbows close to your sides, extend your arms and squeeze your triceps at the top of the movement.

  • Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.


Cues

  • Keep your core engaged throughout the entire movement.

  • Do not overarch your back or swing the weight up with momentum.


Exercise #6: One-Arm Tricep Extensions

One-arm tricep extensions are a great exercise for targeting all three heads of the muscle. This exercise also allows you to focus on each arm individually.


To perform this exercise:

  • Attach a single-handle attachment to a low pulley.

Grasp the handle with your right hand and place your left hand on your hip.

  • Keeping your elbow close to your side, extend your arm and squeeze your triceps at the top of the movement.

  • Slowly return to the starting position and repeat with the other arm.

Cues

  • Maintain a solid posture and don't swing the weight up with momentum.


Exercise #7: Overhead Tricep Extensions

Overhead tricep extensions are a great exercise for targeting all three heads of the muscle.


To perform this exercise:

  • Attach a rope attachment to a high pulley.

  • Grasp the rope with an overhand grip and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.

  • Keeping your elbows close to your sides, extend your arms and squeeze your triceps at the top of the movement.

  • Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.


Cues

  • Keep your core engaged throughout the entire movement.


Exercise #8: One-arm Cable Overhead Extensions

One-arm overhead extensions are a fantastic exercise for training the muscle's three heads. This exercise also allows you to focus on each arm individually. This is a great exercise for people who are looking to add size to their triceps.


To perform this exercise:

  • Attach a single-handle attachment to a high pulley.

  • Grasp the handle with your right hand and place your left hand on your hip.

  • Keeping your elbow close to your side, extend your arm and squeeze your triceps at the top of the movement.

  • Slowly return to the starting position and repeat with the other arm.


Cues

  • Use a lighter weight than you would for a two-arm overhead extension.


Exercise #9: Cable One-Arm Reverse-Grip Triceps Push-down

The cable one-arm reverse-grip triceps pushdown is a great exercise for targeting all three heads of the muscle. This activity also helps you to focus on each arm separately.


To perform this exercise:

  • Attach a single-handle attachment to a low pulley.

  • The hand placement for this exercise is unique. Instead of placing your hand over the handle, you will reverse the grip.

  • Grasp the handle with your right hand and place your left hand on your hip.

  • Keeping your elbow close to your side, extend your arm and squeeze your triceps at the top of the movement.

  • Slowly return to the starting position and repeat with the other arm.


Cues

Use a lighter weight than you would for an overhead extension with two arms.



Common Mistakes

People often make the mistake of using too much weight. This can lead to poor form and puts you at risk for injury. Another common mistake is not keeping your core engaged. This can cause your lower back to arch and puts unnecessary stress on your spine. Finally, people often swing the weight up with momentum. This takes the focus off of the triceps and puts unnecessary stress on the elbow joint. Avoid these mistakes by using a lighter weight, maintaining good form, and keeping your core engaged.


Summary

Cable triceps exercises are a great way to build muscle and improve your technique. These exercises allow you to focus on each head of the muscle individually. Be sure to use a lightweight and maintain good form throughout the entire movement. Common blunders that you should avoid include swinging the weight up with momentum and not maintaining your core engaged. Try these exercises today and see the difference in your workouts.


For a complete routine, check out our full-body training program to develop a strong body and aesthetic physique; you will benefit from one of our programs. We designed a program that gives you the tools to build muscle with an easy-to-follow routine that will fit any schedule. To find out more:


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