The Tricep Press-Down: Muscle-Building Exercise and Variations

Updated: Jul 2


tricep-press-down

The tricep press-down is a great exercise for targeting the triceps muscles. This article will describe how to do the exercise, as well as some variations that can be performed. The triceps muscles are located on the back of the upper arm and play an important role in pushing movements. The tricep press-down is a popular exercise because it isolates these muscles very well and can be done with either free weights or a machine. Let's get started!


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:


What muscles do the tricep press-down work?

The triceps press-down works the triceps brachii, which is made up of three heads: the long head, lateral head, and medial head. The triceps brachii is located on the back of the upper arm and helps to extend (straighten) the elbow. This muscle is important to work because functionally, triceps strength is important in any pushing motion that we do. For example, think about pushing a door open or pressing a weight overhead. Aesthetically, strong triceps can give the arms a nice shape and definition.


Benefits of the Tricep Press-Down

The triceps press-down is a great exercise for targeting the triceps muscles. This exercise can be done with either free weights or a machine, making it very versatile. The triceps press-down is also a great exercise for beginners because it is relatively easy to learn and execute. Lastly, the triceps press-down is a great exercise for those who are looking to add size and strength to their triceps muscles.


How to Perform the Tricep Press-Down?

There are two ways to perform the triceps press-down: with a rope attachment or with a straight bar attachment.


Rope Attachment:

  • Start by grasping the rope attachment with an overhand grip (palms facing down).

  • Your hands should be about shoulder-width apart.

  • From here, extend your elbows and press the rope down until your arms are fully extended.

  • Be sure to keep your core engaged and your shoulders down and away from your ears.

  • Slowly return to the starting position and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Straight Bar Attachment:

  • Start by grasping the straight bar attachment with an overhand grip (palms facing down).

  • Your hands should be about shoulder-width apart.

  • From here, extend your elbows and press the bar down until your arms are fully extended.

  • Be sure to keep your core engaged and your shoulders down and away from your ears.

  • Slowly return to the starting position and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.


Common Mistakes

One of the most common mistakes people make when doing triceps press-downs is using too much weight. Remember, this is an exercise that isolation exercise, meaning that you should be using a lighter weight and focusing on the quality of the movement.

Another common mistake people make is not keeping their elbows close to their bodies. This can cause the shoulders to do too much work and take away from triceps activation.

Finally, people often press down with their body weight instead of using their triceps muscles. This is a common mistake because it is easy to do and requires less effort. To avoid this, be sure to keep your core engaged and press down with your triceps muscles only.



Variations

Variation #1: One-Arm Tricep Press-Down

This variation can be done with either a rope or straight bar attachment.

  • To set up, grasp the attachment with one hand and position yourself so that your arm is extended in front of you at shoulder level.

  • From here, press the attachment down until your arm is fully extended, and then return to the starting position.

  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions before switching sides.


Variation #2: Lying Tricep Press

  • This variation can be done with either a dumbbell or a barbell.

  • To set up, lie on your back on a bench and position the weight above your chest with your arms extended.

  • From here, lower the weight down to your chest and then press it back up to the starting position.

  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.


Alternative Exercises

If you are looking for other triceps exercises to add to your routine, here are a few options:


Exercise #1: Tricep Dips

This exercise can be done with or without weight. If using weight a weight belt can be worn.

  • To set up, position yourself on the edge of a bench or chair with your hands shoulder-width apart and your legs extended in front of you.

  • From here, lower your body down until your arms are at a 90-degree angle, and then press back up to the starting position.

  • To set up, position yourself so that your hands are shoulder-width apart and you are supporting your body weight on your palms.

  • From here, lower your body down by bending your elbows and then press back up to the starting position.

  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Exercise #2: Triceps Extension

This exercise can be done with dumbbells, a barbell, or cables.

  • To set up, start by grasping the weight with both hands and position it behind your head with your elbows bent.

  • From here, extend your elbows and press the weight up until your arms are fully extended.

  • Slowly lower the weight back down to the starting position and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Exercise #3: Tricep Kickback

This exercise can be done with dumbbells or cables.

  • To set up, start by positioning yourself so that your palms are facing your thighs and you are holding the weight in your hands.

  • From here, keeping your back straight and your core engaged, press the weight back until your arms are fully extended.

  • Slowly return to the starting position and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Exercise #4: Close Grip Bench Press

This exercise can be done with a barbell or dumbbells.

  • To set up, lie on a bench and position the weight above your chest with your hands shoulder-width apart.

  • From here, lower the weight down to your chest and then press it back up to the starting position.

  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.



Summary

The triceps press-down is a great exercise for building muscle in the triceps. When performing this exercise, be sure to keep your elbows close to your body and press down with your triceps muscles only. To add variety, try one of the variations listed above.

Other triceps exercises that can be added to your routine include triceps dips, triceps extensions, triceps kickbacks, and close-grip bench press.


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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