Last Updated on December 7, 2022 by admin
We all know how great bigger arms look, but how do you get bigger arms? Most men and women are craving definition in their arms and the key place to start is the triceps.
These muscles take up over half of the arm, so getting them developed will be a key part of building up the rest of the arm.
Great triceps help you to develop a lot of key muscles including the biceps, the shoulders, and the chest. Whether it is press-ups or pull-ups, you’ll need good triceps to engage in all of these actions.
One of the best methods for targeting the triceps is the triceps cable. This is a cable that you pull down towards your stomach, helping you to isolate the triceps and focus on developing the muscles here.
But there are so many routines that you can do for triceps, what is the best one for you?
Well, we’ve compiled a list of 15 of the best that will help you get good form, gain definition in your arms and increase muscle mass and muscle receptors. Keep reading to find out more!
What Are Triceps And How Do They Work?
Triceps, also known as triceps brachii, are muscles in your arms that are made up of 3 different sections, each one functioning to move the entirety of your upper arm.
It is often believed that larger biceps will make your arms look bigger, but this is not the case. The biceps are actually smaller than the triceps and made of a lot fewer component parts.
Here is a breakdown of the three parts of the triceps muscles and what they do:
- Long head – this is the lengthiest muscle in the triceps, running down the length of the upper arm.
- Lateral head – this is the smallest portion of the muscle, and it can be found on the outside of the arm.
- Medial head – this can be found running right around the width of the upper arm around the middle section.
There are some exercises that will focus on only one of these heads, whereas some of the exercises that we will list below will target a few parts simultaneously.
You might notice that some parts of this muscle are underdeveloped, which means you’ll have to target certain bits.
Why Should I Work On Getting Stronger Triceps?
As we have established above, the triceps, not the biceps, are the largest muscles in your arm. If you want to lift greater weight or want to increase the number of pull-ups or push-ups that you can do, then you’ll want bigger triceps.
You’ll want to work both your biceps and your triceps in tandem, as these two muscles work in conjunction with each other.
If your biceps are larger than your triceps, you will experience balancing issues as one muscle overcompensates for another.
Here are some reasons why you’ll want to increase the size of your triceps:
- Stability – having good triceps will help you stabilize your shoulders. This is important if you are doing press-ups or shoulder taps, which both increase your chest and back muscles. The greater the stability, the more reps you’ll be able to do.
- Better extension – you’ll be able to better extend your elbow and arm. This is the main job of the triceps muscles. If you have had an injury in this area, then you’ll want to build up your triceps.
- Good for joint health – you’ll want to keep your joints in good working order. This is why focusing on the triceps will help maintain the condition of the whole arm, especially the elbow.
- Endurance – if you are an avid weightlifter, then you might be aware of the limitations of the muscles in your upper arm. By increasing those triceps, you’ll be able to build up the power and stamina of the whole arm.
- Lift heavier weights – with greater power comes a better ability to be able to bench more and lift more weights. You’ll be able to do greater reps of shoulder presses and press-ups with enhanced triceps too.
- Bigger, better muscles – if you are just into the cosmetic aspect of having bigger muscles, then this is another reason to have developed triceps. Bigger triceps equals bigger arms equals looking better in your favorite shirt.
There are a few other reasons why you’ll want to hone in on the triceps which we’ll discuss more in-depth later in the article.
Above all else, you’ll be wanting stability, power and endurance to be your primary goals for bigger triceps.
Why Should I Use A Triceps Cable?
When it comes to isolating the triceps, the triceps cable is the one piece of equipment that you’ll want to use.
Here are some of the major upshots of using the triceps cable for your upper arm rather than any other type of equipment:
- Utilizes the whole range of motion – a lot of dumbbell exercises often just focus on one portion of this muscle, whereas the cable really extends your arms through an entire range of motion. This also creates a solid load that is not variable.
- Achieves a three-dimensional exercise – because you can change your grip and handle positioning, you can switch up which part of the triceps you are working. You can shift between different exercises, which is great as it does not limit you.
- Accelerates muscle growth – this will be much easier to really get your pump on and develop that serious muscle growth. Endurance is the key part of firing those muscle receptors, so you’ll want a machine that will keep you engaged for much longer.
You can also mix up your triceps cable exercises with dumbbells and other body presses.
Triceps extensions are a great place to start before shifting onto more weight-intensive exercises like press-ups or pull-ups, which utilize your whole body weight.
Now that we’ve explained some of the reasoning behind doing some of these exercises, now we’ll go into the 15 best triceps cable exercises that you can find.
15 Best Exercises Using The Triceps Cable
1. Triceps Pushdown
This first exercise is one of the most basic, making it perfect for beginners who have less than one hour a week of regular exercise.
This type of exercise involves simply pulling the bar down, providing you with an even amount of pressure across the muscle.
This is ideal for anyone who wants to target all 3 heads of the triceps. This has suitable resistance and will not dip or create uneven tension like some exercises.
This also will not cause you to become imbalanced because of weight, which might cause you to fall over a sustain an injury.
You need to pull the bar down with your palms facing down. This will emphasize the outer lateral head of the triceps, as opposed to the palms-up grip which will cause the inner long head to become stimulated.
The fact that the thumb is on the outside will also result in a grip that hits all three heads at once. This also helps you tone up the secondary muscles of the deltoid and forearm.
2. Reverse-Grip Triceps Pushdown
This is another exercise that will put stress on the head of your arm, although it will alleviate a lot of the tension that goes into your elbow.
All you have to do to complete this movement is grip the bar with your palms facing up, close to the center for increased stability.
Have your feet shoulder-width apart so you have a firm foundation, and pull the bar down towards your hips. Keep your elbows completely stationary and do not bend your back or tilt your torso backward.
The important part of this exercise is that you keep your elbows tucked into your sides and pull only so you feel that pump in your triceps.
Pull until you have completed the entire range of motion, then slowly return the bar to the starting point.
3. Cable Triceps Kick Back
This next exercise focuses on one arm, which is great if you are really looking to concentrate all of the tension in your arm into one place.
This hits all 3 heads of the triceps, pushing them more than with both hands but still keeping the pressure evenly distributed.
By having this continual resistance, then you will create more muscle hypertrophy, which is the key ingredient for creating more muscle definition and building muscle mass.
This is a great exercise for beginner and intermediate bodybuilders and exercise fanatics.
Grab the pulley in the center with one hand. Then bend forward, keeping your back straight and your knees bent.
Now staying in this position, pull your arm back so that you can feel the tension in your triceps and rear deltoids. Pull the arm back until you are fully flexing it out behind you.
Now, do not lock the elbow at the point and slowly release the pulley until it is back in the starting position. This will ensure one fluid motion backward and forwards.
You can switch between both arms doing an equal number of sets or you can focus on one arm. This is good if you are trying to build up your triceps after an injury, where the muscle can sometimes atrophy.
Try and avoid starting in with a heavy weight. Start light and gradually build up, even if you are a heavy weightlifter.
4. Rope Triceps Extension
This exercise is very similar to the cable triceps extension, used to build up all the muscles of the triceps, hitting all the 3 heads simultaneously. This exercise will help you to improve your bench presses as well as your shoulder press capacity.
To perform this exercise properly, stand with your legs shoulder-width apart and grip the ropes in each hand, making sure they are evenly spaced apart.
You need to make sure that your palms are facing each other, and your elbows are level with your waist.
Making sure that your body doesn’t move, extend your hands downwards, exhaling and pulling the rope towards your hips. Keep going until the elbows are fully extended.
Do not lock your elbows, just allow the rope to slacken until you reach the starting position.
5. Cable Standing High Cross Triceps Extension
This next exercise is great if you want to mix up your triceps extension a little.
This is also a great exercise if you are taller, and you often find it hard to get that resistance when you are doing some of the triceps extensions that we have listed above.
To do this maneuver, you will need a wider extending machine. You should stand in the center, grabbing the right pulley with your left hand and the left pulley with your right hand.
Flex your arms until your elbows are fully extended. Try not to lock the elbows, instead creating a fluid movement from the starting point to the endpoint and back again.
Keep your elbow in the same position, and keep the upper arm as still as possible.
Make sure that the triceps are squeezed as hard as possible during the endpoint. This is a great way to get the pump which is required to build more muscle.
6. Cable Overhead Triceps Extension
This type of overhead extension is great for targeting the long head of your triceps.
When you work that long head, the larger the whole triceps muscles will appear, which is great for anyone interested in the cosmetic benefits of muscle growth.
To perform this move, face away from the cable machine that should be pointing up from the floor. Take the ropes from behind and lift them up to your waist then behind your head. This is your starting position.
With your elbows at either side of your head, pull the rope upwards until your arms are completely over your head.
Again, make sure that your elbow is not moving at all, and the same with your upper arm. Exhale as you pull the weight.
As with all these exercises, only use a weight that you are comfortable with. If you go too heavy, then you could do yourself some serious injury.
7. Cable One-Arm Reverse-Grip Triceps Push-Down
A push down is another great exercise for beginners, as it requires very little motion, and you can do it on a very lightweight. This is a popular exercise for people trying to rehabilitate the triceps after an injury.
Usually, the grip required here is a supine grip, which means your palms should be facing upwards.
If you perform it with your palms facing downwards, then you will put more pressure on the outer head of the triceps.
All you need to do for this movement is, using a downward-facing cable, extend the pulley until the grip is down at your hip, breathing outwards with the movement.
Without locking the elbow, release the weight until it is back at the starting position near your shoulder.
Make sure that the elbow is still, and that you are squeezing your biceps and triceps at the start and the end of your movement.
8. Cable Lying Triceps Extension
This is one that will allow you greater ease of movement, putting greater resistance on your triceps and allowing you to forge a greater connection between your mind and your muscles.
This one requires a bench. All you need to do is lie on the bench with the bar above your head, with your elbows up and your arms at a 90-degree angle.
Now pull your forearms up until they are extended fully above your head. Tense your triceps to get the pump you need and then relax your arms until they are back in the starting position.
You should make sure that you do this in sweeping, slow and controlled movements.
You can also do this exercise using a rope, which will shift a lot of the resistance onto your lateral head rather than your long head.
9. Incline Cable Triceps Extension
This next exercise is a little less extreme than the last one, as you are on an incline rather than flat on a bench. This is a great exercise for helping you to rehabilitate your muscles after an injury.
This will also go much easier on the wrists, which can often be a point of injury when you are doing these exercises repeatedly.
As with the previous exercise, have your hands behind your head for the starting position, ensuring that the elbows are on either side of your ears. Then pull the bar upwards until it is directly over or just in front of your head.
When you get to the peak point of the movement, then you should try and hold it for a few seconds.
This will increase the tension, which will in turn increase the blood flow into your muscles, leading to further growth. Once you have held this, then return it to the start.
One thing to remember during this exercise is to try and prevent your elbow from flaring out at the sides, as this will put pressure on muscles that surround the triceps.
10. Cable High Pulley Overhead Extension
This next exercise resembles a lot of the previous ones, although this one utilizes a lot more of the body and will really emphasize those triceps muscles.
This is great for isolating and working on the long head of your triceps, which as we have mentioned above, will make your arm overall look much more defined.
Standing up, hold the ropes over your head with your palms facing inward. With a lunging stance, placing one leg forward, pulling the cable over your head.
Then pull the elbows forward, flexing them into a complete movement until they are locked out completely. Once you have done this, reverse the movement until the cable is slack and you are in a full standing position.
You should make sure that the weight isn’t too heavy with this exercise, as it might yank you backward and cause you to jerk your lumbar area.
This could cause you significant injury, which might put you out of action for a few weeks.
11. One-Arm Cable Overhead Extensions
If you are looking to get that symmetrical look with your arms, then you can always do alternate one-arm cable overhead extensions.
You can either stand for this exercise (if you think yourself stable enough) or you can do it sitting (if you have reduced stability due to injury).
Keeping your elbow close to your head, grasp the handle behind you. Your elbow should be at a 90-degree angle. With your free hand, gently hold your upper arm in position, supporting it through the movement.
Pull the stirrup upwards until your arm is directly over your shoulder. Make sure your elbow or no portion of your upper arm moves. Make sure that you exhale as you are doing this movement.
Once you have extended it, hold for a second or two and then release the tension on the cable, relaxing your arm into the starting position.
Make sure that your elbow does not move the entire time and focus on that tension in all the heads of your triceps.
Again, make sure with this exercise that you are not lifting a weight that is too heavy, otherwise, it will yank you back, causing you to come off-balance and maybe even necessitating some injury.
12. Cable Concentration Triceps Extension
This type of exercise is unilateral, which means it trains one part of your body at a time. This is great for evening out weaknesses, which can sometimes be the cause of a lot of strain and decreased reps in exercising.
This is one of those exercises, so when you do them, make sure that you are starting with your weak side first. This exercise is done kneeling, so make sure that you have stability, and that you can lock your core for balance.
Adapt the pulley so that the cable is extended upwards over your shoulder. Crouch with one knee on the floor and one elevated.
If you are crouched on your left knee, then hold the stirrup with your left hand and extend the cable over your right shoulder and vice versa.
With your left elbow pressed into your left upper thigh, pull your forearm down until it is pressed right into the inner thigh. This will pull the rope taught, which you should feel in your left tricep.
Then slacken the cable until the forearm is in the original starting position. Repeat this for whatever number of reps you need and then switch to the other arm.
Keep your back nice and straight during the whole exercise. You won’t want to bend forward, as this will cause your back to do some of the lifting that you’ll want to reserve for the triceps.
Again, avoid using a weight that is too heavy as this will cause you to go off-balance.
13. Triceps Push-Down V-Bar
By replacing your bar or rope with a V-bar, you will be able to lift much heavier weights and tax your triceps a lot more.
All you need to do for this exercise is to attach the V-bar to your straight pulley.
Then stand up straight with your elbows at your hips and the V-bar at your chest. Make sure that you do not bend your back, keeping straight throughout.
Then pull down the V-bar until your elbows are straight and you feel the flex in your triceps. Hold this position for a few seconds and then relax the bar into the starting position.
You should make sure that if you are lifting heavier weights with your V-bar, you should keep your back straight and not move your upper arm. You should also keep your elbows stationary throughout the movement.
This exercise will really focus on your forearms and your triceps, contributing to the overall development of your arms.
14. Cable Kneeling Triceps Extensions
If you really want to reach the upper levels of triceps definition and flexing, then you should give these kneeling exercises a shot.
This is good for really piling on weight, as it is an exercise that gives you a lot of stability and reduces the risk of imbalance and therefore injury.
You’ll need a bench and a pulley machine for this exercise. All you need to do is lie on the bench, sideways to the pulley machine.
Kneel and lie flat on the bench, putting the underneath of your arms against the top of the bench. This will ensure that your arms are completely stable and do not move through the entirety of the exercise.
The starting position should see your hands behind your head towards the cable machine, elbows at either side of your head. Have your palms facing down in the neutral position.
Pull your arms forward so that the pulley bar goes over your head and settles in front of you. You should feel a pull in your triceps when you do this workout.
Since you are going to be facing down, this is great for helping you concentrate on that mind-muscle connection.
Hold this end position for a few seconds before letting the cable relax back to the starting position with your hands behind your head. Repeat these reps for however long that you want.
Make sure that you keep your arms quite close to your head during this exercise, as it will help you maintain stability and keep most of the tension in your triceps. You can push your elbows into the bench for extra stability.
15. Cable Rear Drive
Finally, we have an exercise that really builds up muscle in the rear delts as well as the triceps. This is a unique movement and should really be considered 2 exercises in 1, as it will help you to develop 2 muscles at the same time.
This exercise can activate a lot of muscles around your triceps, including your upper back muscles, your leg muscles and all the muscles in your upper and lower arms.
To execute this move properly, you’ll need to set up your pulley so that it is shoulder height. Stand to the side so that your right shoulder is facing the cable machine.
Then, taking the stirrup in your left hand, pull the cable outwards, across your chest and out to your left-hand side.
As you do this, you should feel all the muscles that we have listed above activate. Keep this cable taught for as long as you possibly can, depending on what you’re capable of.
Make sure that you take a deep breath as you complete this half of the exercise.
Once you have done this, then release the tension on your arm until it returns to the starting position. Repeat this move over and over until you have completed the number of reps that you need to.
For this exercise, even if you are a pro at lifting, you should use medium weights, as heavier weights will throw you off balance, which could result in injury to your back.
You should make sure to keep your body straight, and do not twist your torso, as your arm should be doing most of the work.
Try and keep your arm completely horizontal for this exercise.
If you dip your elbow at any point, then you can be certain that your lower back muscle (latissimus dorsi) will compensate and activate, taking some tension away from your desired triceps area.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I Only Do Cables For My Triceps?
Cables are a good exercise for isolating your triceps, however, these are not the only exercises that you can do for your triceps and there are plenty of exercises that work the triceps in tandem with other muscles.
Here is a list of some of them:
- Diamond pushups – this highlight and activates all 3 heads of the triceps. All you need to do is put yourself into the normal pushup position, but with your hands in the center of your chest in the shape of a diamond.
- Dumbbell kickbacks – this is much the same as the cable kickbacks that we’ve mentioned above, except this requires a dumbbell and will engage quite a bit of your core for stability.
- Triceps dips – this is a great exercise that only requires a flat surface and no additional equipment. All you need to do is find a low surface, place your hands on it with your body facing away and simply dip yourself toward the ground.
How Should I Warm Up My Triceps?
It is crucial that you warm up your triceps before you begin these exercises, otherwise you might cause yourself injury. Try doing some of the above maneuvers without any weight.
This will get your joints moving and increase blood flow to the required muscles before exercise.
Isolating any muscle will always require the right knowledge and the right application of certain moves to avoid injury.
But if you do all of the above triceps training moves with proper form, you should start noticing more muscle and greater definition really soon.