How to Do a Pushdown

Pushdowns are an excellent exercise for everyone from a complete beginner to the more advanced fitness enthusiast, as it can be adjusted to suit any level by decreasing or increasing the amount of weight or resistance. The movement performed during a pushdown is considered an isolation exercise for its ability to target all three heads of the triceps.

Strengthening the triceps can help to improve wrist and elbow stability during overhead extension, which helps when lifting heavy loads overhead. This exercise can also help to increase strength for performing pressing activities such as pushing open a heavy door.

How To

  • To perform a pushdown, stand with feet firmly planted on the floor at about shoulder width apart. Take hold of the bar or band using an overhand grip so that the palms are facing toward the floor and thumbs are facing each other. Your hands should be at about chest height at the top of the movement.
  • Straighten your back and pull your shoulder blades together and down, engage your core, and inhale as you give a strong push down until your arms are fully extended but not locked out. Bend your knees slightly and tilt your torso slightly forward as your push down.
  • Take a breath and then exhale as you slowly return the hands back up to chest height. The key with this exercise is a strong push downward, but a very controlled upward motion. The weights should not crash back into place.


Depending on your goals (pure strength versus endurance), the number of sets and repetitions can change. Generally speaking, fewer reps using heavier weights is ideal for growing the muscles, whereas more repetitions using lighter weights is better for overall endurance.

Beginners can aim for four sets of 8–10 repetitions.


Exercise band: If you don’t have access to a cable machine, you can use an exercise band by looping the band over a sturdy overhead attachment such as a rod or hook. Grasp the ends of the band using the same overhand grip, starting at about chest height and pulling down.

One arm: This exercise can be performed using one arm at a time if you need to strengthen your weaker side, or concentrate on perfecting the movement. Using one arm can also be beneficial if you are dealing with an injury to one arm.

Rope attachment: If your gym has the option of using a rope attachment, you can increase the difficulty of this exercise. Pausing at the bottom of the movement while using a rope puts more exertion on the triceps, which means you get more out of every repetition.

Cautionary Notes

If you are currently dealing with an elbow injury, or are susceptible to elbow strain, be cautious when trying pushdowns as they can be hard on the elbows. Stop the exercise at any time if you feel pain in your elbows.

Allowing the elbows to sway out and back during the movement turns this exercise into more a lat-focusing movement. Momentum always takes away from the exercise, so if you want to stay focused on the triceps, keep those elbows tucked into your sides.

Make sure to keep a neutral position in the wrists throughout the exercise. Curling the wrists at the bottom of the movement may make you feel like you are achieving a more complete repetition, but doing so will only put unnecessary strain on the wrists.

More Pushdown Related Resources

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Triceps Pushdown – Rope Attachment | Exercise Videos & Guides |
Triceps Pushdown – V-Bar Attachment | Exercise Videos & Guides |
How to Do Triceps Pushdowns: Techniques, Benefits, Variations
The Simple Way Everybody Screws Up Tricep Pushdowns | STACK
Cable Triceps Pushdown – Exercise Database | Jefit – Best Android and iPhone Workout, Fitness, Exercise and Bodybuilding App | Best Workout Tracking Software
Cable Straight Arm Push Down – Exercise Database | Jefit – Best Android and iPhone Workout, Fitness, Exercise and Bodybuilding App | Best Workout Tracking Software

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