Cable tricep workouts are fantastic for adding mass to your arms, keeping your training fresh, and prioritizing different areas of the muscle group. Cable workouts provide an important factor that other resistance workouts cannot match: angles. And angles are the secret sauce to variation in your workouts.
Today’s post will go over the benefits of cable machines, practical exercises you can do, and lots more. Let’s dive in.
Benefits of Cable Tricep Workouts
A notable benefit of cable tricep workouts is that you can target your muscles from many angles and emphasize all three heads.
For instance, a traditional rope cable tricep extension is good for the lateral and medial heads (outside and middle heads). In contrast, an overhead cable extension targets the long head that makes up a significant percentage of the muscle.
Another benefit of a tricep cable workout is that you can easily adjust the load to fit your strength level perfectly. Most machines come with loads between 5 lbs (2 kilograms) and 200 lbs (90 kilos) in small increments. You can use more weight on some movements and less on others to achieve better muscle activation.
Effective Cable Tricep Workout Exercises
1. Rope Pulldowns (Rope Extensions)
Rope pulldowns, also called rope extensions, are a fantastic movement for the triceps. This is a foundation exercise for a cable tricep workout. Having your palms face one another during the exercise is great for engaging the long tricep head more effectively.
2. V-Bar Pushdown
The V-bar pushdown is an excellent triceps exercise that allows you to use more weight and overload the muscle group effectively. Your palms face generally down, but because of the V-bar they face slightly inward at a 30-45 degree angle (depending on the angle of the V-bar).
This movement engages your medial and lateral tricep heads (middle and exterior heads). So it’s really a must that should be part of any tricep cable workout.
3. Pushdowns (palms facing down)
Pushdowns are similar to V-bar pushdowns, with the primary difference being that you’re using a straight bar instead. As a result, your palms face down instead of slightly inward, resulting in better activation of the medial and lateral tricep heads. (1)
This movement engages your medial and lateral tricep heads (middle and exterior heads).
4. Overhead Extensions
Overhead extensions are another great movement that emphasizes the long tricep head. The effect is possible because having your arms above your head leads to a superior stretch of the long head.
This is a powerhouse tricep exercise. If you do these once a week, your triceps will be very sore, and they will grow harder and stronger with each passing month. If you do a tricep cable workout a few times a month (or even week), then this should definitely be part of your rotation.
5. Rope Kickbacks
Cable kickbacks are a movement you perform by bending forward and grabbing a rope from a low position. Like dumbbell kickbacks, the exercise is fantastic for isolating the tricep and working all three heads. (2)
The image below shows the kickback motion, but instead of the dumbbell you’ll use a cable.
|Rope Pulldowns (Rope Extensions)
|Pushdowns (palms facing down)
General Rules On Sets And Reps
The average person who wants to build muscle but doesn’t necessarily want to compete in bodybuilding, follow this guidance for a great cable tricep workout:
- Pick two to three exercises and train the triceps once to twice per week. Vary the exercises that you choose each week.
- Do 2-3 sets per exercise.
- Do 6 to 12 reps per set. Doing more reps (up to 20) can also be beneficial, especially for isolation movements like rope kickbacks and overhead extensions.
- Do most sets to near muscle failure, where you’re close to fully fatigued and struggle to do one more rep.
- You can combine these exercises with other tricep exercises, like diamond push-ups or bench dips, to fully round out the workout.
Safety Tips And Considerations
A notable benefit of cable training is that it is safer than other approaches, such as using free weights. Still, safety should always be a consideration because accidents can happen. A tricep cable workout should be very safe in general, but you can’t be too cautious to protect yourself. And nothing puts you out of commission like a workout injury!
Safety Tips for a Tricep Cable Workout
Here are some tips to protect yourself:
- Remember to ensure the pin is fully secure when selecting your load. Always do a double check just to be safe.
- Always pick weights that you can comfortably control, and avoid trying to progress too quickly. Doing so can lead to a breakdown in technique and increase the risk of injuries. Start with a very light weight, and gradually increase as you get more comfortable.
- Inspect new cable machines and ensure they are in good condition. The cable should look firm, everything should be tight and secure, and there shouldn’t be any rust or cable fraying. Also check the connections on each end, and make sure there is no wear.
- MD, G. S. (2022, February 16). Triceps brachii muscle. Kenhub. https://www.kenhub.com/en/library/anatomy/triceps-brachii-muscle
Cronkleton, E. (2019, May 28). TRICEP kickbacks: How-to, benefits, and more. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/tricep-kickbacks