Triceps Pulley Exercises (A guide to bigger triceps)


Triceps pulley

The Triceps Pulley Workout

Knowing how to work and get the most from your triceps is important for many reasons, including developing a better upper body aesthetic, pressing strength and great posture. 

But what exercises do you do to build bigger triceps? Which is the best equipment for your triceps? How can I isolate and really push the triceps?

In this article, we will show you some triceps pulley exercises specifically designed for this muscle group and give you some tips for working them out at the gym.

What is a triceps pulley?

A triceps pulley is a cable machine that helps to target and build the triceps muscles at the back of the upper arm. Most commercial gyms with have a dedicated tricep pulley machine. If yours does not, you can use a lat pulldown machine as an alternative.

A pulley is a great tool for isolating the triceps muscles. It is relatively easy to use and it is very effective at working the triceps without fatiguing the chest or shoulder muscles like a pressing movement would. 

There are a few things to keep in mind when using a pulley, however. 

First, it is important to use a light weight when starting out. As you become more comfortable with the exercise, you can increase the weight. Make sure that you are using perfect form and feeling good muscle connection before increasing the resistance. 

Second, it is important to keep your elbows close to your body when using the tricep pulley. This will help to target the muscles more effectively. 

Finally, it is important to keep your movements slow and controlled. This will help to prevent injury and maximize the effectiveness of the exercise. Triceps react well to tie under tension so keep it slow and smooth.

Why use the pulley for triceps?

There are several reasons why you might want to use the pulley for triceps. 

A triceps pulley allows you to target the triceps directly without bringing in too many stabilising or assisting muscle groups. This is great for muscle connection and isolation.

The pulley also provides direct and constant resistance to the triceps which is perfect for hypertrophy. By providing constant resistance, the pulley helps you to work the triceps much harder, which can lead to fast growth and muscle adaptation.

Additionally, the pulley can help to improve your range of motion. By using the pulley, you can extend your arms further than you would be able to with a close grip press or skull crusher. This can help to stretch out the triceps and improve flexibility.

Finally, there is the convenience of using a pulley with a weight stack. Triceps react well to drop sets and pyramid sets so using a machine with quick weight selection is ideal. Nobody wants to be constantly adding weight plates to a bar mid-set.

Overall, the pulley is the perfect tool for working the triceps. It allows you to isolate the muscle group and provides resistance that can help you to build muscle and improve your range of motion.

Triceps muscles and where they are located

There are three triceps muscles, and they're all located on the back of your upper arm. The long head runs along the inside of your arm, while the medial and lateral heads run along the outside. 

All three muscles work together to extend your elbow, which is why they're often referred to as the "pushdown" muscle group.

Triceps anatomy

While all three triceps muscles are important, the long head is responsible for the most movement at the elbow joint. This is because it's attached to both the shoulder and elbow joints. As such, it's responsible for both elbow extension and shoulder extension.

The medial head is the second-largest of the three triceps muscles. It's located on the inside of your upper arm and attaches to both the humerus (upper arm bone) and ulna (forearm bone). The medial head plays a key role in stabilizing the elbow joint during movement.

The lateral head is the smallest of the three triceps muscles. It's located on the outside of your upper arm and attaches to both the humerus and ulna bones. The main function of the lateral head is elbow extension, but it also helps to stabilize the elbow joint during movement.

Tricep Exercises With Cables vs. Dumbbells

If you're looking to add tricep exercises to your workout routine, you may be wondering whether to use cable pulleys or dumbbells. Both have their benefits, but cables have far more!

Cable pulleys offer a few advantages over dumbbells when it comes to triceps exercises. 

First, they allow you to keep your elbows in a fixed position, which can help target the triceps more effectively. 

Second, you can use a wider range of motion with cables, which can lead to a better workout. 

Third, cables are often easier on the joints than dumbbells, making them a good option if you have any joint issues.

That said, there are also some benefits to using dumbbells for triceps exercises. Dumbbells are often more versatile than cables, as they can be used for a variety of exercises. They're also usually more affordable than cables. And if you're new to working out, dumbbells may be a good option as they're usually simpler to use than cables.

So, which should you use for triceps exercises? If you're looking for the most effective workout, go with cables. However, if you're on a budget and working out from a home gym, dumbbells will also work as an alternative.

Let's Warm-up!

Before embarking on any resistance exercise, it is important to make sure that the muscles and joints are fully warmed up and primed for work. Spend a few minutes at the beginning of your workout on a treadmill or exercise bike to get the blood pumping.

Once your body is generally warmed up, grab some resistance bands or light dumbbells and warm up the triceps. 

You can warm up the triceps by using light dumbbell overhead presses or tricep extensions with a light triceps pulley or resistance bands. 

This will prime the muscle for work by filling it with blood and reducing the risk of any injury from tearing. 

Before you start your working sets on the tricep pulley, perform a couple of warm-up sets. Start with 30% of your working weight and perform 10 reps. Rest for a minute and then up the weight to around 60% for a few reps. 

Do not take these warm-up sets to failure as you do not want to fatigue your muscles before starting your working sets. Stop 3-5 reps short of failure. 

Triceps Pulley Exercises

Tricep Extension

Cable pulley extension

The tricep extension is the standard movement for working your triceps on a cable machine. It is simple to perform and extremely effective. 

Simply add a straight bar or a tricep V bar to a triceps cable pulley and set the pin to around chin height. 

Select a moderate weight as the focus is going to be on form and tie under tension.

Stand in front of the machine with your feet at shoulder width for stability. Hold the bar with your palms facing away from you.

Keeping your elbows at the side and without moving your body or upper arms, push the bar away from your chin and downwards towards your thighs.

Make sure that you can feel your triceps doing the work. Breathe out as you extend the bar down and breathe in as the bar comes back up. 

Use a slow, controlled motion. When the arms are fully extended, hold the position for 2-3 seconds and squeeze the triceps before slowly releasing the bar back up.

Repeat this movement for 12-15 reps. If you struggle to do this many reps, reduce the weight. If you find it too easy, add some more!

Rope Extension

triceps rope pulley

The rope extension is a tricep pulley exercise that allows you to overextend the arm making it great for range-of-motion and hypertrophy. 

It is essentially the same exercise as the triceps extension but instead of using a bar attachment, you will be using a double rope attachment. 

Just set up exactly as you would for a standard tricep extension and hold the ends of the rope at chin height. 

As you breathe out, Extend the arms by flexing at the elbow. As the arms become fully extended, pull the rope ends apart and squeeze the triceps. 

Hold this position for a couple of seconds before slowly returning to the starting position. 

You will not be able to use as much resistance with a rope extension as you would with a bar extension, but you do not need to. 

By using good form and a slow, controlled movement, you will feel the burn in your triceps after just a few reps. 

If you have never used rope extensions and usually opt for a bar, give them a try. They are harder to perform and put a little more strain on the forearms but give great results. 

Overhead Triceps Extensions

Triceps pulley overhead

Overhead triceps extensions can be performed with a bar attachment but for extra stretch and overextension, the rope is better. You'll have to go a little lighter on the weight but the connection with the tricep is great. 

Stand with your back to the machine and the rope ends held behind your head. From this position, you have two options.

You can extend the rope ends straight upwards by flexing at the elbow or you can bend over and extend your arms outwards. 

Both movements work the triceps in exactly the same way but if you are training with heavier resistance, you will find the bent over method easier. 

Reverse Grip Triceps Extension

Triceps pulley one arm

The reverse grip triceps extension can be performed with both arms at the same time but is more effective with a stirrup attachment targetting one arm at a time. 

Using a stirrup gives you a bit of flexibility in the wrist allowing you to get a good connection with the triceps. If you opt for the two arm approach, use an EZ bar as it allows you to turn your palms in slightly and take the strain away from the forearm. 

Set the handle at chest height and select a weight that you can comfortably move with one arm for around 12-15 reps.

Using an underhand grip, extend your arm by flexing at the elbow. Keep your upper arm and torso rigid so that your tricep is doing all of the work. 

As with the majority of tricep isolation exercises, focus on a moderate weight with a slow, controlled motion as the triceps react well to constant, slow tension. 

Triceps Pulley Dips

Pulley dips are great for hitting the triceps from a different angle. If you do not have the strength or mobility to perform bodyweight dips, give these a try. 

Attach a wide bar to a cable pulley and set the height to around chest height.

Stand with your back to the machine, raise your arms behind you and grab hold of the bar so that you can push down on it. 

Keeping a straight back and without moving your torso, use your triceps to push the bar down until your arms are fully extended. 

Squeeze the triceps at the top of the motion before slowly bending the arms in to the starting position. 

Repeat for the required number of reps and sets. You can go really heavy on this one!

Triceps Cable Pushdown

The tricep cable pushdown is similar to the standard extension but it allows flexibility in the upper arm. 

Instead of flexing at the elbow and keeping the upper arm rigid, you are flaring the elbows out and pressing the bar down.

To perform a pushdown, attach a bar with a narrow grip. A V-bar works great for this but a small straight bar will do the job. 

Set the pulley to waist height, take a step back and lean over the bar. 

With an overhand grip, grab the bar, take a deep breath and as you exhale, push the bar down. 

You can flare the elbows out and bring them in as you extend the arms. 

The main advantage of using triceps pushdown is that you can move a lot of weight. This is more of a heavy load, compound movement as it activates the shoulders, core and chest as well as the triceps. 

Triceps pulley for bigger triceps


The triceps pulley workout is a great way to add some extra resistance to your triceps training. By using a pulley, you can increase the amount of weight that you are lifting, which will help you to build stronger and bigger arms. 

However, it is important to be aware of the potential risks associated with any resistance workout, so be sure to consult with a doctor or certified personal trainer if you are not sure about training with any health condition that you may have. 

With proper form and safety precautions in place, though, the triceps workout can be an effective way to achieve your bodybuilding or strength goals.

We hope that you have found this article informative. Check out our free training program, HyperGrowth for a great, scientifically-backed, hypertrophy training split. 100% FREE!

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