Cable Triceps Extension is an isolated (single-joint) exercise intended to work out triceps. Mainly in the exercise, the lateral and medial head of the triceps work, but with a certain grip, the load can be shifted to the long head of the triceps. Since cable triceps extension is an isolated exercise, it should be performed at the very end of the triceps workout.
Varieties and technique of cable triceps extension
Cable triceps extension is usually done in a cable crossover. A straight or EZ bar is used as a handle. Alternatively, you can use a rope or a cable crossover handle. With the cable crossover handle this exercise is performed with each hand in turn.
Let’s take a closer look at each of the types and analyze the technique.
Straight bar cable triceps extension
Starting position: come to the rack with weights, grab the handle and push it down. Press your elbows to the body, slightly tilt the body forward and slightly bend your knees. It is important to get into a position in which your arms and shoulders are locked up.
Flexion in the exercise will only occur at the elbow joint. Therefore, you should not go far from the machine. Further, having taken the starting position, you begin to perform the exercise by bending and unbending your arms at the elbows in full amplitude, stressing and stretching the triceps as much as possible.
The grip in the exercise is always narrow, but there are some nuances in the location of the palms. If you do the exercise with a direct grip, then the lateral and medial heads of the triceps will be maximally included in the work. If you do a reverse (underhand) grip, then the long head of the triceps will also be included in the work. But, with such a grip, an increased load falls on the thumbs, and they may not cope with it. The handle will simply slip out of your hands. Therefore, when doing the exercise with a reverse grip, it is best to use the cable crossover handle and do the exercise firstly with one hand and then with another.
Due to the fact that the handle of the cable crossover has the function of turning along the axis, in contrast to the straight handle, where the hands are on the same axis, you will be able to turn your hands a bit, and reduce the load on the thumbs. That will allow you to work out the triceps smoothly and efficiently.
EZ bar cable triceps extension
In this variation, in comparison with the above, only the bar changes, from straight to EZ. Firstly, this leads to a turn of the hands, the palms in relation to each other will be at an angle. This placement reduces stress on the elbow joints, as the arms will bend in a more natural position. And secondly, the EZ bar is unlikely to allow you to perform the exercise with a reverse (underhand) grip, and if it does, it will be very uncomfortable for you. Therefore, with this variation of the exercise, it is best to work out the lateral and medial heads of the triceps.
Triceps rope pushdowns (Cable rope triceps extension)
Perhaps, it is the best variation of the exercise. Firstly, the rope handle allows you to work with pronation at the lowest point of the amplitude (turn towards the little fingers), moving the ropes to the sides. This allows you to involve the long triceps head. Secondly, with a rope, the palms will be in a neutral grip (looking at each other). That is, the arms, when bending and unbending, will be in a natural position, the load on the elbow joints will decrease and the chance of their injury will decrease to almost zero.
Overhead cable triceps extension
This type of the exercise can be performed with straight or EZ bar and with a rope, too. The first difference with the described variations is in the starting position. In general, this exercise is performed standing, but you can also do it sitting. Secondly, your arms with a bar are placed behind the neck, not in front of you. That is why to perform the exercise you should lean your torso forward to save coordination and not to fall. Thirdly, during the exercise your elbows are not pressed to the body, but they are near your head in air. That is, it is easy to break the technique especially for beginners.
In this variation, the long triceps head receives more load compared to lateral and medial. This is the main benefit of this type of the exercise. That is why I advise you to alternate different variations of the exercise with various bars and a rope. It will create more preconditions for triceps growth.
Tips on performing cable triceps extension
1) Perform the exercise with the correct technique, without jerking, bend and unbend your arms smoothly, feeling the stress and stretching of the triceps.
2) Do not swing the body or move your elbows forward. This will shift the load on the latissimus dorsi and the pectoralis muscles.
3) Do not hold your breath while doing the exercise. Bend your arms as you inhale, and unbend as you exhale.
4) When doing the exercise, do not bend the hands at the wrists, this leads to the shutdown of the triceps from work.