Triceps Training – Triceps Cable Extensions

Triceps cable extensions are a relatively low impact isolation exercise for your triceps muscles. Here is a quick description of how to perform cable extensions.

Purpose of this Exercise

The triceps cable extension is an isolation exercise for your triceps muscles. The goal of this exercise is to focus directly on building the triceps without the assistance of other muscle groups. It is a good exercise to finish off your triceps after you have fatigued them with heavier compound exercises.

Exercise Technique

  • Isolation exercises should be performed after you’ve completed the compound exercise for the target muscle group. For triceps, I like to use them after close grip bench presses and/or dips to finish off them off.
  • Although there are cable machines designed specifically for triceps extensions, they can be performed at nearly any machine at your gym allowing you to pull down the bar from overhead. Those designed for triceps typically have a pad for you to lean against allowing you to stabilize your body thereby isolating your triceps more effectively.
  • Select a bar to connect to the overhead cable. I prefer an angled bar of some sort, as it allows me to grip it at a more natural angle, and reduces strain on my wrists, just as the EZ-curl bar does for the skull crusher exercise.
  • Grasp the bar with a relatively narrow grip and pull it down to the starting position: your upper arms should be straight down perpendicular to the floor, your elbows at your sides and your upper arms pointing upwards with the bar near your chest.
  • Lower the bar until your arms are fully extended. Your arms should pivot only at your elbows, which remain at your sides throughout the exercise.
  • Without stopping raise the bar back up to the starting position.
  • Lower and raise the bar in a steady controlled manner, focusing on the contraction of your tricep muscle.
  • Throughout the exercise only your lower arms should move, pivoting at your elbows. If your upper arms begin to move you will begin using momentum to lower the bar, and reducing the effectiveness of the lift.
  • Select a weight that you can perform your repetitions using proper bench press technique described here. On your last 1-2 sets, your last repetitions should be very difficult. Cable extensions should be done with a relatively high number of repetitions (8-12).

Variations: Since I use triceps cable extensions to finish off a muscle that is already somewhat exhausted, I like to perform drop sets with this exercise. Start with a weight that you can complete 8-12 reps. Once you complete your set to failure, move the pin on the machine to a lighter weight and immediately perform more reps to failure without resting. Repeat this process for three drop sets for every exercise set.

Additional tricep exercises you may want to try:

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