Cable Single Arm Tricep Pushdown

Are you looking to add variety to your tricep workouts or to isolate your triceps more effectively? Or, maybe you are aiming to build arm strength and definition to create a well-rounded physique. Either way, the cable single arm cable tricep pushdown could be exactly what you are looking for.

In this guide, we'll provide a comprehensive overview of the benefits this exercise can offer. We will also walk you through a step-by-step process on how to perform the cable single arm tricep pushdown correctly. Plus, we will share some expert tips to ensure you start safely and maximize your gains.

How To Do

  1. Attach a single rope attachment to the high pulley of a cable machine. Choose your preferred weight.
  2. Grab the rope with your right hand.
  3. Move slightly back from the cable machine, allowing enough space for the exercise.
  4. Position your feet shoulder-width apart for stability.
  5. Keep a slight bend in your knees and lean forward just a bit, ensuring your back is straight. Place your left hand on the cable machine for balance
  6. Tuck your upper arm close to your body, keeping your elbow bent at a 90-degree angle.
  7. Exhale and slowly press the rope downward by straightening your elbow.
  8. Perform the movement in a controlled manner until your arm is fully extended and your triceps are contracted.
  9. Hold the extended position briefly, focusing on squeezing your triceps.
  10. Inhale and slowly raise the rope back to the starting position in a controlled manner. Avoid letting the weight stack rest completely.
  11. Repeat the movement for the desired number of reps.
  12. Switch to your left hand and repeat the steps.

Tips From Expert

  • Avoid using excessive weight that forces you to use momentum; keep the movement slow and controlled.
  • Ensure your upper arm stays stationary, and your elbow is tucked in by your side.
  • Do not lock your elbow completely at the bottom of the pushdown to avoid joint stress.
  • Maintain a slight bend in your knees and engage your core to prevent lower back strain.
  • Keep your wrist in a neutral position throughout the motion to avoid wrist injuries.
  • Avoid leaning too far forward or backward, as this can compromise your form.

Optimal Sets and Reps

The cable single arm tricep pushdown is excellent for isolating and strengthening the triceps. Adjust the sets and reps according to your specific fitness objectives. Below are some clinically proven examples for you to base your training program on.

Training Type Sets Reps
Strength Training 3–5 1–5
Hypertrophy 3–4 8–12
Endurance Training 3–4 15+
Power Training 3–5 15+

How to Put in Your Workout Split

The cable single arm tricep pushdown focuses solely on the triceps muscle. This makes it an essential addition to any arm or upper-body workout routine. This exercise helps build strength and definition in the triceps, improving overall arm aesthetics and functional strength.

Incorporating the single arm cable tricep pushdown into your workout split can be done in several ways:

  • Full Body Split — Include this exercise as a part of your arm work in a full-body routine. Add a compound arm movement before it, such as bench dips, to fully develop your arms. Then, pair it with compound movements such as lunges and presses for a comprehensive session.
  • Upper Body Split — For a general upper-body day, combine it with other upper-body exercises such as lat pulldowns and seated rows. Compound movements followed by isolation exercises such as this one allow for a well-rounded routine.
  • Push/Pull Split — On push days, integrate the cable single arm tricep pushdown with other pushing movements such as bench presses and bench dips. You can also incorporate tricep barbell movements. This can help reduce the risk of overtraining specific muscle groups.
  • Arm Day — Dedicate an entire workout for the arms, including bicep curls and other tricep exercises such as tricep dips. You can create tricep workouts with dumbbells, bands, or other suitable resistance training methods

When loading this exercise, start with a weight allowing you to maintain proper form throughout all repetitions. Evidence suggests starting with a weight that you can manage for 3–4 sets of 8–12 reps. Adjust the weight as you get stronger to continue challenging your muscles.

Primary Muscle Groups

Triceps Lateral Heads

Muscles located on the back of your arm between your shoulder and elbow.

Triceps Medial Heads

Small muscles located at the back of your arms. Deep to the triceps long heads between the shoulder and elbow.

Triceps Long Heads

Large muscles located at the back of your arms between your shoulder and elbow. Most outside portion of the tricep.

Triceps Medial Heads

The triceps brachii is a large muscle on the back of the upper arm, comprising three heads: the long head, the lateral head, and the medial head.

The medial head is the smallest and deepest of the three heads. It originates from the humerus (arm bone) and inserts into the ulna. 

During the cable single arm tricep pushdown, the medial head plays a crucial role in extending the elbow. This movement is essential for pushing the rope down and straightening the arm. By aiding in elbow extension, the medial head helps in developing overall tricep strength and stability.

Triceps Long Heads

The tricep long head is the biggest part of the triceps muscle. It starts at the shoulder blade and ends at the elbow.

During the cable single arm tricep pushdown, the long head significantly contributes to the extension of the elbow. This action is vital for pushing the rope downward and straightening the arm. The long head also assists in stabilizing the shoulder joint, making it essential for overall tricep strength and upper-body stability.


Single Pulley Tower

Rope Attachment

Rope Attachment

This offers a great way for you to train your arms whilst limiting the amount of wrist stress. Ensure you grip both parts of the rope from the bottom.

Single Pulley Tower

This is a smaller cable machine option that takes up less space. It can be used with a wide range of attachments.


Exercises that target the same primary muscle groups and require the same equipment.


Exercises that target the same primary muscle groups and require the different equipment.

Diamond Push-Ups

Chair Tricep Dips

Narrow Push-Ups

Crab Walk

Kneeled Diamond Push-Ups

Who Should Do?


The cable single arm tricep pushdown enhances upper body strength which is crucial for sports involving arm movements. These sports include activities such as basketball, tennis, and swimming. It improves arm stability and reduces the risk of injury. 

Consistent training of this exercise improves neuromuscular coordination, ensuring precise and efficient movements. It also enhances muscular endurance, allowing athletes to sustain high levels of performance over extended periods. Together, these benefits translate to improved athletic performance in sports requiring powerful and repetitive arm actions.


The cable single arm tricep push-down isolates the triceps, aiding muscle hypertrophy for a balanced and proportional arm physique. Progressive overload ensures steady muscle growth and definition. This helps bodybuilders meet aesthetic and performance goals during competitions.

Rehabilitation Patients

The cable single arm tricep pushdown aids muscle strength and joint stability by providing controlled, adjustable resistance. This gradual load helps rebuild weakened muscles and stabilizes joints without overstraining. This exercise promotes safe rehabilitation, especially combined with tricep stretches, which helps to restore functionality and prevent future injury.

Who Should Not Do?

Individuals With Severe Elbow Injuries

People with severe elbow injuries, such as fractures or severe tendonitis, should avoid the single arm cable tricep pushdown. This exercise places significant stress on the elbow joint. Performing it can make the condition worse, delaying recovery or causing additional damage.

People With Shoulder Impingement

Shoulder impingement occurs when the shoulder’s rotator cuff tendons are pinched during arm movements. This pinching causes pain and inflammation, typically affecting overhead activities.

The cable single arm tricep pushdown involves shoulder stabilization, which requires significant engagement of shoulder muscles. This can lead to excessive pressure on the already irritated tendons of the rotator cuff. Such stress can increase inflammation and pain in the injured shoulder. 

A way to modify would be to perform a cable double arm triceps pushdown to decrease the pressure on the injured arm and have some assistance from the other one.

Those With Spinal Issues

Individuals with spinal issues, such as herniated discs, may need to avoid this exercise. As you perform the exercise, the core muscles have to work hard to keep the torso steady. 

The constant engagement of the core muscles during the cable single arm tricep pushdown transmits stress to the lumbar and thoracic regions of the spine. This may lead to strain if not performed with proper form. Also, if there is any imbalance or improper alignment, it can further increase the stress on the spinal column.

An alternative for working the tricep muscle with less strain on the back could be the dumbbell skull crusher which is done lying flat on your back.

Benefits Of The Cable Single Arm Tricep Pushdown

Tones Arms

The cable single arm tricep pushdown tones the arms by isolating and activating the triceps brachii. Consistent resistance training promotes muscle definition and hypertrophy, leading to more toned arms. This focused engagement enhances the appearance and firmness of the upper arms.

Increases Strength

This exercise increases strength by progressively overloading the triceps, which stimulates muscle growth and adaptation. Regularly challenging the triceps with weight increases the muscle fibers’ strength and endurance, leading to improved overall arm strength and function.

Prevents Injuries

Strengthening the triceps contributes to the stability of the elbow and shoulder joints. Well-conditioned triceps support these joints, reducing the risk of strains and sprains and enhancing movement control and joint stability, which helps prevent injuries.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the cable single-arm tricep pushdown good for?

This exercise is excellent for isolating the triceps muscles, enhancing arm definition, increasing strength, and improving joint stability. It is beneficial for athletes, bodybuilders, and those recovering from injuries, promoting muscle growth and injury prevention.

What are the cons of a single-arm tricep pushdown?

The single arm tricep pushdown can create muscle imbalances if not performed equally on both sides. It may also strain the elbow joint. Incorrect form can lead to shoulder and lower back injuries, emphasizing the need for proper technique.

What muscles do the cable single-arm tricep pushdown work?

The cable single arm tricep pushdown primarily targets the triceps brachii muscle. Secondary muscles include the forearm flexors and extensors, assisting in arm movement and grip strength.

Is it OK to do the cable single-arm tricep pushdown daily?

Doing the cable single arm tricep pushdown daily can lead to overtraining. Studies show that muscles need time to recover. It is advised that resting a muscle for 24–48 hours before exercising it again is advisable.


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