How to Do Underhand Triceps Pushdown Properly

The underhand triceps pushdown, also known as triceps pushdown, is an intense and surefire way to develop the three heads of the tricep muscles.

Using an underhand/ supinated grip to perform this exercise will force you to tuck your elbows to your sides, which will produce a stronger contraction at the top of the rep.

The underhand tricep pushdown is one ideal workout for tricep development and is often performed using a cable machine (usually found in gyms).

However, you can perform a variation of this drill at home using a resistance band.

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Also known as Reverse Grip Triceps Pushdown/ supinated pushdown

Targeted Muscles: Triceps

Required Equipment: Cable Machine/ Bar attachment

Exercise Type: Strength

Exercise Mechanics: Isolation

Difficulty Level: Intermediate

STEPS:

  • Set the bar attachment to a high pulley
  • Hold the bar with a firm supinated grip and take a step back from the machine.
  • Keep your spine straight, engage your core and bend over slightly.
  • While tucking your elbows on your sides, flex your triceps. Push the bar attachment down until your elbow is fully extended.
  • Contract your triceps forcefully when you reach the bottom of the rep.
  • Release the contraction slowly. Do not drift your elbows forward.
  • Raise the bar to a chest height to resume the starting position.
  • That’s a complete rep. Go on!
  • Aim for 5 sets of 20 reps for this exercise.

TIPS:

  • To maintain the tricep tension, avoid locking out your elbows fully.
  • Do not move your elbow frontwards when you reach the bottom of the rep.
  • Avoid tilting your shoulder blades forward as you extend your elbows.
  • Practice the static elbow positioning throughout the workout. You may stretch better when you reach the bottom of the rep by allowing your elbows to move behind your body at the eccentric phase of the movement.

MUSCLES WORKED BY UNDERHAND TRICEPS PUSHDOWN

Given its name, the underhand triceps pushdown mainly works the triceps. The tricep muscle is made of 3 heads- the long head, lateral head, and medial head. The entire tricep is isolated as you perform this workout. However, the tricep heads work depending on the movement pattern.

Note that this exercise trains the medial head better than regular pushdowns.

Much as the underhand triceps pushdown is an isolation drill, it also trains the lats (latissimus dorsi), abs (rectus abdominis), traps(trapezius), and pecs (pectoralis major and pectoralis minor).

BENEFITS OF UNDERHAND TRICEPS PUSHDOWN

The underhand triceps pushdown has several long-term notable fitness benefits including:

COMPLETE TRICEPS ISOLATION

Any pushdown executed with the correct technique isolates the triceps completely. The underhand triceps pushdown is performed with the elbows tucked to the sides-making you feel your triceps contract as you perform.

This exercise is ideal in this regard since when your elbows are tucked, the medial and lateral heads dominate the movement due to the neutral shoulder position.

INTENSIFIED TRICEP CONTRACTION

When performing the underhand triceps pushdown, your shoulders do not flex completely and your elbows are tucked to your sides. This is why you’ll feel the contractions intensify at the top of the rep.

The enhanced contraction also trains the mind-muscle connection since it makes you adapt to flexing your triceps with force with weight. The better the mind-muscle connection, the more you gain with every underhand tricep pushdown; better strength stimulus with better tension. You will have your mind-muscle connection to thank.

IMPROVED COMPOUND PRESSING POWER

The last phase of the underhand tricep pushdown is made possible mainly by the triceps since it is only the triceps that can facilitate a full pushdown.

If you’re looking to improve your lockout strength and advance your compound pressing power, add this exercise to your strength training workout.

ALTERNATIVES TO UNDERHAND TRICEPS PUSHDOWN

Check out these alternative tricep workouts that work the same muscles and have the same impact on the targeted muscles.

SKULL CRUSHERS

Requirements: Dumbbells

STEPS:

  • Begin by lying on a flat bench.
  • Plant your feet firmly on the floor. Hold the dumbbells with both hands.
  • With your palms facing each other, raise the dumbbells above your chest and brace your core.
  • With our elbows at a stationary position, gently lower the dumbbells just below your ears.
  • Squeeze your triceps to move your arms back and resume the starting position.
  • Repeat!

ALTERNATING TRICEPS KICKBACKS

Requirements: Kettlebells

STEPS:

  • Assume a hip-width stance.
  • While keeping your back neutral, bend at your waist such that your back is almost aligned to the floor.
  • Hold the top of the kettlebell with one hand with your palm facing in and place your other palm on your knee.
  • Move the kettlebell towards your chest. Bend your arm such that you create a 90-degree angle with your elbow and forearm.
  • With your elbow stationary, move the kettlebell towards your back until your elbow is fully extended.
  • Contract your triceps at the top of the rep and resume the initial position.
  • Switch your arms and repeat until you achieve the desired sets of reps.

MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN PERFORMING UNDERHAND TRICEPS PUSHDOWN

EXCESSIVE ELBOW MOVEMENT

Beginners often sway their elbows back and forth when performing underhand triceps pushdowns. This swinging movement generates momentum. You can lift the weight using momentum, except you will be shifting the tension from the targeted muscle to the lats and reducing the workout’s effectiveness. As you know, momentum is an enemy of all weightlifting workouts.

Fix this mistake by ensuring your elbows are tucked to your sides- to achieve complete tricep contraction.

FLARING THE ELBOWS OUT

Flaring the elbows is another mistake often witnessed with this workout. When you flare your elbows out to the sides, you recruit your chest and shoulders and make them the prime movers in this workout.

This exercise aims to isolate and train the triceps. Strengthen and build your triceps effectively and avoid flaring your elbows out. Focus on executing this workout with the proper form.

CONCLUSION

The underhand triceps pushdown is an ideal workout if your goal is to train your triceps while putting minimal pressure on your wrists.

This tricep training exercise accustoms you to keep your elbows tucked to your sides, which consequently helps you maintain the proper form due to stronger peak contractions. The standing variation of this workout is best because you will be utilizing more reps.

Perform this exercise with other compound workouts and watch your pressing power and overall strength improve.

Give it a try.