The V bar pushdown is an effective isolation workout that primarily targets the triceps. When executed with the correct technique, all the motion (extension) happens at the elbow joint- a job best suited for the triceps.
Unlike many pushdown workouts, the v bar pushdown is easy on the wrist. The v bar pushdown allows you to press with a friendly half-pronated grip.
The neutral hand position puts minimal tension on your wrists, which helps you to completely train your triceps.
You can alternatively use a cable machine or a Bowflex machine that enables you to set the cable at the correct height.
Also known as Angled Bar Pushdown, V Bar tricep extension
Targeted Muscles: Triceps
Required Equipment: Cable Machine, V bar attachment
Exercise Type: Strength
Exercise Mechanics: Isolation
Difficulty Level: Intermediate
- Fix a v bar attachment to a high cable machine.
- Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart and with your palms facing down (overhand grip) grab the bar with a slightly wide grip.
- While keeping your torso straight, bend forward slightly and move your upper arms towards your body and vertical to the floor. Make sure your forearms point up towards the ceiling. This is your starting position.
- Engage your triceps and lower the bar until you stretch and extend your arms fully to be perpendicular to the floor. Keep your upper arms stationary beside your torso. Exhale.
- Pause and hold the contracted position for a second then slowly raise the v bar attachment to resume your initial position. Inhale as you do this.
- Repeat the motion until you attain the recommended sets of reps.
- 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 static elbow positioning throughout the workout.
MUSCLES WORKED BY THE V BAR PUSHDOWN
Being a tricep isolation workout, much of the tension is put in the triceps. This workout recruits other secondary muscles when performed with the correct technique.
Primary Muscles worked: Triceps (long head, medial head, lateral head)
Secondary Muscles worked: Latissimus dorsi, pectorals, trapezius, and obliques
BENEFITS OF THE V BAR PUSHDOWN
Stronger triceps facilitate better stability of the shoulder joints since they extend the elbow and the shoulder. This workout guarantees shoulder strength that will improve your shoulder and elbow stability.
Stronger triceps will also enable you to lift more weight than you normally can and build more strength in the synergist muscles of the arm.
Therefore, this workout is ideal for any fitness enthusiast, bodybuilder, and athlete who aims to improve strength.
The v bar pushdown is an isolation workout. Isolating the triceps is important since you can correct strength and muscle imbalances more easily when targeting the triceps.
For instance, if your arms are stronger than your chest, you can perform the v-bar pushdown to correct the imbalance.
IMPROVED GRIP STRENGTH
Grasping the handles when you lower the cable works the triceps further and builds muscle mass quicker. Squeezing the v bar also activates the tiny muscles found in the wrist.
Strong wrist muscles directly translate to better grip strength, allowing you to lift heavier weights and improve general strength quicker.
ALTERNATIVES TO V BAR PUSHDOWN
ALTERNATING TRICEPS KICKBACKS
Equipment needed: Kettlebells
- 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 to 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.
UNDERHAND TRICEPS EXTENSION
Equipment needed: Cable machine, Bar attachment
- Set the bar attached 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 chest height to resume the starting position.
MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN PERFORMING THE V BAR PUSHDOWN
Below are some common mistakes often made, that can negate the effectiveness of this workout. Check and correct them.
FLARING THE ELBOWS
When executing any tricep workout, keeping your elbows tucked to your sides is important. Flaring the elbows usually stems from using too much weight. Engaging the shoulders to help pull the weight will make you flare your elbows outward.
Flaring your elbows will put you at risk of sustaining workout injuries. You will also not work your triceps to their full potential since the tension will shift to your shoulders to aid the weightlifting.
Correct this by using the appropriate weight. Do not overestimate your weightlifting capability. Practice tucking your elbows to your sides until you are accustomed to it.
PERFORMING HALF REPS
Performing half reps (raising the bar halfway after the contraction is released) is another way to shortchange yourself with the v bar pushdown. The peak contraction is very essential for hypertrophy. However, note that the eccentric phase of this movement is crucial for tricep development.
Correct this mistake by releasing the contraction in a slow and controlled manner. Raise your triceps without drifting your elbows.
The v bar tricep pushdown is a great alternative for the following reasons.
First, the v-bar pushdown is friendly to the wrist, elbow, and shoulder joints since the v-bars enable you to maintain your wrists in a half-pronated position.
Second, this workout variation enables you to lift heavier than other pushdown variations. V bars can be balanced more easily.
Give this exercise a try in your next workout. Be sure to nourish well and get enough rest for effective muscle repair.