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Tricep Press Down vs The Tricep Push Down.
Are They The Same?
Who Wins When It Comes To Building Mass?

Tricep Press Down vs Push DownTricep Press Down vs Push Down.

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Tricep Press Down vs Push down – Ask most lifters and they'll tell you that there's no contest because they are the same exercise; but are they right?


The short answer to this question is “no.” While both exercise movements look similar in execution, they are different and can influence the Triceps in slightly different ways.

I’m Psymon H., the 50-something-year-old war-horse, making his name from improving physiques and growing natural muscle with minimal equipment. In this article, we’ll take a quick look at both exercises and why they are different, and then we’ll determine which exercise may do a better job at building muscle.

What Is A Tricep Press Down?

What Is A Tricep Press Down?

The Tricep Press Down is almost a cross between a close grip bench press and a dip. It is done on an overhead cable using either a straight or a cambered bar attachment.

Cable Tricep Press-Down Muscles Worked:

The Three Tricep Heads

While the Tricep Press Down hits all three tricep heads, it mainly targets the lateral and medial heads. It also hits the front delts, chest, back, and traps muscles.

More about the triceps

How To Do A Cable Press Down:

How To Do A Cable Press Down:Start Position
How To Do a Tricep Press DownEnd Position

Items Needed: Overhead Cable Pulley System and a straight bar attachment.

Cue 1: Grab the straight bar with a pronated shoulder-width grip and step back from the station. Start by flaring your elbows out to the side and have the bar about chest height.

Cue 2: Hunch over the bar and take a straddle stance.

Cue 3: Press the bar down and fully extend your elbows in front of you. Squeeze the triceps before bringing the arms back to the start position.

Is The Press Down Good?

The Push-Down is a great compound movement that allows you to overload the muscle by using a lot more weight than you would normally do on other tricep press down variations.

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The Tricep Pushdown:

Tricep PushdownStart Position
Tricep Push DownEnd Position

Both the Press Down and the Push Down work the triceps, but target the muscle heads in slightly different ways. If done correctly, the Pushdown focuses on the long tricep head, whereas the Press down targets more of the lateral head. As the long tricep head makes up most of the triceps, it's imperative to know how to contract and work this area.

Unlike the lateral and medial tricep head that originates on the humorous, the long tricep head attaches to the back of the shoulder. A simple extension of the arm in front of you won't fully contract the long tricep head.

To get a full contraction of the long tricep head, you have to bring the insertion point on the Ulna bone closer to the back of the shoulder. The best way to do this is by extending the shoulder joint by bringing your arm behind the line of your body.

Now we know the science behind working the muscle, let’s get back to the Tricep Pushdown.

We're using a modified unilateral version of the movement to stress the long tricep head.

Items Needed: Overhead pulley system and one rope attachment. You could also use the cable without the rope attachment to help keep your hand in a neutral position and bring it behind the line of your body.

The Setup:  Lower the pulley to shoulder height so when you fully contract the muscle, you are at a 90-degree angle to the resistance. This will provide maximum contraction of the muscle.

Cue 1: Grab the rope with a neutral grip and step back from the station. So you get a full extension of the muscle before you start the contraction, start the exercise by leaning forward and having your arm bent at the elbow.

Cue 2: To ensure that you don’t bring your back muscles into play, keep your elbow tight at your side throughout the movement.

Cue 3: Once your arm reaches the neural position beside you, squeeze your Triceps and drive your arm behind you to get a maximal contraction.

A common mistake is to have the pulley set too high. As you work your muscles best when you are pushing or pulling 90-degrees to resistance, by the time your arm travels behind your body, it's almost parallel to your body and offering little resistance when it comes to contracting the long tricep head.

Another mistake to avoid is swinging the weights and using momentum.

As you can see, there are some cool differences between the Tricep Press Down and the Tricep Pushdown mainly in the setup and execution of the exercises.

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Which Tricep Pushdown is Best?

Both the Tricep Press Down and Tricep Pushdown have their merits and can provide good overall stimulus to the triceps when combined. If you want to work the long tricep head, the  Tricep Push down is the way forward. If you wish to overload and target the Lateral head, the Tricep Press Down is the movement for you.

Tricep Press Down Alternative Using Dumbbells:

The Tricep Dumbbell Press:

Modeled on its older sister, the close grip barbell press, the Dumbbell Tricep Press is an attack-minded exercise that brutalizes the medial and lateral Tricep head. There’s no doubt that this upper body mass builder will cause collateral damage to other muscle groups such as the chest along with the anterior Deltoid, but this is what makes the exercise a perfect marriage made in workout heaven.

Items Needed: One pair of dumbbells and a flat bench

Cue 1: Lay back on a flat bench as if you are about to do a dumbbell press. Tuck your elbows in, and have the dumbbells at a 45-degree angle touching the edge of your chest.

Cue 2: Keeping the dumbbells close to you, tense your Triceps, and press the dumbbells directly overhead.

Cue 3: Bring them down with the same narrow plane, keeping the dumbbells close to your body.

More Dumbbell Tricep Exercises

Tricep Push-Down Alternative Using Dumbbells:
The Dumbbell Kickback

Items Needed: Upright bench and one dumbbell.

Cue 1: Kneel on an upright bench. With dumbbells in a curl position, tuck your elbows into your sides.

Cue 2: Extend your elbows so the dumbbells travel behind the line of your body. At the very top, briefly tense the Triceps before returning the dumbbells to the start position.

Tricep FAQs

Q: Is the tricep press down pull or push?

A: Triceps are "push" similar to working the chest.

Q: What are the most effective tricep exercises?

A: Here are 7 great tricep exercises

1: Diamond Push-ups

2: Tricep Press Down

3: Tricep Push Down

4: Dips

5: Overhead Tricep Extension

6: Close Grip Bench Press

7: Incline Tricep Push Down

Q: What are the most effective dumbbell tricep exercises?

A: Here are 6 of the best dumbbell Tricep Exercises

1: Tricep Kickbacks

2: Dumbbell Kickouts

3: Dumbbell Skull Crushers

4: Dumbbell Reverse & Twist Skull Crusher

5: Dumbbell face Scrapes

6: Dumbbell Tricep Extensions

Q: How do you hit all three tricep heads?

A: You could start with Tricep Press Down which works both the lateral and medial tricep heads, then you could finish with the Tricep Pushdown mostly work the Tricep Long Head.

You could also take a look at this Tricep Dumbbell workout

Thank you for reading our Tricep Press Down vs Push Down article

“I Will Help You Lose
20 Pounds of Fat
and Gain 5+ Pounds
of Muscle
In the Next 180-Days!”
Click Here To Get Started!

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