Two thirds of our upper arm muscles consist of the triceps. So if you want to have stronger, muscular or simply firmer arms you need to work directly on your triceps. Also, if your goal is to get better at pressing movements, direct triceps work is essential.
First time I tried resistance bands for triceps training it was tough! I never felt my triceps working that much with free weights, machines or body weight. Since then, resistance bands are my go-to tool for training triceps and I am certain that it will be the same for you – once you try training with resistance bands and know how to do that effectively.
Two things will be essential to start doing great triceps workouts – especially the triceps pushdown. You will be needing a set of resistance bands and a door anchor to fix the band above your head. In case you still don’t have a set, check out our set right here: BIQ Resistance Bands Set
This article will provide everything you will need to know about triceps pushdowns with resistance bands. First we learn how the basic form of a pushdown goes including a video and a step-by-stem description. Followed by important Dos, Don’ts and ways to adjust the resistance of a given band.
We will show you what variations there are to the basic pushdown and what other triceps exercises exist.
In the last section you can really dive deep into additional information about effectivity of resistance band training and muscles used in a triceps pushdown. Followed by how to incorporate this exercise into a workout routine.
How To Triceps Pushdown The Right Way With Resistance Bands?
First thing first: Warm Up! Always warm up before you do any resistance exercises. Your joints and muscles will thank you in the long run. This way you will minimize the chance of injury and make progress much faster!
The pushdown will require you to attach the band to a point above your head. Two options are best for that: The easiest is getting a door anchor and using a door. But you can also loop the band around a pull-up bar. Maybe you have one at home anyway, or you want to work outside in a park? Find a park with a pull-up bar – there are plenty. Definitely make sure that the surface of the object you attach the band to is smooth to prevent any damage to the band.
Triceps Pushdowns are done by following these 6 steps:
- Attach the band at head level or further above
- Grab the band with both hands and bring the elbows to the side of your body (make sure that you have no slack here)
- Brace your core and lock the elbows in place next to your body
- Move your hands down while keeping the elbows in place
- Hold for about 1 second and then slowly return your hands to the starting position
- Repeat for reps
Important Dos & Don’ts!!!
⓵ No Slack! – This is one of the biggest mistakes people do when starting out doing resistance band training. Always have some stretch in the band in the starting position. This way you make sure that you have muscle activation throughout the movement and don’t leave results on the table. If you can’t complete the reps without slack in the starting position, you need to grab a lighter band! Leave the ego out of training.
⓶ Control The Reps! – This is important for two things. First is total time under Tension. If you let the band simply snap back without actively working against it, you leave a lot of muscle work on the table and this will result in slower progress. The second is injury prevention. Controlling the whole motion will make sure that you are always in control of movement. This will minimize the chance of injury.
⓷ Don’t Swing Your Elbows! – Often people swing their elbows forwards and backwards. This will make the exercise easier – but only because your back muscles will help out. We don’t want the back muscles to take over – we want the triceps to do all the work. Make sure to fix your elbows in place to the side of your body.
⓸ Push Down! – Not Press Down – this is the most common mistake with this exercise, especially if you chose a band with a resistance that is too high. It is not a press for the chest, it is a triceps exercise. We actually want to get the chest completely out of the picture. So don’t lean forward and press with your arms down. Keep your upper body upright, rotate your shoulders back and stick your chest out.
Keep these Dos and Don’ts in mind to get a perfect triceps pushdown.
But there are even more mistakes to know and avoid when training with resistance bands. To get your resistance band training to the next level check out our article on The Worst Mistakes You Can Do When Training With Resistance Bands
How To Adjust The Resistance
If you only take one thing away from this article that better be this: Don’t grab the next heavier band too quickly! First completely use the whole potential of your current band.
When coming from working out with weights or machines it is the normal thing to do. When it gets easier simply add more weight to get a new challenge. With bands, it is not that simple. Resistance will produce more resistance the further you stretch them. So one band has a range resistance and not a fixed one. This is actually an advantage bands have compared to weights and machines. You simply need a set of resistance bands, and it will be equivalent to a whole rack of dumbbells.
But how do you manipulate the resistance of a given band? This is exactly what you will learn right now.
We collected various methods how you can change the resistance of a given band to make it more challenging and get the most out of one resistance band!
For triceps pushdown the best are:
Adjust the length of the band – This is the easiest and most straight forward method. Simply shorten the band by wrapping it around your hands. This way you will get a higher pre-stretch in the starting position and therefore more resistance.
Change the Distance to Anchor point – for exercises where you use an anchor point you can simply change the distance to that point to change the resistance. When it comes to triceps pushdowns there are two great methods to do that.
#1-Take A Step Backwards – you can adjust the resistance simply by taking a step back. This will stretch the band further and add resistance. The best thing about this tip is… You can do it mid set. Want more resistance? Take a step back! You are at the end of your set and the form starts to get fishy? Take a step forward!
#2-Get On Your Knees – another great way to increase the resistance is simply getting on your knees. You will be further away from the anchor point and therefore the band is stretched more. You can make little adjustments mid-set by lowering your butt further towards your feet or elevating it. With this you can adjust the resistance in the middle of a given set.
Combine bands – nothing is stopping you from combining two or more bands to get the exactly right resistance. I like to start by simply adding the lightest band and see how well it works and go from there.
Double the Band – If you only have a very light band you can increase the resistance significantly by simply doubling the band. This works with heavier bands as well – but be careful. Due to linear variable resistance of bands it not simply double the resistance when you double the band it is actually more than that.
Slow it down – adding resistance is not the only way to make an exercise harder. Simply slowing your reps down will increase the intensity drastically. Your muscle will have to work harder and this will result in training progress.
Of course, you can mix and match all these techniques as well. This way you really have a lot of possibilities to get the most out of one single resistance band.
Alternative Ways To Do Tricep Pushdown With Resistance Bands
We have collected the best variations for the simple triceps pushdown with both arms. Try them and incorporate them in your training.
Tricep Pushdown With A Bar – Using a bar is a great way to get more stable and being able to move more resistance. The movement is performed as described above.
You don’t really need an extra bar for this exercise. Any stable stick will do. I really like to use a door pull up bar. I have it around the house anyway, and it has some grippy padding.
Uni Lateral Triceps Pushdown – The uni lateral version of the triceps pushdown is great to focus on one side at a time and really feel your triceps working. It is also great to correct any imbalances you might have between your right and left side. Give it a try!
You can also do it diagonally, like shown in the following picture to mix it up!
Uni Lateral Concentration Triceps Pushdown – This version is great in two ways. First it will prevent you to swing your elbows by placing your elbow against your leg and keeping it there. The second great thing is that you will be performing this variation down on your knee. This means you have more pre-stretch in the band in the starting position (you might need a lighter band for this!).
Can You Train Triceps Effectively With Resistance Bands?
Effectively training your triceps at home or simply not at a gym is actually not the simple. Resistance bands make it possible. In contrary to the opinion of some people out there who think that bands are not a tool for serious muscles training – these people never tried working out correctly with resistance bands. If they did, they would straight away feel that bands are not easy and can be superior to other forms of resistance.
Especially in a triceps pushdown I like resistance bands much more than cable machines at the gym. It is easy to set up, and I personally feel the triceps working much harder when using bands compared to cable work. But the best thing about using resistance bands in this exercise is the option of changing the resistance in the middle of a given set. Simply making a step back will increase the resistance and taking one step forward will reduce it.
So don’t let be fooled! Resistance bands are a great tool to become more fit and make progress. Keep on reading, and you will find out why and benefits you can reap by using them.
Why Does Training With Resistance Bands Work
Our body doesn’t know the difference between weights, resistance bands, machines, body weight, groceries, furniture …. you get the idea. The only thing our body knows is resistance. And it is quite smart – is the resistance great enough your body will react to that by becoming stronger – over time of course 😉
So as long as your muscles have to work against a load they will get a stimulus to grow and will with time be able to handle greater and greater loads.
To get in depth information about this topic check out our full article: Why Does Training With Resistance Bands Work
Benefits Of Training With Resistance Bands
Why use resistance bands for your fitness training? Some reasons are as following:
- Greater Peak Contraction! Since bands have linear variable resistance you will get a greater peak contraction and therefore a greater muscles stimulus.
- No Cheating! Due to the specific strength curve of resistance bands it is almost impossible to use momentum and cheating in your workouts.
- Fewer Injuries! Resistance bands are easier on the joints compared to weights. This will reduce the chance of injury.
- Mobile! Simply pack them in your bag and bring a whole gym anywhere your go with you!
Want to know what other advantages there are by working out with resistance bands? – Find out in the full article: Benefits Of Resistance Band Training
What Muscles Are Used In A Resistance Band Pushdown
Like the name suggests the main muscle working in a triceps pushdown is the triceps. To be more precise it is the Triceps Brachii. This is the muscles which is responsible for extending our arms. Although it is one single muscles it has different parts which are called “heads”. There are different tricep exercises out there and although all three heads will be working in every triceps exercise you can target specific heads by choosing certain exercises. Although you will be working all three heads of the triceps with the pushdown there is a slight focus on the lateral and medial head in this exercise.
Main Working Muscles:
- Triceps Brachii
Main Working Tricep Heads:
- Lateral Head
- Medial Head
The Triceps Pushdown is one of the greatest exercises for your triceps. You can get your triceps stronger, bigger or simply have firmer and more defined arms in general. But one single exercise won’t give you the results you are probably looking for. Whatever it might be – more muscle, greater strength or less fat – one exercise is simply not enough. You will need a workout program which you can follow on a weekly basis to achieve that.
And building your own training program is often a hustle and in the beginning you just don’t have the knowledge to do that effectively. But we have an easy solution for you. We constructed effective workouts depending on your available days per week and what goal you have and put them in an app, so you can simply follow along and start making progress!
In our BIQ Training App we have several workout routines you can follow along. You can customize your routines depending on your goals. With this app you will also have a library of all resistance band exercises with a step by step description and a how-to video in your pocket – available at all times. Find out more here: BIQ Training App