5 Effective Cable Exercises For Bigger Triceps

5 Effective Cable Exercises For Bigger Triceps

If you’re looking for new exercises to take your tricep training to the next level, you’re in the right place!

Your triceps make up two thirds of each arm. Your biceps make up the other third for the most part.

If you want bigger arms, don’t just focus on doing curls every time you’re in the gym. I'm not saying you shouldn't train your biceps, but your triceps are actually the bigger muscle group.

There are a lot of different ways to train your triceps too ... and you can train them with virtually any type of equipment. While it’s good to use free weights, it's always a good idea to diversify too.

For triceps, I personally love using cable machines!

They’re smooth, versatile, and offer benefits that free weights can't. Why do I choose cable machines for triceps though?

If you don’t know what sets cables apart from other types of equipment, you’re about to learn. After that, I’ll cover my top 5 favorite cable exercises for training your triceps.

Let’s get into it!

Benefits of Training With Cables

I have been, and always will be, a big supporter of changing up the type of training you do over time. That includes using different types of equipment over time.

Cables can give you some benefits that you just don’t get with free weights and other machines. If you want to know what those benefits are, keep reading!

Cables Provide Constant Tension

When you lift free weights, the resistance is always against gravity. Gravity never changes direction, so the weight is always being pulled downward.

The problem? Not every exercise moves along a perfect vertical path.

Take a bicep curl for instance. When you first start the exercise, the dumbbell moves up and away from your body. Then after the midway point it moves up and toward you.

When the dumbbell moves away from you, or toward you, the weight is also moving horizontally. There is no resistance in that direction. That's also why bicep curls are the most difficult at the midpoint of your body. That's when you're lifting the weight directly against gravity!

So, for many exercises, the level of resistance changes throughout the range of motion. With cables, that isn’t really the case though.

On a cable machine, the resistance only moves vertically. The resistance you feel when you use it, however, goes in any direction.

You see, the handle you’re pulling on is attached at one end of the cable. This end can be pulled or pushed in any direction you choose.

Through a series of pulleys, the other end of the cable is attached to the weight. When you pull the handle, the pulleys are designed so the weight only moves vertically.

This allows the resistance to stay constant no matter which direction you pull the cable.

So, if you’re doing curls on the cable machine, your muscles will have a constant level of tension. That's something you don’t get with free weights!

Cables Are Versatile

This is a huge benefit! What other type of equipment allows you to adjust the height and angle of pull by such a wide range?

Let’s take a tricep press down exercise for example.

Most people will set the height of the cable to the top position for this one. Then, they grab the rope or handle and pull it down toward the floor with their triceps.

You can also set the cable low to do tricep extensions behind your back, pressing toward the ceiling. This actually trains your triceps differently too!

When your elbows are down at your sides, your triceps are not being stretched. When your elbows are overhead, they are being stretched.

Don’t believe me? Bend one elbow and pull it up by your ear. With your other hand, push that elbow lightly behind your head until you feel the stretch I’m talking about.

Putting your triceps in a stretched position actually makes the exercise more difficult.

You can do this with many other exercises too.

This is a big part of what makes cables such an amazing piece of equipment!

Cables Are Very Functional

I’m not saying free weights aren’t functional and cables are. Cables do allow you to train functionally in many ways you can't with free weights though.

Let’s say you want to train to be able to punch harder.

If you do this with cables, you can stand in the actual stance you punch with. This punching motion will also have direct resistance, so you can get stronger and more powerful.

If you did this same thing with a dumbbell, it wouldn’t work as well. Remember when I talked about gravity only working in the vertical direction? Well, punching is a horizontal motion.

So, if you grab a dumbbell and go through the same punching motion ... you’ll be training the muscles holding up the weight instead of the muscles used to punch.

In order to train the muscles used in a punch, you’d have to lay on your back. While you can do this on a bench ... When will you ever be punching someone while you’re laying on your back?

Likely not very often, and that's what I'm getting at. There’s a benefit to doing both of course, but the level of functionality differs between the two.

Alright, that's enough talk about the benefits of cables. Let’s get into these tricep exercises!

Top 5 Cable Exercise For Triceps

If you're looking for some cable tricep exercises for bigger triceps ... these are my favorites.

I'll give you a detailed approach on how to do each one so you can add them to your next workout!

1. Overhead Tricep Extensions

This was the example I used earlier, and it’s awesome! Proper form is important, so pay close attention to my directions.

Start by using a rope attachment, and set the height of the cable around the height of your waist. Grab the rope with both hands and spin to face away from the cable machine.

Your hands should be behind your head with your elbows close to your ears. Be sure to keep your core tight so that the cable doesn’t pull your back into an arch. This is the starting position.

Engage your triceps and pull the rope upward until your elbows are straight. Squeeze your triceps for a second at the top, then slowly lower the rope back to the starting position.

Repeat this for reps.

2. Cable Skull Crushers

This is a great cable exercise for the triceps, but you will need a bench.

Start by setting the cable height to the lowest setting with an EZ bar attachment hooked up. Next, place the head of the bench near the cable attachment.

Lie back on the bench with your head close to the cable, and grab the EZ bar attachment behind your head. Keep your elbows close to your head with your upper arms fixed in the same spot throughout the movement.

This is the starting position.

Engage your triceps to press the bar overhead until your elbows are completely straight. Squeeze your triceps for a second at the top, then slowly return the bar to the starting position.

Repeat this for reps.

3. Cross-Cable Tricep Extensions

This one will require 2 cables, but it’s a great isolation exercise. If you want to feel a good mind-to-muscle connection, try these!

Stand between two cables with one on each side of you. Set the height to around eye level. Grab the left cable attachment with your right hand, and the right attachment with your left hand.

Begin with your elbows bent at your sides and your hands next to each other in front of you. The cables should cross over one another so they form a big “X”. This is the starting position.

Engage your triceps to pull each cable out to your sides. When your elbows are fully straight, squeeze your triceps for a second.

Then, slowly return back to the starting position, and repeat for reps.

4. Bent-Over Single Arm Tricep Kickbacks

This is another exercise that you can feel a strong mind-to-muscle connection with.

The best attachment for this exercise, in my opinion, is the single-sided rope. It allows your wrist to stay in a more comfortable position, and feels more natural.

Start with the cable set to the lowest height. Grab the rope with one hand, and take a small step to lift the weight off the rack.

Bend at your hips to get your torso parallel with the ground, or as close as you can. Pinch your elbow to your side so your upper arm is in line with your torso as well. This is the starting position.

From here, engage your tricep and pull the rope until your arm is fully extended behind you. Squeeze your tricep for a second, then slowly return back to the starting position.

Repeat this for reps, and do the same number of reps with your opposite arm.

5. Reverse-Grip Tricep Pressdown

The overhand grip tricep pressdown is a great exercise, but I’ve always been a fan of the reverse grip. It’s a variation many people forget about, but should still do.

The best attachment for this exercise is the EZ bar due to the angle on the handle. It puts your wrist in a more natural position.

Attach the EZ bar to the cable and set it to the highest setting. Grab the bar with an underhand grip and take a small step back to lift the weight from the rack.

Pull your elbows down to your sides and keep them there. This is the starting position.

From here, engage your triceps and pull the bar down until your elbows are fully straight. Squeeze your triceps for a second, then slowly return back to the starting position.

Repeat this for reps.

Getting Results From Your Training

Using a cable machine is a great way to switch up your training.

Our bodies adapt to everything we do, and you must give your body something new to adapt to over time. If you only train with free weights, using cables can be a perfect way to do this.

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