Tim’s Tips are Written by Tim Rigby, M.A., NSCA-CPT
The triceps pressdown is a staple of any arms workout, but most people don’t think outside the box enough in terms of how to perform it. The standard convention is to use a V-bar or short straight bar, both with two hands, and typically with a pronated (overhand) grip. However, if you look closely around the cable apparatus, you should find what’s known as a “single bar” (or rope) which is designed to allow you to perform the movement with just one arm, using a neutral hand position.
What’s the advantage of the single bar? Greater isolation. Whenever you use two hands, invariably your back and shoulders begin to engage increasingly as you fatigue (unless your form is absolutely 100% perfect). With the neutral-grip single bar, you work only one arm at a time, and preserve maximum isolation on your target muscles. You’ll need to reduce the weight to just less than half of what you can perform with two hands using a V-bar, and you’ll need to be patient because the time to complete a set will be doubled (you have to work both arms separately).
Ultimately, it will all be worth it! When you see how amazing your triceps start to pop, this will in turn produce greater overall arm size, since your triceps are in fact larger than your biceps. In terms of execution, the number one consideration is to keep your upper arm as motionless as possible, tucked closely into your side. Allow only your lower arm to be in motion, which will translate to maximum triceps isolation. As a smaller muscle group, keep each set in the higher 10-15 rep range to induce the greatest potential for growth.