Best Tricep Cable Exercises

by Evelyn Valdez

When thinking about having strong and sculpted arms, most people probably picture well-defined biceps and rounded shoulders. And even though those muscle groups are crucial during upper-body strength training days, you can’t forget about the ones at the back of your arms – your triceps!

Whenever you do any kind of pushing with your arms, or you pick something off the floor, your triceps are back there acting as the heavy movers. They’re incredibly important, not only in a lot of upper and even some lower body exercises but also in your day-to-day life, so you need to make sure they’re getting the training that they need.

In this article, we’ll show you some of the best and most effective triceps exercises that you can do on a cable machine. Cable machines offer constant tension throughout the exercises, so make sure to add some of these to your strength training routine next time you’re training your upper body at the gym!

Cable overhead triceps extension

If there’s a triceps exercise that should be in your cable strength training routine, it’s this one! The cable overhead triceps extension is a killer move that targets all three heads of the triceps, particularly the long head for increased arm strength.

How to do it:

  1. Attach a rope extension to the low pulley of a cable machine and stand facing away from the machine with your feet shoulder-width apart and slightly staggered for stability.
  2. Grab the rope behind your neck with a neutral grip on both hands so that your elbows are pointing up.
  3. Bend slightly at the hips and begin the movement by pulling the rope overhead until your arms are fully extended.
  4. Hold for a second while squeezing your triceps, then slowly go back and repeat.

Cable triceps kickback

The cable triceps kickback is a unilateral exercise for your triceps that will give you a more dedicated workout on each side of your body so you can build your functional strength!

How to do it:

  1. Attach a rope handle to the lowest pulley of a cable machine and stand in front of it with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bend forward at the hips and grab the rope with your right hand in a neutral grip, keeping your arm in line with your torso and your elbow bent at 90 degrees.
  3. Place the left hand on your hip or left leg for stability and begin the movement by pulling the rope and driving your arm back until it’s fully extended behind you.
  4. Hold for a moment, squeeze your triceps and return to the starting position before repeating.
  5. Finish your reps and switch to the opposite side.

Lying cable skull crushers

If you’re familiar with standard EZ bar skullcrushers, you probably know that they’re a great exercise to fully train your triceps. The cable variation, however, offers more stability and allows you to feel the burn throughout the full range of motion.

How to do it:

  1. Attach a straight bar to the lowest setting of the cable machine and place a bench in front of it.
  2. Lay down on the bench with your head to the machine and grab the bar with both hands in a neutral grip over your head, close but not touching it.
  3. Begin the movement by pulling the bar overhead until your arms are fully extended over you, perpendicular to the floor. Make sure to not arch your back during this movement.
  4. Pause for a moment while you squeeze your triceps, then bring the bar back down and repeat.

Cable triceps pushdown 

The cable triceps pushdown is another classic cable machine triceps exercise that targets all three heads of the triceps in a pushing-down motion, strengthening and toning your arms in the process.

How to do it:

  1. Attach a straight bar to a high pulley on the cable machine and stand in front of it with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Grab the bar with both hands in a neutral grip and hold it in front of your torso so that your forearms are slightly pointing upward.
  3. Hinge slightly at the hips for stability and begin the movement by pushing the bar down until your arms are fully extended downward.
  4. Hold this position for a second while you squeeze your triceps muscles, then bring the bar up and repeat.

Cable rear drive

This is another unilateral triceps exercise, this time moving laterally instead of forward and backward. The cable rear drive primarily targets your triceps along with your rear deltoids and upper back for a stronger upper body.

How to do it:

  1. Attach a rope handle to a shoulder-height pulley on the cable machine and stand next to it, with your left shoulder facing the machine.
  2. Grab the rope with your right hand and hold it in front of your chest so that your elbow is pointing to your right side.
  3. Engage your core and begin the movement by pulling the rope to the right side and opening your arm until it’s fully extended to your right.
  4. Pause for a second while squeezing your triceps, then slowly go back and repeat.
  5. Finish your reps and switch to the opposite side.

Cable triceps dips

Triceps dips are a killer triceps exercise that you usually perform with just your body weight, but the cable variation adds constant tension to it and allows you to go through the movement with more control.

How to do it:

  1. Attach a straight bar to a high pulley and stand facing away from the machine with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Grab the bar behind your back with both hands so that your elbows are pointing back, forming a 90-degree angle with your hands pointing down. If this position is too difficult, you can lower your elbows.
  3. Begin the movement by pushing the bar down until your arms are fully extended behind you and your shoulders are down and back.
  4. Pause while squeezing your triceps and then revert the movement and repeat.

Cable concentration triceps extension

This is a unilateral exercise that you perform while kneeling to increase resistance throughout the full range of movement, allowing you to maximize your upper-body gains!

How to do it:

  1. Attach a D-handle to a high pulley on the cable machine and stand next to it with your left side facing the machine, then kneel in place with your left knee on the floor and your right knee bent at 90 degrees in front of you.
  2. Grab the handle with your right hand and place your right elbow against the inside of your right thigh. Your elbow should be bent at around 90 degrees with your right hand pointing up at the pulley.
  3. Place your left hand on your hip for stability and begin the movement by pulling the handle down until your arm is fully extended and pointing to the floor.
  4. Pause for a moment, squeeze your triceps, then revert the movement and repeat.
  5. Finish your reps and switch to the opposite side.

Cable standing high cross triceps extension

This last exercise, while not exactly unilateral, uses both sides of the body independently at the same time. This way, they don’t rely on each other, allowing you to develop your functional strength more effectively.

How to do it:

  1. Attach a D-handle to the high pulley of both sides of the cable machine, so that they’re facing each other, and stand between them facing forward with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Grab the right handle with your left hand and the left handle with your right hand, and place both hands in front of your chest with your elbows pointing down.
  3. Begin the movement by pulling each handle down and to the side of the respective hand, crossing the cables in front of you until your arms are fully extended downward.
  4. Hold for a second while you squeeze your triceps, then slowly bring the handles back and repeat.

Get toned arms with these effective triceps exercises

If you’re an avid gym-goer, you probably agree that there’s no better feeling than finally achieving your muscle-building goals. And the only way to make sure that you hit your fitness milestones is by having a well-rounded routine that targets every muscle group in your body – including your triceps!

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