Move of the Week: Single-Arm Tricep Push-Down

February 17, 2013 7:15 am Last Updated: April 3, 2013 9:52 pm

If you are pretty fit and are ready to take your routine to the next level, try incorporating the single-arm tricep push-down. There are no two ways about it, this exercise is hard.

Life is all about being challenged and rising to challenge. I believe it’s important to push yourself outside your comfort zone when you are ready to take yourself to another level.

You may find at first that you struggle to complete one repetition, but even one rep is one step closer to a stronger tricep. Be persistent, and I guarantee very good results for your triceps.

Just in case you are slightly in the dark about where your tricep is, it is the muscle that runs along the back of your upper arm from your elbow to your underarm. It is also the muscle that will “flap in the wind” if you don’t put some effort into keeping it taught and toned.

I am definitely not someone who advocates training for aesthetic purpose alone, but for many of my clients, this is an area of concern. Practice this exercise on a regular basis, and any concern will disappear.

Getting Started

1. Position your body on all fours. Keep your hands in line with your shoulders, and your knees in line with your hips.
2. Bring your hands toward each other leaving one hand-width between them.
3. Externally rotate your arms so your elbows face your knees.
4. Place your right hand the small of your back.
5. Inhale as you bend the elbow of your left arm, lowering your upper body toward the ground.
6. Exhale and press back to the starting position.
7. Repeat this 6 to 12 times on each side.

Focus Points

Don’t expect too much at first. Aim to go a quarter of the way down and build on that. It is important that your elbow stays facing your thigh instead of starting to angle sideward like a chicken wing. The proper alignment of your arm will ensure your tricep is the emphasis of the exercise and not your shoulders.

Avoid working from a plank-like position where your knees are behind your body. Maintain the box position with your body and focus on lowering your body straight up and down, not forward or behind your hand.

The most common mistake with this exercise is allowing the entire body to move backward as you lower your body to the ground. Yes, you will be able to get really low, and it will seem as if you are doing the exercise really well when in fact you would lose any impact on the triceps.

Imagine your buttock is up against a brick wall, so you are physically unable to move your body backward.

 For a great tricep connection, try placing the opposite hand on your working tricep instead of your back to bring more attention the muscle.

Try this for a complete tricep workout:
• Sixteen reps of the basic tricep push-down (one set, both hands on floor).
• Eight reps of the single tricep push-down on each side (one set).
• Ten reps of the basic tricep push-down (one set, plus add 16 pulses midrange).
• Finish with a tricep stretch for 30 seconds on each side.

Emma-Kate Stampton certifies Pilates instructors and is a certified personal trainer. She is based in Brisbane, Australia.