Mind & Body

Move of the Week: Tricep Pushdown

TIMEDecember 13, 2011
Although this exercise looks easy, it will definitely challenge your triceps.
Although this exercise looks easy, it will definitely challenge your triceps. (The Epoch Times)

Triceps make up the muscle group that runs from the armpit to the elbow. If neglected, the triceps will flap like chicken wings when you are waving to someone. 

Although it is not possible to spot-reduce, you can target specific muscle groups to ensure the best possible results in that area. A great way to strengthen your triceps is by using your own body weight, such as in tricep pushdowns. This basic exercise requires no equipment and is a super-effective way to have you waving vigorously and confidently without the flapping wings!

Because this exercise is performed on all fours, it strengthens more than just the triceps. Done with correct form, tricep pushdowns will promote shoulder stability. It also requires activation of the abdominal muscles to ensure correct pelvic alignment and core connection. So you get a lot of bang for your buck with this one, great exercise. Let’s do it!


Start on all fours with your knees directly under your hips. Slide your hands under your shoulders and turn your elbows back toward your knees. 

Your elbows need to be angled toward your knees throughout the entire exercise to ensure the tricep muscles are activated.


Inhale as you bend your elbows (keeping them close to the sides of your body) and lower your upper body to the floor. Your nose will move toward your fingertips.
Exhale as you press back up to the starting position. It’s a simple movement, yet very effective!

Do two to three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions. Start with two sets of 10 reps. 
Build from there, or just keep going until your triceps fatigue. 

Key Points

1. Imagine your butt is up against a brick wall. The key to this exercise is to lower your chest straight down and not let the body move backward. You will feel the back of your arms working when you are doing it correctly. 

2. To start a progression, only lower a quarter of the way, then half, then all the way down. Good form is paramount in getting good results. There is no point in lowering all the way down if your form is sloppy. 

3. Keep your abdominal muscles pulled in, especially the lower ones. Your back should remain straight at all times—no arches or dips in the lower back or between the shoulders. Get a friend to check your form, or perform the exercise beside a mirror until you get it.

Everyone always has a good wince while doing tricep pushdowns, as you can really feel them, but you will be over the moon with the results!

Emma-Kate is a personal trainer and Pilates teacher-trainer based in Brisbane, Australia.