Cable Tricep Extension: Muscles Worked, Benefits, Form

The cable tricep extension is an effective triceps exercise. For this exercise, you’ll need a cable pulley machine with a rope attachment, EZ bar, or straight bar.

The triceps actually make up around two-thirds of your upper arm! So, if you’re looking to fill out those sleeves, with well-developed arms, it’s important to activate all three tricep heads.

The tricep extension goes by many names: the Cable tricep extension, lying cable tricep extension, overhead cable tricep extension, rope tricep extension, and others.

No matter what you call it, the triceps extension is one of the best exercises for triceps development. Learn how to perform the Tricep extension using a cable machine to strengthen the back of your arms.

What is Cable Tricep Extension

A cable tricep extension is a movement in which the back of the arm is targeted for strength and hypertrophy through extension of the elbow.

Tricep cable extension can be done using one arm at a time or both arms simultaneously using a cable machine set up. Learn more about how to do tricep extension properly with a Cable.

Cable tricep extension is done from a seated or standing position (although there are other variations as well, which we’ll go over).

You can, of course, work your triceps with other exercises, such as dips, pushups, and even a shoulder press. However, the tricep cable extension targets the back of the arm specifically, and it is very effective in developing strength and stability within the tricep, which can be helpful in day-to-day activities.

Aside from strength and functionality, tricep cable extensions will bring definition and firmness to the back of the arm to improve the aesthetics of the arm.

Muscles Worked During the Cable Tricep Extension

The cable tricep extension is an isolation exercise rather than a compound motion. This makes it a great exercise for targeting your triceps.

The primary muscle group worked by the cable extension is your triceps.

There are a variety of secondary muscle groups that activates during cable tricep extension are biceps, forearms, lats, abs (rectus abdominis), obliques, pecs, and traps (trapezius). These secondary muscles engage to stabilize and support the pushdown motion.

Benefits Of Cable Tricep Extension

The cable tricep extension exercises offer an effective way to train the triceps, let’s have a look at some other benefits of cable tricep extension.

  • Depending on the pulley attachment, cable tricep extensions build grip strength as you can maintain an overhand grip or a neutral grip throughout the pulldown, activating muscles in your hands and forearms.
  • The main benefit of the triceps extension is the hypertrophy of the triceps that comes with the motion. Unlike other triceps exercises, the triceps extension activates all three heads of the triceps, which means that your entire triceps will become stronger through this exercise.
  • The cable triceps extension offer almost unmatched versatility because you can change up the load, angle, grip positioning and body positioning easily.
  • The Cable tricep extension is an ideal exercise for all athletes, bodybuilders, or anyone attempting to build arm strength. Whether you are throwing a ball, lifting heavy objects at work, or simply want to boost the aesthetic appeal of your arms.
  • Strong triceps help with shoulder stability and improve your range of motion.
  • Cable tricep exercise variation on the overhand keeps constant pressure on the triceps, increasing time under tension, helping to work the muscle harder and stimulate growth.

Cable Tricep Extension With Proper Form

It is crucial to know the mistakes made by athletes and weight lifters while performing cable tricep extensions. It will help you gain a better perspective about your form.

  • Wrist Positioning: As long as your elbows are extended, you need not move your wrists in any direction. A neutral wrist position is favorable and recommended.
  • Not Focusing On All Three Heads: Training all three parts of the triceps is absolutely pivotal to overall arm progression. Developing all three heads will give your arm a more symmetrical, aesthetic and proportional appearance.
  • Elbow Flaring Out: People tend to flare their elbows outwards. This can put unnecessary stress on the shoulder as well as the chest muscles.
  • Excessive Elbow Movement: Many people let their elbows sway back and forward during the movement. While you can technically lift more weight using this momentum, you are actually using your lats to complete the exercise.
  • Too Much Weight: Adding more weights than required might not be a good idea. Overdoing this exercise can strain your muscles, making them sore and may cause injury.
  • Straining your Back: Always remember that this is a tricep workout and not back training. Do not bend your back while pushing down the weights.

7 Best Cable Tricep Extension Variations

Here are 7 different ways to do cable triceps extensions. It’s a good idea to change up these variables throughout your training to keep your muscles guessing.

1. Triceps Rope Extension

If you’re looking for straightforward cable rope tricep extension exercises to add to your tricep workout routine, tricep rope extension is a great staple exercise to get you started.

It is a variation of the cable tricep extension that used to build the muscles of the triceps.

Well-built triceps also have a lot of positive carryover into your pressing movements, such as bench press variations and shoulder press variations.

Rope Triceps Extension

How To Do Triceps Cable Rope Extension

  1. Keep feet shoulder-width apart, face a high pulley machine enabled with a rope attachment.
  2. Grasp the ends of the rope so that your palms are facing inward and your elbows are by your waist.
  3. Keeping your body stationary, exhale as you lower the rope by completely extending your arms until they are straight down by your sides.
  4. Hold for a moment and then inhale as you slowly return the rope to the starting position.


  • Use only your forearms as you raise and lower the rope.
  • Contract your triceps as you lower the rope.

2. Cable Overhead Triceps Extension

Cable overhead triceps extensions are another great exercise for your tricep cable extension workout.

Overhead Cable Tricep extension variations are especially good at targeting the long head of the triceps. The denser your long head muscle is, the overall larger the triceps appear.

Cable overhead triceps extension

How To Do Cable Overhead Triceps Extension

  1. Attach a rope to the bottom pulley of the cable machine and face away from the pulley.
  2. Hold the rope with both hands with palms facing each other (neutral grip), extend your arms until your hands are directly above your head.
  3. Your elbows should be in close to your head and the arms should be perpendicular to the floor with the knuckles pointing to the ceiling.
  4. Slowly lower the rope behind your head as you hold the upper arms stationary. Inhale as you perform this movement and pause when your triceps are fully stretched.
  5. Slowly return to starting position and repeat the desired number of sets and reps.


  • Keep your arms close to your head for maximum triceps engagement.
  • Perform the exercise using a slow and controlled movement from start to finish.

3. Cable High Pulley Overhead Extension

Cable High Pulley Overhead Extension is one of the best two-arm tricep cable extension exercises that you can do during your upper body workout.

This is the more advanced exercise works not only your triceps, but also your torso, legs, and shoulders in fixing your body in position.

Using the cable allows your triceps to be exercised under tension throughout the entire range of motion (ROM).

Cable High Pulley Overhead Extension

How To Do Cable High Pulley Overhead Extension

  1. Attach a rope to a cable stack as high as possible and assume a standing position.
  2. Utilize a split stance, grasp the rope overhead with a neutral grip (palms facing), and lean forward by hinging at the hips.
  3. Initiate the movement by extending the elbows and flexing the triceps.
  4. Pull the rope downward until the elbows are almost locked out, and then slowly lower under control back to the starting position.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions


  • Don’t allow the rope to pull you backwards or cause you to overarch throughout your lumbar spine.
  • You may need to tuck the chin slightly to allow the rope to travel overhead and not graze the back of your head.

4. One Arm Cable Overhead Extensions

When doing a tricep extension workout with a cable machine, there are plenty of single-arm exercises you can add to correct potential imbalances.

You can use this exercise to target each side of the triceps separately. This will balance the strength of each arm and will give you an asymmetrical look. This exercise can be done standing or seated.

One-arm Cable Overhead Extensions

How To Do One Arm Cable Overhead Extensions

  1. Attach a stirrup (handle) to a cable pulley that is a little lower than chest high. Grasp the stirrup with one hand and press it up, over your head.
  2. Turn away from the pulley, lean a little forward, stagger your feet for balance, and lower your hand behind your back.
  3. Your elbow should be raised high, the cable should be pulled taut, and you should be feeling a stretch in your triceps brachii.
  4. Keeping your elbow close to your head, exhale as you raise the stirrup over your head by extending your elbow.
  5. Inhale as you flex your elbow to lower the stirrup towards the starting position until you feel a mild stretch in your triceps brachii.
  6. Repeat for the prescribed number of repetitions. Repeat the exercise with your opposite arm.


  • Keep your body and upper arm still. Only your forearm should move.
  • Keep your elbow close to your head.

5. Cable Concentration Triceps Extension

If you’re looking for a way to get more creative with your cable extension exercises, why not try cable concentration triceps extension?

It is a unilateral exercise (i.e. an exercise with which you train one side of your body at a time). As with all unilateral exercises, start with your weak side. To promote equal strength on both sides, do not perform more repetitions with your strong side.

Make sure that you kneel in such a place and position to ensure optimal resistance throughout the exercise’s full range of motion.

Cable Concentration Triceps Extension.

How To Do Cable Concentration Triceps Extension

  1. Attach a stirrup handle to a cable pulley and adjust the pulley up high.
  2. Kneeling on your left knee (with the left side of your body turned towards the machine), keep your right bent and the upper portion of your thigh parallel to the floor.
  3. With your right elbow and upper arm pressed against your inner thigh just above your knee, pull the cable down towards the floor in a slight arcing motion.
  4. Slowly to return to starting position. Repeat and switch arms.


  • If you want to keep more tension in the triceps, don’t lock the elbows entirely.
  • Keep your back straight and your upper arm fixed against the inside of your thigh.

6. Cable Lying Triceps Extension

Cable Lying Triceps Extension is a perfect variation of regular skull crushers done with the bar.

This cable version will create constant tension on your triceps and will help you in improving your mind and muscle connection.

Cable Lying Triceps Extension

How To Do Cable Lying Triceps Extension

  1. Attach a bar at the lower end of the cable machine and place a bench in front of the cable machine.
  2. Lay down on the bench and hold a bar with on overhand grip. Your elbow should face up, and your arms should be at a 90° angle. This will be your starting position.
  3. Move the bar down until the bar reaches below your head. Keep your elbows tucked in.
  4. Press the bar up by squeezing your triceps and extend full at the top.
  5. Do not lock your elbows out, and repeat for desired reps.


  • This exercise should be done slowly and carefully under good control.
  • You can also do this with ropes. That will target your lateral head more than the long head.

7. Incline Cable Triceps Extension

Finally, if you’re looking for one more effective tricep cable extension exercise, try the incline tricep extension.

One of the best exercises for drawing and pumping triceps is the extension of the hands due to the overhead extensions.

Triceps extensions can be beneficial for fixing imbalances in the triceps or rehabilitating from injury. It put no pressure on the wrists, so they are an alternative for people with wrist strain or injury.

Incline Cable Triceps Extension

How To Do Incline Cable Triceps Extension

  1. Attach the rope handle to the lower block, grasp it with your hands, sit on the bench with your back.
  2. Bend your hands in the elbows, so that the ends of the handle are located behind your head.
  3. Slowly straighten your arms, keeping your elbows in a fixed position. At the final point, prolong the peak contraction, withstood a short pause.
  4. Return to the starting position.


  • Concentrate on keeping your elbows stable.
  • Do not allow your elbows to flare out to the sides.
  • Slowly lower the weights and do not use momentum.


The cable triceps extension is a fantastic isolation exercise. It’s the perfect option to include in your triceps workouts, and you’ll definitely see a difference in your muscular development.

Try out the different variations as well to see which one works best for you, or include them all for variety in your training.

Frequently Asked Question

Are cables better for triceps?

The cable triceps exercises offer an effective way to train the triceps, let’s have a look at some other benefits of triceps exercises with a cable machine. Triceps cable exercises are more evenly distributed, and you have more of a constant load on your shoulder muscles throughout the whole range of motion.

Are overhead cable tricep extensions good?

yes, overhead tricep extensions are an excellent way to target all three heads, and a great exercise to add to your fitness routine. I also recommend including Cable Lying Triceps Extension into your routine.

The cable setup gives your muscles almost uninterrupted time under tension, and a huge pump — each of which can help optimize muscle growth.

Know More About Tricep Training

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