Reverse Grip Tricep Pushdown

Your tricep muscle makes up about 2/3 of your upper arm. So if you want to build big guns, you must prioritize tricep movements.

However, there are only so many tricep pushdown variations you can do before your workouts get stale. That’s why I’m going to show you how to implement the reverse grip tricep pushdown.

With this exercise, you can pinpoint the load directly on your triceps. And this is what will help you activate the most muscle fibers to build those big arms.

Reverse Grip Tricep Pushdown YouTube Cover

What Is a Reverse Grip Tricep Pushdown?

A pushdown is a tricep exercise where you extend your arms downward while standing upright. And a reverse grip tricep pushdown is simply a variation where you hold your palms up.

You might also hear this exercise called a reverse grip pressdown, reverse grip tricep extension, or reverse grip cable pushdown. Each of these names refers to the same exercise.

The reverse grip affects your hand and body position, slightly changing the exercise mechanics. To explain, let’s look at the muscles worked during the tricep pushdown.

Reverse Grip Tricep Pushdown Muscles Worked

Any exercise that extends your arms works the triceps muscle. However, the pushdown exercise is excellent for isolating the triceps with minimal involvement from the chest or shoulders.

It’s also important to realize that the tricep includes three muscle heads. These distinct muscle parts are the long head, lateral head, and medial head.

Reverse Grip Tricep Pushdown Muscles Worked

Hand Placement and Arm Muscle Recruitment

With arm exercises, having your hand palm up or palm down (supination vs pronation) during an exercise can change the muscles recruited.

This hand orientation is especially true during curling exercises since the bicep muscle rotates the forearm bones. So a palm-up grip uses more inner bicep, while palm down works more outer bicep.

By comparison, the tricep anatomy is different because the muscle is not responsible for the rotation of the forearm. Therefore, different parts of the tricep are not activated directly by the orientation of your hand.

However, hand position does slightly change the mechanics of the movement for other reasons.

Supination vs Pronation Hand

Overhand vs Reverse Grip Tricep Pushdown

Your hands and arms are positioned more like a close grip bench press with an overhand grip. That means you get a little help from your shoulders and chest even when using strict form.

Conversely, the reverse grip makes it much harder to push with your shoulder joint. As a result, you must use almost exclusively the tricep muscle to perform the exercise.

In other words, the reverse grip tricep pushdown forces you to use strict form. So even though you can’t use as much weight, more load gets applied to the triceps.

Overhand vs Reverse Grip Tricep Pushdown

Reverse Grip Tricep Pushdown Benefits & Limitations

As you can see, the reverse grip tricep pushdown is a good exercise variation for isolating the triceps. Yet that doesn’t mean it’s without shortcomings.

For one, it’s harder to hang on to the bar with the reverse grip. So your grip might fail before your triceps. Also, it can be uncomfortable on your wrists.


  • It makes it more difficult to cheat
  • You will feel a deeper contraction in the tricep
  • You don’t need as much weight to make the muscle fail


  • Grip strength can be a limiting factor
  • May put more stress on your wrists

How To Do a Reverse Grip Tricep Bar Pushdown

Before you begin the exercise, set the pulley at roughly head level, and attach the handle. Then grab the bar with an underhand grip.

Next, step back from the pulley and lean forward slightly. Begin with your arms bent and your elbows in front of your torso.

Now extend your arms while keeping your elbows pinned in place. Then push your hands down until your arms are entirely straight and squeeze your triceps.

Control the bar as you let it travel back up to the starting position. And repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

To recap, here are the step-by-step directions:

  1. Set the pulley at about head level
  2. Grab the bar with an underhand grip
  3. Step back and lean forward slightly
  4. Begin with your elbows forward and arms bent
  5. Extend your arms while keeping your elbows pinned in place

Reverse Grip Tricep Pushdown Video

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Reverse Grip Tricep Pushdown Form

One of the most critical aspects of performing the tricep pushdown is keeping your elbows fixed in the same position throughout the movement.

In other words, only your hands and forearms should move during the exercise. Your upper arms and torso should remain as still as possible.

Reverse Grip Tricep Pushdown Form

Also, it’s a good idea to use a shoulder-width grip. Because going too narrow or too wide puts more stress on your wrists.

Reverse Grip Tricep Pushdown Start
Reverse Grip Tricep Pushdown Finish

Reverse Grip Pushdown Variations

So far, I’ve shown you how to do the reverse grip pushdown with the straight bar. But there are some other variations you can use as well.

EZ Bar Reverse Grip Tricep Pushdown

The EZ bar attachment is a handle with some gentle bends in it. Moreover, the curved shape allows your hands to stay in a more natural position as you hold the bar.

As a result, the EZ bar puts a little less strain on your wrists during exercises like the tricep pushdown.

Single Arm Reverse Grip Tricep Pushdown

Another way to do the reverse grip tricep pushdown is one hand at a time. This single-arm variation makes it easier to focus on the working muscle.

In addition, you can change your body position so that your elbow is next to or slightly behind your body. Keeping your body upright changes the angle of your shoulder and enables you to contract your tricep differently.

Reverse Grip Pushdown Alternatives

Remember, the reverse grip pushdown is just one of many tricep pushdown variations you can include in your routine. Here are some other tricep exercises that are also great for building your arms.

Overhand Tricep Pushdown

As I mentioned earlier, the overhand straight bar pushdown is a great tricep exercise for pushing heavier weights. While your form might not be as strict, you can trigger your triceps with a larger load.

Rope Tricep Pushdown

One benefit of the rope pushdown is that your hands can move somewhat independently. So you can go from a narrow grip to a wide grip as you press the weight.

Also, the neutral grip is easier on your wrists than a fully pronated or supinated grip.

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V Bar Pushdown

The V bar is another cable attachment that uses a relatively natural grip. And the V bar creates a constant narrow hand position, resulting in greater power.

Therefore, the V bar pushdown is excellent for going heavy and building strength. But it also makes it more challenging to isolate the triceps.

Skull Crusher

The skull crusher is a tricep extension performed while lying on a bench. And you can do this exercise on the cables or with free weights.

As with tricep pushdowns, you can use a straight bar or an EZ bar for skull crushers. Just remember that the EZ bar is better for your wrists.

Biggest Tricep Pushdown Mistakes & Corrections

This article showed you how to do the reverse grip tricep pushdown or pressdown. And I gave you some tips for using proper form.

Still, I see many people at the gym making several big mistakes when doing this exercise. So make sure you check out my complete guide on using the correct tricep pressdown form!

Cable Triceps Pressdown
Tricep Pressdown Mistakes

With this information, you’re well on your way to building fuller triceps and bigger arms. Make sure you check out these other awesome articles for more workout tips and fitness information!

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