Straight Bar Pushdown

The tricep pushdown is an essential exercise for your arm-building workouts. Yet, you might not know the differences between the various handle types.

How do you know which one to use with so many options like the rope, V bar, EZ bar, and straight bar?

In this article, you’ll learn how the straight bar pushdown compares to other tricep exercises. And see how to use it with a video and step-by-step guide.

Straight Bar Pushdown

What Is a Straight Bar Pushdown?

A pushdown is a tricep exercise where you extend your arms downward while standing upright. And a straight bar pushdown is simply a variation using a cable attachment with no bends or curves.

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

Straight Bar Pushdown Attachment

The straight bar shape affects your hand and body position, which slightly changes the exercise mechanics. To explain, let’s look at the muscles worked during the tricep pushdown.

Straight Bar Pushdown Muscles Worked

Any exercise that extends your arms is going to work the triceps muscle. However, the pushdown exercise is excellent for isolating the triceps without involving the chest or shoulders.

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

Tricep Pushdown Muscles Worked

Straight Bar Pushdown vs Rope Pushdown

The rope pushdown places your hands in a natural grip with your palms facing in. While your hands aren’t connected by one solid handle, your grip is relatively narrow.

With the straight bar pushdown, your grip can range from narrow to medium width. And your hands can be either pronated or supinated (overhand or underhand).

Therefore, the straight bar offers more grip versatility than a rope attachment.

Tricep Pushdown Muscles Worked

Straight Bar Pushdown vs EZ Bar 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.

Like the straight bar, you can change your grip width. In fact, most EZ bars allow you to go wider than a straight bar. And you can choose the overhand or underhand variation.

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

Straight Bar Pushdown vs EZ Bar

Straight Bar Pushdown Benefits & Limitations

As you can see, the straight bar pushdown offers some benefits over other tricep exercise variations. But it’s not without its shortcomings.


  • Moderate control over grip width
  • Can use overhand or underhand grip


  • Slightly more tension exerted on the wrists

How To Do An Overhand Grip Straight Bar Pushdown

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

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. Next, 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. Then, repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

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

  1. Set the pulley at about head level and attach the straight bar handle
  2. Grab the bar with an overhand 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
  6. Squeeze your triceps as you push your hands down
  7. Repeat for the desired number of reps

Straight Bar Pushdown Video

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Straight Bar Pushdown Form

One of the most critical aspects of performing the straight bar 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.

Straight Arm Pushdown Form

In addition, don’t flare your elbows or crowd the bar with your upper body. Doing so incorporates other muscle groups like the chest and shoulders.

By eliminating extraneous movement, you isolate the tricep and make it do all the work. This strict form is what results in muscle size and strength gains.

Straight Bar Pushdown Start
Straight Bar Pushdown Finish

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Straight Bar Pushdown Variations

So far, I’ve shown you how to do the straight bar pushdown while standing using an overhand grip. But there are some other variations you can use as well.

Reverse Grip Straight Bar Pushdown

The reverse grip straight bar pushdown uses the same technique as the overhand version. However, the underhand grip forces you to use the strict form, which helps isolate the triceps even more.

Kneeling Straight Bar Pushdown

The kneeling straight bar pushdown lowers your center of gravity. And that extra leverage makes it easier to push heavier weights without straining your abdomen.

Straight Bar Pushdown Alternatives

Keep in mind the straight bar 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.

Rope 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.

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 easier on your wrists.

Biggest Tricep Pushdown Mistakes & Corrections

In this article, I showed you how to do the straight bar 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 how to correct your 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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