If you want to convert your arms from flabby to fabulous, then you need to start working your triceps. These three heads make up about two-thirds of your upper arm. The sole function of the triceps is to straighten your arm. Well, you can do this exact movement with the triceps rope pulldown exercise. By doing triceps pulldowns consistently, you will begin to notice improvements in the shape of your arms.
Attach the rope to the cable pulley machine and set the cable pulley to the highest point by raising it up to the last fixed position. Choose the amount of resistance you want to work with by placing the pin into the weight stack. You should start with light weights, no more than 5 to 10 pounds during the first two sets, to warm up your triceps muscles. During these warm-up sets, perform between 20 and 25 repetitions to increase blood flow to the muscles.
Stand in front of the cable pulley facing towards it and hold each arm of the rope, which is like an inverted V, with an overhand grip. Start with your elbows bent slightly more than 90 degrees and keep your elbows by your sides at all times during this exercise.
Extend your elbows to pull the rope down towards your upper thighs. Bend your elbows until you return to the starting position. Do three working sets of 10 to 15 reps of this exercise. Since your arms are by your sides during the movement, you will work all three parts of your triceps relatively the same. If you want to better target the largest part of the triceps, which is the long head, then continue to the overhead variation of this exercise.
Set the pulley to the lowest point by bringing it down to the last fixed position, set the amount of weight by placing the pin into the resistance stack and stand facing away from the cable pulley machine and hold the triceps rope attachment using an overhanded grip, with your arms overhead. Take a few steps forward and away from the cable pulley machine.
Begin with your elbows bent at an angle that is slightly more than 90 degrees. Lean forward slightly at the waist so you can comfortably move the rope in the forward direction.
Pull the rope forward and in a slightly downward direction by extending your elbows until your arms are almost fully straightened. Bend your elbows to return the rope back to the starting position. Do three working sets of 10 to 15 reps to really emphasize your triceps long head. There is no need to do warm-up sets of this exercise if you are performing the arms-by-your-side variation before you do this overhead variation.
Perform these exercises for your triceps twice per week as part of your arms workout, or upper body workout, depending on how you split up your workout regimen.
- Once you complete the triceps exercises, do three to five sets of an overhead triceps stretch as part of a cool-down. Stand with your body upright, raise your right arm overhead, bend your right elbow behind your head, and push down on your right elbow with your left hand. Hold this stretched position for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat with your left arm.
Richard Choueiri is a fitness and nutrition expert and the author of "The Human Statue Workout." He began writing professionally in 2007 and his work has been featured in Bodybuilding.com and "Physique Magazine." Choueiri studied exercise science and nutritional science at Rutgers University. He holds an American College of Sports Medicine CPT, and a National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association CMMACC.