The cable overhead triceps extension w/ a rope attachment is an isolation exercise that allows for a pronounced stretch in the triceps muscles during the eccentric (negative) portion of the movement.
It’s a great mass builder for the upper arms and there are actually a few different ways to perform this variation, of which we’ve provided the details for in this exercise guide, along with tips, and how to include it in your training regime.
Here’s a guide to the cable overhead triceps extension…
In This Exercise:
- Target Muscle Group: Triceps brachii
- Type: Strength
- Mechanics: Isolation
- Equipment: Cable system/ rope attachment
- Difficulty: Beginner
The primary muscle involved in this exercise is the triceps which consists of three heads (a long head, a lateral head, and a medial head), located opposite the biceps. Its primary function is elbow extension although it can stabilize the elbow joint during fine movements.
How To Do The Cable Overhead Triceps Extension w/ Rope Attachment
While there are a few different ways to do the cable overhead triceps extension using a rope, we’ve provided step-by-step instructions for the one we believe is most-commonly utilized.
- Attach the double rope to a point on the cable system that is at or just above your head.
- Grip the handles overhead, hinge forward at the hips at about 45 degrees, and take a step or two forward away from the pulley. You can use the pulley system to get into position by leaning your butt up against it.
- Get into a split stance with one foot forward and the other in the back for maximum stability. Keep your core muscles tight.
- Hold your elbows close to your head.
- Extend your elbows forward by flexing your triceps and rotate your hands out as shown in the video below.
- Bend your arms until you feel a stretch in the triceps and repeat.
Here’s a great video example of how this exercise should be performed.
- Never load up to where you cannot maintain a stable body position. This is an isolation exercise that does not require maximum loads. Going too heavy can also be dangerous for your elbows.
- Keep your arms close to your head to maximum triceps engagement.
- Ideally, your arms should extend straight ahead, not up or down.
- If possible, warm up your elbows with some presses, dips, or pushdowns before doing the extension. This oftentimes allows the exerciser to feel the triceps working better.
3 Variations of The Overhead Triceps Extension
Here are a few more variations of this exercise that work great as well.
Seated or upright overhead triceps extension
This variation involves being more upright and it’s also a very popular exercise as well for building the triceps. You can use a barbell, dumbbells, cables, or a machine for this movement. Again, the same applies in that you don’t want to use maximal loads because it’s dangerous for your elbows.
It’s also a good idea to warm up your elbows with another triceps exercise that’s not an extension before doing the upright triceps extension.
Lying triceps extension
The lying extension is a phenomenal variation that works extremely well for packing on muscle to the three heads that make up the triceps. You can use a barbell, dumbbells, or cables for this exercise.
Bodyweight triceps extension
You don’t need weights to do the triceps extension. Your bodyweight is plenty to get a good workout and challenge your triceps. It’s also a great movement when you don’t have access to weights and by varying your body position (e.g. upper body elevated, lower body elevated), you can increase or decrease the intensity.
How To Incorporate The Cable Overhead Triceps Extension w. Rope Attachment Into Your Training Routine
The triceps extension is typically included alongside other triceps exercises such as the close-grip bench press, triceps pushdown, dip, etc. But because it’s an extension exercise, the elbows are placed in a potentially dangerous position, especially with moderate to heavier poundages being used.
If you are going to use heavier resistance with this exercise, choose a weight that’ll allow you to get at least eight repetitions. This will ensure that the load is not excessively heavy. And make sure that you can use proper form, not having to use momentum, or your entire body to perform the extensions.
If possible, warm up with the above-mentioned exercises to condition your elbows before extensions. This is an effective method for those who typically feel the movement in their elbows when they start off with it in their triceps workouts.
Sets and reps
- Our recommendation is 3-4 sets of a rep range between 8-20 reps.
The triceps overhead extension also makes for a great option when performing supersets which involves doing two exercises back to back. So, for example, you could do biceps curls and then immediately do triceps extensions right after. This would be considered one superset and you could do 2-4 sets total.
The cable overhead 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