Muscles Worked in Overhead Cable Triceps Extensions
Primary muscles worked:
How to Do Overhead Cable Triceps Extensions
- Fasten a rope handle in the lower position of a cable pulley. Stand with your back against the pulley, with a slight forward lean, and hold the rope behind your head and your upper arms next to your ears.
- Straighten your elbows until your arms are fully extended.
- Reverse the motion by bending your arms again.
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Table of Contents
Which Muscles Does the Overhead Cable Triceps Extensions Work?
This is an exercise that is effective for isolating the tricep muscle, and the direction of resistance helps to keep constant tension in your triceps, which might be beneficial for muscle growth.
Benefits of the Overhead Cable Triceps Extensions
- Triceps development. This exercise isolates the triceps, leading to improved muscle size, strength, and definition in the upper arm.
- Constant resistance. Thanks to the cable machine, which offers a constant tension through the movement, the exercise works triceps effectively and promotes great overall triceps development.
- Improved pressing strength. A stronger triceps can lead to improved performance in other pressing movements, such as bench presses, shoulder presses, and push-ups.
Overhead Cable Triceps Extensions: Proper Form & Technique
Stand in front of the cable machine, facing away from it. You can stand shoulder-width apart, either with your feet parrallell or with one foot in front of the other. Try both, and find what feels best for you.
Lean forward slightly, from your hips. Your back should remain straight, and make sure to keep a slight tension in your core throughout the entire movement.
Extend your forearms overhead, until your arms are fully extended but not locked out at the elbows. This is an isolated tricep exercise, so make sure to keep the rest of your body still, the only movement should be in the elbow joint.
Common Mistakes in the Overhead Cable Triceps Extensions
- Flaring elbows. Letting the elbows flare out to the sides during the movement makes the exercise less effective, and can also be stressful for the shoulder joint. Keep your elbows at the same length apart throughout the movement.
- Hyperextending the lower back. Arching the lower back excessively can place strain on the spine and increase the risk of injury. Maintain a neutral spine and engage your core throughout the exercise to provide stability.
- Adding too much weight. Using weights that are too heavy can lead to poor form, reduced range of motion, and increased risk of injury. Choose a weight that allows you to complete the desired number of repetitions with proper form.
Overhead Cable Triceps Extensions Alternatives & Variations
- Barbell Standing Triceps Extension
- Dumbbell Standing Triceps Extension
- Barbell Lying Triceps Extension
- Dumbbell Lying Triceps Extension
1. Barbell Standing Triceps Extension
The standing barbell triceps extension uses a barbell instead of a cable machine. This means that the tension won’t be constant throughout the movement due to the gravitation. However, the barbell version might be more accessible for many lifters, since you only need a barbell to perform it.
2. Dumbbell Standing Triceps Extension
Just like the barbell standing triceps extension, the dumbbell version is more accessible, and also offers an opportunity to work on any imbalances since you’ll work with one side at a time.
3. Barbell Lying Triceps Extension
The barbell lying triceps extension is performed while lying on a flat bench. It requires less core engagement compared to the overhead cable extension due to the lying down position. The barbell lying triceps extension is also relying on gravity, which means that the resistance will vary during the movement.
4. Dumbbell Lying Triceps Extension
This variation is performed with dumbbells, allowing for a greater range of motion and independent movement of each arm. Just like the variation above, it requires a little less activation of your core than the overhead standing cable version, due to the lying position.
How Many Sets and Reps Should You Do in the Overhead Cable Triceps Extensions?
How many reps you should do of an exercise depends on your goal: do you mainly want to increase your strength or build muscle?
Generally, a lower rep range of about 1–5 reps per set is most effective for strength gains. For muscle gains, a slightly higher rep range of about 8–15 reps per set is generally the most effective and practical.
Of course, you will see an increase in both muscle and strength regardless of which rep range you choose, but you can emphasize one or the other slightly by working in the right number of reps.
Most lifters prefer to work in the upper rep range while doing the overhead cable triceps extension. It’s an isolation exercise, and while a strong triceps could be a goal for many lifters, heavy weights and low reps in this exercise is often uncomfortable.
How many sets you do of an exercise depends on your training experience, how many times you work out in a week, and your other training. But around ten sets per week for a given muscle group is a good starting point, and you can go even higher when you are used to training or if you stop your sets short of failure.
Read more: How Many Sets per Muscle Group per Week?
Workouts & Training Programs that Include the Overhead Cable Triceps Extensions
- Armageddon. 3x/week. A four-week program focusing solely on high-volume and high-intensity arm training.
- Chest, Shoulder, and Tricep Bodybuilding Workout.
You can find these workouts and programs, or create your own routine including the overhead cable triceps extension, in our workout log app Strengthlog.
Download StrengthLog for free with the buttons below:
- The 10 Best Tricep Exercises for Muscle & Strength
- How to Train Your Triceps: Exercises & Workout
- How Much Does Triceps Contribute to Your Bench Press?