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The tricep pushdown is a powerful cable machine exercise to train your tricep muscles. What are the best bars and attachments for the tricep pushdown?
The cable machine is a piece of fitness equipment where a steel frame holds weights and pulleys. Thanks to the cable going through these pulleys and attached to these weights you can do many types of strength training exercises for a wide variety of muscles.
One of the more unique cable machine tricep exercises is the tricep pushdown where you extend your arms down with a cable grip in your hand(s).
To do the tricep pushdown exercise you can use a wide variety of cable bars and attachments. There is currently no agreement on what the best choice is but different options can offer some specific advantages in certain areas.
In the end, the best tricep pushdown bar or attachment is mostly a case of personal preference and what the rest of your training plan looks like. Even so, it can be helpful to have an overview of all the options.
1. Double rope handle
The first cable machine attachment that can be used to do tricep pushdowns is the double rope handle, also known as the tricep rope attachment. As the name implies, this grip consists of two sturdy ropes attached to an anchor point in the middle.
These ropes generally have a thick part on the end. These thick parts have a flat surface to put your hands on and a round surface on the other end to make it more comfortable if you hit your body when doing tricep pushdowns.
A benefit of the double rope handle is that you don’t have a bar hitting your body at the end of the movement. By using double rope handles you can likely increase the range of motion when doing tricep pushdowns a small amount.
A potential downside is that you have to pay more attention to the horizontal movement of your wrists.
In the context of an overall workout plan, a benefit of the double rope cable attachment is that it is extremely versatile. You can work out a variety of muscles with this type of grip alone.
2. Tricep pushdown V-bar
The tricep pushdown handle is a V-shaped cable machine attachment. Some models come with rubber padding, others stick to a steel-only construction.
When using the tricep pushdown handle you will have to pay less attention to keeping your hands at a certain width. This lack of mobility can also feel like a downside to some people.
Tricep pushdown V-bars also offer a relatively distinct wrist angle. This could be more or less comfortable to you than some of the other options.
One potential downside of this attachment is that it has a relatively specific use. This is not the piece of cable machine equipment that is helpful for training a variety of body parts.
3. Straight bar
The next tricep pushdown bar is simply a straight steel bar, generally on the short side. This can be helpful for an exercise like tricep pushdowns where a long lat pulldown bar could get in the way.
Besides that, this equipment is relatively straightforward when it comes to the tricep pushdown. You can use both a pronated (hand palms facing down) and supinated (hand palms facing up) grip.
Additionally, you can use the straight bar attachment for other exercises like rows, bicep curls, straight arm pulldowns, wrist curls, etc.
4. Ankle strap
This next cable machine attachment is less conventional for the tricep pushdown exercise but it can be a good choice for specific situations. The name may imply differently but you can also wrap an ankle strap around your wrist.
Some people prefer the tricep pushdown with their hands facing up. The potential issue is that this is also more challenging on your grip muscles.
For some people to the point where the grip muscles fatigue way before the main target of the exercise, the tricep muscles. To overcome this challenge an ankle strap attachment can be the solution.
Besides that, the ankle strap is also the first attachment on this list that can be used to do the tricep pushdown unilaterally, with one hand at a time.
Other than avoiding possible muscle imbalances, this allows your arms to go through the full range of motion instead of stopping early because your body gets in the way of the bar.
5. Single D handle
Single D handles are a type of cable machine attachment that comes in two main types. The first is a steel handle with more or less the shape of the capital letter D. The second is a short bar attached to straps.
Steel ones tend to be stronger and last longer than the strap versions but some people like the feel of the latter. Both can come with rubber padding for extra comfort.
When doing tricep pushdowns with two-handed attachments it is possible to use one arm more than the other for pulling the cable. This can lead to muscle imbalances.
The single D handle is a cable machine attachment option that allows you to do tricep pushdowns, both pronated and supinated, with one hand at a time to avoid this.
On top of that, the single D handle allows you to do a variety of exercises, including ones like lateral raises, chest presses, and side bends, that may be uncomfortable with other attachments.
6. EZ curl bar
The EZ curl bar attachment is a bar with specific angles that allow you to do exercises with different wrist angles that may be more comfortable for you personally.
Similar to many tricep pushdown bars and attachments on this list, some people really like the EZ curl bar, others will not give it another chance anytime soon.
If you intend to invest in a handle you can try out the EZ curl bar at your local gym to see if you like it for tricep pushdowns or not.
Other exercises where the relatively unique grip of the EZ curl bar can be beneficial include lat pull-downs, bicep curls, skull crushers, and bent-over rows.
7. Single rope handle
The single rope handle is simply one rope that can be anchored to the cable machine. It basically has the same build as the double rope handle. That means a thick rope with at the end a thick part with a flat and a round side.
A single rope handle allows you to do tricep pushdowns unilaterally with a neutral, hand palms facing inward, grip. An upside is that this can help you avoid muscle imbalances.
Downsides include that you have to do spend more time working out and that you don’t have the same collection of potential exercises as the double rope handle.
That being said, the single rope handle is also great for other cable machine tricep exercises like tricep kickbacks and overhead tricep extensions.
Keep in mind that you can also simply only hold one rope of the double rope handle if you don’t mind the other rope swinging around.
Bonus: cable machine accessory set
You may like multiple of the tricep pushdown bars and accessories on this list. Instead of buying these separately, you can usually get them at a lower price if you buy them as a cable machine accessory set.
Depending on what exercises you intend to do and what attachments you actually like using, some of these sets will be a better investment than others.