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How to perform a stability ball tricep pushdown

Discover how to perform a Swiss ball tricep pushdown with the proper form.
Written By  James Jackson
Last Updated on 7th November 2021
A man doing a Swiss ball tricep pressdown

The stability ball pushdown trains the primary triceps function—elbow extension—while working your abs in the process.

This two-pronged approach to building a strong and toned physique makes the Swiss ball tricep pushdown ideal for those who train for function as well as aesthetics.

Like the regular tricep pull down, the exercise ball pushdown taxes your triceps with constant cable tension.

Yet, when you do a standing pronated tricep pushdown with a straight bar, your core muscles don’t get that much work because your legs take a lot of the strain.

Conversely, the Swiss ball tricep pushdown forces your abs and obliques to maintain a strong isometric contraction due to the fact that you’re performing pressdowns while sitting on an unstable surface.

The abdominal exertion helps your torso to remain stable and upright, which gives you a solid base to press from.

Related: Band pushdownsSeated triceps pushdown

Stability ball tricep pushdown exercise details

  • Also Known As: Swiss ball triceps pushdown
  • Main Muscles: Triceps
  • Exercise Type: Strength
  • Exercise Mechanics: Isolation
  • Difficulty Level: Intermediate
  • Equipment Needed: Cable machine, rope attachment, exercise ball.

How to do a Swiss ball tricep pushdown

A man performing a rope pushdown on a stability ball
  1. Connect a rope to a high pulley and then position an exercise ball in front of the machine.
  2. Grab the rope and then sit on the ball (facing the machine) with your legs apart.
  3. Push the rope down toward the ground by flexing your triceps. Keep pressing until your elbows are completely extended.
  4. Squeeze your triceps at the bottom of the rep and then release the contraction under control.
  5. Raise the attachment (while keeping your shoulders still) until it reaches upper ab height.
  6. Repeat for 3-5 sets of 10-20 reps.

Stability ball tricep pushdown variations

Here are 5 more Swiss ball tricep pushdown exercises that you can do to add variety to your workout routine.

V-bar Swiss ball pushdown

A man doing a v-bar Swiss ball pushdown for his triceps

Performing the v bar pressdown on a Swiss ball really works your abs because they have to resist the force of the cables, which is always trying to pull your body toward the machine.

This means that the further you position the ball away from the pulley, the harder your abs will need to contract.

As such, if training your triceps is your primary goal, then don’t place the ball too far away from the pulley. Otherwise, you might work your core at the expense of the backs of your arms.

EZ bar stability ball pushdown

A man doing a tricep pressdown with a Swiss ball

The stability ball EZ bar tricep pushdown is a useful alternative to the straight bar version of this exercise because it enables you to lift with a semi-pronated grip.

Unlike that of a straight bar, this hand position enables you to train your triceps in more comfort because it doesn’t force your wrists into maximum pronation.

Of course, using a rope is arguably even better in this regard because rope attachments enable you to lift with a neutral grip while also encouraging you to apply equal amounts of force with both sides of your body (because you have to lock out each end of the rope independently).

Reverse grip stability ball pushdowns

A man doing a reverse grip stability ball pushdown for his triceps

Doing a supinated pushdown on a Swiss ball is a great way to achieve a core-strengthening ab contraction and a powerful tricep contraction.

Just watch what happens to your elbows when you rotate your wrists from a pronated (overhand) position to a supinated (underhand) position.

I’ll bet that your elbows moved closer to your sides. Am I right?

You see, while it’s technically possible (if you really try) to rotate your wrists without moving your elbows, that’s not how the human body likes to function in practical, strength training situations.

When you use a reverse grip, your shoulders have a strong tendency to move into external rotation, which guarantees that your elbows move inward, which ultimately results in a stronger tricep contraction.

Isometric exercise ball tricep pushdown

A man performing tricep pushdowns on an exercise ball

The stability ball isometric tricep pressdown is a highly underrated exercise because it challenges your isometric muscle strength from two angles.

First off, any kind of iso pushdown increases your elbow lockout strength, which can help you to achieve an intensified muscle contraction during pressdowns and all manner of other tricep movements.

Additionally, your ab muscles have to maintain a forceful isometric contraction in order to keep your body stable, which can help you to brace your core more effectively during compound exercises like squats and rows.

Taken together, these two isometric contractions help you to build a strong, functional, and muscular physique. When you’re able to maintain prolonged muscle contractions, your regular reps won’t seem as fatiguing, which will ultimately make your workouts less of a burden.

One arm stability ball tricep pushdown

A man doing a one arm stability ball tricep pushdown

Besides improving your core strength and triceps muscularity, the Swiss ball single arm tricep pushdown also enhances your triceps symmetry.

This is simply because, when you train each arm separately, you can make sure that both of your triceps are getting more or less equal amounts of work.

In addition to making your arms look more proportional, having balanced triceps muscles will make your compound presses more effective because you’ll be able to keep the bar straight and press it more efficiently.

You can also do the one arm reverse grip tricep extension if you want to take advantage of the intensified triceps contraction that typically results from lifting with an underhand grip.

Conclusion

A man performing a stability ball tricep pressdown

The stability ball tricep pushdown isn’t particularly popular among bodybuilders because having to maintain a strong abdominal contraction can make it challenging to train your triceps properly, especially if you’re really strong on pushdowns.

Yet, for those who want to work their core muscles, the Swiss ball tricep pushdown is a fantastic exercise because it trains your triceps, abs, and obliques in one convenient movement.

Your best bet is to perform stability ball pushdowns toward the end of your workout (unless pushdowns are a big priority for you).

This is because you actually want your triceps to be somewhat fatigued prior to Swiss ball pressdowns.

The reason being is that if you’re able to lift really heavy weights, then maintaining a tight core and thereby the proper form might become too difficult. For this reason, it’s best to use the stability ball tricep pressdown as a finishing exercise.

James Jackson
James Jackson is a personal trainer who uses his expertise in strength and conditioning to create helpful workout tutorials that show fitness enthusiasts how to build muscle while staying safe in the gym. He draws on the latest sports science data as well as tried and tested training techniques to get the best results for his clients without them having to live in the gym.
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