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How to do a wide grip cable tricep pushdown

Learn how to do wide grip cable pushdowns with the correct technique.
Written By  James Jackson
Last Updated on 8th November 2021
A man doing a wide grip tricep pushdown

Because of the triceps attachments, changing your grip width for pulley pushdowns doesn’t theoretically affect triceps recruitment.

Yet, performing a wide grip tricep pushdown can, for some lifters, make the exercise more comfortable, which in turn enables them to achieve better triceps stimulation.

Close grip tricep pushdowns, on the other hand, tend to cause your elbows to flare out and can often hurt your wrists.

Of course, there’s also no such thing as the ideal pushdown grip width, either.

In general, though, those with larger builds (meaning broader shoulders) should use a wider grip on pushdowns because their arms are naturally further apart at rest.

Conversely, those with narrower builds will be best off using a closer grip for pushdowns so that they can keep their wrists and elbows in line (you know that you’ve got the right grip width when your wrists and elbows are roughly lined up).

Wide grip tricep pushdown exercise details

  • Also Known As: Wide grip cable press down
  • Main Muscles: Triceps
  • Exercise Type: Strength
  • Exercise Mechanics: Isolation
  • Difficulty Level: Beginner
  • Equipment Needed: Cable station, bar attachment

How to do wide grip cable pushdowns

A man performing a wide grip cable pushdown
  1. Connect a long bar to a high pulley.
  2. Grab the bar with a firm, overhand grip and then step away from the machine.
  3. Hinge at your hips slightly while keeping your back straight.
  4. Tighten your abs, and then flex your triceps to push the bar down.
  5. Keep pressing into the bar until your arms are completely locked out.
  6. Hold the contraction for a moment.
  7. Release the contraction under control without letting your shoulders drift too far forward.
  8. Raise the bar until your forearms press up against your biceps, then perform your next rep.
  9. Do 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps in total.

Wide grip triceps pushdown variations

Now that you know how to do a wide grip straight bar tricep pushdown, it’s time to learn how to do the other 3 wide grip cable push down variations so that you can see which version is best for you.

Wide grip EZ bar pushdown

A man performing a wide grip EZ bar pushdown

Wide grip easy curl bar tricep pushdowns are an ideal muscle-building exercise for a few reasons.

One, EZ bar attachments tend to be longer than straight bar attachments, which enables you to use a wider grip.

Second, EZ bars have semi-pronated (curved) grips. These grips put less pressure on your wrists than those of straight bars because they don’t force your hands into unnatural amounts of pronation.

Additionally, using a semi-pronated grip (rather than a fully pronated grip) makes it easier to keep your elbows close to your sides, which in turn allows your triceps to contract more intensely.

Wide grip reverse cable pushdown

A man doing reverse wide grip pushdowns for his triceps

The wide grip supinated tricep extension is a highly underrated tricep-builder.

As I alluded to above, the less pronated that your hands are, the easier it is to keep your elbows pinned to your sides.

Well, taking this logic to its conclusion, using a reverse grip for wide grip pushdowns means that your elbows couldn’t possibly be any closer to your sides.

This is significant because it’s easier to generate a powerful peak contraction in your triceps when your elbows are close to your body.

On the other hand, when you let your elbows flare out too much, which tends to happen when you use an overly narrow grip, your chest and shoulders tend to become involved in the movement, which effectively turns your tricep pushdown into an upper body press.

Lat bar wide grip tricep pushdowns

A man doing lat bar wide grip tricep pushdowns

Lat bar wide grip tricep pushdowns are arguably the most efficient way to do the wide grip push down because pulldown bars are the longest of all the cable attachments.

Of course, just because it’s called a pulldown bar doesn’t actually mean that you have to use it on a lat pulldown station (best to keep that machine free for people who actually want to train their back).

There’s nothing stopping you from using the lat bar on a standard high pulley.

It’s a great attachment because it gives you ample opportunity for grip width experimentation. You can try medium grips, wide grips, and even extra wide grips to see which hand position provides the most comfort and the best triceps activation.

Conclusion

A man doing wide grip cable pushdowns

Wide-grip triceps pushdowns are a good exercise for those who find the traditional close-grip pushdown to be too wrist-intensive.

Although most people should avoid doing an extra wide grip tricep pushdown (seen as gripping the bar at the ends can hurt your shoulders), such a grip width is necessary for those with large builds and for those whose lats make using a normal grip impossible.

Perform 8-15 reps per set, aiming for the higher end of that rep range most of the time (wide grip pushdowns are best performed after your heavy presses and free weight tricep movements).

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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