Incline Face-Away Pushdowns and Presses Two Cable Exercises That Will Set Your Triceps on Fire! By Nick Nilsson
The pushdown is, of course, one of the standard exercises for developing the triceps. This variation puts very powerful tension on the triceps. Not only do you have to do the exercise but the direction of pull from the high pulley means you also have to exert constant tension in order to keep your arms down at your sides.
This is a great double-trouble exercise that will set your triceps on fire!
First, set an incline bench in front of a high pulley with the bench facing away. You can use any attachment with this - bar, rope, triangle bar, etc. Lay back on the bench and reach back overhead and grab the attachment.
Bring the cable down and in front to the start position you would normally begin the pushdown exercise. Keeping your arms at your sides, do the pushdown, coming around to the bottom. Squeeze the triceps very hard at the bottom.
At the bottom, try to push your shoulders down as though you are trying to push the attachment down onto your thighs. This more fully engages the long head of the triceps, which is also partly responsible for shoulder adduction (which in English means bringing the arms down towards your hips) along with the lats.
As you're doing the exercise, let the cable come down on either the left or right side of your neck...whichever is comfortable for you.
Complete the full set of reps, let the bar back up overhead and set it back down. Now good luck trying to keep your arms down by your sides...your triceps are going to be so pumped up after that set!
For an extra hit to the long head of the triceps, you can let the arms come up a bit at the top of the movement. This turns the top into a bit of a pullover movement, increasing the activation of the long head of the triceps utliizing that shoulder adduction that I mentioned above.
The first time I did this exercise, it felt like somebody was jabbing knives into my triceps (in a good way, of course :)...the effect on the triceps is that strong.
Here's the link view the video for this exercise:
Incline Face Away Cable Close Grip Presses
This exercise is done with the same setup as the Incline Face Away Pushdown above. Because you'll be doing a press, this version allows you to use more weight than with the pushdown variation while getting the same benefits of the angle of the bench, etc.
Use the bar attachment for this exercise. Start the exercise with your arms extended like you were in the bottom of the pushdown. Now bring the bar up to your body, bending the elbows like you're doing a close grip press. The bar should hit you in the lower rib cage (this helps keep tension on and minimizes elbow pain). Keep your elbows in close to your sides (for variety, you can also try flaring them wide to the sides and see what works better for you).
Push the bar down and away from your body and squeeze the triceps hard. The difference from the pushdown is that you're not coming around in an arc away from your body...you're keeping that bar nice and close to your body. This is what allows you to use more resistance on the exercise.
This version of the close grip press works really well because it keeps tension on through the entire range of motion, even all the way to lockout, where the close-grip press usually loses tension. The upwards pulling tension of the cable means you have to use the triceps constantly in order to keep the bar down.
When performing this exercise, it can be helpful to use a length of chain (or extra cable) to extend the reach of the cable. With an extra 2 feet of chain, you can start the exercise from a lower position so you don't have to pull the weight down from overhead. Just use the cable and set the bar on the bench. Before you sit on the bench, grab the handle, bring it around in front of your body, then begin the movement.
It may take a little experimentation to get the right length on the chain but it's worth it because you can then use more weight on the exercise.
This exercise can also be used as a burnout/finisher from the Incline Face Away Pushdown. Once you've done as many reps as you can on the pushdown, just finish up doing as many presses as you can. Your triceps will be completely burnt out by the end of that set!
Here's the link view the video for this version of thee exercise: