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Triceps Push-Down: Straight Bar Vs. Rope

author image Andrea Cespedes
Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.
Triceps Push-Down: Straight Bar Vs. Rope
Push-downs help build your triceps. Photo Credit curtoicurto/iStock/Getty Images

Doing a triceps push-down with a straight bar or a rope works the same muscles, but each has its advantages. The rope attachment enables you to target fibers deep within the triceps and to move through a fuller range of motion when you straighten your wrists at the bottom of the exercise. Various types of bars target muscles from different angles. For example, using a v-bar emphasizes the outer portion of the triceps muscle, while a straight bar puts greater emphasis on the long head.


In a 2011 study sponsored by the American Council on Exercise, the rope push-down was found to be slightly more effective than the bar push-down in targeting the triceps muscles. Neither move was as effective as diamond push-ups, declared the gold-standard exercise for the triceps by the researchers. The rope push-down proved 74 percent as effective as these push-ups in targeting all three heads of the triceps. It put more emphasis on the long head of the muscle as compared to the lateral head. The bar push-down was 67 percent as effective as the push-ups and also put more emphasis on the lateral head. Kickbacks and dips ranked higher than the push-downs and worked the lateral and long heads almost equally.

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