Push Down | Muscles Involved, Correct Execution and Variations

By the healthiergang writer , student in Medicine and Surgery.

Push Down: Muscles Involved

The Push Down is an exercise monoarticolare involving the brachial triceps, leading to elbow extension.

Push Down | Muscles Involved, Correct Execution and VariationsBefore seeing the execution, let's do a little anatomy recall. The triceps bracelet it is located in the posterior part of the humerus and is composed of three heads: long, medial and lateral; the first is also the only bi-articular head (working on the shoulder and elbow) that originates at the level of the subglenoid tuberosity of the scapula, the other two instead from the posterior aspect of the humerus, arriving with a robust tendon on the upper and posterior faces of the olecranon of the ulna.

Its action is to extend the forearm on the arm, working on the elbow, while the long head alone also has the task of extend, adduct and retropose the arm.

How is it done?

Returning to us, the exercise examined can be considered an accessory, of isolation, for the training of the back of the arm, therefore inserted in the final stages of the chest-arm or shoulder-arm routine. It is usually carried out with polyerculin both with the cables and with the bar or straight or V (many do it instead at the Lat-Machine).

The variants include a set of exercises in which it comes changed the position of the wrists, the position of the elbow with respect to the body and that of the shoulders.

The normal execution sees the person, below the polyerculin with the arms close to the hips, grasp the bar and push down, fully extending the forearm; in the negative phase the elbow is flexed up to 120 ° -130 °, leading to stretching the muscle heads. The knees are slightly flexed and trying to maintain the lumbar curve.

Push Down | Muscles Involved, Correct Execution and Variations

The muscles involved, as seen, are the heads of the triceps, a slight action of the anconeus, a muscle that helps in extension, and the forearm and shoulder muscles, respectively responsible for stabilization of the wrist and glenohumeral joint.

A small parenthesis deserves the involvement of the triceps heads: the position of the humerus tight at the hips forces the Long one into a disadvantageous position, placed in pre-contraction and therefore unable to express all the force; in fact he is involved in the execution of the exercise, but part of his role is also that of shoulder stabilizer. The other two heads, on the other hand, are completely stimulated, being single-jointed and carrying out a single type of action.

Variations of the Push Down

The best known variants see three types of sockets: prone, with straight or V bar (in this case defined semi-prone), neutral using the cables and supine (always using the horizontal bar).

? Prone Dam

It is the variant with which you succeed to express more strength and it is the most used in the world of fitness and Body-Building thanks to the best and strongest stabilizing action of Mm. Wrist flexors (more powerful than extensors) and involvement of the anconeus

? Supine socket

It's surely the most disadvantageous, date from poor stabilization of the wrist joint, made less efficient by the recruitment of less strong muscles such as the extensors and by the reduction of the work of the anconeus in the forearm extension movement; the work of the triceps heads (as well as their maximum stretching) remains unchanged while the force they are able to express and consequently the weight they can lift will be much less.

? Neutral Dam

It usually comes carried out at the high cables with the rope; the stabilizing action of the wrist is carried out by the adductors and there is a slight difference in the muscular work as the long head is able to be more involved because the humerus is slightly detached from the bust, allowing an upper pre-contraction (negative phase) compared to the previous variants.

Other points of variability of the exercise include: the positioning of the performer under the cables, the positioning of the elbows and the angle of the shoulder.


The position, closer or further away from the origin of the cables, implies modifications of a mechanical type, that is, the ratio between the maximum point of difficulty of the exercise and the degree of cubital extension changes. Placed directly under the cables, we exert a force perpendicular to the ground and in this case the hardest part of the exercise will be the initial one, that is when with the elbow flexed we have to push down; the work becomes less and less tiring until reaching the end of the range of motion where the demand for force tends to decrease. In this type of position, the functional request of Mm. stabilizers is pretty much the same throughout the ROM.

Push Down | Muscles Involved, Correct Execution and Variations

As we move away from the cables, trying to always keep the arm tight to the hips, the line of force will no longer be perpendicular to the ground but will tend to incline, moving the maximum difficulty of the exercise and locating it now in the final part near the point of greatest extension. The variation of the thrust also involves a higher work of the Mm of the shoulder who will have to work harder to keep the arm in the standard position.

Elbow / shoulder positioning

The latest analysis concerns the angles and placement of the elbow / shoulder joints. Some athletes move the elbow further forward, while also changing the distance between torso and arm (even up to 90 ° of flexion): the effect they get is a greater stretching of the long head with a better expression of strength; in this variant, however, it is necessary to take a few steps back from the cables and bring the torso further forward, reducing the tension on the shoulder extensors.

Jay Cutler version

Push Down | Muscles Involved, Correct Execution and VariationsAlso worth mentioning is the Jay Cutler version, the 4-time Mister Olympia: the elbows in this case face out, the arm is not attached to the body and the torso overhangs the bar; the movement is similar to pumping air into a wheel with an inflator.

The effectiveness of the exercise is attributable to possibility of using heavier weights keeping the triceps more under tension by limiting the articular excursion to the central degrees, that is, without ever completely extending the elbow and without reaching 120-130 degrees of flexion: even more valid testimony are the huge triceps of Jay Cutler!

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