Bodybuilder Hunter Labrada Talks About His Favorite Triceps Exercise — and Why He Doesn’t Do Rope Pushdowns

Last year’s fourth-place finisher at the Mr. Olympia shares what to do (and not do) if you want to build your triceps.

Another week, another bit of wisdom from bodybuilder Hunter Labrada. In his latest YouTube video, the 2020 Tampa Pro winner talks all about the one triceps exercise he swears by — along with one that he suggests you should ax from your routine entirely. Check out the video below:

According to Labrada, the rope pushdowns — a part of so many triceps workouts in gyms all over — aren’t worth doing if you’re looking to build the ol’ horseshoes. His criticism of the move comes down to elbow flexion and body positioning.

“Whenever you are training your triceps, the job of your triceps is elbow extension,” Labrada says. “So, whenever we’re at the top of the rep, we want as much elbow flexion as possible […] We also want to have everything locked down and back. We don’t want to have our shoulder floating off into oblivion [and] we don’t want to be able to get our pec and our front delt involved on the extension.”


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[Related: 14 Triceps Exercises to Improve Your Bench Press and Overhead Strength]

That’s where the problems start, Labrada says. Doing rope pushdowns could force a person to roll their shoulders forward to achieve a full elbow extension, which isn’t ideal for stability. He also says many people wind up fighting with the rope to keep their elbows aligned with their shoulders. That alignment is key to maximizing the triceps during extensions. 

To top it off, Labrada says the act of pulling the rope down at the top of the lift “is a function of your lat, not your triceps,” meaning there’s less tension on your triceps throughout each rep.

It’s important to note, however, that this is strictly Labrada’s personal opinion on the pushdown exercise. Studies have shown that triceps pushdowns still increase strength and could be a worthwhile part of your routine.

Hunter Labrada’s Favorite Triceps Exercise

To build his triceps, Labrada instead opts for cuffed triceps extensions, which he says “is the best exercise you can possibly do” for everyone’s favorite three-headed muscle.

By performing the move using a crossover technique, Labrada says he is able to keep his shoulders and elbows in a straight line without having to fight a rope. It also allows for full extension of the elbow without incorporating his shoulders or pecs into the move. 

How to Do Cuffed Triceps Extensions

To do this move, you’ll first need to have two cuff accessories and access to a wide cable stack. From there, set the cables in a high position and put your opposite hands through the cuffs. Next, bring your arms to your sides, with your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle.

With your back straight and shoulders upright, extend your arms fully out straight and return them back to the starting point in one fluid motion.


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[Related: Hunter Labrada Shares New 8-Week Training Split Before His 2022 Olympia Prep]

If you don’t have access to a wide cable stack, you can do single-arm cuffed triceps extensions, instead. For this move, set the pulley up high, put your hand through the cuff, and keep your elbow bent at a 90-degree angle.

Once in position, extend your arm down until it’s completely straight and slowly raise back up to the starting point. Throughout the move, make sure your shoulders are kept back and straight.

Featured Image: Hunter Labrada on YouTube