What Else To Do Other Than Cable Rope Extensions?
March 24th 2020
The rope extension is an exercise using the cable with a rope attachment used to target the triceps.
It is a staple in every bodybuilder’s program because of how effective it is in targeting the lateral head of the triceps.
What makes rope extensions stand out from other triceps exercises is the fact that at the end of the motion, you can target your triceps even more by pulling both ends of the rope apart.
This makes the rope extension exercise an exercise that is difficult to do even with lighter weights.
But what are some other exercises like the rope extension that are great at developing triceps?
To answer this, I looked at Eddie Hall and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s routine for some inspiration on the types of compound and isolation exercises they use to build their big, and strong physiques.
Here is a list of rope extension alternatives:
- Overhead barbell skull crushers
- Wide grip triceps pushdowns
- Triceps Dips
- Dumbbell Skull crusher
Overhead Barbell Skull crusher
The exercise is as intimidating as the name suggests.
The overhead barbell skull crusher involves performing a triceps extension while the bar is over and behind your head.
This is a great exercise that emphasizes the long head of your triceps which is only sufficiently stressed while your arm is overhead.
Eddie Hall performs this with a barbell making it a mix between a compound exercise, and an isolation one.
With a barbell, you can more accurately adjust the weights to your desired intensity.
Wide grip triceps pushdowns
Playing around with grip width is a great way to add in variation to your typical routine.
One great triceps exercise is performing a triceps pushdown but with a wide grip on a bar.
Most triceps exercises require you to keep your elbows in tucked at your sides.
By positioning your elbows in a wider position, it places the triceps in a less advantageous position making it harder for them to contract.
By doing so, you are working the muscle even more in order to move the weight which could lead to more growth.
Triceps dips can be performed on a dip bar or on a bench.
It is a great bodyweight exercise that can easily be overloaded with the use of a weighted belt.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is a big fan of dips as dips are a compound exercise that works not only your triceps, but also your chest.
You can change the target from your triceps to the chest simply by leaning a bit forward.
But if you want to target specifically your triceps, then you want to try and remain upright.
Dumbbell Skull crusher
The advantage of the dumbbell skull crusher is that you are able to isolate both at a time targeting any weaknesses or muscular imbalances.
In addition, dumbbell exercises require more muscular action to stabilize your body throughout the entire lift.
Arnold used this exercise during his prime in order to build his big triceps.
This exercise might be a bit tricky to get used to while you are first starting because it does require a degree of balance and coordination however just know that it is well worth it.
Heavy triceps exercises vs light triceps exercises
Now that you have an assortment of alternative triceps exercises other than rope extensions, should you be training these exercises with heavy weight or light weight?
Your first instinct may tell you heavy. However, research shows that training with “light” weights in the 8-12 rep range is better at building hypertrophy, or size, than training in the 3-5 rep range if you were to go heavy.
So, if your main goal is to build more size, then train using the weight that would be difficult for you if you were to do 8-12 reps.
For most tricep isolation exercises, you want to use a lighter weight and perform 8-12 reps.
On the other hand, if your goal is to build strength, then using heavier weights in the low rep range 3-5 would be more suitable for you.
In addition, if you are using a compound triceps exercise such as the close-grip barbell bench press or the triceps dip, then you should go even heavier.
This is because, in compound exercises, more muscle groups are involved allowing you to overload the exercise.
How often should you work your triceps?
How often you should work your triceps depends on your specific goal and how many times you can make it to the gym.
Because triceps are a relatively small muscle group, they could be trained often and should be trained at least 2 times per week.
It also depends on your experience level and how much stimulus your body needs in order for them to grow.
For example, Arnold Schwarzenegger would perform 6 sets of at least 7 different triceps exercises in the 8-10 rep range.
But if you want an in-depth guide on the how-tos of tricep training (and more), you should definitely consider getting Arnold’s Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding.
Eddie Hall, on the other hand, trains for at least 4 hours a day working 2-3 body parts at a time.
This is part of his routine with Strongman training in developing the size to compete with bigger Strongmen.
Mike Israetel, owner of Renaissance Periodization, breaks down all the science behind training your triceps.
According to Dr. Israetel, the average intensity for most people to grow their triceps is around 16 hard sets per week.
This could mean 4 exercises with 4 sets on one day.
Or it could mean 2 exercises with 4 sets on two days.
You can check out his article here to learn more about his approach to triceps training as well as some other sample exercises he implements.
But in the end, how often you should workout your triceps depends on you.
If you have time at the end of your workout to add another triceps set, go ahead and do it.
See how you recover and examine whether you want to permanently add the set or not.
As long as you are performing the exercises with proper form, there aren’t any downsides to performing an extra set or two.
You most likely won’t run into the risk of overtraining.
To put it even simpler, adding in more triceps exercises will make you bigger much faster.
So, if you want to get big faster, work harder and get into the gym more.