I definitely want to give credit where credit is due for this exercise. I didn’t invent it but I did learn it from Kassem Hanson. It is a phenomenal triceps builder. When I saw him demo the exercise I thought, “That’s brilliant! Why didn’t I think of that?”
The exercise is deceptively simple, but there are a series of brilliant elements that come together to make it so effective.
- It matches the muscles strength curve.
- It counteracts an all too common technique flaw.
- The set-up creates a stability.
- It minimizes injury because it lines the force up between your shoulders and elbows.
If we examine a straight bar triceps pressdown it has a few problems. At lockout people tend to have to lift and roll their shoulders position to finish the lift. This shifts tension away from the triceps. As the set goes on this tends to become more of an issue due to fatigue.
The fatigue manifests in two ways. Obviously, the triceps are tired but so too are the lower traps. The lower traps play a crucial role in stabilising the shoulder blades. When they get tired they can no longer control the shoulder blades.
As a consequence, by the end of a set it is common to see people rounding and shrugging their shoulders—and using a ton of body English to move the weight. All of which does zero for triceps growth, but does train your ego and beat up your elbows.
A Fix to Shoulder Instability
To improve on the issues created by the straight bar, people often use a rope attachment to allow for more freedom of movement. This means the hands can move apart more naturally at the end of the range. This helps keep the elbows healthy, but it doesn’t fix the issues with shoulder instability.
To fix these issues you need to achieve three key things:
- Create a position where you can stabilize the shoulder blades and promote trap three activation.
- Align the force through shoulder, elbow, and wrist so that no excessive strain is put on any of these joints.
- All of the above packaged together into an exercise that matches the strength curve of the triceps.
The Ultimate Band Pressdown does all of these things and it means the load is all targeted towards the triceps.
Specifically, the exercise achieves this by:
- Doing the job of the lower traps so their strength endurance does not become a limiting factor. The bands anchor your shoulders in position and basically provide you with an extra set of rubber band lower traps.
- Allows a set-up bespoke to your exact body structure. This centers the resistance through your shoulder. You are not fixed into a position that is too narrow or too wide because of equipment limitations. This is an issue most people will run into when using standard cable attachments.
- Extension patterns like the triceps pressdown, have an ascending strength curve where you get stronger throughout the range. Using bands matches this perfectly because their tension increases throughout the movement.
The stable position, artificial shoulder stability provided, and resistance profile of this exercise make it a phenomenal triceps builder.