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The best tricep exercise is always the one you do right. That said, a lot of people aren’t quite so clear on the right way to perform one very popular triceps exercise – the tricep pushdown. In this video, I show you whether you should be using a supinated (underhand grip) or pronated (overhand grip) to get the most out of this triceps mass building movement.
To start, you have to understand where this argument is coming from. Many people will say that doing the pushdown with the hand turned down will help them feel it more in their outer or lateral head of the triceps. Others will say that doing the tricep exercise with the hand turned upward will help them feel it more in the inner or long head of the triceps. Who is right?
Well, if you look at the anatomy of the issue, both would be wrong! You see, the triceps does not have any attachment to either the radius in the forearm. While it crosses the elbow joint and allows it to extend the elbow, it doesn’t have any impact on the ability of the forearm to pronate or supinate. This is a major point that the keyboard anatomists will use to argue their point that forearm position or grip has no impact on the different heads of the triceps muscle that you feel working during the slightly altered exercises.
That is ok to a point. However it doesn’t explain the real world fact that you can feel the long head and lateral head of the tricep workout differently depending on the grip. That is because when we do supinate we don’t ever do it in isolation. We often get external rotation of our shoulder as well that winds up putting the long head in a better mechanical line of pull out of the three heads of the triceps. This results in a stronger contraction from this head and one we can feel during the variation of this popular triceps exercise.
On the contrary, we perform internal rotation of the shoulder when we do a pronated grip pushdown. This auxiliary movement helps to shift the focus more to the outside of the triceps muscle and lead to a stronger contraction felt in the lateral head of the triceps. So, at the end of the day, the triceps is influenced by grip position but not for the reason you may have thought. Anatomy isn’t enough to explain the feeling you get from the triceps pushdowns variations.
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