How to do Overhead Cable Extension?

Muscle Worked:Long Head Muscle
Level:Intermediate to Advanced
Main Goal:Grow More Tricep Mass.

The cable overhead tricep extension is a great exercise for your triceps because it provides constant tension and creates an intense muscle pump. This exercise is also effective for building symmetrical upper arms because, at the end of the rep, you have to lock out each side of the rope separately. This means that your triceps are receiving similar amounts of work from the overhead cable extension.

How to do Overhead Cable Extension?

  • Turn back in front of the cable machine and bend slightly your torso forward, keeping your neck straight. Drop one leg back behind another one and create a stable position.
  • Grab the cable in both hands, above your head, with your elbows tucked in next to your ears.
  • Pull the cable with full extension in front of your head. Keep your elbows tight.
  • Allow the cable to retract with control, pulling your arms back to the side of your head. Let your elbows go as far back as your body will allow, so the long head gets a full extension. By doing this, you’ll achieve a full contraction in that long head.
  • Sets: 3.
  • Reps: 12-10
  • Rest: 60 seconds.

Why Overhead Cable Extension

An Overhead Cable Extension is the perfect exercise for long-head muscle and working through its full range of motion. The denser your long head muscle is, the overall larger the triceps appear. It is the best workout to build the muscles of the triceps.

Read: 9 best exercises to grow your long head muscle

What to consider?

  1. If you want to keep more tension in the triceps, don’t lock the elbows out entirely.
  2. Don’t allow the rope to pull you back or cause you to overarch throughout your lumbar spine.
  3. You may need to tuck the chin slightly to allow the rope to travel overhead and not graze the back of your head.
  4. Ensure the shoulder blades don’t tilt forward as you extend the elbows.

Advance Movement

Below are the advanced movement compared to the overhead cable extensions.

1. Cable Overhead Extension (Low Pully)

Attach a rope to the bottom pulley of the cable machine and face away from the pulley.

To properly execute a rope tricep extension, start by gripping the rope with both hands in a neutral grip. Your palms should be facing each other. Then, extend your arms until your hands are directly above your head. Keep your elbows close to your head, and make sure that your arms are perpendicular to the floor with your knuckles pointing to the ceiling.

Slowly lower the rope behind your head, making sure not to move your upper arms. As you lower the rope, inhale deeply. Pause when your triceps are fully stretched. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat for the desired number of sets and reps.

Why: This exercise is great for targeting the triceps muscle. The direction of resistance keeps tension in the triceps, which can help with muscle growth.

2. One arm cable overhead tricep extension

Attach a stirrup (handle) to a cable pulley that is a little lower than chest high. Grasp the stirrup with one hand and press it up, over your head. Turn away from the pulley, lean a little forward, stagger your feet for balance, and lower your hand behind your back.

Your elbow should be raised high, the cable should be pulled taut, and you should be feeling a stretch in your triceps brachii. Keeping your elbow close to your head, exhale as you raise the stirrup over your head by extending your elbow.

Inhale as you flex your elbow to lower the stirrup towards the starting position until you feel a mild stretch in your triceps brachii. Repeat for the prescribed number of repetitions. Repeat the exercise with your opposite arm.

3. EZ Bar Skull-crushers

skull crushers

Grab an underhand grip on the EZ bar and extend your arms straight up. Keeping your elbows tucked in and your arms perpendicular to the floor, slowly lower the bar until it is about an inch from your forehead. Slowly extend your arms back to starting position, without locking your elbows.


Why Skullcrushers: This exercise is also known as Lying Tricep Extension and is a formidable drill. The lying triceps extension exercise is perfect for building your lateral head triceps at an advanced level. It has so many ways to perform it, but your elbow extension remains constant. This exercise is not for beginners.

4. Cable Triceps Kickback

  1. Set the pulley on a cable machine to the lowest setting and attach a single handle.
  2. While still facing the pulley, grab the handle in one hand and take a large step back so that there is tension in the cable.
  3. Bend at the hips so your upper body is almost parallel to the ground and tuck your elbow into your side. Slightly bend your knees and stagger your stance if it feels more comfortable.
  4. Push the handle straight behind you by straightening your arm, then reverse the movement to return to the starting position.

Why Cable Tricep Kickback: A kickback triceps workout is a very effective and faster-building exercise for your lateral head triceps. When you kick the rope back with full force, it generates great pressure on your triceps that you feel by doing exercise.


Are overhead extensions the same as skull crushers?

Overhead extensions and skull crushers are two different exercises.

An overhead extension is a weight training exercise in which the individual lifts a weight overhead while standing or sitting. This exercise primarily works the triceps muscle in the back of the upper arm.

Skull crushers, also known as lying triceps extensions, is a weight training exercise in which a weight is lifted by extending the arm and lowering it behind the head. This exercise also primarily targets the triceps muscle.

Which muscle benefits the most from overhead extensions?

The primary muscle targeted by the overhead extension exercise is the triceps brachii muscle. The triceps brachii muscle is located on the back of the upper arm and is responsible for the extension of the elbow joint. The exercise also works secondary muscles like the Anterior deltoid and serratus anterior. It is important to perform the exercise with proper form to avoid injury and ensure that the triceps are being effectively targeted.


The overhead cable extension is a great exercise for people who want to build muscle or get a good triceps pump. With many variations, the overhead cable tricep extension strengthens arms and is accessible for any gym-goer.

The rope attachment is most recommended because it promotes muscular symmetry and produces a powerful peak contraction. But if you don’t like the overhead rope tricep extension for whatever reason, then you can do the exercise with a bar instead.