Why Are Tricep Extensions So Much Harder With The Rope?

dual rope extension
August 29, 2023 0 Comments

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In this article I will be answering the question “why are tricep extensions so much harder with the rope?”. I am sure many of you will have noticed this if you do cable tricep extensions with different attachments.

I rotate the attachments that I use on cable tricep extensions. Typically I rotate between V bar, straight bar and rope. Rope pushdowns are the hardest but I enjoy them a lot.

This article will explore why rope extensions are so much harder. You will find this article insightful and informative. Hopefully you will begin to add rope extensions into your routine if you haven’t already.

Why Are Tricep Extensions So Much Harder With The Rope?

There are many reasons why tricep extensions are so much harder with the rope. This also extends to tricep pushdowns as well for the same reason.

Firstly, when you are handling the rope attachment there is a strong grip component that is involved. Your forearms and grip have to work harder to hold onto the rope. Other attachments like the straight bar or V bar don’t involve a heavy grip component.

Your oblique grip is being worked hard, this is the same grip that you would use when doing exercises like towel pull ups or towel rows. More stabiliser muscles are recruited when handling the rope.

This is due to the fact that the rope moves more than other attachments. You have to work harder throughout the range of motion to stay in control when doing tricep extensions.

The rope also allows for more time under tension when performing this exercise. Your muscles will fatigue faster which is why rope extensions feel a lot tougher.

Another factor can be a lack of practice. If you never perform rope extensions you will find this exercise a lot more challenging. If you do rope extensions every week then you will become strong on this exercise over time and not find it as challenging as others.

Previously on this site I have talked about how you can eliminate elbow pain from tricep extensions.

dual rope extension

Grip Component

One of the most obvious factors pertains to grip. It is simply a lot harder to hold onto the rope for many reps of tricep extensions or pushdowns than it is to hold onto attachments like the V bar or cambered bar.

The heavier you go on rope extensions, the more your grip will have to work. Your forearms will be working hard and you will notice a great pump after this exercise.

Because the rope is harder to hold onto as it works your oblique grip, you will find rope extensions more difficult than other cable extension variations. 

There is typically a small surface area to hold onto when it comes to the rope. When you are doing extensions with a V bar or straight bar, the handles are thicker and your grip is not taxed much at all.

More Stabiliser Muscles Are Recruited

The rope extension calls for the recruitment of more stabiliser muscles compared to other variations. 

The rope moves a lot more than other attachments. As such it is more difficult to control. You have to be more coordinated and concentrate throughout the entire range of motion.

This makes the exercise harder, not only are your triceps working but your whole body has to perform some work to keep yourself stable. You may even notice that your abs are more heavily turned on during rope tricep extensions.

More Time Under Tension

Rope tricep extensions place the muscle under tension for a longer period of time. This makes the exercise feel tougher as your muscles will become fatigued faster.

As the rope is less fixed in place and moves more you can get a better contraction at the end of the range of motion. What I normally do is focus on almost breaking the rope in half as I approach the end range.

What this will do is forcefully contract your triceps really hard and you will get a great pump. In addition the tricep is stretched more with the rope extension as you are bringing the rope back towards your face.

It is almost akin to dumbbells vs barbells. With dumbbells you have more freedom of movement, whereas barbells lock you into a certain range of motion.

This is how you could compare rope tricep extensions with other extension versions.

overhead extension

Dual Rope Tricep Extensions Offer An Even Greater Challenge

Dual rope tricep extensions offer an even greater challenge than single rope tricep extensions.

John Meadows actually demonstrates dual rope tricep pushdowns. However, the pushdown and extension are the same movements ultimately.

You can do tricep extensions overhead as well with the rope and you can also do them lying on the floor with a low pulley attachment. Personally I perform rope extensions overhead and also from a standing position (like a pushdown).

John explains how dual rope tricep extensions are more challenging than single rope extensions. This is due to the greater range of motion. They are also even harder to stabilise than when using a single rope.

John can only use a third of the weight stack on this exercise compared to the full weight stack that he normally uses for single rope extensions. This shows how difficult this exercise is.

If you want to make your tricep training really challenging, give the dual rope tricep extension a try! Start off really light to practice the movement and then progress from there.

Final Thoughts

Why are tricep extensions so much harder with the rope? There are various reasons for this. The most obvious is the grip component. 

The rope is a lot harder to hold onto for multiple reps compared to other attachments. They tend to be fairly thin and there is a small surface area to grip.

The rope works your oblique grip hard and is more unstable which leads to a higher recruitment of stabiliser muscles. You have to fight harder throughout the range of motion to stay in control. 

There is also greater time under tension with rope extensions. All these factors make this exercise tougher than other extension variations. For an even more challenging tricep extension you should try dual rope extensions.

If you have any comments about the rope extension please leave them below. As always, stay safe and enjoy your training!

>> Are Tricep Kickbacks Useless?

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