Skip to main content

Triceps Muscle Blaster: Drop-Sets Using the Rope

  • Author:
  • Updated date:

Former ACE-certified personal trainer Lorra Garrick has trained men & women for fat loss, muscle building, more strength and more fitness.


Though a set of compound moves such as the deadlift, bench press or lat pull-down can be intense enough to make a trainee feel thoroughly whipped, this feeling isn’t what could be described as a killer burn.

The burn comes from hitting hard a single muscle group that gets little assistance from any secondary movers in a particular exercise.

Drop-sets With the Rope for Triceps

For those who are very interested in exhausting their triceps muscle fibers and hitting this muscle group very intensely, the drop-set routine is ideal.

When a person performs this routine correctly, the triceps fibers will be targeted in a very pinpointed, harsh way, providing the big pump that many trainees aim for.

The rope needs to be set high enough so that when the trainee begins in the start position, with forearms parallel to the floor, there is tension on the cable. Feet should be about shoulder-width apart and flush, with just a slight bend in the knees. The body should be leaning forward only very slightly.

  • Too much lean forward will result in body weight contributing to some of the downward pressing.
  • The goal is to isolate the triceps as much as possible.
  • Ideally, only the elbow joint should be moving with this routine.
  • This means no shoulder movement.
  • In order to keep the shoulders immobile, the upper arms must remain vertical and against the trainee’s sides at all times.
  • Only the elbow hinge joint moves, moving the forearms up and down.

The amount of weight should provide an 8-10 rep max with solid form. At the bottom of the movement, spread the rope out as much as possible, so that it creates an upside-down V.

A reminder: Keep the upper arms vertical and against the sides to isolate the triceps. Look at the rope at the bottom of the movement. Is it in an upside-down V? Or does it look more like a horseshoe?

If it looks like a horseshoe, then this means that the wrists are flicking outward. This should not happen. This is not a wrist exercise. The wrists need to be maintained in a neutral position, and unmoving—only the elbow joint moves.

The wrists do not need to flick or flare out in order to shape the rope into an upside-down V. It is elbow extension (straightening of the arms) that does this.

Scroll to Continue

Shaping the rope into an upside-down V is very important because, in order to do this, optimal recruitment of triceps muscle is required.

To bring the rope back into the starting position (top of the movement), reverse the process, or unshape the V, and with control. Do not perform the release quickly. It must be controlled so that the negative aspect of the movement is done adequately.

These are all the elements of the picture-perfect form with the rope press-down. Of course, to go to true, genuine muscle failure, one will find it difficult not to break form a little. This is called loose form, and it’s fine for the last few reps, as long as it’s not exaggerated.

After the last rep, reduce the resistance by 30 pounds (13.6 kg), and without any resting, crank out another set to failure, even if that’s 15 reps. It may also be as few as 8-10 reps because, for some people, that second drop-set hurts the most. After the last rep, reduce the weight by 30 pounds and without rest, perform a third set, to failure. This should hurt quite a bit.

At the conclusion of the routine, the triceps should be stinging on fire. Rest 90 seconds, and then repeat. Rest again for 90 seconds, and repeat, and that concludes drop-sets with the rope for triceps. This muscle group, at the conclusion, should really be in pain.

Helpful Tips for the Triceps Rope Press Drop-Set

This routine should never be done before a compound exercise that involves the triceps, such as any kind of chest press or shoulder press. Get through all the compound moves first. This isolation drop-set routine should cap everything off. This means don’t do it before seated or parallel bar dips, either.

Weight reductions of 30 pounds for the second and third set are possible, of course, only with a starting resistance of at least 70 pounds (31.75 kg). Most weight stack units are either in 15-pound (6.8 kg) increments or 10-pound (4.5 kg) increments so that the 30-pound reduction will be easy. What if, however, the starting weight is less than 70 pounds?

  • If it’s 60 (27.2 kg), the second set can be 30, and the third set can be 10 lbs.
  • If the lightest weight is 15 lbs., then it can be 15 lbs.

Now, suppose the starting weight is 50 lbs. (22.6 kg), or even 40 (18.14 kg). Most women work in the 40-50 pound range for the 8-10 rep max with the rope press-down.

  • The first set can be 50, then 35 (15.87 kg) or 30, then 10 or 15.
  • If the starting weight is 40, then the next set can be 30 or 25 (11.33 kg), and the third set can be 10 or 15.

What many will find is that on the second round (first set of the second drop-set), the starting weight will need to be slightly lowered. Otherwise, the second set of the second round may barely go to only six reps. It should be at least eight reps. One will need to experiment a little bit before they figure out the right starting weight for the first set of the first round, and for the first sets of the subsequent rounds.

Drop-sets with the rope for triceps are an ideal way to thoroughly bring the triceps to outrageous failure, and a great way to conclude an upper body workout.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Related Articles