This pro personal trainer gave me one big tip for getting big arms: it's the tricep pulldown

Obtaining weapons-grade cannons just got a bit easier thanks, to PureGym PT & gym manager Peter Williams

Get big arms
(Image credit: Pexels)

Have you been t-shirt shopping recently, only to find that the sleeves of your chosen chemise end up feeling like giant flags flapping in the wind against your puny fleshy flagpoles (arms)? The chances are, those sweet guns could do with bulking up. There is no fast track to getting big arms, but here's a pro tip that you might not have tried before. If you're over 40, you could perhaps sing this to the tune of Europe's Final Countdown: it's the triceps pull-down. Der-der-DERR-der! It's the tricep pull-doo-ooooown! Sorry, I don't know what came over me. 

“A lot of people focus on biceps, as that is just the norm. I mean, who doesn’t love curls? However, the majority of your arm is made up of the triceps, so big triceps equates to big arms. Make sure you are working the short head and long head of the tricep with movements such as tricep push down and over head extension,” says Personal Trainer & Gym Manager Peter Williams.

Master the tricep pushdown

Peter from PureGym has got tickets to the gun show

(Image credit: PureGym)

That’s all well and good, but what is a tricep pushdown? Peter, who was talking to us courtesy of PureGym (and me asking him some questions), says it involves a pull-down machine. Rather shamefullyy we do not have a guide to the best pull-down machines, but some of the machines in our best multi gym guide have a pull-down attachment. Ot try these…

• Shop for pull-down machines at Amazon UK

• Shop for pull-down machines at Amazon USA

• Shop for pull-down machines at Amazon Australia

More realistically, you might just want to venture to your local gym, grab one of their machines, and use either a rope or bar attachment. 

Stand facing the piece of machinery and set the height of the attachment to around eye level. Select an easy weight to begin with and concentrate on keeping your arms pinned to your sides. If using a bar, grab it with an overhand grip and push the bar down using just your triceps. 

“Focus on keeping your elbows nice and close to your sides and don’t let them move throughout the movement. You are looking to get a full stretch in the tricep and then push all the way down, really squeezing the muscle at the bottom,” Peter explains.

For those preferring a rope, it is essentially the same movement, but keeping the elbows pinned to the sides, you want to pull the rope down and towards your midriff, spreading the rope handles to the flanks of the waist on the way down. Pause at the bottom and return to the starting position in a slow and controlled manner. That’s a rep, buddy.

• By the way, don't give up hope if you aren't a gym-goer; it is possible to give the triceps a good workout with a set of the best dumbbells at home. Check out this handy dumbbell workout, designed to do just that.

…Then throw in an overhead extension


The overhead extension is performed using the same apparatus, but rather than pulling down in front of you, the trick here is to stand with your back to the machinery and extend the pulley system over your head, away from the body.

"Make sure that the weight isn’t too heavy and that your elbows do not flare out when performing the movement. It’s important to really squeeze the triceps at the top of this movement to feel the benefit. You won’t be able to do this if the weight is excessive,” Peter explains.

The triceps don’t need to be overloaded with ridiculous weights to receive a thorough workout. Keep the form solid and the reps high and we guarantee you’ll be hitting failure for the final few reps, which will help simulate muscle growth and lead to larger arms. 

Follow PureGym Insider Peter on Instagram for more workout ideas and tips. 

Leon Poultney
Leon Poultney

Leon has been writing about automotive and consumer tech for longer than he cares to divulge. If he’s not testing the latest fitness wearable and action camera, he’s out in a shed fawning over his motorcycles or trying not to kill himself on a mountain bike/surfboard/other extreme thing.