I've always done overhand and underhand grips with tricep exercises e.g. Push downs or skull crushers. I just don't know the technical differences between them. Does the supernated vs pronated forearm position change which heads are targeted. Is one better than the other?

1 Answer 1


It doesn't change anything. All heads of the triceps have the same insertion point on the elbow, the olecranon of the ulna, and that insertion point does not actually move with forearm rotation, which is a movement of the radius rather than the ulna.

You can test this yourself my feeling the bone at the point of your elbow while you rotate your hand. It doesn't move.

It's standard to use a pronated or neutral grip with triceps exercises just because it's easier to hold the bar or cable that way. Doing tricep pressdowns with a supinated grip would potentially make your grip the limiting factor instead of the target muscles.

  • So is there a way to focus the exercise on a different tricep head? Whenever I do any triceps really I almost always only really feel it on the inner triceps head i.e. the one that touches you lats. So is there a way to focus more on the outer tricep head(s)?
    – Ethan
    Commented Jul 7, 2023 at 10:31
  • You're probably describing the long head, but just feeling it on the inner part of the tricep is not a reliable indicator that you're only working that part of the muscle. The long head is probably worked more by overhead work like skull crushers and less when the arms are by the sides, like in pressdowns, but it's really not something you need to obsess over. Commented Jul 7, 2023 at 10:39
  • See I train more for strength and powerlifting goals so hitting all the heads for better aesthetics isn't really my priority but thanks for the info.
    – Ethan
    Commented Jul 7, 2023 at 10:43

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