This Cable Machine Complex Will Torch Your Triceps and Lats

When you’re at the cable machine, triceps pushdowns and straight-arm lat pulldowns are two no-brainer moves for building your upper body. But trainer Paul Sklar, C.S.C.S. is smart to combine the two into a single complex, and we’re hooked on the strategy.

By alternating single reps of each exercise back to back, Sklar smashes his triceps, lats, serratus anterior (the muscle that connects your ribs to your scaps), and core in sets of just 10 total reps—5 pushdowns and 5 pulldowns. He then performs 5 extra reps of the triceps pushdown at the end of each set as a finisher, for good measure.

What really makes this routine great, however, is that there’s no over-the-shoulder action involved. The complex is great for guys of all ages and strength levels—doesn’t matter if your joints are finicky, traditional seated lat pulldowns aggravate your shoulders, or you aren’t able to target your lats with pullups. If you don’t have a cable machine handy, don’t worry. You can also perform the complex with a resistance band attached to an overhead anchor, like a squat rack. Just make sure to still use a neutral grip just like you would with a cable rope attachment.

To get the most out of the complex, the key is to really own your torso position. Maintain a slight backward torso lean to prevent the cable from pulling you around, like you see Sklar doing here. Keep your core tight and ribs pointed down toward your pockets the entire time.

While the reps per set are relatively low, you’ll be pushing volume with the total number of sets. Sklar recommends performing 8 rounds of the complex, resting for 60 seconds between them.

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