Triceps push-down attachments come in different shapes to work the triceps in different ways, so it’s not easy to outright declare which is the “best” amongst all the various types of triceps push-down attachments.
I’m a certified personal trainer, and answering this question depends on your goals, and even then, there’s disagreement among the fitness community regarding which triceps push-down attachment gets the job done best.
I, personally, love the rope because it allows you the greatest range of motion. That’s when you use it correctly, of course. If at the end of the movement you only flare your wrists out, this does not complete the maximum range of motion that this triceps attachment offers. It’s just a lame wrist roll.
If you continue extending the elbow joints at the bottom of the movement so that the rope becomes a wide V shape, with wrists on either side of your pelvic or hips bones, then this completes the range of motion and will get you the most results that the rope can offer: sculpted triceps muscles, and strong ones, too.
But for maximum push-down strength, you’re better off using either a short straight bar, or the upside-down V that has the stoppers at the end to prevent hands from sliding down throughout the set. Range of motion is compromised, but the ability to push downward is maximized. If you want to build lots of mass, use these attachments, though you can still build triceps mass with the rope push-downs.
The rope, when done to muscle failure, produces the most wicked burn. The straight bar and upside-down V bar can be done with more weight.
What about other triceps push-down attachments like unilateral handles? These aren’t as efficient at building triceps mass or strength as are the previously mentioned push-down attachments. If all you want is more tone, these attachments are okay, but for 6-10 rep maxes or even 12 rep maxes, they become unwieldy because the exertion results in skewered spinal alignment. It’s just plain uncomfortable and requires heavy concentration to keep the spine aligned and the body from crumpling up as you approach muscle failure. I see this all the time.
Another interesting triceps push-down attachment is the short bar that’s bent, resembling an EZ curl bar. This takes any strain off the wrist that the straight bar causes, and many people prefer the bent bar over the straight bar.
I absolutely do not recommend any upside-down V attachment that’s without stoppers. You will find that, throughout the set, you’ll have to keep readjusting your hands. But the upside-down V attachment with stoppers is a great tool for building the triceps muscles.