Tricep Kickbacks

Performance Description

This exercise can be performed standing or while kneeling on a flat bench. While the motion of the exercise is the same, the starting point is slightly different.

  1. Select a dumbbell of appropriate weight and find an open area or flat bench to perform the exercise.
  2. If standing, step forward with the leg opposite of the arm performing the tricep kickback. If using a flat bench, kneel with the leg opposite of the arm (the knee and shin should be on the bench with the foot hanging off the edge).
  3. Bend forward at the waist placing the back as close to parallel with the ground as possible (if using the flat bench, you can use the arm not in use to support your body; keep a slight bend in the support elbow).
  4. With the dumbbell in a neutral hand position (halfway between pronated and supinated), the elbow of the arm is use should be at a 90 degree angle to the ground (or slightly more forward than 90 degrees).
  5. Extend the weight up and away from the body creating a straight line of the arm, exhale at the moment of greatest extension.
  6. Bring the weight back towards the body slowly while inhaling. The weight should pass slightly beyond the 90 degree mark.
  7. Stop the weight from moving for a split second to reduce momentum.
  8. Repeat steps 4-7.
Primary Muscle(s)
Triceps (Triceps Brachii: Lateral Head)
Triceps (Triceps Brachii: Long Head)
Triceps (Triceps Brachii: Medial Head)
Secondary Muscle(s)
Forearms (Anconeus)
Shoulders (Deltoid: Posterior)
Tertiary Muscle(s)
Biceps (Brachialis)
Forearms (Extensor: Carpi Radialis Brevis)
Forearms (Extensor: Carpi Radialis Longus)
Forearms (Extensor: Carpi Ulnaris)
Forearms (Extensor: Digiti Minimi)
Forearms (Extensor: Digitorum)
Forearms (Flexor: Carpi Ulnaris)
Lower Back (Spinal Erectors: Erector Spinae)
Outer Back (Teres Major)
Further Clarification

The rear deltoid is used as a supporting muscle while performing tricep kickbacks. It's job is to hold the arm up while extending the weight up and back. As one goes deeper into sets and repetitions, the shoulder can begin to drop, thus reducing the extension of the tricep which leads to less focus on the triceps brachii. If this occurs, it is advised to lower the repetition goal or lower the weight being used.

During the motion of the exercise (step 6) where the weight comes back toward the body, one must maintain control over the weight and not allow for the momentum of the weight to assist them. As with other exercises, using this momentum to aid in the lifting process reduces focus on the muscle group in use. It is acceptable to use this momentum at the end of the set to blast through one or two more repetitions to really burn the muscles. Do not allow for this technique to become common practice on every repetition performed.

Things To Look Out For

If using a flat bench to perform tricep kickback, be sure to not lock the support elbow. The weight of the upper body in addition to the dumbbell weight being used can be quite substantial and dangerous for the elbow to support and if the elbow is locked. it can lead to hyperextension.

Exercise Position(s)
Standing, Kneeling
Considered An Exercise In The Following Categories