How to Do the Triceps Kickback

10 of 12 in Series: The Essentials of Weight Training

The triceps kickback exercise works your triceps, which assist the chest in just about every pushing movement. Use caution when doing this move if you have elbow or lower-back problems.

Performing triceps kickbacks

Follow these steps to perform this exercise:

  1. Stand to the right of your weight bench, holding a dumbbell in your right hand with your palm facing in.

  2. Place your left lower leg and your left hand on top of the bench.

  3. Lean forward at the hips until your upper body is at a 45-degree angle to the floor.

  4. Bend your right elbow so your upper arm is parallel to the floor, your forearm is perpendicular to it, and your palm faces in.

  5. Keep your elbow close to your waist.

  6. Pull your abdominals in and bend your knees slightly.

  7. Keeping your upper arm still, straighten your arm behind you until your entire arm is parallel to the floor and one end of the dumbbell points toward the floor.

  8. Slowly bend your arm to lower the weight.

  9. After you complete the set, repeat the exercise with your left arm.

    Make sure your shoulder doesn’t drop below waist-level during the triceps kickback. [Credit:
    Credit: Photograph by Sunstreak Productions, Inc.
    Make sure your shoulder doesn’t drop below waist-level during the triceps kickback.

Tips for completing triceps kickbacks

Keep these tips in mind as you perform this exercise:

  • Keep your abdominals pulled in and your knees relaxed, and don’t allow your back to round.

  • Don’t lock your elbow at the top of the movement. Straighten your arm, but keep your elbow slightly bent.

  • Don’t allow your upper arm to move or your shoulder to drop below waist-level.

  • Keep your wrist straight.

Gym alternative: Triceps-extension machine

Use the triceps-extension machine at your gym as an alternative to using dumbbells for this exercise. Follow these steps to use the triceps-extension machine:

  1. Adjust the seat so when you sit down with your arms straight out, they’re level with your shoulders and your elbows are lined up with the moving hinge or pulley of the machine.

  2. Sit down and tip the handles back so the hand grips are alongside your shoulders.

  3. Grasp a handle in each hand with your palms facing inward.

  4. Straighten your arms out in front of you to lift the weight stack, and then slowly bend your arms to lower the weight.

    Use the triceps-extension machine at the gym as an alternative to the triceps kickback. [Credit: Ph
    Credit: Photograph by Sunstreak Productions, Inc.
    Use the triceps-extension machine at the gym as an alternative to the triceps kickback.
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