How to Do the Triceps Kickback

How to Do the Triceps Kickback

When it comes to building bigger arms, the biceps get most of the attention. But the triceps comprise two-thirds of the mass of the upper arm. So whether you want stronger arms or to look better in sleeveless shirts, you need to pay more attention to your tris. And the triceps kickbacks are an excellent way to do that, because they hit every part of the muscle.

“The triceps muscle has three heads — the long, lateral, and medial,” explains Trevor Thieme, C.S.C.S., Openfit’s senior manager of fitness and nutrition content. “Most triceps exercises tend to favor one or two of the heads, but the kickback hammers all three, making it highly effective for developing that muscle and sculpting the classic horseshoe shape.”


How to Do the Triceps Kickback with Perfect Form

  • Stand holding a pair of dumbbells in front of your shoulders (palms facing inward) with your elbows bent and at your sides.
  • Step one foot back, and bend your knees slightly. Hinge forward at your hips so that your chest is almost parallel to the floor. This is the starting position.
  • Keeping your back flat, core engaged, and upper arms firmly at your sides, straighten your elbows, pushing the weights back as you fully extend your forearms behind you.
  • Bring the dumbbells back to the starting position, and repeat. Alternate your forward leg with each set.


How to Make the Triceps Kickback Easier

Besides using a lighter weight, you can do a supported triceps kickback one arm at a time. Place your knee and corresponding hand on a bench, and perform the move with your other arm, maintaining the same form described above.


How to Make the Triceps Kickback Harder

Increasing the weight as much as possible without compromising form is the most obvious way to intensify the triceps kickback. An additional option would be to hold the top of the arm extension for a count or two before returning to the starting position.


Bonus Tips for Doing the Triceps Kickback

Be sure to keep your core engaged and your back flat as you perform the exercise. You shouldn’t feel any strain in your lower back, and there shouldn’t be any extraneous movement. The only parts of your body that should move are your forearms.


Benefits of the Triceps Kickback

Whether you choose to do the triceps dumbbell kickback or cable tricep kickbacks, this exercise allows you to work each arm independently, promoting greater muscular balance by preventing either arm from doing a larger share of the work.


What Muscles Does the Triceps Kickback Work?

The triceps kickback primarily targets the triceps brachii. Located on the back of each of your upper arms, the muscle’s three heads run from the shoulder blade and upper humerus to your forearm. In concert, they work to extend your elbow and help extend your shoulder.

brittany risher


Brittany Risher Englert is an accomplished content strategist, editor, and writer specializing in health, mental health, and mindfulness content. After earning her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from Northwestern University, she worked at Men's Health, Prevention, Women's Health, Shape, and Greatist before going freelance three years ago. Today she works with brands and publications, helping them create content that engages their audience and builds brand loyalty. Considered a "Swiss Army knife for content," Brittany helps with all things content, from editorial strategy and project management to editing and writing. Her clients include Sonima, Men's Health, Women's Health, SELF, Elemental, ZocDoc, Yoga Journal, Everyday Health, My Fitness Pal, and Centennial Media. Follow her on Twitter.