Tricep Kickbacks

Tricep Kickbacks

Are you looking for a simple tricep exercise you can do with various types of weight? If so, you’ve landed on the right post because we’ll be reviewing tricep kickbacks.

Stick around to learn about the exercise, its benefits, how to do it, and more.

What Are Tricep Kickbacks?

Tricep kickbacks are an isolation exercise that develops the muscles making up the back of your upper arms.

A notable benefit of the exercise is that it works well for home training and the gym. You can use various types of resistance, including dumbbells, kettlebells, resistance bands, cable machines, and more.

The exercise is also easy to learn and works great for beginners.

What Tricep Heads do Kickbacks Work?

The tricep muscle consists of three heads: medial, lateral, and long. The three heads work together to produce elbow extension: straightening the arm. But, despite their synergistic work, not all three heads work equally during all activities.

Certain activities are better suited to target the long head; others are more effective at working the medial head. The tricep kickback? It emphasizes the lateral head. Performing the exercise will develop the entire tricep, but you will feel the most pressure higher on your arm and on the outer portion.

Doing tricep kickbacks is great for developing the ‘horseshoe’ look most people desire.

Two Arm Dumbbell Kickbacks

How to Do Tricep Kickbacks

Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Grab a pair of light dumbbells and stand tall. Have your feet in a comfortable stance, gaze forward, and arms to your sides.
  2. Hinge at the hip and lean your torso forward until it becomes parallel to the floor. Keep your back straight.
  3. Bend your arms and lift your elbows to your sides.
  4. Take a breath and fully extend your arms, squeezing your triceps at the top.
  5. Hold for a moment and slowly bend your arms while keeping your elbows anchored to your sides.
  6. Exhale near the bottom.
  7. Take another breath and repeat.

You can also train one arm at a time. Doing so can help improve the mind-muscle connection and evenly train both sides of your body. (1)

As an alternative to dumbbells, you can use kettlebells, a resistance band, and even a cable machine. Follow the same instructions and adjust based on your available equipment.

Safety Tips And Recommendations

Tricep kickbacks are an isolation exercise, so you might feel like you don’t need much preparation, but that’s not the case. As with any weight training, the first step to ensure safety is to warm up well before your workouts. (2)

Start with some light cardio (treadmill walking, jogging, jumping jacks, high knees, etc.) and proceed to dynamic stretching. Warm up your shoulders, elbows, and wrists before picking up the weights.

The second safety tip is to always train with proper form. Pick weights you can control and do each repetition smoothly and without using momentum. (3)

Lifting more weight might feel good, but that rarely offers extra benefits. In most cases, you only stress your joints and connective tissues more. As mentioned, tricep kickbacks are an isolation exercise, so you’re not likely to ever use much weight.

Another great tricep exercise is the dip, learn more about dips and what muscles do dips work. Click to return to building lean muscle, and also tricep workout videos.

Picture of Philip Stefanov

Philip Stefanov

Philip is a fitness writer, blogger, certified personal trainer, and the founder of He has spent the last nine years writing fitness content and training men and women in the gym, as well as online. His passion is fitness and exercise, and helping others improve their fitness and wellness.

See All Posts


  1. Brent McGrath July 24, & Brent McGrath July 24. (2018, July 24). 4 tips to help train your brain for massive gains: Mind muscle connection!
  2. Contributors, W. M. D. E. (n.d.). Warm-up exercises: Do they improve performance and reduce injuries? WebMD.
  3. A Healthier Michigan. (2020, June 8). The importance of proper technique and form to your workout. A Healthier Michigan.

Click to see our medical disclosure.