Dumbbell Kickbacks

Start Position
End Position

Starting position:

  1. Place your left knee and hand on a flat bench. Place your right foot on the floor.
  2. Bend over, positioning your torso parallel to the floor.
  3. Grasp a dumbbell with a closed, neutral grip with your right hand.
  4. Bend your right elbow, hanging your forearm perpendicular to the floor.

Downward movement/eccentric phase:

  1. Fully extend your elbow (extending your arm in a backwards fashion), keeping your upper arm tucked at your side and parallel to the floor.

Upward movement/concentric phase:

    1. In a controlled fashion, allow the elbow to bend, lowering the dumbbell back to starting position.
    2. Keep the upper arm stationary throughout the movement.
    3. Complete the set with your right arm then repeat with your left arm.
Do not hold your breath. Exhale during the concentric/phase phase and inhale during the eccentric/lowering phase.


Exercise Data

  • Primary Muscles: Triceps brachii
  • Synergists: Anconeus
  • Stabilizers: Deltoids, Rotator cuff muscles
  • Type: Strength, hypertrophy, muscular endurance
  • Mechanics: Elbow extension
  • Equipment: Dumbbell
  • Lever: 1st class lever
  • Level: Intermediate to advanced
  • FAQ'S & FACTS ABOUT Dumbbell Kickbacks

    What Is A Triceps Dumbbell Kickback?

    A triceps kickback is a resistance exercise, which involves the primary elbow extensor, the triceps brachii. This exercise is performed with a dumbbell. The concentric portion of the lift is elbow extension, which involves the lifting of the weight. The eccentric portion is elbow flexion, which involves the descent of the weight.

    The purpose of the triceps kickback is to strengthen the triceps while promoting hypertrophy (increases in size) of triceps.

    Why Do A Triceps Dumbbell Kickback?

    Triceps kickbacks have been considered one of the staple exercises for building the triceps brachii. Strategically incorporating kickbacks in your triceps training regimen will increase the size and strength of the triceps, with a greater emphasis on the long head. The long head of the triceps makes up the top and inner and portions of the “horseshoe”.

    Triceps kickbacks strengthen and increase the size of the triceps brachii. Triceps kickbacks also serve as an auxiliary exercise that can increase strength involved in other multi-joint exercises.

    Anatomy Of A Triceps Dumbbell Kickback

    The triceps brachii is located on the back of the upper arm, originating at the shoulder and inserting in the elbow joint. It consists of three heads, the long, medial and lateral head. The medial head lies beneath the long and lateral head. The long head origin is located at the infraglenoid tubercle of the scapula (shoulder blade). The original of the lateral head is located at the posterior shaft of the humerus. The medial head origin is located at the radial groove of the posterior humeral shaft.

    The long and lateral heads make up the “horseshoe” portion of the triceps. All three heads merge, sharing insertion into the olecranon process of the ulna, located at the elbow joint.

    The triceps brachii extend the elbow joint. The long head assists in arm adduction.

    The anconeus is a short, triangular muscle located at the elbow joint. Its origin is located at the lateral epicondyle of the humerus, inserting at the lateral aspect of the olecranon process of the ulna.

    The positioning of the shoulders in a flexed position requires the deltoids and rotator cuff muscles to ensure stability of the joint capsule throughout the movement.

    Variations Of A Triceps Dumbbell Kickback

    Cable triceps kickbacks, cable triceps pressdown.

    How To Improve Your Triceps Dumbbell Kickbacks

    Focus on the concentric portion of the contraction, concentrating on “squeezing” at the end of the flexing portion.

    Emphasis on eccentric contractions, prolonging the eccentric portion of the contraction, may also be incorporated in a training program focused on increasing strength. This should be implemented accordingly and with adequate muscle recovery as eccentric contractions cause substantial damage to muscle tissue.

    Maintaining perfect form throughout the entire set will activate the triceps muscle fibers effectively. Any discrepancies in the technique will minimize the force output.

    Strategically performing variations of this movement with a cable crossover machine (cable triceps kickbacks, cable triceps pressdown) at different angles and grips may improve performance with dumbbell triceps kickbacks over time.

    It’s important to note that your repetition and set volume will depend on your goals (e.g. strength, hypertrophy, muscular endurance). It is also important to allow adequate recovery days in between triceps and chest training to allow muscles to repair.

    Common Mistakes When Doing Triceps Dumbbell Kickbacks

    Lowering the upper arm during the movement can minimize the intensity of the exercise. Keep the upper arm parallel to the floor at all times.

    Swinging the dumbbell throughout the movement not only takes away from the triceps contracting effectively, but it can also result in elbow and/or triceps injury. Therefore, it is important to control the downward and upward phases of the exercise and not rely on momentum.

    Injuries Or Ailments & Their Effects Regarding Triceps Dumbbell Kickbacks

    If proper technique is not adhered to (e.g. dropping/swining the weight quickly instead of controlling it, lifting a load too heavy for the lifter), the likelihood of injury increases.

    Although rare, triceps tendon rupture and/or injury to rotator cuff muscles may occur if warm-up is not sufficient and/or if intensity (load) is increased inappropriately.