Cable Tricep Kickbacks: Muscle Worked, Tips & Alternate

The triceps are the large muscles on the back of the upper arms that are responsible for elbow, shoulder, and forearm movements.

Working out your triceps helps to build upper body strength and is an essential part of any strength training routine. Strong triceps stabilize your shoulder joint and are important for daily activities and sports such as tennis, volleyball, and basketball.

Cable Triceps Kickback

When doing an arm workout with a cable machine, kickback is one of the best single-arm exercises you can add to correct potential imbalances.

The cable tricep cable kickback is a versatile and effective exercise that targets the triceps muscles. It is an isolation exercise that builds strength and muscle in all three heads which make up the tricep muscle.

Using cables aims to maintain constant tension on target muscles important for muscle hypertrophy.

Muscle Worked During Cable Tricep Kickback

The cable tricep kickback primary muscle works on all, the three head of triceps (the long, medial, and lateral head

Secondary Muscle Groups: Rear deltoids, core and other muscles in your mid-upper back contract to stabilize the upper body.

Cable Triceps Kickback

How To Do The Cable Tricep Kickback

  1. Attach a single grip rope handle to the lowest notch on the cable pulley system.
  2. Then, bend your knees, keep your back straight and grab the rope with your left hand.
  3. Now, with your upper arm parallel to the floor, extend at the elbow until your arm is straight back and fully extended.
  4. Flex the triceps hard for a second, then return to the starting position.
  5. Complete all reps on the left arm and then repeat on the right arm.

Common Mistakes & Tips

While strength-building exercises provide you with numerous benefits, it’s a good idea to follow a few guidelines to maintain safety and prevent injury.

  • Always warm up and cold down your body for 5 to 10 minutes at the beginning and end of each session.
  • If you’re fairly new to physical activity, make sure you build up slowly and under the guidance of an exercise professional.
  • Use the lowest weight available while you work on learning proper form and technique.
  • Use smooth, steady, controlled movements instead of those that are jerky and forceful.
  • Make sure you’re able to maintain a smooth, natural breath throughout your routine.
  • Be cautious with these exercises if you have any neck, shoulder, or back injuries.
  • Always wait for your body to fully recover from any injury, even if it’s minor, before doing anything more than moderate, gentle exercise.
  • It’s a good idea to take off at least one or two full days per week to allow your muscles time to rest and recover.
  • Make sure to warm up with lightweight before training heavy to protect your elbows from excessive stress.
  • Keep your body as still as possible, move only your forearms.  
  • As a general rule, always work your weakest side first. In most cases, this will be the left.

Tricep Kickback Variations

Two Arm Cable Triceps Kickback

The double-arm triceps kick-back is a popular movement to increase size and strength of the triceps. It is usually performed for moderate to high reps, at least 8-12 reps, as part of an upper-body or arm-focused workout.

Two Arm Cable Triceps Kickback
Execution Technique
  1. Set up for the two arm cable tricep kickback by attaching either a long rope, or two single grip handles to a low pulley cable and selecting the weight you want to use on the stack.
  2. Then, bend your knees, keep your back straight and grasp the rope with a neutral grip and step back from the machine.
  3. Now, with your upper arms parallel to the floor, extend at the elbow until your arms is straight back and fully extended.
  4. Squeeze the triceps, and then slowly lower back to the starting position.
  5. Repeat for desired reps.

Dumbbell Kick Back

The tricep dumbbell kickback is a versatile and effective exercise that targets the triceps muscles. The dumbbell kickback is an isolation exercise. This means that unlike other exercises such as the diamond push-up or Close grip bench press, the tricep kickback specifically targets the tricep muscle.

Dumbbell Kick Back
Execution Technique
  1. Place your right knee and palm on a flat bench so that your torso is parallel with the floor.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in the left hand and keeping the left foot flat on the floor, press your left arm tight against your side with the upper arm parallel to the floor.
  3. Extend the elbow until your arm is straight back and fully extended.
  4. Flex the triceps hard for a second, then reverse to the starting position. Complete all reps on the left arm and then repeat on the right.

Seated Bent Over Two Arm Dumbbell Kickback

The seated bent-over dumbbell tricep kickback is a variation of the standing dumbbell kickback. Seated triceps kickbacks are an exercise used to isolate the muscles of the triceps.

The seated bent-over two-arm dumbbell kickback is a fantastic tricep isolation exercise that effectively builds size and strength in all three heads of the triceps. You can also perform this exercise alternating one arm at a time.

Seated bent-over two-arm dumbbell kickback
Execution Technique
  • Sit on a bench and grab a pair of dumbbells using a neutral grip (palms facing your body).
  • Keeping your upper arms fixed to your sides, lean forward until your torso is almost horizontal. Your back should be straight.
  • Exhale as you extend the dumbbells behind you until your forearms are horizontal.
  • Hold for a count of two and inhale as you slowly lower the dumbbells to the starting position.

Cable Tricep Kickback Alternates

If you enjoyed the cable tricep kickback, check out these alternative tricep exercises to improve your upper body training:

Bench Dip

The bench dip exercise is one of the most basic and best workouts for building the triceps and bigger arms. The feet-elevated bench dip is one of the popular tricep bodyweight exercises for building the triceps, chest, and shoulders.

Elevating the feet brings more chest and shoulder into the movement, and also allows for extra weight on the hips.

Bench Dip with Elevated Legs
Execution Technique
  1. Place your hands on the side of a flat bench so that your body is perpendicular to the bench when you place your feet out in front of you.
  2. Sit on one bench and place your feet on the edge of the other bench so that your legs are suspended between the two.
  3. Your arms should be fully extended with your palms on the bench.
  4. Bend your elbows to lower your body down until your elbows reach 90 degrees.
  5. Now extend your arms to lift your body back to the starting position, flexing your triceps hard at the top.

Two Arm Dumbbell Extension.

The seated dumbbell tricep extension is a variation of the tricep extension and an exercise used to isolate the muscles of the triceps.

Overhead extension exercises are particularly useful in targeting the long head of the triceps muscle. Having a larger and denser long head will give you an overall appearance of a larger tricep.

Two Arm Dumbbell Extension
Execution Technique
  1. Sit on a flat bench, grab a dumbbell with both hands
  2. Lift the dumbbell until your arms are fully extended with palms facing the roof and elbows pointing forward.
  3. Bend at the elbows and squeeze your triceps, slowly lower the dumbbell behind your head.
  4. Slowly return to starting position and repeat the desired number of sets and reps.

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