Standing Dumbbell Triceps Kickback
How to Do the Standing Bent Over Dumbbell Triceps Pushdown | In-Depth Guide [VISUAL LEARNERS]
Proper Form, Common Mistakes, Variations, Easier & Harder | Home Strength Training
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MAIN MUSCLES WORKED IN the Dumbbell Triceps Kickback
OTHER MUSCLES WORKED:
- Anconeus (a forearm muscle)
WHAT & WHY
BENEFITS OF TRAINING THE Triceps
WHAT WE'RE DOING TODAY
Other names for this exercise: Dumbbell Triceps Extension, Dumbbell Triceps Pushdown, Bent Over Triceps Extension
ALL WE'RE DOING:
Just bend and unbend the elbow, in a standing bent-over position.
Triceps Kickbacks target the large muscle on the back side of the upper arm. The main function of this muscle is to straighten the elbow, like the movement that you make to push a door open. This is a very simple movement, just straightening the elbow and then controlling the movement of the arm as you the elbow bends again. This exercise is the compliment to bicep curls - the bicep curl works the muscle on the front and the bent over tricep extension works the muscle on the back of the upper arm. If you do bicep curls, make sure to include some tricep exercises in your workout to keep the muscles well-balanced.
There are a few options for body position for tricep kickbacks. The main things to keep in mind are that you want the upper arm in line or slightly behind the body, and concentrate on isolating the movement to the elbow. This will work one part of the tricep - the long head, for both of its functions: moving the upper arm back and straightening the elbow.
The other thing to think about is the resistance of the muscle. With dumbbells, the resistance will be greatest when the upper arm is pushed back, running parallel to the floor and the elbow is fully extended. When you are using an elastic band, the resistance will be greatest when the band is stretched the longest and you are resisting the band pulling the upper arm forward and bending the elbow. Take a minute to think about your setup before completing the movement.
Muscles are the strongest when they are in the middle of their range of motion - not too short and not too long. This is important when you are setting up for the tricep kickbacks. If you do not lean your torso over far enough, you will need to lift the arm back further behind your torso to get it to be parallel to the floor. The further you lift the arm behind the torso - the shorter the long head of the tricep will be. This position will make it harder for the long head of the triceps to help to fully straighten the elbow. This is neither good or bad, but it may help you get the right body position to meet your goals.
WHY DO WE EVEN CARE?
THE BIGGER ARM MUSCLES MEANS WE NEED THEM IN OUR LIFE
Since this is the largest muscle of our arm, it means we use it a LOT in everyday life to do stuff, especially anything that feels hard.
The word tricep means that there are three heads (or parts) to the muscle. All three heads of the muscle cross the elbow joint, with their primary function being to straighten the elbow. The long head of the tricep also crosses the shoulder joint. This part of the muscle can also help to pull the upper arm back, like the movement you would do to pull a cord down to open the shades.
WORKS ALL 3 HEADS OF THIS MUSCLE!
Tricep kickbacks work all three heads of the triceps and the anconeus - which is a small muscle in the forearm area that helps to straighten the elbow. These muscles are also important for stabilizing the elbow joint.
SPECIAL FOCUS ON THE LONG HEAD OF THE TRICEPS
The position of the triceps kickback is good for targeting the long head of the tricep. What I learned from Carol the physical therapist is that different arm positions will work each of the three heads in different ways. By positioning our arm a little differenty we can give a bit more focus to one of the three heads, which can be nice for really fatiguing that portion of the muscle, and is also what helps give nice shape to our arm.
When the arm is held back against resistance, the long head of the triceps is shortened at the shoulder joint and then, to straighten the elbow. This positioning keeps tension on the long head of the triceps throughout the movement. This is one of the few triceps exercises that do this, making it a nice way to add variety to your tricep training. When your upper arm is down by your side or raised up in front but less than shoulder level, the long head of the triceps will do most of the work to extend the elbow.
Most joints have muscles on opposite sides that do opposite movements. This is true for the elbow joint - the biceps bends the elbow and the tricep straightens the elbow. Bicep curls are probably one of the most common exercises, and sometimes the triceps are overlooked. Most functional use of the arms requires that the biceps and triceps work together in coordination to control the movement of the arm. Including exercises for both the biceps and triceps can help keep the muscles balance in order to keep the elbow joint healthy.
The anconeus is a pretty small muscle that crosses the elbow joint. The muscle does not have a lot of power, so it does not contribute much to extension. It does work to stabilize the elbow joint, especially to hold the forearm in a neutral position - between pronation and supination.
EVERYDAY LIFE &
HOW WE USE OUR Triceps IN EVERYDAY LIFE
1. STRAIGHTENS (EXTENDS) THE ELBOW
- Reaching with a straight arm
- Pushing a door shut, stroller, shopping cart
- Pushing up from a chair, floor, or lying down- on side
- Sports - provides power for swinging in golf and backhand shots in tennis
- Throwing - as the straightens
2. HELPS TO STABILIZE THE ELBOW JOINT - DURING ALL ARM USE
- Writing, eating, dressing, using a screwdriver
3. THE LONG HEAD OF THE TRICEPS ONLY (BECAUSE IT CROSSES THE SHOULDER JOINT):
- Extension (moving the arm back behind the body) and adduction of the shoulder (moving the arm in towards the midline
- Reaching the back pocket
- Putting a belt on
- Stabilization of the shoulder
- Holding the arm still while using the hand - writing, carrying objects, driving, pushing a wheelbarrow
HOW Dumbbell Triceps Kickbacks SHAPE OUR BODY
Will tone and shape the triceps which is the biggest muscle of the arm. Firms the F word - flabby - upper arm region.
This is the basic version of the Tricep Kickback. The movement is done bent over, hinging at the hips and working both arms at the same time. Keep the upper arm in line with the torso, once you are bent over into a comfortable position, push the upper arm back so that it is parallel with the floor. There will be a trade-off with the starting position: The further the upper arm is lifted back into extension (past the torso) the less the long head of the triceps will be able to contribute to straightening the elbow. This is not good or bad, just information to use to meet your goals for the movement.
The bent-over position can be challenging if you have a history of back pain, core muscle or leg weakness or poor balance. In this case, choose one of the supported versions of tricep kickbacks - for example using a bench or stability ball for support. Or one of the banded versions which are done in standing.
How to Feel What Muscle is Working
Place the palm of your hand on the edge of a table or the wall with the elbow bent. Place your other hand on the back of your upper arm. Lean some of your weight onto the arm, and straighten the elbow. You will feel the triceps activate.
PROPER FORM: Dumbbell Triceps Kickback
EQUIPMENT, SETS & REPS
SUGGESTED STARTING WEIGHT FOR WOMEN:
5 - 8 lbs.
SETS & REPS:
2-3 sets of 8-10 reps
Controlled straightening and bending of the elbow, straightening can be quicker than bending.
BODY POSITION FOR THE Dumbbell Triceps Kickback
FEET: Hip width apart, toes forward
BODY STANCE: Knees slightly bent. Hinge forward at hips to a position where you can comfortably hold good posture: neutral spine, sternum lifted, broad chest, shoulder blades in and down the back.
ARMS: Your upper arm is close to your torso. Upper arm pushed back - parallel to the floor. Elbows bent to 90 degrees.
HAND/GRIP: Palms facing each other (Neutral grip - your triceps works the same regardless of supination or pronation, so use a comfortable grip). Your wrist should be held neutral (not bending) throughout the exercise.
HOW TO DO
HOW TO DO Dumbbell Triceps Kickbacks
CUE: Once your upper arm is in position keep it still, isolate all of the movement to just your elbow joint.
Straighten your elbow to lift the dumbbell.
Straighten your elbow all the way, pause, and then lower back down to the starting position.
The starting position is when your elbow is bent to about 90 degrees - your hand straight down from your elbow.
HOW TO SAFELY GET OUT OF THE EXERCISE
Bring your upper arm down, reverse the hip hinge to return to standing.
WHAT TO AVOID WITH THE Dumbbell Triceps Kickback
Guess what? Good news! Many avoids are the same for most movements. Once you learn the basics, there's really only a few extra avoids for each individual movement.
1. Avoid Rounding Your Back
AVOID: Avoid rounding (flexing) the spine
- This can increase the stress on the joints of the spine
- Will also decrease the muscle activity of the muscles on the upper back that are important for good posture.
WHAT TO DO:
- Keep the spine neutral, the sternum lifted, shoulder blades should be back and down.
2. Avoid rounding shoulders
AVOID: Avoid letting the shoulder round forward.
WHAT TO DO:
- Keep shoulder blades down & back.
3. Avoid rotation of upper body torso
AVOID: Avoid rotating the upper back as the arm lifts.
- This means that some of the movement is coming from the spine.
- The goal of the exercise is to work the arm muscles - all of the movement should come from the elbow joint.
WHAT TO DO:
- Keeping the spine in a neutral position will strengthen the muscles of the torso in the healthiest position possible, with the least amount of stress on the joints of the spine.
4. Avoid shoulders hunching up towards ears
AVOID: Avoid letting your shoulders hunch up.
- This happens when the upper trap tries to help out and the top of the shoulder moves closer to the earlobe
- Promote poor shoulder mechanics which may irritate or injure the shoulder joint soft tissue or joint surface
- Will decrease the scapular stabilizers during the exercise.
WHAT TO DO:
- Keep the neck relaxed, and space between the top of the shoulder and the earlobe.
5. Avoid bending wrists
AVOID: Avoid bending your wrists.
- This can cause irritation of the tendons, nerves, joint.
WHAT TO DO:
- Keep wrists neutral.
6. Avoid hyperextension of elbow
AVOID: Avoid locking or hyperextending the elbow of the supporting arm.
- Locking the elbow when it is supporting some of the body weight increases the stress on the elbow joint and the ligaments.
WHAT TO DO:
- Keeping the elbow straight but soft or slightly bent will increase the activity of the arm muscles that support the elbow joint - for an added bonus.
7. Avoid elbow migrating downwards
AVOID: Avoid letting the arms migrate down or away from the body (ie elbow coming in front of the body)
- This will decrease the activation of the triceps.
8. Avoid upper arm movement
AVOID: Avoid letting the upper arm move up and down.
- This would be activating the latissimus dorsi and teres major and decrease the activity of the triceps.
WHAT TO DO:
- Keep your upper arm still, just move at the elbow.
9. Avoid stopping short
AVOID: Avoid stopping short.
WHAT TO DO:
- Make sure to straighten the elbow at the top of the movement.
10. Avoid torso moving up and down
AVOID: Avoid moving the torso.
WHAT TO DO:
- Isolate the movement to the elbow joint to ensure you are working your triceps.
11. Avoid letting go of shoulder blade
AVOID: Avoid letting the shoulder blade go.
- This will decrease the activity of the triceps.
WHAT TO DO:
- Keep your shoulder back and in towards your spine.
VARIATIONS OF Dumbbell Triceps Kickbacks
Alternating Arms Tricep Kickback
For this variation, hold both of the arms back in the starting position: the upper arms parallel to the floor and the elbows bent to 90 degrees. This will keep some tension on the long head of the triceps for the entire set. Straighten one elbow, bend it back to 90 degrees, then straighten the other elbow. Continue to complete 8 reps on each side.
Arms pushed back into more extension: this will shorten the long head of the triceps at the shoulder and the elbow at the end of the range. This will work the triceps to its end position. In this position the triceps is weakest, care should be taken not to overload the muscle too much in this position - could lead to injury over time.
MAKING THE Dumbbell Triceps Kickback MORE CHALLENGING
One arm at a time
One arm at a time
Isometric Hold dumbbell triceps kickback
Isometric holds at the end of the movement for 5 seconds.
MAKE THE Dumbbell Triceps Kickback MORE DOABLE
Staggered Stance Kickback
One leg forward (nonworking side), and rest nonworking hand on the thigh of the leg that is forwards. Make sure that your pelvis and shoulders are squared. Do not let the upper or lower spine rotate (do not drop the shoulder of the working side). This position creates a more stable base where your core does not have to work as hard to stay in position.
Use stability ball
On stability ball
This position can be really nice for supporting your torso so that the rest of you doesn't have to work so hard, and then you can really focus on the triceps muscle. I highly recommend this variation.
OFFSET stability ball
Offset stability ball Kickback
lying down kickback
Lying down kickback
This version gives you even MORE support, which is great if your core is already tired from other exercises in your workout, or if you're a beginner who hasn't built the core strength to hold this position while doing the exercise.
ALLLL MUSCLES & WHEN
ALL MUSCLES WORKING & WHEN DURING THE Dumbbell Triceps Kickback
The core and scapular stabilizers work to hold the spine in a neutral position and the shoulder blades back and down throughout the exercise.
The long head of the triceps, the latissimus dorsi, and the teres major work isometrically to hold the upper arm in a slightly extended (just slightly behind) and adducted (close to the body) position to provide a stable base for the triceps to work off of.
All three heads of the triceps and the anconeus contract concentrically to straighten the elbow joint.
The muscles of the forearm work to hold the wrist in a neutral position.
The triceps and anconeus contract eccentrically to control the movement as the elbow bends and returns to the starting position.