What are dumbbell kickbacks? (A guide for bodybuilders)

What are dumbbell kickbacks

What are dumbbell kickbacks?

Dumbbell kickbacks are an exercise used to increase size and strength in the tricep muscles at the back of your upper arm. It is performed with dumbbells but variations can be performed on a cable machine with a rope or stirrup attachment.

It is not the easiest tricep exercise and can only be performed with a relatively light weight as the rear deltoid needs to hold your upper arm in a fixed position. If you want to train with a heavier load, try cable pushdowns or a close grip press instead. 

Which muscles are worked with a dumbbell kickback?

The target muscle is the tricep at the back of the upper arm. The posterior deltoid and upper lats are also activated as they play a part in keeping the upper arm in a rigid position.

Dumbbell kickback muscles worked

How do I perform a cable kickback?

To perform a cable tricep kickback you will need a cable pulley machine and either a single rope or stirrup attachment. If your cable machine has a ball stop at the end, you can just use this to hold on to as the resistance used is minimal.
  1. Select your weight from the stack. Start light as it is not possible to keep correct form with a heavy weight when performing kickbacks. You will just end up doing rows.
  2. Attach your stirrup or rope to the cable pulley.
  3. Bend over with one hand resting on the pulley machine for support. Keep your head straight with your spine. Place the hand that is not holding the pulley machine into the stirrup handle. 
  4. Lift your upper arm so that it is parallel to your body and the elbow is flexed, leaving the stirrup hanging down.
  5. Keeping your upper arm rigid and elbow tucked in, straighten the arm until the tricep is fully contracted. 
  6. Hold this position for a couple of seconds before lowering the attachment.
  7. Throughout the movement, keep your upper arm rigid and elbows tucked in
  8. Repeat for the required number of reps and sets.
How to do a cable tricep kickback

Because this exercise uses a relatively light weight,  it is advisable to opt for slow movements and a high rep range. 

How do I perform a dumbbell kickback?

A dumbbell kickback is essentially the same movement, but using dumbbells instead of a cable machine. Instead of bending over next to a machine, try kneeling on a bench,  bend over, grab a dumbbell and kick it out behind you with your triceps as with the cable kickback. 
Tricep Dumbbell Kickbacks

As with cable kickbacks, select a low weight from the rack to maintain good form. 

Take away

We hope that you have found this article useful and that we have answered the original question - what are dumbbell kickbacks?

Check out our FREE training plans for bodybuilders and strength trainers by clicking on the menu bar at the top of the page. 

What are dumbbell kickbacks alternatives?

Skull crusher

Close grip press

Tricep pushdowns

Tricep dips

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