Cable Triceps Kickback Exercise


Bodybuilding Exercise: Cable Triceps Kickback

Another popular triceps exercise is the cable triceps kickback. In this triceps exercise, you work one arm at a time. Kickbacks are a great exercise for working the back head of the triceps. Maintaining good form and control throughout this movement is difficult; make the effort. The use of cable provides equal (uniform) resistance throughout the movement (entire range of motion). In other words, cables provide a more effective line of pull.

Cable Triceps Kickback Technique – Proper Form

STARTING POSITION (EXERCISE SETUP): Attach a handle to a floor cable or you can do this exercise without (no-handle variation) any bar or handle attached to it (grab the cable cord just below the rubber stopper). Grab the pulley in your left hand. Stand up and take one step forward with your right foot and one step backward with your left foot. Bend at the waist (so that your torso is between 45 degrees and parallel with the floor), and support your torso with your right hand on your right knee. Raise your elbow so that your upper arm is parallel to the floor and your elbow is bent 90 degrees, tucked into your side.

Cable Triceps Kickback

Cable Triceps Kickback

EXERCISE EXECUTION (MOVEMENT): With your left hand perpendicular to the floor, slowly straighten (extend) your arm (elbow) until your arm is locked out, keeping your upper arm stationary. Squeeze the contraction for a count, then return to the starting position in a slow, controlled motion. Do not drop your elbow as you return to the starting position. Finish the set with that arm, then repeat with your other arm.

Cable Kickback Tips & Additional Notes (Helpful Hints)

  • Look for your elbow to remain at your side.
  • Look for your shoulder to remain in the same plane as your spine and the opposite shoulder.
  • Avoid allowing your elbow to drop towards the floor or migrate away from your side.
  • Avoid elevating your shoulder toward your ear.
  • Press your free hand against the thigh – this will help support the spinal column.
  • You can either keep the elbow toward the back or lift it a little toward the ceiling. This latter version helps some people to feel the work of the triceps a little better.
  • When your arm is extended, hold the position for as long as you can so that you contract the triceps as much as possible. In fact, unlike regular triceps exercises, you have to generate a lot of muscular tension in order to keep your arm extended during this exercise. Take full advantage of this unique feature.

Muscles Involved in Cable Kickbacks

Triceps kickbacks are great for giving the triceps that horseshoe look. They are especially useful for developing the long rear head of the triceps.

You will also get a tremendous abdominal workout from the stabilizing work that is required.

  • Main muscles: triceps
  • Secondary muscles: anconeus (rear deltoid, latissimus dorsi)
  • Antagonists: biceps, brachialis, brachioradialis

Low Cable Triceps Kickback Variations

  • Cable kickback with rope attachment – hold both ends of the rope in your working hand.
  • Cable kickback with reverse grip – using D-handle – to work more on the medial head.
  • This exercise can be performed using a plain bench. Rest your nonworking arm and the leg on the bench for better stability (balance).

Exercise Substitutes

Triceps kickback animation video

  • Flat bench dumbbell kickback (bilaterally)

Flat bench kickbacksReplacement Exercises

There are a range of exercises targeting the triceps. In our triceps category, we have included only the best. In choosing these exercises, efficiency and effectiveness were the determinants. Basically, that means the workouts (exercises) in triceps exercise category involve all three major muscles of the triceps at once and still manages to give you great results. So please take a look and choose one that suits your needs.

Closing Thoughts

The position is the same as for the dumbbell kickback. It is a good triceps exercise that does not involve any risk to the elbow joint. Moreover, this triceps exercise is one of the easiest on the elbows. Cable triceps kickback will allow you to work your triceps even if your elbows gives you pain during other exercise (E-Z bar or straight bar lying triceps extension in particular).

It also allows you to flex the elbow beyond 90º in a controlled movement without losing tension. Be careful not to move your arm too far from your body or the exercise will become a row.

If you have trouble keeping stationary, or have a weak lower back, place your free hand on a bench or other such support.

Finally, the main advantage of the pulley is that it provides more continuous and fluid tension than free weights do. That’s why it’s a goof idea to incorporate cable triceps kickbacks into your triceps training routine.


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