I HATE dumbbell kickbacks for the triceps!
You simply cannot get a good contraction of the triceps. I’ve avoided this exercise over the years. I’ve tried different variations to make it more effective…all to no avail.
The problem is that with dumbbells it’s really only the last few inches of the rep where any real resistance is placed on the triceps.
Also, the path of resistance is all wrong. Ideally, you should be pushing the arm back and AWAY from a resistance that is out in front of your body. But when the load is in your hand, this just isn’t happening.
I’ve found that 2 critical factors can make a WORLD of difference here. They are:
(1) Using a cable instead of a dumbbell
(2) A little twist of the wrist during the movement.
I found that if using a cable attached to a low pulley, the angle of resistance is corrected.
Also, if you start the movement with a neutral grip and slowly change to a pronated grip during the positive part of the rep, you can really fully contract the triceps and use a heavier load than if you just used a pronated grip throughout. Don’t worry about the terminology, watch the video of me demonstrating and I’ll explain in detail below how to start using this straight away.
Bend over with one leg in front of you and one out behind you. Have your upper body be roughly parallel to the floor.
Position your upper arm parallel to floor as well.
Grab a stirrup attachment with a neutral grip (not supinated nor pronated – your knuckles will be facing out to the side)
Now extend your lower arm out and back until it’s straight. Make sure it is fully straightened to get a full contraction of the triceps.
Now return slowly under full muscular control.
Repeat until positive failure within your selected rep range. 8-12 reps works best here; lower rep ranges don’t work well with this movement.
Here are 2 important additional tips:
(1) Slow your negatives! Notice how I’m performing the negative slower than the positive. This will help recruit more muscle fibers and also cause more muscle damage (which means more growth stimulation).
(2) Note how I’m allowing a little bit of movement at the shoulder joint at the bottom/start of each rep to get the weight moving. This is an example of working in harmony with your body’s natural biomechanics. Being too rigid and only allowing movement only at the elbow joint will mean you’ll have to use a much lower weight and increase the chance of injury. Allowing just 1 or 2 inches of movement of the shoulder joint at the beginning of each rep adds that much needed fluidity; the result is a more effective and safer exercise.
If you’ve never done this before and don’t know what kind of load to use, I’ve seen people succeed most when they start off with around a quarter of whatever weight they use for pushdowns. So someone using 100lbs on the pushdown, will start with around 25lbs on the cable kickbacks.
Add this to the end of your workout. You always want to hit each body part with the heaviest weights and compound movements first, working your way down to isolated and lighter weights towards the end.
Also, you’ll be working one arm at a time here, so you don’t want to slow the workout down by putting it too early in your training session.
Warning! Expect some nice pain in your triceps after you incorporate this into your THT workouts.
Questions? Just ask below and I’ll help you if I can.
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