The Effectiveness of Dumbbell Triceps Kickbacks

Proper form is the first step to making the kickback effective.
i Chris Clinton/Photodisc/Getty Images

Let's just be honest. No one wants that loose flesh hanging from the backs of their arms. Most women want tight, toned muscles that don't wave when they lift their arms and show they've been working out. The dumbbell triceps kickback is an effective exercise to target the backs of your arms, when done properly and on a regular basis.

Triceps Anatomy

The triceps muscle runs along the back of your upper arm. It has three heads: long, short and lateral. The long head of the muscle crosses both the shoulder and elbow joints, while the lateral and short heads begin on the upper arm and cross only the elbow. The primary function of the triceps is to extend, or straighten, the elbow joint. However, because the long head crosses the shoulder, it also assists shoulder extension.

Performing a Dumbbell Kickback

Proper form is critical for doing the kickback effectively. You need a flat weight bench and a dumbbell. Hold the dumbbell in your right hand and place your left knee and left hand on the weight bench. Bend at the waist and keep your torso parallel to the bench. Keep your right leg right next to the bench to help support your weight. Keep your back flat with your abs pulled in to support your spine. Bring your right arm next to your body so that your upper arm is parallel to your torso. Bend your elbow so your lower arm forms a right angle, with your upper arm and the weight hangs towards the floor. Exhale and press the weight back until your arm straightens, tightening the back of your arm. Release back slowly until the weight hangs straight down with the elbow bent for one complete repetition. Perform all reps on the right before switching to the left arm.

Sets, Reps and Weight

Perform one to three sets of eight to 12 reps of the dumbbell kickbacks. Perform them two to three times per week on nonconsecutive days. You can use this as your only triceps exercise, or add it to other exercises for the area. Increase the effectiveness of the exercise by using the proper amount of resistance. The dumbbell should be heavy enough that you can complete at least eight reps with proper form, but not so heavy that you can't finish them. The last couple reps should be very challenging to finish.

Changing It Up

While the dumbbell kickback can be a very effective exercise for your triceps, you shouldn't do it for months on end. Every four to eight weeks, change your workouts. Add another triceps exercise or change to another exercise for that area. Your body will get used to what you are doing, even if you increase the weight. Alternate the exercises you perform for your triceps every few weeks for greater effectiveness.

the nest