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Strong well-developed triceps have a positive impact on daily activities but can also shape great-looking arms. It’s important to incorporate several tricep exercises into your routine to achieve greater results. The dumbbell tricep kickback is a wonderful tricep exercise.

Below we’ll look deeper into tricep kickbacks and we’ll cover the following:

  • Muscles involved in dumbbell tricep kickbacks
  • Benefits associated with dumbbell tricep kickbacks
  • How to properly do dumbbell tricep kickbacks
  • Common mistakes when performing dumbbell tricep kickbacks
  • Video on how to do dumbbell tricep kickbacks
  • Tricep exercises to complete your arm workout

What Muscles Do Dumbbell Tricep Kickbacks Work?

Primary muscles involved in dumbbell tricep kickbacks:

  • Triceps Brachii: The name triceps is due to the fact that these muscles are composed of three muscle strands (the long, medial, and lateral heads). It specifically targets the long head of the tricep. The triceps are involved in forearm and elbow extension, helping extend or straighten the elbow. They are also involved in shoulder adduction and extension, helping pull the arms down. Additionally, the triceps help to stabilize the shoulder joint. Overhead tricep extensions target all three heads of the muscle.

Secondary muscles engaged:

  • Forearms: Located in the upper limbs between the elbows and the wrists. There are several muscles part of this area. They help pronate, flex, abduct, and adduct the hands.
  • Deltoids: These are the main shoulder muscles. The anterior deltoid flexes and medially rotates the arm, the lateral deltoid abducts the arm, and the posterior deltoid extends and laterally rotates the arms.
  • Core Muscles: The erector spinae (set of muscles that run vertically along the side of the vertebral column, originating at the hip and extending up to the skull. They help rotate and extend the spine and neck) and abs (muscles in the abdominal wall:  rectus abdominis, obliques, transverse abdominal) make up the core muscles and are slightly engaged in tricep kickbacks.

Dumbbell Tricep Kickback Benefits

  • Aesthetics: Working the triceps can help you deal with the so-called “batwings” or “grandma-arms” – the fatty hanging area in the posterior area of the arms.
  • Hypertrophy: Tricep kickbacks sculpt and increase the size of the muscles in the back of the arms.
  • Strength: tricep kickbacks activate all three heads of the triceps helping you become stronger. This translates into better sports performance and improved upper body strength to help you move heavier loads when doing other exercises, such as push-ups or chest presses, or engaging in daily activities.
  • Wrist Health: If you suffer from wrist pain or discomfort, the overhead triceps extension is ideal since your wrists maintain the same angle throughout the exercise. This avoids putting a lot of stress on your wrists.
  • Isolation: This exercise isolates the triceps, helping you to concentrate on that specific muscle.
  • Upper Body Flexibility: Tricep kickbacks help improve the range of motion and flexibility in your upper body since they help stabilize your shoulders
  • Versatility: The tricep kickback is versatile. In the video, I’m demonstrating the exercise using a dumbbell. However, it can be performed with resistance bands or cables.

How to Do Dumbbell Tricep Kickbacks

There are different ways to position yourself to perform tricep kickbacks:

  • You can stand in a split stance [stand with one leg forward and place the hand on that same side on your forward leg to help stabilize yourself – you’ll be working the opposite arm].
  • You can stand with both legs together [use your non-working hand to grab the back of a bench or a rack to help you stay steady].
  • Or you can use a bench [place one knee on a bench, lean forward and place the same side hand on the front of the bench while keeping your opposite foot on the floor].


  • Grab a dumbbell and grip it firmly, but not too tight.
  • Lean forward while keeping your back straight, your shoulders down and back, and your core tight. This position allows for maximum effectiveness as it works the triceps against gravity.
  • Hinge forward at the hips and align your head and spine.
  • Take the arm that is holding the weight and bend it at your elbow at a 90-degree angle. Your upper arm should be held close to your body, parallel to your torso, and your forearm vertical to the floor.
  • Hold your upper arm steady and exhale as you straighten your arm along the side of your torso. Extend your arm fully but do not lock it at the elbow.
  • Hold for a second or two.
  • Lower the forearm slowly to the start position (arm on a 90-degree angle), bringing the dumbbell back towards the torso.
  • Repeat the movement for 8 to 12-15 repetitions and change arms.
  • As you advance, you can work both arms simultaneously.

Dumbbell Tricep Kickbacks Mistakes

  • Avoid dropping your elbow: Allowing your elbows to move decreases the load on your triceps. You must keep your elbow elevated so that the upper arm remains parallel to the floor. This incorporates gravity to strengthen and concentrate on your triceps.
  • Avoid using very heavy dumbbells: If you have a hard time keeping the elbow lifted, you should decrease the weight. Don’t compromise proper form for heavier weight as you won’t be challenging the triceps as you should.
  • Avoid flaring your elbows: You have to keep your elbows tucked in by your ears to perform the exercise properly. When you allow your elbows to flare out, you engage your biceps and shoulders to assist the flexion and extension. This no longer isolates your triceps.
  • Avoid rounding your back: Keep your back straight and engage your core. A straight back helps you maintain proper alignment and perform the exercise properly.
  • Avoid short ranges of motion: Shortening movement is cheating and doesn’t get all the benefits of the tricep kickback. You should perform the exercise with a full range of motion. Your arms should fully extend at the top and you should achieve at least a 90-degree bend at the elbow when you lower the weight.

Dumbbell Tricep Kickbacks Video

Tricep Workout

You can complete your tricep workout by performing the following exercises:

As you can see the dumbbell tricep kickback is a wonderful tricep exercise. It offers tremendous benefits associated with hypertrophy, strength, endurance, and aesthetics. Now that you know how to properly perform dumbbell tricep kickbacks, you can avoid the most common mistakes and enjoy their benefits. Remember, whether you want to lose weight, tone your body, or gain strength or size, all muscles must be trained.

Lift, Burn more Fat, Get Stronger, and Live Healthier!

To a Fitter Healthier You,

Adriana Albritton

The Fitness Wellness Mentor

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