Tip: The Kickback That Actually Works

Build bigger triceps and make your elbows happier. Here's how.


Kickbacks give your cranky elbows a break while taking your triceps growth up a level, especially if you use this variation.

Chest-Supported Triceps Kickback

Now, most hardcore lifters avoid kickbacks because they don't want to look wimpy using light dumbbells... the kind of dumbbells they actually need to be using to keep their form in check!

Ask most meatheads how to hit the long head of their triceps, and most would say overhead triceps extensions (skull crusher, French press, rope overhead extension, etc.). While these variations do load your long head in a lengthened (stretched) position, kickbacks activate it even more (1).

The kickback works because the angle of your shoulder helps to maximally shorten your triceps long head, while the load from the dumbbell is maximized at roughly the same point where your long head is fully shortened. This is why kickbacks, especially done with your chest supported, are one of the best exercises for maximally activating your triceps.

Most lifters with angry elbows also find they can keep at them pain-free, without otherwise having to skip direct triceps training.


  1. Boeckh-Behrens, W., Beier, P., & Buskies, W. (2001). Fitness Strength Training: The Best Exercises and Methods of Sport and Health. Rowohlt paperback publishing house.
Gareth Sapstead is a leading strength and physique coach from the UK. He specializes in problem solving and breakthrough training techniques.

Follow on Instagram