Triceps kickbacks – one of the toughest exercises for the triceps you can find out there. And one of very few exercises you will feel the triceps really work. The triceps make up two thirds of the upper arm muscles and therefore direct triceps training is essential if you want to build more muscular, firmer or stronger arms. Also working your triceps with isolation exercises, in addition to compound pressing exercises, will greatly help you to get your pressing to the next level.
Back when I still was using weights in my gym days, I actually never liked this exercise. It always kind of felt awkward, and I never felt the triceps really working. When I started using resistance bands and tried tri kickbacks the first time, I was amazed how different it felt and how much I felt the triceps doing the work. I guarantee that you will feel the same after you know the correct technique of how to perform the perfect triceps kickback with resistance bands.
The only piece of equipment you will be needing is a resistance band. But since this exercise is an isolation exercise, you won’t be able to use a very thick band. You will probably need one of the lighter resistance bands out there. To really be able to choose the right tension level at the right time for a certain exercise, you should invest in a set of resistance bands with different thickness. This way, you can always make adjustments and will be able to perform every exercise with good form. In case you still don’t have a set, check out our set right here: Resistance Bands Set
This article will be the only tutorial you will need to get your first kickback and become proficient in this exercise. We will start by looking at the most basic form. You will have a detailed how-to video as well as a step-by-step description. But we don’t stop here. You will learn common form mistakes, ways of adjusting the resistance of a band, as well as effective variations.
To make it complete, we take a deeper look at how effective working your triceps with resistance bands really is, why it actually works and have a look at the muscles you will be using while performing this exercise. Last but not least, we will discuss how to incorporate triceps kickbacks in a workout.
How To Triceps Kickback The Right Way With Resistance Bands?
Let me stop you right here. Before we jump into exercising, I want to get one little topic addressed. WARM UP! I didn’t mean to scream, but this is very important, and I have seen too many people getting injured because they skipped warm-ups too many times. Get your body ready for resistance – this way you will make faster progress in the long run and keep your joints and muscles healthy.
Besides your body and a resistance band with the right resistance level, you won’t be needing anything else.
But one thing to keep in mind is that bands generate friction with your skin when you stretch them. To prevent any uncomfort, I highly recommend wearing shoes and using gloves to protect your hands. Have a look at the ones I use: Workout Gloves.
Follow these 8 steps to get your first correct triceps kickback:
- Step with both feet on the band
- Grab the band with both hands, bend your elbows 90 degrees
- Bend over until your upper body is almost parallel to the floor
- Bring your elbows to the sides of your body and lock them in place
- Bend your knees a little but keep a straight lower back and brace your core
- Extend your arms until your hands point backwards
- Return slowly to the starting position (resist against the pull of the band)
- Repeat for reps
Common Form Mistakes
⓵ No Tension = No Resistance! – this is the most common mistake people do when working out with resistance bands, and it is not specific for tri kickbacks. It is valid for any exercise you do when using bands. Always make sure that you have tension in the band in every position of the range of motion in a given exercise. No tension means no resistance for your muscles, and this means leaving results and progress on the table.
If you can’t complete the whole movement without having slack in the starting position, you need to switch to a lighter resistance band. Remember to leave the ego out of training and doing what works, instead trying to force something your body simply can’t yet handle.
⓶ Don’t Swing your Elbows – this is the most-common mistake with this exercise, especially if you chose a band with a resistance which is too high. Your elbows should stay locked in place right next to your upper body and don’t move throughout the kickback. Your body will try to move your elbows, because by doing that you will use the back muscles to assist the extension of the arm. But we don’t want that to happen. We want to isolate the triceps.
⓷ Control Each Portion of the Rep! – This mistake is not specific to resistance band training, but avoiding it is at least as much or even more important with bands compared to weight training. When it comes to tricep kickbacks, really focus on working against the pull of the band on the way back to the stating position where your arms will be bent. Not only will you make the exercise 100% more effective, you will also keep your joints healthy and minimize any injury risks.
There you have the most important Dos and Don’ts for a perfect triceps kickback.
But there are even more mistakes to know and avoid when training with resistance bands. To get your resistance band training to the next level, check out our article on The Worst Mistakes You Can Do When Training With Resistance Bands
How To Adjust The Resistance
One of the greatest advantages of resistance bands, compared to any other tools used for resistance training, is that one single band does have a resistance range. Therefore, you can use the same band for lighter and heavier exercises or variations, depending on the way you set up the resistance band.
This is also important due to the fact that a rushed jump to the next heavier band can be way too large, and this can end in injury. Even if it doesn’t – some sort of form breakdown is usually guaranteed.
That’s why you should always use the whole potential of a given band and first adjust the resistance before using a heavier band. So how is done? The following methods are the best way to adjust the resistance of a given resistance band for triceps kickbacks:
Shorten The Band – the most basic method is shortening the band by grabbing it further towards your feet in the starting position. This will result in a shorter effective band length and therefore an increased resistance. The great thing is that you can let the band slip a little if you come to a point in the set where the resistance becomes too much. And you can do it in the middle of a set without changing the set-up. Try doing that with weights…
Adding a lighter Band – If you feel that there is only a bit of resistance missing and a jump to the next thicker band would be too much, simply add one of the lighter ones as a second band. It will give you just that extra resistance you’re looking for without taking it over the top.
Slow down the reps – intensity can be increased in two basic ways. Adding resistance or adding the time under tension. Often the second method is neglected or simply forgotten. Slowing down your reps will force you to lower the resistance, or at least keep it at the current level. The great thing is that performing an exercise slower will force you to really have a clean exercise form, and you will see any weak points straight away.
You can also add a pause in the fully extended position instead of lowering the exercise speed – this way you will have a longer time under tension as well.
Alternative Ways To Do Tricep Kickbacks With Resistance Bands
Variety is what makes life exciting, and the same goes for exercises. Changing up exercises or even only exercise variations is a great way to keep yourself entertained and move your body in various different ways. The one I use for triceps kickbacks are:
Uni Lateral Triceps Kickbacks – The uni lateral version of the triceps kickback is great to focus on one side at a time and really feel your triceps working. It is also great to correct any imbalances you might have between your right and left side. Give it a try!
Simply step on the band with one foot and place the other leg behind you. This split stance will give a stable position. It doesn’t really matter which foot is in front and which is in the back. Both work. The movement of your arm stays the same as described in the main version.
Uni Lateral Standing Triceps Kickbacks – In case the leaned over position is not possible or just ton comfortable, you can do this exercise standing straight up. Some might even call it a triceps pulldown … and it wouldn’t be 100% wrong 😉
Grab the band with both hands. Place one hand on your upper chest and lock it right in this spot. Keep the elbow of the other arm locked in place, and extend your arm fully by moving your hand down and back in a 45-degree angle.
Isometric Hold Triceps Kickbacks – Isometric holds are not used enough in workouts, in my opinion. But my triceps and I really enjoy them. This is how you get to the next level and keep your elbows healthy.
Basically, this is the standard version of the kickbacks, but you will alternate your arms. In addition to alternating, you will keep one arm in the extended position while the other does the repetition. These are challenging, but you will love this variation.
Can You Train Triceps Effectively With Resistance Bands?
Working out with resistance bands becomes more and more common, but in my opinion, most people still think that you can’t do serious training by using bands. When using resistance bands correctly and choosing the right tension level for an exercise, you can generate the same load as you would do with weights.
When it comes to triceps training, I would choose bands over weights every day of the week. Setting up the exercise is much simpler, you can also adjust the resistance in the middle of a set without changing the band, and I feel my triceps working much more compared to weight or machine work.
So the short answer would be: 100% YES.
Resistance bands are a great tool to become more fit and make progress. Keep on reading, and you will find out why and benefits you can reap by using them.
Why Does Training With Resistance Bands Work
Thank god that our bodies are as simple as that. A human body simply doesn’t know the difference between different types of tools for resistance training. It just responds to resistance and if this resistance is great enough, it will become stronger and build more muscles to being able to handle the resistance better in the future.
Weights in combination with gravity can create resistance, but also bands through the inner tension when you stretch them can generate resistance. So as long as your muscles have to work against a load, they will get a stimulus to grow and will with time be able to handle greater and greater loads.
To get in depth information about this topic, check out our full article: Why Does Training With Resistance Bands Work
Benefits Of Training With Resistance Bands
Often I get asked why one actually should use resistance bands and not just go to the gym or simply go for a jog. There are certain benefit resistance bands bring along. Some are:
- Greater Peak Contraction! – Since bands have linear variable resistance, you will get a greater peak contraction and therefore a greater muscles stimulus.
- No Cheating! – Bad form and cheating is a huge problem with weight training and often leads to injuries. With bands, it is way harder to perform exercises with bad form. Resistance bands basically force you to use good form.
- Joints! – Compared to weight training, resistance bands are more gentle on the joints.
- Train anywhere! – These little tension creators will fit in any bag or suitcase. Therefore, you can get your fitness session in even if you have to travel for work or enjoying your holiday.
There is even more, but this would be too much text right here. Check out our full article on this topic right here: Benefits Of Resistance Band Training
What Muscles Are Used In A Resistance Band Triceps Kickback
It shouldn’t be a total surprise that the main muscle worked in this exercise is the triceps. The full name would be Triceps Brachi. It is located on the back of your upper arm and has the main function of extending your arm. The triceps is one single muscles, but the “tri” in the name gives a little hint that it has something to do with the number 3. Different parts of the triceps are called “heads” and there are 3 of them. Every exercise for the triceps will target all 3 head, but depending on the position of your arms relative to your upper body, there will be an emphasis on a specific head. The triceps kickbacks have a slight focus on the lateral head of the triceps.
Main Working Muscles:
- Triceps Brachii
Main Working Tricep Heads:
- Lateral Head
By now, you know how to do perfect triceps kickbacks, what variations you can do and which muscles you will be training. But you probably know that only doing one exercise is no enough to get into shape or build size, and you are absolutely right. The solutions you’re looking for is called a workout program or plan. By having one, you will know which exercises to do in what order in a given session. The “only” thing left for you to do is follow the plan, and you will see and feel the results.
Now knowing that you need a workout plan is not having a good one…. unfortunately nowadays you can find very easily a boring, generic plan with a quick google search. Finding a good and structured workout program which is tailored to your goals is not that simple. And writing one yourself will result in quite some background research.
Or you can simply use our app which we wrote exactly for the purpose to get good, not generic and engaging workout programs, workouts and exercises to people like you. Our goal is you actually enjoying the workouts and wanting to keep doing them. Find out more here: BIQ Training App