For a brutal way to finish off your arms, kick back and watch your gains pile up.
We don’t mean “kick back” as in take a seat and relax, of course—we’re referring to tricep kickbacks, a deceptively tough dumbbell exercise.
Men’s Health Fitness Director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. builds challenges around kickbacks when he really wants to crush his triceps. “This is the perfect move to annihilate your tris at the end of an arm workout or a push session,” he says.
Just make sure that you focus on the form when you give the exercise a try. Cocking your arm back might look simple, but if you rush through, you’ll miss out on the biggest benefits of the exercise.
“The key thing people miss on triceps kickbacks is the good squeeze; too often, they drive up to that straight-arm position with momentum and don’t fight the resistance,” Samuel says. “What makes kickbacks especially useful in the first place is that when done right, they force you to really flex your triceps in the straight-arm position.”
To perform this particular kickback challenge, you’ll need a set of light dumbbells. Check out this adjustable set from Bowflex if you want to try it out at home.
Eric Rosati/Men’s Health
- Kneel on the ground holding the dumbbells in each hand, then hinge at the hips to bend over.
- Raise your arms with your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle so that they’re parallel to the ground.
- Straighten both arms out and reach back with the weights, squeezing your triceps to hold them in position. Brace your core to help keep your arms in place.
- Lower your left arm down to the starting position while keeping your right arm straight, then lower your right arm after a beat.
- Repeat to raise both arms again, but lower your right arm first.
- Perform 5 reps alternating arms, then 5 straight kickback reps with both arms simultaneously without the pauses.
You’ll also challenge your core by kneeling, making this a doubly-useful finisher.
“The position itself will light up your core, and when you’re working to keep one arm straight while lowering the other arm, you need your abs and lower back muscles firing to keep you in balance,” says Samuel. Work to keep your torso stable throughout this movement.”
Just make sure that you don’t overload yourself, since kickbacks aren’t meant for big dumbbells. “Keep the weights light for this,” advises Samuel. “I’m using 12.5s in the video, and it’s not easy.”
Add the 3 sets of the finisher to cap off your toughest arm sessions. For more tips and routines from Samuel, check out our full set of Eb and Swole workouts.
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