R

Resistance Band Tricep Kickbacks: Exercise Overview and How-To Guide

band tricep kickback exercise overview

Generally, banded tricep kickbacks will take two forms:

  1. One with the band kept beneath the heels for a more downward angle of resistance
  2. The second with the band anchored horizontal to the torso for a greater range of motion.

Regardless of whichever one is used, the banded kickback is excellent for building stability, strength and mass in the triceps brachii in both a clinical and training setting.

Standing Tricep Kickbacks at a Glance

Equipment Requirements

Resistance Band

Main Muscles Targeted

Triceps Brachii

Difficulty

Novice

Sets, Reps, and Load Recommendations

Lighter/Moderate tension for 2-3 sets of 8-16 repetitions

How to Do Resistance Band Tricep Kickbacks

Resistance Band Tricep Kickbacks
  1. Attaching the band to its anchor point (either beneath the heel or parallel to the torso), the lifter bends forwards by hinging at the hips until the torso is at an approximate 45 degree angle, the ends of the band held in their hands beneath the chest. The forearm should begin at least at a 90 degree angle to the elbow.
  2. Ensuring the upper arms and elbows are stationary and parallel to the sides of the torso, the lifter then squeezes their triceps and extends the arm at the elbow.
  3. Once the forearm is fully extended and the entire arm is straightened beside the body, the lifter allows the resistance of the band to slowly draw their forearm back around.
  4. When the forearm is back at a 90 degree angle to the elbow, the repetition is considered to be complete.

Additional Tips

Resistance band kickbacks have the benefit of a consistent level of tension throughout the range of motion. Lifters should take full advantage of this by aiming to begin and end each repetition at a slightly wider range and slower tempo than would be used for free weight kickbacks.

Another great tip is to experiment with different hand grips, using the pliability of the band to find what best fits your own unique physiology. Some lifters may prefer a neutral grip, whereas others may employ a pronated one instead.

What Muscles are Worked by Resistance Band Tricep Kickbacks?

Resistance band tricep kickbacks are an isolation exercise, meaning that only a single muscle group is actually dynamically worked during the exercise.

This muscle group is, of course, the triceps brachii located along the lateral and dorsal section of the upper arms.

anatomy of triceps brachii

In particular, because of the position of the upper arm relative to the shoulder and elbow joints, the resistance band tricep kickback will emphasize the lateral or short head of the triceps to the greatest degree.

Common Banded Tricep Kickback Mistakes to Avoid

While it is indeed true that the banded tricep kickback is quite a safe exercise, avoid the following common mistakes for a more effective workout.

Poor Range of Motion

As is the case with most other exercises, a poor range of motion can lead to muscles developing less efficiently – if not leading to issues like instability and weakness.

band tricep kickback

Tricep kickbacks are no different in this regard. An insufficient or short range of motion will lead to the triceps being worked to a lesser degree, defeating the purpose of the exercise.

Aim to begin and end the exercise with the forearms at a 90 degree angle to the elbows at the least, and to ensure that the elbow fully extends the forearm at the height of each repetition.

Insufficient Band Tension

An important characteristic of resistance bands is that they exert varying levels of resistance depending on the length to which the band is stretched. 

Standing too close to the band’s anchor point (or using one too large) can lead to weaker tension at the start and end of the repetition where the band is at its shortest. In turn, this leads to less efficient triceps development as tension is reduced as the muscle remains in a stretched position.

Unless specifically performing the exercise for this purpose, ensure that the band is anchored so that sufficient tension is present, even at the start of each repetition.

Detaching the Elbow or Upper Arm

To guarantee that only the triceps are actively engaged, lifters should strive to maintain the stillness of their upper arm and elbows by keeping them close to the sides of the torso. 

band tricep kickback muscles

Deviating from this position may activate other muscle groups such as the posterior deltoids, brachioradialis, or latissimus dorsi, essentially transforming the exercise into a row or rear delt fly. 

This error commonly arises when lifting excessively heavy weights, making it especially vital for lifters to prioritize correct form over the amount of weight lifted.

Who Should Do Resistance Band Tricep Kickbacks?

The banded tricep kickback is essentially an upgrade over conventional kickbacks, rivaled only by the machine variant. 

Lifters seeking reinforcement of their elbow joint, greater triceps brachii mass or further development of their pushing strength will find the resistance band tricep kickback to perfectly fit their needs.

Remember to first speak to a medical professional if you have a history of issues relating to your elbow joint, especially those concerning tendinopathy or similar conditions.

References

1. Tanton LC, Cappaert TA, Gordon PM, et al. Strength, Size, and Muscle Quality in the Upper Arm following Unilateral Training in Younger and Older Males and Females. Clinical medicine Arthritis and musculoskeletal disorders. 2009;2. doi:10.4137/CMAMD.S1180