Triceps Cable Kickbacks

Isolation exercise, Cable pull




Required equipment

Main muscles

  • Triceps: Three-headed arm muscle
    (Musculus triceps brachii)

Training plans

Triceps Cable Kickbacks is a suitable substitute for similar exercises in or as a supplement to various training plans.

Triceps Cable Kickbacks: Basics and alternatives

: Involved main muscle groups Triceps Cable Kickbacks

Involved main muscle groups:
Triceps Cable Kickbacks

Dumbbell triceps kickbacks are a favorite, but you can also try kickbacks on a cable pulley as a semi-guided alternative. The motion is basically the same: With your body leaning forward, extend your bent arm backward to move the weight on the cable pull tower. This exercise isolates the triceps perfectly.

The advantage of the cable pulley over the dumbbell variation is the constant tension from the cable, even during the bending movement. Since the cable pull comes from the front, the tension is more noticeable compared to using dumbbells.

Besides the cable pulley and dumbbell, you can also do kickbacks with a resistance band, making the exercise suitable for home use.

Other alternatives include various push exercises like cable tricep pushdowns, overhead tricep extension, or dumbbell seated overhead tricep extension. These also focus on isolating the triceps.

Correct execution

Just like with the dumbbell variation, it’s crucial not to use too much weight when performing tricep kickbacks on the cable pulley. To best isolate the triceps, maintain a stable posture and activate the triceps exclusively during the movement.

Often, this exercise is done in addition to compound exercises that already engage the triceps, such as bench press, close-grip bench press, or dips. Kickbacks then serve as a finishing touch.

You can perform the exercise with a rope or a handle. To prevent injury, don’t train using just the cable (without a rope or handle) as sometimes seen in the gym or on YouTube.

Video tutorial


Step-by-step instructions

Attach the tricep rope or one-hand grip to the cable.

Grab the handle and step back far enough to bend your torso forward. Place one foot in front of the other for better stability.

Lean your upper body forward at the hips. Hold the rope beside your body in your hand.

Lift your upper arm above your shoulder, almost parallel to the floor. Keep the rope beside your body and your arm bent.

Extend your arm backward through the elbow. Your shoulder stays still.

At the end of the movement, your arm is almost straight (keep the elbow slightly bent). Now bend your arm again in a controlled manner and repeat until your set is complete.

Common mistakes

As demonstrated in various YouTube videos and sometimes seen in the gym, some people perform tricep kickbacks on the cable pulley without a handle or rope, grabbing the cable directly at the stopper or carabiner. Avoid this, as you won’t be able to move as much weight properly and the risk of injury increases due to a weaker grip.

Another common mistake is related to posture. Make sure you exercise with a straight back and avoid arching it. The extent to which you bend your upper body forward is up to you. More importantly, keep your torso straight and execute the movement correctly without using momentum. The motion should come exclusively from the elbow, and your shoulder should not help guide the movement.