Cable Tricep Kickbacks: Muscles Worked, How To Do and Tips

Are you looking to improve your workout routine and strengthen your triceps in a new way? Look no further than the cable tricep kickback.

This exercise is a game-changer for those who are looking to sculpt and strengthen their triceps.

In this blog, we’ll dive into the benefits of the cable tricep kickback, proper form, variations, and how to add it to your workout routine.

Get ready to get bigger and stronger triceps.

What Is Cable Triceps Kickback

The cable tricep kickback is a versatile and effective exercise targeting the triceps muscles. It is an isolation exercise that builds strength and muscle in all three heads of the tricep.

Unlike dumbbell kickbacks, it uses a cable machine to provide constant tension on the muscle throughout the entire movement.

The exercise involves extending the arm backward against resistance, particularly emphasizing the triceps.

When doing an arm workout with a cable machine, kickback is one of the best exercises you can add to correct potential imbalances.

Muscle Worked During Cable Tricep Kickback

The cable tricep kickback primary works all three heads of the tricep (the long, medial, and lateral head

Secondary Muscle Groups: Rear deltoids, core, and other muscles in your mid-upper back contract to stabilize the upper body.

Muscle Worked During Cable Tricep Kickback

How To Do One Arm Cable Tricep Kickback

  1. Set the cable pulley to a little below waist height.
  2. Stand facing the cable machine with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  3. Bend your knees and lean forward at the hips. Keep your back flat.
  4. Grab the handle attachment with one hand, palm facing inward.
  5. Brace your free hand on the machine or against your thigh for support.
  6. Keep your upper arm parallel to the floor, and extend at the elbow until it’s fully straight.
  7. Squeeze your tricep at the top of the movement for a brief pause.
  8. Inhale and slowly return your arm to the starting position in a controlled manner.
  9. Complete all reps on the right arm and then repeat on the left arm.
Cable Tricep Kickback

Common Mistakes and Tips

  • Always warm up and cool down your body for 5 to 10 minutes at the beginning and end of each session.
  • Focus on a smooth, controlled movement rather than lifting an excessively heavy weight.
  • Make sure you’re able to maintain a smooth, natural breath throughout your routine.
  • Concentrate on squeezing your triceps as you extend your arm.
  • Please be cautious if you have any neck, shoulder, or back injuries.
  • It’s a good idea to take off at least one or two full days per week to give your muscles time to rest and recover.
  • Ensure to warm up with lightweight before training heavy to keep your elbows from getting too stressed.
  • Keep your body as still as possible; move only your forearms.  
  • As a general rule, always work your weakest side first. In most cases, this will be the left.
  • If you’re starting with exercise, start small and work your way up with the help of an expert.

Tricep Kickback Variations

The basic kickback motion is simple and effective, but slight variations in hand position, angle, and resistance can further tone and define the triceps.

This section will explore some of the most effective tricep kickback variations to add to your arm-sculpting workout routines.

1. Two Arm Cable Triceps Kickback

The two-arm cable triceps kickback is a variation of the triceps kickback exercise that targets both triceps simultaneously.

It is usually performed for moderate to high reps, at least 8–12 reps, as part of an upper-body or arm-focused workout.

Two Arm Cable Triceps Kickback

How To Do Two Arm Cable Triceps Kickback

  1. Attach two single grip handles to a low pulley cable and select the weight you want to use on the stack.
  2. Then, bend your knees, keep your back straight, and grasp the rope with a neutral grip. Then, step back from the machine.
  3. Keep your upper arms parallel to the floor, and extend your elbow until your arms are straight back and fully extended.
  4. Squeeze the triceps, and then slowly lower back to the starting position.

2. Reverse Grip Cable Tricep Kickback

The reverse grip cable tricep kickback is a variation of the traditional cable tricep kickback that places more emphasis on the medial head of the triceps muscle, which is located on the inner side of the upper arm.

Reverse grip cable tricep kickback

How to Do Reverse Grip Cable Tricep Kickback

  1. Set up the cable machine with a rope attachment.
  2. Stand facing the machine and grasp the rope with an underhand grip.
  3. Step back to create tension on the cable and assume a staggered stance.
  4. Keeping your upper arm stable, exhale and extend your forearm backward until your arm is fully straight.
  5. Hold the contraction momentarily before slowly lowering the weight back to the starting position.
  6. Complete the desired repetitions (usually 10-15 per set).
  7. Switch arms and repeat.

Benefits of Cable Tricep Kickback

  • This exercise makes your tricep muscles look better and more defined.
  • Cable tricep kickback also helps to improve overall arm strength and power.
  • This is a relatively simple exercise suitable for different fitness levels.
  • Using cables aims to maintain constant tension on target muscles, which is important for muscle hypertrophy.
  • The cable machine allows for a continuous and smooth range of motion.
  • Cable tricep kickback can be done with a single arm, allowing for better muscle symmetry and balance between the left and right arms.

How To Add cable tricep kickback into your workout routine

1. Add During Compound Exercises

Add cable tricep kickbacks into your upper body workout routine as a secondary exercise, following a compound movement like bench press or overhead press.

You can add it to your tricep workout routine as well.

2. Sets and reps

Aim to perform 3–4 sets of 8–12 repetitions of cable tricep kickbacks.

To train the triceps effectively, adjust the weight and maintain proper form.

3. Frequency

Add tricep kickbacks to your workout routine once or twice a week.

Best Alternate Of Tricep Cable Kickback

If you enjoyed the cable tricep kickback, take a look at these alternative tricep exercises to improve your upper body training:

1. Dumbbell Kickback

The tricep dumbbell kickback is a versatile and effective exercise that targets the triceps muscles.

This means that unlike other exercises such as the diamond push-up or Close grip bench press, the dumbbell kickback specifically targets the tricep muscle.

2. Bench Dip

Bench dips are one of the most basic and effective exercises for building the triceps and bigger arms.

The feet-elevated bench dip is one of the popular tricep bodyweight exercises for building the triceps, chest, and shoulders.

3. Two Arm Dumbbell Extension

The seated dumbbell tricep extension is a variation of the tricep extension and an exercise used to isolate the muscles of the triceps.

Overhead extension exercises are particularly useful in targeting the long head of the triceps muscle.


Are cable triceps kickbacks effective?

Yes, cable triceps kickbacks can be an effective exercise for targeting and strengthening the triceps muscles, particularly when performed with proper form and technique.

Is cable tricep kickback better than dumbbell kickback?

Both types of exercises have their benefits. However, cable tricep kickbacks may offer some advantages over dumbbell kickbacks, such as adjusting the resistance and maintaining constant tension throughout the movement.

Additionally, cable tricep kickbacks can allow for a greater range of motion. It may be more comfortable for individuals with wrist or elbow pain.


Cable tricep kickbacks are an effective exercise for targeting and strengthening the triceps.

In addition to building triceps mass, cable kickback also helps to improve overall arm strength and power.

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