How to Do the Cable Triceps Kickback Correctly

The cable triceps kickback is a powerful exercise that targets the triceps, helping you build strength and definition in the back of your arms.

To do it correctly, maintain proper form, use a manageable weight, and focus on isolating your triceps throughout the movement.

Keep reading for a detailed step-by-step guide and tips to maximize your results.

What You Need

Before diving into the execution of the cable triceps kickback, it's crucial to have the right equipment and setup to ensure you perform the exercise correctly and safely.

Here's everything you need to get started.

Cable Machine with a Low Pulley

The central piece of equipment for this exercise is a cable machine with a low pulley.

The cable machine provides continuous resistance, which is essential for maintaining tension on the triceps throughout the entire range of motion.

Make sure the machine is sturdy and in good working condition.

Adjust the pulley to the lowest position to allow for the correct starting angle of the exercise.

Single-Grip Handle

Attach a single-grip handle to the low pulley of the cable machine.

This handle allows you to perform the exercise with one arm at a time, ensuring that each tricep muscle is worked individually and evenly.

The single-grip handle should be comfortable and secure, allowing you to maintain a firm grip throughout the movement.

Ensure it is properly attached to avoid any accidents during the exercise.

Optional: Bench or Stable Surface for Support

While not mandatory, using a bench or a stable surface for support can help maintain proper form, especially if you're new to the exercise or lifting heavier weights.

Placing your non-working hand on a bench or stable surface helps stabilize your body, allowing you to focus on isolating the triceps.

This support can prevent unnecessary body movement, ensuring the triceps do all the work.

If a bench isn't available, placing your hand on your knee can also provide adequate support.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Performing the cable triceps kickback correctly requires attention to detail and proper form.

Below, you'll find a comprehensive guide that covers every aspect of the exercise, from setup to execution, to ensure you get the most out of this powerful triceps workout.


To begin, attach a single-grip handle to the low pulley of the cable machine.

Make sure the attachment is secure to prevent any accidents during the exercise.

Next, select a weight that is light to moderate.

Starting with a lighter weight is crucial as it allows you to focus on mastering the correct form and muscle contraction before progressing to heavier weights.

Starting Position

Stand with your feet together and your knees slightly bent.

This stance provides a stable base and helps maintain balance throughout the exercise.

Bend at the hips until your torso is almost parallel to the floor, ensuring that your back remains straight and your spine is neutral.

Use your non-working hand to stabilize yourself by placing it on your knee or a bench.

This stabilization is key to isolating your triceps and preventing unnecessary body movement.


Grab the handle with an overhand grip, ensuring that your wrist is straight and your grip is firm.

Bring your elbow up so that your upper arm is parallel to the floor and close to your side.

It's essential to keep your upper arm stationary throughout the movement.

Your head, neck, and spine should be aligned to avoid strain and maintain proper posture.

On an exhale, extend your arm straight back by straightening your elbow.

Focus on squeezing your triceps at the top of the movement and hold briefly to maximize muscle engagement.

Inhale as you slowly return your arm to the starting position, maintaining control throughout the descent.

This controlled movement helps ensure continuous tension on the triceps.


For muscle hypertrophy, perform 3-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions.

If your goal is muscle endurance, aim for 15 or more reps per set.

Adjust the weight and repetitions based on your fitness level and goals, gradually increasing the weight as you become stronger and more comfortable with the movement.

Tips for Optimal Performance

To get the most out of your cable triceps kickback, it's essential to focus on technique and efficiency.

Here are some tips to ensure you perform the exercise effectively and safely, maximizing your results.

Maintaining Constant Tension Throughout the Movement

One of the key benefits of using a cable machine is the constant tension it provides throughout the entire range of motion.

To take full advantage of this, ensure that you move through the full range of motion without allowing the weight to rest at any point.

Keep your triceps engaged from start to finish.

This continuous tension helps in muscle hypertrophy, making your triceps work harder and promoting muscle growth.

Avoid quick, jerky movements; instead, aim for a smooth and controlled motion.

Starting with a Light Weight and Increasing Gradually

Proper form is crucial for the effectiveness of the cable triceps kickback.

Starting with a light weight allows you to focus on perfecting your form and understanding the movement.

As you become more comfortable and confident with the exercise, gradually increase the weight in small increments.

This progressive overload helps in building strength and muscle without compromising your form or risking injury.

Remember, it’s better to perform the exercise correctly with a lighter weight than to use a heavy weight with poor form.

Experimenting with Different Attachments for Varied Grip and Angle

The single-grip handle is a standard attachment for the cable triceps kickback, but don't be afraid to experiment with other attachments like a rope or a straight bar.

Different attachments can change the grip and angle of the exercise, targeting your triceps in slightly different ways and potentially making the exercise more comfortable or effective for you.

For example, using a rope can allow for a greater range of motion at the top of the movement, providing an additional challenge and promoting further muscle growth.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Even with the best intentions, it's easy to make mistakes that can hinder your progress or lead to injury when performing the cable triceps kickback.

Here are some common mistakes to watch out for, along with actionable advice on how to avoid them.

Using Too Much Weight

One of the most common mistakes is using too much weight.

While it might be tempting to lift heavier to build strength faster, focusing on weight over form can be counterproductive.

Using too much weight often leads to improper form, which reduces the effectiveness of the exercise and increases the risk of injury.

It's essential to prioritize perfecting your technique with a manageable weight before gradually increasing it.

This approach ensures that your triceps are being targeted correctly and safely, leading to better results over time.

Body Movement

Another frequent mistake is incorporating unnecessary body movement.

The cable triceps kickback is an isolation exercise, meaning it should specifically target the triceps.

If you find yourself swinging your body or using momentum to lift the weight, you're not effectively isolating the triceps.

Keep your upper arm and shoulder steady, and focus on moving only your forearm.

Stabilizing your body by placing your non-working hand on a bench or your knee can help maintain this isolation and prevent your torso from swaying.

Partial Reps

Performing partial repetitions, where you don't fully extend your arm, can significantly reduce the effectiveness of the exercise.

Full range of motion is crucial for maximizing triceps engagement and muscle growth.

Make sure to extend your arm completely at the top of the movement and squeeze your triceps before slowly returning to the starting position.

Partial reps may feel easier, but they do not provide the same level of benefit as full repetitions.

Infrequent Practice

Lastly, inconsistency in incorporating the cable triceps kickback into your workout routine can hinder your progress.

Regular practice is essential for building strength and muscle definition.

Aim to include this exercise in your routine at least two to three times a week.

Consistent practice not only helps in muscle development but also improves your form and technique over time.

Without regular incorporation, it's challenging to see significant improvements.

Variations and Alternatives

Incorporating different variations and alternatives of the cable triceps kickback into your workout routine can provide unique benefits and keep your training sessions interesting.

Here are some effective modifications and alternatives to the standard cable triceps kickback.

Two-Arm Cable Triceps Kickback

The two-arm cable triceps kickback allows you to work both triceps simultaneously, promoting balanced muscle development and reducing workout time.

To perform this variation, attach two single-grip handles to the low pulleys on either side of a cable machine.

Stand between the pulleys with a handle in each hand.

Bend at the hips until your torso is parallel to the floor, and follow the same execution steps as the one-arm variation, extending both arms simultaneously.

This variation is particularly beneficial for those looking to increase workout efficiency and ensure symmetry in their triceps development.

Reverse Grip Cable Triceps Kickback

Using an underhand grip in the reverse grip cable triceps kickback targets the medial head of the triceps more effectively, adding variety to your muscle engagement.

To perform this variation, attach a single-grip handle to the low pulley and grab it with an underhand grip (palm facing up).

Stand with your feet together, bend at the hips, and keep your torso parallel to the floor.

Bring your elbow up so your upper arm is parallel to the ground, and extend your arm straight back while maintaining the underhand grip.

This grip variation can provide a different feel and challenge for your triceps, promoting comprehensive muscle development.

Dumbbell Triceps Kickback

If a cable machine is not available, the dumbbell triceps kickback is an excellent alternative.

This exercise mimics the movement of the cable version while using dumbbells.

To perform it, hold a dumbbell in one hand and place your non-working hand and knee on a bench for support.

Keep your back flat and torso parallel to the floor.

With your working arm, bring your elbow up so your upper arm is parallel to the ground, then extend your arm back, squeezing your triceps at the top.

Return to the starting position slowly and repeat. This variation is convenient for home workouts and can be done with minimal equipment.

Resistance Band Kickback

The resistance band kickback is ideal for home workouts, providing similar constant tension as the cable machine.

To perform this exercise, secure a resistance band to a low anchor point.

Hold the band with one hand and stand with your feet together, bending at the hips until your torso is parallel to the floor.

Bring your elbow up so your upper arm is parallel to the ground, and extend your arm back, squeezing your triceps at the top.

Slowly return to the starting position.

Resistance bands are portable and versatile, making this variation perfect for maintaining your triceps workout routine anywhere.


Incorporating the cable triceps kickback and its variations into your workout routine can significantly enhance triceps strength and definition.

Focus on proper form, maintain constant tension, and experiment with different grips and equipment for the best results.

Keep these tips and guidelines in mind, and you'll see continuous improvement in your triceps development.