This exercise provided courtesy of Mike Clausen, founder and co-owner of DIAKADI Body training gym, voted best personal training gym in San Francisco by CitySearch in 2006.
Triceps kickbacks isolate and work the three heads that comprise the triceps muscle—with your elbow up behind you, you'll get no help from other muscle groups as you work to straighten your arm.
Stand with your legs hip-width apart and staggered so that your right leg is slightly in front of you and your left leg is slightly behind you. Holding a dumbbell in your left hand, with your elbow bent high above your back and your hand facing in toward your waist, lean your upper body forward slightly and rest your right hand on your right thigh for support and balance. Your back should be flat, your neck in line with your spine, and your knees slightly bent (see Photo 1).
- Keeping your left elbow high above the line of your back, extend your elbow so that you straighten your arm. Your hand should remain in the same orientation throughout the movement, with palm facing inward (see Photo 2).
- From the extended position, bend your elbow again to return to the starting position (see Photo 3).
- Repeat steps 1 and 2 above for a full set of kickbacks with your left arm, and then switch arms and legs and do another set of kickbacks with your right arm. As you do each kickback, focus on keeping your upper arm still so that your elbows stay high; the entire motion should focus on the extension and flexion at the elbow joint.