Are Tricep Kickbacks Effective?

Everybody is always told to do tricep kickbacks if they want good tricep growth.

But, are tricep kickbacks effective?

Yes, tricep kickbacks are very effective. In fact, most people argue they are the BEST tricep exercise you can do. They have the highest tricep muscle activation of any tricep exercise, with an 88% muscle activation level. Due to the fight against gravity and the isolation of the tricep- tricep kickbacks are incredibly effective and a great exercise.

But, let’s cover this more in-depth.

High Tricep Muscle Activation

The best way to measure how effective an exercise is, is by looking at the the levels of EMG muscle activation. EMG muscle activation basically tells us how hard a muscle is working.

A higher EMG level means the muscle is working harder, which leads to more muscle growth. A lower EMG level means there is less muscle activation, which means less muscle growth.

So, ideally you want a higher EMG activation.

Tricep Kickbacks have a muscle EMG activation score of 88, which means 88% of the muscle is activated. This is incredibly high, comparably, overhead tricep extensions (another one of the best tricep exercises) have a score of 76.

This means you are having one of the highest muscle activation levels you can possibly get.

You have to Fight Gravity

One of the best parts of tricep kickbacks is that you have to fight gravity. This menas you have way higher levels of muscle activation just because you are working against physics.

Gravity is not on your side with this one. The dumbbell is always being pulled back down by gravity, which places a ton of tension on your triceps.

This is a good thing, as it massively increases your muscle activation, and muscle growth.

It Isolates The Triceps

The best part of the dumbbell tricep kickback is that it isolates the triceps.

Many other tricep exercises may include things like shoulder or deltoid activation, this one specifically isolates the triceps. That means every rep you’re maximizing the triceps only, not other muscles.

So, if you’re trying to specifically grow your triceps, this is the perfect exercise as you’ll only be targeting them essentially.


Yes, tricep dumbbell kickbacks are an incredibly effective exercise. It isolates the triceps, has a high EMG muscle activation, and works against gravity- which places constant tension on your triceps.

So, get out there and do some tricep kickbacks, they will certainly grow your arms!

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