Q: Everywhere I look, I see that triceps kickbacks are panned as a weeny exercise—except in lady workouts. But it’s the only exercise I really feel squeezing and contracting my triceps. Pushdowns don’t work for me. What’s your take?
A: If you’ve read Old Man, Young Muscle, you’ll see that I included it as a triceps finisher—after the ideal triceps exercise, dumbbell decline extensions…
I didn’t have a cable machine—only 50-pound PowerBlock dumbbells and an adjustable bench—so the kickback was the best contracted-position move. The cramping I got toward the end of a set had me screaming like a lady.
As I said in OMYM, once you train the target muscle with the ideal resistance curve, which is harder at stretch easier at contraction, why not train a set or two in the muscle’s weakest “flexed” position with resistance?
Most researchers looking into this hypertrophy stuff say that different exercises produce “variation in muscle-fiber recruitment order,” which may be why including moves with different strength curves can develop a muscle more completely or at least faster.
You say you don’t feel pushdowns like you do kickbacks. That may be because the pulley is coming from overhead. Instead, lower it to about eye level and drive your arm back behind your torso—like a one-arm cable kickback.
That will give you resistance all the way through the range but emphasize the contracted, or flexed, position…
That’s why I like it better than the dumbbell kickback as a finisher because with dumbbells you only get resistance about halfway through the stroke…
With the cable version, there’s resistance from start to finish, but the most at the weaker contraction—perfect to end your tri’s with some pumped up size.
New: Get the ideal exercise for each muscle, the best add-on moves for ultimate mass, complete 35-minute workouts, exercise start/finish photos, and details on building muscle fast and efficiently in Old Man, Young Muscle.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
Former Editor in Chief, Iron Man Magazine
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