8 Best Tricep Kickback Alternatives (No Bench Required)

Published by Roshan S Pillai on

tricep kickback alternatives

Photo by Alora Griffiths on Unsplash

Tricep kickback is one of the popular exercises to train your tricep. You can find many people doing this exercise in the gym. However, some people find this exercise difficult or they can’t get into the right position to do this exercise.

So here, in this article, I will share with you some of the best tricep kickback alternatives that you can do easily without any pain or difficulty. Some of this exercise can be done at home. If you are looking to add some new exercises to your workout program, then you can find those too.

Almost all of the exercises you will find here are done without any need for a bench. So many people who can’t perform tricep kickback on the bench can benefit from this article.

But before starting, let’s first look at the muscles engaged or worked when you do tricep kickbacks.

Muscles Worked During Tricep Kickbacks

Primary Muscles

Tricep kickback is a great isolation exercise that targets the tricep brachii. Tricep has three heads- long head, short or lateral head, and medial head. It primarily targets all the heads of the tricep.

Secondary muscles

Along with the triceps, it also engages other muscles like rear delts, trapezius, and upper back muscles. All these muscles assist during the movement.

Some other muscles are also engaged to stabilize the body while performing the exercise like abs, oblique, and transverse abdominis. As it engages your core more, it is also a functional exercise that will also be good for athletes.

So now let me share with you those amazing alternatives. You will find some alternative exercises at the end which you can do at home. So let’s start!

Tricep Kickback Alternatives

1. Dips

This is a great bodyweight strength exercise for your triceps. Many people perform this exercise to build the size and thickness of your tricep.

According to the Ace Study, the average EMG of the lateral head was 89 compared to the long head which had 88 scores. This shows that dip is a great exercise to target the lateral head of the tricep.

As there were fewer differences in the number between lateral and long heads, therefore dips will be an awesome exercise to kickstart your tricep workout as it engages the entire triceps and is a powerful upper body exercise. So what else could be a better alternative than dips!

How to do

1. Place both hands on the bar while holding it tight and then lift your body balancing it in the air.

2. Now start lowering your body by slightly keeping your elbows out and reaching the bottom position where your elbows are at a 90-degree angle.

3. From there, start pushing the body up by squeezing your chest muscles and extending your elbows at the top.

Recommended Reps- 10-12

If you are a beginner, then you can do some other alternative exercises for dips as there are many other options available to you.

Dips is one of the best alternatives to tricep kickback because it works the entire tricep and is an amazing strength-building exercise. So if you have trouble doing kickbacks, then do dips.

2. Diamond Push-ups

This is another great bodyweight alternative option you have. Diamond push up can be done even at home without any equipments. So if you don’t have dumbbells to perform tricep kickback then do diamond pushups.

According to the ACE study, diamond or triangle push-up ranked no. 1 as the best tricep exercise which hits long and short heads at an equal level. So with this study, it is clear that diamond pushup has to be there in your workout program to target all the heads of the triceps.

You should never underestimate the power of a bodyweight exercise. You should do these exercises quite often to increase the overall strength of your upper body.

How to do

1. kneel onto the floor and place your hands on the floor with both the tips of your thumbs and forefinger touching each other. It should look like a diamond!

2. Now take both the feet back and keep them together. Your legs should be straight and your hands should be under the chest.

3. Now slowly take your body down and keep your torso straight. Your elbow should be in and your shoulder should be pinged back.

4. Pause at the bottom and then push back to the starting position.

Recommended Reps- 10-12

You can increase the intensity of the exercise by placing a bumper plate on your back. This will challenge you to lift more than your body weight.

Pro tip – After a few reps, if you start getting fatigued, then bring your knees down and then continue with the reps.

3. Floor Barbell Skull Crushers

This is another great exercise for your triceps. Here you can perform the skull crusher without any bench. You just need a floor to perform the exercise. This exercise will target the long head to a greater extent when you keep your elbows at more than 90° angle.

Tricep kickback is a great exercise to target the long head of the tricep and here, you will be targeting the same muscles. So it’s a great alternative option for you.

Here, you will fully lower the bar down on the floor, relax the triceps, and then squeeze your triceps from the relaxed position. This gives a different stimulus to your muscles which will avoid you from the plateau.

How to do

1. Lay down on the floor while keeping the bar behind your head. Grab the bar with a close grip and bring it up.

2. Tight your abs and keep your arms up with your elbows extended. This will be your starting position.

3. Start by bringing the bar down while controlling the weight and stop until it reaches the floor.

4. Pause at the bottom when the bar is on the floor and then bring the bar up by pressing with your triceps and extending the elbows at the top.

Recommended Reps- 10-12

One of the advantages of floor skull crushers is that you don’t need a spotter to hand over the bar to your hands. You can easily lift from the floor without any trouble. Also, you won’t require anyone to spot you because if you fail any rep, then you can drop the bar down easily on the floor without any fear.

4. Lying Single Arm Tricep Extension

This is great unilateral exercise to target the lateral head. Here, you need to focus on the correct form and technique and use a lighter weight in this exercise. You can also do this exercise at home on the floor by keeping your knees folded.

You don’t need a bench for this you can do this exercise even on the floor by just keeping your knees folded and feet on the floor.

How to do

1 Lay on the bench by holding a dumbbell in one hand. Your feet should be on the floor.

2. Now raise your left arm and place the other hand on the left elbow to keep your arms stable. This will be your starting position.

3. Start the exercise by moving your left leg down without moving your elbow. Stop at the bottom when the dumbbell is just above your chest.

4. From the bottom position, push the dumbbell with the help of your arm and then extend your elbow at the top.

5. Now switch and repeat the same movement from the other hand.

Recommended Reps- 12-15

Always remember to breathe in on the way down and breath out while you move the dumbbell up. Also, don’t use heavy dumbbells here as this is an isolation exercise where you should focus on proper form and technique rather than swinging with heavy dumbbells.

5. Triceps Pushdown

This is the most common exercise you will find people doing in the gym. You must make sure to completely extend your elbows to get the most out of exercise.

If you have trouble doing tricep kickbacks, then do tricep pushdowns as this is a much easier and effective exercise to hit each head of the tricep.

How to do

1. Attach a bar at the upper end of the cable machine and hold it with both hands that are slightly less than the shoulder width.

2. Lean slightly forward and keep your elbows closer to the waist. This will be your starting position.

3. With your shoulders pinged back, start pushing the weights down and completely extend your elbows right at the bottom. Your chest should be up as you move.

4. Slowly return to the starting position without rolling your shoulders forward.

Recommended Reps- 12-15

You don’t have to add too much weight which puts you in an improper form. Your form and technique are key during this exercise.

6. TRX Tricep Extension

This is one of the most effective TRX exercises for your triceps. This is the TRX version of skull crushers. This will engage your core and other stabilizer muscles which makes it a perfect bodyweight exercise.

If you are at home and looking for an alternative to tricep kickback, then do consider this option.

How to do

1. Attach a TRX Suspension at the top and hold each end of the TRX.

2. Now move your legs back and lean forward while holding the handles. Keep your arms straight in front and this will be your starting position.

3. Start the exercise by lowering your body such that your forearms move back. Your elbows should not move much.

4. Pause at the top when your triceps are fully stretched and then use your tricep muscle to push yourself back to the starting position.

Recommended Reps- 12-15

Remember to breathe in on the way down and breath out on the way up. Also, keep your knees extended and core engaged.

Tips For Beginners

If you are a beginner, then don’t go too down or in other words, reduce the range of motion. Stop when your elbows are flexed at a 90° angle.

Tricep Kickback At Home

7. Resistance Band Tricep Kickback

A resistance band is one of the best home gym accessories you should have to perform different exercises at home. Here, you can use a resistance band to do the same tricep kickback exercise. You can do this very easily at home or anywhere if you have a resistance band with you.

How to do

1. Place the mid part of the resistance band below the feet and stand at about shoulder-width apart. Hold the handle of the resistance band.

2. Bend forward and raise your elbows up and behind the body. Keep your elbows in and back straight. This will be your starting position.

3. Start the exercise by moving your hands back. Extend your elbows at the top.

4. Bring your arm back to the starting position and then repeat. You can do this with both hands as shown in the video.

Recommended Reps – 12-15

This exercise becomes difficult and challenging at the end phase of the movement when the band is completely stretched. Make sure that you use a quality resistance band.

8. TRX Tricep Kickbacks

Tricep kickback is a very effective exercise in targeting all three heads of the tricep. This is usually done with dumbbells, but here we are talking about TRX tricep kickbacks. This engages your core more than regular dumbbell kickbacks. You can do this at home as an alternative to regular tricep kickback.

How to do

1. Attach a TRX at the top corner of the hook and hold both ends of the TRX.

2. Now step back and lean back while keeping your arms at a 90° angle. This will be your starting position.

3. Start the exercise by moving your arms back behind the body and extending your elbows at the end.

4. Then slowly move your hands forward and return slowly to the starting position.

Keep in mind that your back is not leaning forward or rounding too much during the movement. Also, keep your neck neutral and shoulders pinched back. This will avoid you from injury and will also put maximum tension on the triceps.

Some Common Questions On Tricep Kickback

Why are tricep kickbacks bad?

Some people say that the tricep kickback is a bad exercise because they hurt their shoulder during the exercise. This is because your rotator cuff, mid and lower trap muscles are weak. Whenever you have any weak muscles, your body has to compensate by putting extra stress on other muscles. That’s why you hurt your shoulders during tricep kickback.

So tricep kickback might be bad for some who has mobility issue or are due to weak muscles. Apart from that, there is no other problem with this exercise.


Are tricep kickbacks effective?

Tricep kickback is a very effective exercise as it targets all the heads of the tricep. Also, there is no other exercise where you are bringing your arms behind the body and extending your elbows from there.

In our day-to-day life, we never bring our arms behind the back and do any kind of kickback motion. Due to this, our triceps get weaker and many people have weak triceps. So tricep kickback is a great way to strengthen the weak muscles of your tricep. So there is no doubt that the tricep kickback is a great effective exercise.


Are tricep kickbacks better than extensions?

To answer this question in short, there is no single exercise better than the other one. Every exercise has its advantages and disadvantages.

If we talk about tricep kickbacks, then it targets the long head very effectively as your arms are going behind the body. However, tricep extensions target the lateral head and the medial head. So both are different and have different functions.

So you should not be worried about which exercise is better or worse, you should make sure that you are targeting all the muscles in different angles and variations. So have both these exercises in your workout program.

Final Words

So these were some best alternatives you can do instead of tricep kickback. Some of your doubts regarding tricep kickbacks might be clear as we have discussed some of the common questions.

All of these alternative exercises are some of the best tricep exercises you can do to build strength and to bring that amazing shape to the tricep. Even if you are stuck at home, you should not stop working out and should do the exercises I have mentioned above.

You should never give excuses and should always exercise no matter what as exercise is beneficial not only to get you in shape but also to improve your mental health and mood.

If you found this blog helpful, then do share it with your friends or share it on social media so that we can reach more people and can grow our website. Also, if you know of any other alternative exercises, then do mention that in the comment section below.


Roshan S Pillai

Roshan Pillai is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer with more than 6 years of experience in lifting weights and guiding people to get fit. He has worked as a personal trainer in gyms and is the owner and editor of fitnessproworkout.com. He is passionate about fitness and helping people to get in shape.

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