If your New Year’s resolution is to fix those arms…

The Tricep Kickback is an exercise that strengthens and tones the back of the upper arm. Responsible for extension of the elbow joint, the triceps allow the arms to straighten. Most everyday activities do not use the triceps to a significant degree, making it important to add exercises to work this area.

Starting Position: Grasp a dumbbell with a neutral grip (palm facing toward you) and lean forward. Support the torso weight by placing your free hand on the knee as shown. Lift upper arm until it is parallel the the floor.

Strengthening Phase: While keeping the upper arm in place, slowly straighten the arm. You should feel the back of the arm tightening (contracting). Pause for a second or two and then slowly return to starting position.

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For variety, the Tricep Kickback can be performed using a resistance band or cable equipment in the gym. Throughout the exercise, engage the abdominal muscles to help stabilize the spine. Do not round the back or allow your torso to rotate. Speed of movement should be slow and controlled.

For maximum benefit, maintain strict form, using a slow controlled pace. Once the upper arm is in place, it is important to keep it in this position while extending the arm. It is also important to go through a full range of motion, straightening the arm until you feel the muscles engaging. Range of motion can vary depending on the individual, as some people have difficulty completely straightening the arm. Avoid using a weight load that is too heavy, as this will decrease the ability to fully extend the arm and if continued over time can decrease flexibility.

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Beginners: Start with one to two sets, performed every other day. You can increase the number of sets, repetitions or weight as you become stronger. This exercise does not require use of heavy weights. The idea is to choose a resistance level that fatigues the muscles by the end of a set of eight to 12 repetitions.

Take a brief rest break between sets. The amount of time taken depends on factors such as amount of resistance used and goals. The greater the intensity, the longer the rest between sets should be. Generally speaking, anywhere from 20 seconds if using a light weight to a full minute or more if training with high intensity, is acceptable.

Safety should be your first priority when working out. If you have an existing medical condition, injury or joint problem or are unaccustomed to physical activity, its always best to get clearance from your doctor before beginning a new routine. Once cleared, if you feel uncomfortable training alone, seek the advice of a professional or use a spotter who has experience with strength training and proper form to help guide you.

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