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ACE certified personal trainer and fitness instructor Destanee Hall demonstrates the Kneeling Triceps Kickback. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/CELIA STOREY)

When we're strength training, gravity plays an important role in the difficulty and the complexity of any given exercise. Used correctly, gravity works in concert with physiology to produce awesome results.

Certain exercises, such as a pullup, rely solely upon gravity to produce the desired amount of resistance. This is true of pretty much any body weight exercise (i.e., pushup, squat, lunge). In these cases, gravity pulls on body mass and forces the exerciser to produce enough force to overcome the combined resistance of both.

Other exercises use ancillary equipment (i.e., weight plates, dumbbells, barbells) to produce adjustable levels of resistance according to the user's preference. In these cases, there are dozens of ways to challenge a given muscle group depending on an individual's knowledge base, equipment and desired outcomes.

In any case, an exerciser's goal should be to set up optimal conditions where gravity doesn't work against the desired outcome. For some muscle groups, gravitational pull should be considered — specifically in terms of its influence on the concentric (lifting) phase or the eccentric (lowering) phases of an exercise.

The triceps muscle group is a perfect example. Triceps exercises can be performed standing, lying prone (face down), lying supine (face up) or in a seated position. In certain positions, gravity and joint angles combine to create undue stress on the triceps insertion point at the elbow. In others, the elbow angle and gravity are optimal to create less pressure on the triceps insertion point and better overall muscle engagement.

The best type of triceps exercises, in my opinion, keep the upper arm above the lower arm — as opposed to vice versa. Triceps kickbacks, bench dips and cable press-downs are all examples of exercises that put the upper arm in a more superior (higher) position than the forearm. These allow the elbow to freely move without adding extra pressure to the triceps insertion due to joint angles and gravity.

This week's exercise is a cool triceps move that optimizes elbow angles and gravity while done in the kneeling position.

1. Select a light pair of dumbbells and kneel on an exercise mat.

2. While holding a dumbbell in each hand, lean your torso forward by bending at the waist.

3. Make sure to maintain a flat lower back.

4. Lift your elbows up to your sides to create a 90-degree bend at both elbows.

5. Now, extend both elbows back behind you so both arms are at full extension. This will create a strong contraction in both arms' triceps.

6. Once you reach full extension, hold the left arm in place while you perform two curls with the right arm.

7. Allow the left arm to drop, then extend both again.

8. Now hold the right arm in place while you perform two repetitions with the left arm.

9. Continue this pattern with both arms until you've done 12 of each.

This Kneeling Triceps Kickback will be new for most people. It's not a typical triceps exercise that is often performed, but it's a perfect way to activate the triceps using a safe, effective technique that reduces elbow strain. Enjoy!

Matt Parrott has a doctorate in education (sport studies) and a master's in kinesiology and is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine.

Style on 06/24/2019

Print Headline: Triceps Kickback optimizes elbow angles, gravity

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