"Tricep Dumbbell Kickback" is my favorite exercise to work on triceps but fatigue pain (Not a pain because I am hurt). I can't hold weight with elbow at 90 degree position. The position that I chose to work on triceps is shown in edited picture, also I marked where I feel pain. It started paining before I feel pumped up (worked out) triceps. I do 3 sets/each arm, each sets has 12-10-8 reps, with gradually increasing weight. I take rest for 10-12 seconds between each set, though I want to rest lesser but I am afraid that fatigue pain would not let me complete the next set, so I rest longer.

Question is, this pain is normal for every body builder(expert or beginner) and no alternative to it or is it with me only, I am doing it the wrong way?

enter image description here

  • 2
    You need to make a distinction between fatigue and pain. While fatigue is normal, pain is not. You should not be feeling "pain" during any exercise. If you are, stop the exercise.
    – rrirower
    Aug 20, 2014 at 12:50
  • if you are doing a particular continuously, repeatedly, you'll feel a pain. For example: you can't keep your hand raised continuously for hours. After some time you'll feel pain(thats fatigue), your shoulder is OK,its just you need some rest to repeat it again. Same is in above case, I am holding a dumb-bell and moving it at elbow joint while shoulder joint fixed for long time.
    – paul
    Aug 20, 2014 at 13:44
  • 2
    Hi @paul, I think common terminology is to use fatigue and pain as referring to very different ideas. After squatting to failure, I'm unable to squat the weight for one more rep, so I'm fatigued, but not in pain. However, poor squat form might cause pain after one rep with relatively light weight.
    – dsolimano
    Aug 20, 2014 at 19:52
  • @dsolimano is correct. Pain is usually used to denote something that is bad, and needs to be stopped and like right now. Fatigue just means that you are tired.
    – JohnP
    Aug 20, 2014 at 22:47

5 Answers 5


I feel the same when doing Triceps dumbbell kickbacks , and feel that is because you need to control the weight from going down , you are working against the gravity.As one increases the weight , more tension can be felt in the shoulders and the focus shifts from triceps to shoulders. I found this video/suggestion by noah siegel , an optimum nutrition athlete and one of my idol . In this video he is using ropes instead of dumbbells in the same triceps kickback movement.Triceps Kickback using ropes

This movement focuses only on triceps and there is no tension on the shoulders .

  • 1
    Superb ! Its a nice alternative...
    – paul
    Aug 21, 2014 at 7:46
  • he has a great video showing rear deltoids workout , which I have been using and is really great.
    – Gaurav
    Aug 21, 2014 at 8:20

It's not uncommon to develop joint pain that is inflammation related during weightlifting, however inflammation doesn't go away if you keep doing the same things.

There's some possibilities as to what's causing the inflammation in the order of likelihood:

  • Overuse of that movement pattern (tension in the rear delt with the arm held close to the body)
  • Insufficient strength in surrounding or antagonist musculature
  • Improper warmup

For the time being, you'll have to stop the triceps kickbacks to let the shoulder recover. See if there are other triceps exercises that don't cause pain such as standing triceps extensions on the machine with the rope attachment, etc.

To help the shoulder recover, you'll have to use it in different ways to build up the surrounding musculature:

Lastly, examine your programming (exercise selection and volume). Look at what you are doing, or not doing, that can cause your shoulders to come out of alignment and cause inflammation problems. It could be that you are simply doing too much volume on certain muscles, but not enough on the ones you are trying to target. Selecting different exercises can help do what you want without overworking things you don't want. Ensure that you have antagonist muscles hit with sufficient volume to keep everything balanced.

  • Thats not the answer. Because you termed it as pain as my shoulder is hurt, but its perfectly fine. Please read my comments that I made above on "rrirower" comment.
    – paul
    Aug 20, 2014 at 13:46

This is a common issue. Your posterior delts need more training. I suggest doing:

enter image description here

or bent over lateral raise: enter image description here

Also, you may want to increase you rest time as follows:
If your goal is muscle endurance: 30-45 seconds
If your goal is muscle hypertrophy: 60-90 seconds
If your goal is strength: 3-5 minutes

  • You're logically right, that if I can make paining area stronger may be I won't feel it. But I have doubt that Rows that you put above are lats, isn't it?. I also like to mention that I really like JohnP's answer.
    – paul
    Aug 21, 2014 at 7:14
  • @paul Rows work more than just lats. Rows work biceps, lats, middle trapezius, rhomboids and rear delts. If you want to target rear delts more specifically, bent over lateral raise is your best option.
    – Peter
    Aug 21, 2014 at 12:08

Nobody here can tell you "yes, that's normal for you" or "everyone feels that". Simply can't be done over the intertubes.

However, one thing that hasn't been mentioned is your form. If you are a little wild/loose with your form, you could be using the rear deltoid to lift your arm/shoulder slightly as you do the kickback. As the rear deltoid is easily fatigued, this can be causing the fatigue you are feeling.

For a proper kickback, the only joint that should be bending/straightening is your elbow. If your shoulder is moving around, you've got form issues. Not only will it fatigue the muscles but it could also lead to injury.

If your shoulder is not moving, and is still fatiguing, then you just need more time and exercise on that area as Peter suggests, and you can do other exercises (Such as tricep pulldowns with a rope) to target the triceps muscle.


That's the achilles of the triceps kickback. The posterior shoulder giving out before the triceps do. Maybe do some other triceps exercise instead? Close grip push ups are already a much more effective movement. Look up a YouTube video where Bill Kazmaier gives a little seminar in a small gym. He speaks on the triceps more near the end of the video. Skull crushers are devistating to the elbows. Triceps pushdowns make the core the weak link. Kickback he regards as fluff. Decline close grip bench press is what he advocates. Hence I say, close grip push ups. Bas Rutten can also be seen doing push ups for the triceps. Look up 'Bas Rutten push ups' on YouTube. Those push ups make your triceps functional in strength. Not just appearence.

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