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Is This Exercise Right for You?
Part 2 of 2
By: Jackie Wright

There are ten questions I always ask prior to performing any exercise. These questions help to assess and analyze the risks and benefits of an exercise. It is not about determining if an exercise is "bad", just whether or not it is right for you based upon your limitations and goals. Last week we highlighted five of the ten questions and this week we will feature the remaining five questions. As always, please consult your physician prior to beginning any exercise program.

Question #6 - Where is the muscle located and what is its function?

In the case of the triceps brachii, it is located on the upper/posterior arm and is the major muscle that extends the elbow and also assists with arm extension/hyperextension and adduction.

Question #7 - What is the line of pull?

The line of pull, which is the direction in which the muscle pulls, is critical to establish when performing any exercise. The triceps brachii muscle pulls the forearm away from the upper arm (i.e. extends the arm at the elbow joint). So in the case of a triceps kickback exercise, the proper line of pull will require the following: begin with one upper arm parallel to the floor, opposite of gravity, arm pit closed, torso hinged forward from the hip joint, non-working arm resting on that same thigh, shoulders/hips/knees/toes all facing the same direction with the shoulders stable and rotated back/down, rib cage lifted and the navel pulled toward the spine. Then, extend (i.e. kickback) the forearm fully extending elbow joint. Repeat your repetitions on both sides.

Question #8 - Where is the origin and insertion of the muscle located?

Where a muscle originates and inserts will determine the action the muscle can perform. In the case of the triceps brachii muscle, it has three heads. The long head originates on a segment of the scapula, the lateral head originates on the upper third of the humerus bone and the medial head originates on the lower posterior surface of the humerus (i.e. upper arm bone). You do not need to understand all of this in detail, just know the general origin and insertion locations so you will understand basically how the muscle functions and why.

Question #9 - How often may this exercise safely/effectively be performed?

When we are discussing muscular strength exercises, such as a triceps kickback exercise, the recommendation is two to three times per week allowing 24-48 hours between training days permitting the muscle to rest, repair and grow.

Question #10 - Do I feel any pain/discomfort when performing this exercise?

This is the old adage, that "if it hurts, don't do it" and it still applies. Always listen to your body and use common sense. You should never experience any pain in a joint, or anywhere else, when performing an exercise. What we strive for during most muscular strength training exercises is momentary muscle failure where the muscle reaches a state of fatigue. Once we have reached that point, it is time to either choose a lighter form of resistance (i.e. dumbbells/resistive tubing/barbells, etc.) or take a break.

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