​​How To Do The Straight-Arm Dumbbell Kick-Back

Woman performing straight-arm dumbbell kick-back
(Image credit: iStock / Getty Images Plus / Sergey Nazarov)

To effectively train your shoulders you need to work them from all angles. The best shoulder workouts contain a range of exercises that target all the shoulder muscles, and that includes the oft-neglected ones at the back. The straight-arm dumbbell kick-back hits the rear shoulder muscles, making it a useful move to add to your upper-body routine.

How To Do The Straight-Arm Dumbbell Kick-Back

Man showing two positions of the straight-arm dumbbell kick-back exercise

(Image credit: Glen Burrows)

Stand holding dumbbells by your sides, with your palms facing. Pick a light weight that you can control throughout the move, because being able to work through the full range of motion slowly is more effective when building muscle than simply swinging a heavy weight back and forth.

Hinge forwards at the hips and lower your chest until your back is parallel to the ground, letting the weights hang. Keeping your arms straight, move the weights up and back until they reach hip height. Pause for a beat in this position, then lower the weights under control.

Use This Exercise In A Workout

This quick shoulder workout hits the shoulders from a range of angles.

1 Neutral-grip shoulder press

Sets 3 Reps 8

Hold dumbbells by your shoulders in a neutral grip (palms facing). Press the weights up explosively, pause for a moment at the top of the move to ensure the weights are under control, then lower them slowly.

2 Quarter-rep lateral raise

Sets 3 Reps 10

Hold dumbbells by your sides with your palms facing. Keeping your arms straight, lift the weights to the sides until they are about level with your shoulders – don’t go higher than this to avoid placing too much stress on the shoulder joint. Lower the weights slowly, pausing for a moment when they are halfway down.

3 Straight-arm dumbbell kick-back

Sets 2 Reps 10

4 Shoulder stretch

Sets 5 Time 10-30sec

Finish off your shoulder session with this stretch to help your muscles recover faster and, hopefully, reduce DOMS in the days that follow. Take both hands behind your back and grasp one with the other. Pull your shoulders back and your hands apart until you feel the stretch in your shoulders, and hold.

Nick Hutchings worked for Men’s Fitness UK, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Nick worked as digital editor from 2008 to 2011, head of content until 2014, and finally editor-in-chief until 2015.

With contributions from