You are currently viewing Your Complete Guide to Skullcrushers – Build Bigger Triceps

Your Complete Guide to Skullcrushers – Build Bigger Triceps

The names of most exercises are quite literal: After all, a single-arm overhead dumbbell extension or triceps pushdown, both represent the respective exercises quite well. Others, on the other hand, are called after the body part that will break if you lose control. We have skull crushers in this class.

The good news is that, contrary to its name, this workout does not need you to crush your skull! In fact, one of the best exercises for exercising your triceps is the skull crusher.

We’ll get deep into the skull crusher in this post, providing form advice, benefits, common mistakes, and, variants to best suit your training needs.

How To Do The Skull Crusher Exercise?

Lie down on a flat gym bench, face up. Except for your lower legs, your complete body should be on the bench. Your feet should be flat on the floor and your knees should be bent. Grasp one end of a dumbbell with both hands and arms should be extended above the chest with elbows shoulder-width apart (not locked).

  • Ensure that your arms are perpendicular to the floor. You’ll be working against gravity if you do it this way. When you’re on a flat bench, your arms should be perpendicular to your torso, but this isn’t always the case when you’re completing the activity on an incline or decline bench.
  • Extend only your elbows. Allowing your upper arms to move back and forth as you lift and lower the weight is not a good idea. When you move your arms, you are transferring part of the weight to your shoulders.
  • lower the weight slowly and under control, which implies employing a weight that you can safely handle. On the negative, use a slow, deliberate rep speed. I’m sure you already know why! (If not, just say out aloud the workout name once again, thank you)
  • Stop just short of full extension as you power the weight back up, so you can’t rest at the top position, which keeps stress on the muscle throughout the range of motion.
  • When training to failure, use a spotter. A spotter can also help you with a few more forced reps, handing you the weight to start with or grabbing it after you’re finished.
  • To ensure the triceps do the majority of the effort, keep your elbows as stiff as possible and avoid elbow flare. Allowing your elbows to flare out reduces the amount of effort your triceps have to do.
man demonstrating how to do skull crushers exercise

Skull Crushers Benefits

This exercise can be utilized to correct triceps imbalances, as well as to help in injury recovery and of course, as part of a bodybuilding regimen. Some of the benefits lifters can expect when integrating skull crushers into their workout routine are:

Triceps Size And Strength Gain

All pressing activities and overhead stability require strong triceps. As you might know, powerlifters need strong triceps to help lock out of the bench press. Triceps work is required for weightlifters because it is required for elbow extension in the receiving phases of the snatch and jerk. Strongmen who lift logs weighing 300 plus pounds overhead rely on triceps strength to complete the task. The more you lift, the stronger you become, and the more you lift, the more your triceps come into play.

Oh, and who doesn’t want big arms? For some strength and power competitors, larger and stronger arms are an additional goal Because the triceps make up nearly two-thirds of the arm, doing more triceps activity could help you get a better set of guns.

Stronger And Healthier Elbows

Proper training volume, technique, and developing muscle hypertrophy and force generation can all help to keep joints healthy by allowing volumes and loading to be absorbed by the muscles rather than the tendons, ligaments, and joints. Increased triceps strength (combined with good form) is essential for improving pressing performance and avoiding joint and connective tissue overuse injury.

Strengthening The Lockout

The triceps are in charge of elbow extension, which is essential for finishing the bench press, snatch, clean & jerk, clean and press, and, overhead press at the end of the range of motion. With more triceps strength and hypertrophy work, most power and strength athletes will experience an improvement in lockout performance.

Muscles Worked In Skull Crushers

The skull crusher is a single-joint workout that focuses on the triceps in particular. Unlike other triceps exercises that utilize numerous muscles, such as close-grip bench press and dips, the skull crusher targets only the triceps. However, there is another crucial — and frequently forgotten — muscle group that benefits.


Elbow extension, which is a factor in most pressing actions, is controlled by the triceps (bench press, overhead presses, push-ups, dips, overhead stability, etc.). By requiring the lifter to perform deep elbow flexion while stabilizing the shoulder and wrist joints, the skull crusher isolates the triceps.

Shoulder Stabilizers

While the shoulder muscles themselves aren’t as active, the scapular stabilizers and rear deltoids are working hard to keep the shoulder socket stable so the lifter can stay in place. By restricting shoulder movement, the lifter can force the elbows to flex in order to achieve the required ranges of motion, putting more strain on the triceps to fully stretch the elbow joint. Simply said, the stability of your shoulders will increase.

Skull Crushers Variations

Triceps Extensions While Lying on the Floor

You can do this exercise on the floor if you don’t have a weight bench. Only lower the weight behind your head with caution. You won’t be able to lower it as far without it crashing to the ground. You can also use an exercise step if you have one.

Skull Crushers Using Barbells

Some people choose to use a barbell instead of a dumbbell to perform lying triceps extensions. However, remember that using a barbell (even an EZ curl bar) puts a greater strain on the wrists. Before utilizing a barbell, you need to strengthen your wrists.

Common Mistakes While Doing Skull Crushers

Following are some of the most common mistakes that you need to avoid to get the most out of your workout.

Loose Grip

Maintain a strong grip to prevent the weight from slipping out of your hands and causing damage or injury to your head or face. If you’re worried about this, you should work on improving your grip strength before doing this exercise.

Lowering Weight Toward The Face

Do not lower the weight toward your face or forehead, in addition to maintaining a tight grip. It should instead travel behind your head. (Also, be careful not to smack the back of your head when returning to the beginning position with the dumbbell.)

Moving The Weight Too Fast

Slowly and carefully complete this exercise. This makes it easier to stay in control of your weight at all times and can help you avoid injury.

Position of the hands

Throughout this exercise, keep your hands shoulder-width apart. This relieves stress on your elbows.

Lifting Too Heavy With Low Reps

Lower the weight and increase the reps for this exercise. It can cause elbow tension, which can be avoided by using a lesser weight. Needless to say, you’ll be able to maintain better form and control with a smaller weight.

Take Away

One of the best workouts for triceps development is the skull crusher. It’s a triceps workout for everyone! Whether you are a seasoned powerlifter trying to enhance your bench, bodybuilder looking for more size, or casual gym attendee looking for a strong pump.

Elbow pain is a possible side effect of this workout, especially when done with incorrect form. It should be avoided if you have had an elbow injury, such as tennis elbow. And if you get elbow pain at any point during this workout, stop.


Rahul is a sports and performance consultant. Over the course of his 15-year career in the fitness sector, he has held positions as a strength and conditioning instructor, gym owner, and consultant. He is deeply committed to assisting people in finding happiness and feeling good about themselves. Rahul has a master's degree in exercise science and is a certified NSCA CSCS and CISSN.

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