Skull crushers may sound intimidating, but when performed properly they’re one of the best exercises for developing your triceps. Experts offer some guidance to ensure this movement occurs safely and effectively.
Beginners to skull crushers should start out by using a lighter empty bar or dumbbells; using an EZ curl bar provides greater stability and easier control, according to Pabon. Build Insane Triceps by Doing Skull Crushers – Laz Tymoff
1. Lying Skull Crushers
Skull crushers can be an effective way to target triceps. However, when performed incorrectly they can also be dangerous. To reduce risk and avoid injury it’s essential that you start off slowly with lighter weights before gradually working up to heavier ones – keeping a tight grip and bending at elbows not shoulders as you bend over for each rep is key here; also taking extra care with controlling the eccentric (lowering) portion as rushing it could increase injury risks and shorten the time under tension.
Skull Crushers are similar to lying tricep extensions in that both involve extending your elbows against resistance. However, skull crushers differ by allowing your weight to come down from behind your head, relieving stress on the elbow joint while stimulating long head of triceps effectively. You can perform them using either barbells, dumbbells or an EZ-bar.
2. Overhead Skull Crushers
Skull crushers make for a fantastic finisher at the end of any workout, activating triceps more effectively than any other isolation exercise can. Pabon notes they can even be combined with “push” exercises like bench presses and shoulder presses to increase effectiveness.
Assume a lying position while holding either a barbell or dumbbells in each hand. Position them above your head, bending your elbows as needed to lower the weight back behind your head just past your forehead. Beware that skull crushers should only be done with relatively light loads intended for high repetitions; heavy loads could make maintaining proper form difficult and lead to injury.
One common error people make while performing skull crushers is to allow their elbows to flare out during exercise, placing undue stress on their shoulders and decreasing muscle stimulation. Doing this puts unnecessary strain on shoulders while depriving muscles from necessary stimulation.
3. Bodyweight Skull Crushers
Bodyweight Skull Crushers are an ideal exercise for those without access to a gym. This single-joint movement helps build triceps strength, making them suitable for multiple workouts like bodyweight supersets, drop sets or other bodyweight circuits.
To perform bodyweight skull crushers, start by lying on a bench with your arms extended out like planking. Engaging your core as you bend at the elbow to lower your head onto the bench while simultaneously squeezing your triceps to return you back up into starting position and repeat for reps.
Although bodyweight skull crushers target all three heads of your triceps, they tend to focus more heavily on the long head–which runs from your olecranon bone (at the top of your ulna) down towards your elbow. To elevate this bodyweight exercise even further, try doing it on a decline bench; doing this will recruit more of your lateral head triceps (the part on the outside of your arm).
4. Incline Skull Crushers
Skull crushers are an isolation exercise that focuses on one muscle group at a time, making it easy to train your triceps properly and maintain strong arm development. Incline skull crushers (also called lying triceps extensions) focus specifically on targeting the long head of your triceps muscle for balanced and well-developed arm development.
Start slow if you’re new to skull crusher exercises; gradually increase weight until you feel ready. It is crucial that weights be controlled during the eccentric (lowering) phase, according to Pabon; this helps limit stress on wrists, elbows and shoulders as well as prevent injuries by limiting strain on wrists, elbows and shoulders. An EZ curl bar makes this exercise safer and more comfortable – ideal if there are wrist issues or ongoing elbow injuries that haven’t healed well yet.