Skull Crusher: How To And Benefits

If you were to approach me and ask if I wanted to do some, “skull crushers”, without knowing it’s a resistance training exercise, you might find me slowly backing away and giving you crazy eyes. But no need to be alarmed, intimidating as it may sound, the skull crusher is a triceps strength training movement, that can be done with a barbell, ez bar, or dumbbells, and which is quite effective. We’re going to talk more about skull crushers and this movement can help you grow some massive arms.

What Are Skull Crushers 

Skull crushers are a lying triceps extension, which is typically performed with dumbbells, ez bar, or barbell. Skull crushers are a push exercise that isolates your triceps to build more strength and definition. The triceps extension requires more mind-body connection, which makes it a more challenging exercise. To be honest, it’s not my first pick when it comes to the best triceps dumbbell exercises, however it can still provide some variability in your training program and results.

Skull Crusher Muscles Worked 

The skull crusher work the triceps bracchi. Your triceps contain three muscles or heads, hence the name tri-ceps. Skull crushers work all three heads of your triceps, the long head, which adjoins from the shoulder joint or scapulae, as well as the medial and lateral heads which originate on the back of the upper arm.

Skull Crusher Benefits

1. Strength 

Barbell skull crushers effectively isolate the triceps, assisting in the development of more muscle mass and strength. By adding the skull crusher to your arm day split you’ll definitely add some serious gains to other push exercises as well, such as bench press and overhead press. Like the pull over, the skull crusher recruits your pectoralis major (chest) as well as your anterior deltoids or shoulders to push the weight back into lockout position.

2. Muscle Mass 

With any resistance training movement accompanied by the correct rep and set protocol, will result in hypertrophy and more muscle mass. Training with the barbell skull crusher as part of your triceps split, will add more size and strength to your arms.

3. Improved Lockout 

Triceps are responsible for elbow extension, and is a key factor in several compound movements, and efficient range of motion. The skull crusher will undoubtably improve lockout strength, translating to bigger and better lifts. 

How To Do Skull Crushers 

The skull crusher can be performed with a barbell (ez bar), or dumbbells. The former, being the most common, and the one in which we will be giving step-by-step instructions on how to execute.

  • Lie down on a bench, with the ez bar, dumbbells (single or double) or barbell in the lockout out position above you.
  • Set your hands shoulder width apart. This may vary, just make sure you can flex your upper back muscles and contract your shoulder blades when in the descending phase.
  • Lower the barbell towards the forehead, keeping your eblows tucked to actively recruit your triceps.
  • Once the barbell is at your forehead roll the bar back and lower your shoulders so the bar goes behind your head, engaging your upper back.
  • Drive the bar back up, once you reach a comfortable range of motion behind the head, and reverse the movement back to a locked out position.

Skull Crusher: Takeaway 

To be honest, skull crushers are not my first choice when it comes to the best triceps exercises. It is an effective movement, however when performed incorrectly, can be a very dangerous exercise. Start with a light weight that you can perform comfortably for a moderate rep range, that will not put too much stress on your elbows and joints. Once you perfect your form, you can gradually increase the load to a comfortable yet challenging weight.

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