Your Complete Guide To Skullcrushers!

by Bill Geiger


Contrary to what the name might suggest, skullcrushers won’t send you screaming to the ER—at least when done right. They can, however, help you build massive triceps. Here’s everything you need to know about this popular exercise!

Most exercises have rather literal names: A single-arm overhead dumbbell extension describes the movement pretty well, after all. A few others, however, are named for the part of the body they’ll break if you lose control. In this class we have skullcrushers.

Skullcrushers are actually a family of single-joint triceps exercises, not necessarily just one exercise, because there are so many ways to do them. You can use almost any kind of implement—dumbbells, barbell, EZ-bar, or cables—as well as a variety of angled benches. Each variation provides a slightly different feel and effect, so I’ll guide you through the most popular.

What all skullcrusher variations have in common is simple: elbow extension. The upper arms are generally locked in a position perpendicular to the body, which means both the long and lateral triceps heads—the two biggest—are called into play. As you increase the angle of the bench (i.e., use a more inclined bench), the upper arms move closer to an overhead position, so more of the work falls on your triceps long head. Doing the movement on a decline bench reduces the long-head involvement, so more of the emphasis falls on the lateral triceps head.


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