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How To Do Skull Crushers

What Is A Skull Crusher

How To Do Skull Crushers

Sometimes known as lying tricep extension, skull crushers are an effective tricep exercise that involves lying down and lowering a load towards your face, which is where the dubious name comes from. Despite its name, this exercise is safe if a manageable load is used.

Skull crushers work all three heads of the tricep but the medial head is the main driver. This exercise can be performed with dumbbells barbells, EZ bar, and the cable machine, and can be done on a bench or on the floor.

While this isn’t necessarily an advanced tricep extension, we recommend becoming confident with other tricep exercises before trying the skull crusher, due to the precarious position of the weights.

Commonly Asked Questions On Skull Crushers

  • Skull crushers work all three heads of the tricep and can be a helpful tool for building strength and size in the arms. Working your triceps will help to improve pushing movements like the bench press, and can help build overhead throwing strength.

  • Beginners can do skull crushers, however we’d recommend starting with other tricep extensions first to build strength and learn the movement pattern before trying this exercise, as this will put you in the best position possible before attempting tricep extension with weights above your head. If new to skull crushers, start with light dumbbells first and nail the technique before progressing to heavier weights.

  • When performing skull crushers, it’s important to choose a weight that allows you to perform the exercise in a controlled movement for the full range of motion. Going too heavy can cause improper form and prevent the triceps from being targeted, as well as risk putting strain on the elbows and shoulders.

Skull Crushers Tips

Skull crushers should be performed with control with the shoulders and upper arms remaining in place throughout to avoid momentum. When the upper arms and shoulders become involved the load shifts away from the triceps and exposes the shoulder joint to injury. If you find your elbows excessively flare or you’re experiencing shoulder pain, lower the weight you’re using.

A common mistake people make when performing skull crushers is lowering the load towards the forehead, instead of lowering it behind the head. For optimal execution, lower the load behind your head to reach full stretch of the triceps.

How To Do A Skull Crusher

  1. Holding your weight (this can be a dumbbell in each hand, or holding a dumbbell or bar in both hands), lie flat on your back on the floor or on a bench. If you’re using a bench ensure your head is near the end of it, so that the dumbbells do not touch the bench as they are lowered.

  2. Extend your arms and position the dumbbells above your head.

  3. Keeping your upper arms still, lower the dumbbells back behind your head by bending at the elbows.

  4. Push the dumbbells back up to the starting position by squeezing your triceps to extend your arms.

If you’re not sure if any of the above exercises are suitable for you, please consult your doctor before you start it. Need guidance on how to perform the exercise? Ask a personal trainer at your gym.