December 8, 2023
Looking to build stronger, bigger triceps? This article provides a comprehensive guide to skull crushers, including how to perform them with proper form and technique. Discover the benefits, like triceps isolation and compound exercises, of incorporating skull crushers into a complete triceps workout.


Are you looking to build bigger, stronger triceps? If so, you might want to add skull crushers to your workout routine. Skull crushers are an isolation exercise that specifically targets the triceps, making them an effective way to increase your arm strength and size.

In this article, we will provide a comprehensive guide on how to perform skull crushers properly and effectively. We will cover everything from the basics of how to do skull crushers with dumbbells, to using cable machines and changing up your grip for better results.

Start with the Basics: How to Do Skull Crushers with Dumbbells

The first step to performing skull crushers is mastering the correct technique and form. Here’s how to do skull crushers with dumbbells:

1. Lie flat on a bench with a dumbbell in each hand.
2. Extend your arms up so the dumbbells are directly above your chest.
3. Slowly lower the dumbbells towards your forehead, keeping your elbows stationary.
4. Pause at the bottom of the movement and then lift the dumbbells back up to the starting position.

It’s essential to use correct form during skull crushers to prevent injury and maximize triceps engagement. To ensure proper form, follow these tips:

– Keep your elbows tucked in and stationary throughout the movement.
– Lower the dumbbells in a controlled manner to avoid slamming into your forehead.
– Keep your wrists straight and stable throughout the exercise.
– Ensure your feet are firmly planted on the ground to improve core stability.

Barbell Skull Crushers: A Guide for Increasing Your Strength

Once you’ve mastered the dumbbell version of skull crushers, you can increase the resistance by progressing to barbell skull crushers. Here’s how to do them:

1. Lie on a flat bench with a barbell held above your chest.
2. Lower the barbell towards your forehead while keeping your elbows stationary.
3. Pause for a second at the bottom of the movement, then lift the barbell back up to the starting position.

The key to increasing your strength with barbell skull crushers is to gradually add weight or reps over time. For example, start with a lighter weight and do three sets of 8-10 reps, then gradually increase the weight and reps as you get stronger.

Although barbell skull crushers and dumbbell skull crushers are similar, they each have their unique benefits. Barbell skull crushers allow for greater muscle activation, which can lead to better gains in size and strength.

Using Cable Machines for Skull Crushers

If you don’t have access to free weights or want to switch up your routine, cable machines offer an excellent alternative for performing skull crushers. To do skull crushers with a cable machine:

1. Attach a rope to the cable machine at the highest pulley.
2. Stand facing the machine with your back straight and your feet shoulder-width apart.
3. Pull the rope down with your arms until they are fully extended.
4. Slowly lower the rope towards your forehead while keeping your elbows stationary.
5. Pause at the bottom of the movement for a second, then lift the rope back up to the starting position.

Cable machines offer a unique advantage in that they provide constant tension throughout the movement, which can lead to greater muscle activation.

The Benefits of Skull Crushers for Triceps Development

Skull crushers are a highly effective exercise for developing triceps strength and size. Here are a few reasons why:

– Isolation: Skull crushers specifically target the triceps, allowing for greater muscle activation and development.
– Variety: Skull crushers offer a variety of different variations, such as changing grips or using different equipment, which can prevent Plateauing
– Compound movements: Skull crushers can be combined with other triceps exercises to create a complete, well-rounded upper arm workout.

Research has also shown that skull crushers activate the lateral head of the triceps muscle, which is important for developing the width and thickness of the arm.

Changing Up Your Grip for Better Skull Crushers
Changing Up Your Grip for Better Skull Crushers

Changing Up Your Grip for Better Skull Crushers

Changing your grip during skull crushers can help target different areas of the triceps, leading to better overall development. Here are a few grip variations to try:

– Narrow grip: Placing your hands closer together on the bar or dumbbells can target the long head of the triceps muscle.
– Reverse grip: Holding the weight with an underhand grip can increase activation of the brachialis muscle, which lies underneath the biceps and gives the arm a more rounded shape.
– Neutral grip: Keeping your palms facing each other while gripping the weight can provide a unique challenge to the triceps.

How to Incorporate Skull Crushers into a Complete Triceps Workout

If you want to maximize the benefit of skull crushers in your workout routine, it’s essential to combine them with other tricep exercises. Here’s a sample workout routine you can try:

1. Warm-up: 5-10 minutes of light cardio or stretching.
2. Triceps Dips: 3 sets of 10-12 reps to warm up the triceps muscle.
3. Skull crushers: 3 sets of 8-10 reps, using either dumbbells, a barbell, or a cable machine.
4. Triceps pushdowns: 3 sets of 12-15 reps, using a cable machine or resistance band.
5. Close-grip bench press: 3 sets of 8-10 reps, focusing on your triceps.
6. Cool-down: 5-10 minutes of light stretching.

To prevent plateauing, vary your routine over time by trying different exercises or increasing the weight and reps gradually over time.


Skull crushers are an excellent exercise for developing bigger, stronger triceps muscles. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced gym-goer, you can benefit from incorporating skull crushers into your workout routine.

Remember to use proper form and technique, start with lighter weights for beginners and gradually progress over over time, and switch up your routines now and then to prevent plateaus. Incorporating skull crushers into your workout routine can help you build bigger, stronger triceps in no time.

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