Build Triceps by Doing Skull Crushers

Skull crushers are an effective triceps isolation exercise, capable of withstanding considerable weight through an in-depth range of motion. Unfortunately, however, when performed incorrectly they can still cause elbow discomfort.

Ideal exercise conditions should allow for gradual and controlled eccentric phases to maximize muscle growth while limiting risk of injury. Build Insane Triceps by Doing Skull Crushers – Laz Tymoff

How to Do

Skull crushers are an easy and straightforward addition to your upper-body workout, no matter if you use a barbell or dumbbells – they require little equipment other than a bench!

To perform skull crushers, lie on a flat bench while holding a barbell overhead in a shoulder-width, palms-down grip. If using heavy weights, having someone nearby who can spot you as you lift would be helpful in case anything slips out of position accidentally.

Coach Pabon notes that you can also adjust the angle of your bench to engage different parts of the triceps. Lowering it towards your forehead targets the lateral head while deeper angles target its long head, according to him.

To maximize skull crushers, perform them after performing any multi-joint triceps exercises like biceps dips or close-grip bench presses. This will help prevent injury by overworking your elbows while helping maintain proper form as you lower weight onto your forehead.


Skull crushers are an effective way to develop the three-headed triceps muscle, but you can tailor your workout by changing arm position or angle. Furthermore, using a barbell instead of dumbbells requires greater skill as this variation requires controlling both eccentric (lowering) and concentric (pressing) phases of exercise simultaneously.

Beginners might benefit from practicing skull crushers from the floor instead of on a bench as this allows for shorter range of motion and provides an accessible stopping point should your back give out. Furthermore, doing this type of exercise requires greater core engagement to keep lower body and shoulders tight to reduce any movement, according to ISSA-certified personal trainer and Tonal coach Dannah Bollig.

An alternative approach involves performing skull crushers from a smith machine, which provides more advanced lifters with greater range of motion but still necessitates proper form. You must be able to manage both eccentric and concentric movements of your barbell during these exercises which may prove challenging with heavier weights.


Skull crushers can be an incredibly hazardous exercise if performed incorrectly; to minimize injuries you should follow some basic safety tips when performing them. As this exercise requires extreme tension in both elbows and wrists, use a spotter when necessary and limit repetitions accordingly.

Start by lying flat on a bench and positioning yourself so that the barbell rests above you. Place both hands, or one on each end of the barbell, at shoulder-width apart so they’re held correctly as you lower it down to shoulder level. An often made error is to let elbows flare out as they’re lowered; this can damage shoulders and relieve stress from triceps; so make sure to actively tuck them back in as your move lower.

Skull crushers can also be done with an EZ curl bar instead of dumbbells, which makes lifting heavier weight easier due to being easier for controlling eccentric and concentric movements. They should ideally be performed during isolated days to build arm strength, or as a burnout move when your triceps have fatigued at the end of a workout session.


Skull crushers (commonly referred to as lying triceps extensions or nose breakers) may seem intimidating at first, but they’re one of the best mass-building exercises for your triceps. Easy and straightforward to perform, skull crushers can easily fit into any strength or hypertrophy regimen.

The skull crusher is an effective movement to include in any workout program because it allows you to work the triceps through their full range of motion against gravity, targeting all three heads at once. Decline skull crusher variations target only the lateral head (the outside part of your arm), while overhead skull crusher variations target both long head and medial heads of triceps simultaneously.

To increase the effectiveness of skull crushers, it is key to control the eccentric portion of their movement by slowly bending at the elbows. This will increase triceps stimulation while also protecting from injury. A good grip width for skull crushers should be shoulder width apart to ensure you engage only your triceps without engaging other muscles as well.