Do you want to get rid of flabby arms? Train your triceps and get awesome arms. The triceps are located on the back of the arm. Their name is due to the fact that they are composed of three muscle strands (the long, medial, and lateral heads). Triceps are the muscles that help you straighten your arms and are involved in arm adduction, and shoulder joint stabilization.
A highly effective tricep exercise is the Skull Crusher or barbell lying tricep extension. You can perform it with a barbell, EZ curl barbell, dumbbells, or even bands. It is best to use the EZ bar, which is angled, or a pair of dumbbells.
Benefits of Skull Crushers
- Isolation: Skull crushers isolate the triceps greatly, allowing you to focus all your energy on just that particular muscle group
- Strength: They strengthen your tricep muscles, which not only helps your triceps but other chest and shoulder exercises
- Versatility: This exercise allows you to work your triceps bilaterally when using a bar. You can also work your triceps unilaterally but simultaneously when using dumbbells, and even alternate arms
- Simplicity: Some exercises require specific equipment. In order to perform skull crushers, you only need a bar and a bench. If you don’t have access to a bench, you can even perform them on the floor
- Wrist Health: Some tricep exercises like close-grip bench presses or dips can be uncomfortable for your wrists. Using the EZ bar or dumbbells with a neutral grip (palms facing each other) when performing skull crushers doesn’t put extra pressure or stress on your wrists
- Grip Strength: Holding and moving the weight up and down as you are laying down improves your grip. This comes in handy when performing other exercises like deadlifts, dumbbell squats, dumbbell lunges, and more.
How to Do Skull Crushers
- Lie down on a bench or the floor holding an EZ bar [with your palms facing away from your body and a narrow grip using the first angles on the bar] or a pair of dumbbells [with your palms facing each other]
- Position the weight directly above your chest with your feet rooted on the floor or on the bench
- Keep your upper arms perpendicular to the floor
- Tight up your core to maintain control of the weight
- Bend your elbows slowly, lowering the weight toward your forehead
- Slowly bring your arms back up to a straightened position
- Perform the movement for 8-12 reps
*️⃣ There are several variations to this exercise:
- You can start the exercise with your hands by your forehead (at the bottom position) instead of with your arms straight
- You can even start by keeping your arms straight but angled back. So the bar will not be directly above your chest but above your face. Then, when you bend your elbows and lower the weight, the bar won’t be by your forehead but more towards the top of your head. This starting position can help keep the triceps under tension for a longer time
- Or you can start with your arms straight and the bar directly above the top of your ribs. So when you lower the bar, it will be by your chin. This starting position will give a different stretch to your triceps.
- You can also grab the bar shoulder-width or with a close-grip, making it harder
- You can change the angle of the bench (e.g., from flat to incline or decline) as well in order to emphasize different tricep areas
🛑 Caution: Be careful with this exercise as the weight is by your face. Use a weight that you can handle properly in order to avoid accidents.
Skull Crusher’ Mistakes
- Avoid speed: Lower the bar in a slow, controlled manner until it touches your forehead. This increases your triceps’ time under tension but also stimulates muscle growth and reduce your risk of injury
- Avoid moving your upper arms: Keep your upper arms steady, you should only be moving your forearms
- Also, speed is not your friend with this exercise. It’s not a power-building move. Lower and lift the weights slowly and under control. Not only will that increase your triceps’ time under tension — a key muscle growth stimulus — but it will also reduce your risk of injury
Skull Crushers Video
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