Build Insane Triceps By Doing Skull Crushers - Laz - Tymoff

Build Insane Triceps By Doing Skull Crushers – Laz – Tymoff

The triceps brachii, often referred to as “tris,” is a three-headed muscle that forms the backside of your upper arm. It’s responsible for powerful extensions at the elbow joint, playing a vital role in pushing movements, and sculpting that coveted horseshoe shape.

One exercise reigns supreme in the realm of tricep development: the skull crusher. This targeted movement isolates the triceps, forcing them to work overtime for sculpted, horseshoe-shaped triceps that will have onlookers in awe.

However, the skull crusher’s effectiveness hinges on proper execution. Flawed form can not only hinder results but also lead to potential injury. This definitive guide will equip you with the knowledge and technique to unleash the full hypertrophic potential of the skull crusher.

Mastering the Skull Crusher: A Step-by-Step Guide

Here’s a detailed breakdown of the skull crusher, ensuring you reap maximum muscle-building benefits:


  • Barbell (straight or EZ-curl)
  • Bench

Starting Position:

  1. Lie flat on a bench with your feet firmly planted on the floor, shoulder-width apart.
  2. Grip the barbell with an overhand grip (palms facing forward). Choose a weight that allows for strict form throughout 8-12 repetitions.
  3. Position the barbell directly above your shoulders, arms fully extended. This is your starting position.

The Movement:

  1. Lowering the Barbell: Slowly lower the barbell towards your forehead, keeping your upper arms stationary throughout the motion. Your elbows should stay close to your sides, and your forearms should remain perpendicular to the floor as the weight descends.
  2. Feeling the Squeeze: Feel the tension build in your triceps as the barbell approaches your head. Ideally, stop the barbell an inch or two shy of your forehead to maintain control and prevent strain on your neck.
  3. The Powerful Extension: Now comes the crucial part. Reverse the motion by forcefully driving the barbell upwards, extending your triceps fully. Imagine pushing the ground away with your hands to engage maximum tricep fibers.
  4. Locking Out: Lock out your elbows at the top of the movement, squeezing your triceps for a peak contraction. Hold this position for a second before initiating the lowering phase again.

Tips for Optimal Technique:

  • Maintain a Controlled Descent: Resist the urge to drop the weight rapidly. The controlled lowering phase is just as important as the lifting motion for maximizing tricep engagement.
  • Keep Your Core Engaged: Brace your core throughout the exercise to maintain stability and prevent your lower back from arching.
  • Don’t Flare Your Elbows: Keep your elbows tucked in close to your sides throughout the entire movement. Flaring your elbows out can put undue stress on your shoulders.
  • Full Range of Motion: Aim for a full range of motion at the elbow joint. Don’t lock out your elbows at the top in a way that hyperextends the joint.

Variations to Spice Up Your Tricep Workouts

The barbell skull crusher is a foundational exercise, but it’s not the only way to incorporate skull crushers into your routine. Here are some variations to target your triceps from different angles and keep your workouts fresh:

  • EZ-Bar Skull Crushers: The EZ-curl bar’s angled grip can be easier on the wrists for some individuals. It also promotes a slightly different tricep activation compared to the straight bar variation.
  • Dumbbell Skull Crushers: Dumbbells allow for a more unilateral (one-sided) focus, helping to identify and correct any imbalances between your left and right triceps.
  • Overhead Skull Crushers: This variation involves pressing the barbell overhead with your arms straight before performing the lowering motion. It adds a greater challenge to shoulder stability while still targeting the triceps.
  • Close-Grip Bench Press: This compound exercise incorporates a similar tricep-dominant pushing motion as the skull crusher while also engaging your chest muscles.

Optimizing Your Skull Crusher Workouts

To maximize the hypertrophic effects of skull crushers, consider these programming and training principles:

  • Progressive Overload: Gradually increase the weight, sets, or reps over time to continuously challenge your triceps and stimulate muscle growth.
  • Mind-Muscle Connection: Focus on feeling the contraction in your triceps throughout the exercise. This strengthens the connection between your mind and muscles, leading to better control and potentially faster gains.
  • Proper Rest and Recovery: Give your triceps adequate time to recover between workouts. Aim for at least 48 hours of rest before training them again.

Building a Complete Tricep Routine: Partner Exercises for Skull Crushers

While the skull crusher reigns supreme for tricep isolation, incorporating it with other exercises creates a well-rounded tricep workout routine. Here are some partner exercises to maximize tricep development alongside your skull crushers:

Compound Movements:

  • Dips: This bodyweight exercise is a fantastic compound movement that works your entire triceps, chest, and shoulders. You can perform dips on parallel bars, a dip station, or even a sturdy chair.
  • Overhead Triceps Extensions: This standing exercise allows you to use heavier weights while still effectively targeting the triceps. Hold a dumbbell or barbell overhead with your arms extended and lower it behind your head in a controlled motion.


  • Tricep Pushdowns (Cable or Machine): This exercise allows for constant tension throughout the movement, keeping your triceps under load from start to finish. You can perform pushdowns using a variety of attachments, such as a rope, straight bar, or V-bar, to target different areas of the triceps.

Isolation Movements:

  • Overhead Tricep Extensions (Dumbbell or Cable): Similar to the barbell variation, this exercise isolates the triceps while allowing for a unilateral focus with dumbbells or a more controlled motion with cables.
  • Lying Tricep Extensions: This variation of the skull crusher involves lying on a flat bench with your arms overhead and lowering the dumbbells towards your forehead. It allows for a deeper stretch in the triceps at the bottom of the movement.

Sample Tricep Workout Routine:

Here’s a sample tricep workout routine incorporating the skull crusher and its partner exercises:


  • 5 minutes of light cardio (e.g., jump rope, jogging)
  • Dynamic stretches (arm circles, shoulder rolls)


  1. Barbell Skull Crushers: 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions
  2. Dips: 3 sets of as many repetitions as possible (AMRAP)
  3. Tricep Pushdowns (Cable Rope): 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions
  4. Overhead Tricep Extensions (Dumbbell): 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions


  • Static stretches for triceps, chest, and shoulders (hold each stretch for 30 seconds)


As you get stronger, you can progress your workout by:

  • Increasing the weight used in each exercise.
  • Performing more sets and repetitions.
  • Decreasing your rest time between sets.
  • Shortening the rest periods between exercises for a more intense pump.

Fueling Your Tricep Growth: Nutrition for Hypertrophy

Remember, building muscle isn’t just about exercise; it’s also about proper nutrition. Here are some dietary tips to maximize your tricep growth:

  • Consume Enough Protein: Protein is the building block of muscle. Aim for 0.8-1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight daily. Lean meats, fish, eggs, and dairy products are all excellent protein sources.
  • Don’t Neglect Carbs: Carbohydrates provide the energy your body needs to train intensely. Complex carbs like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are ideal choices.
  • Healthy Fats are Your Friend: Healthy fats like those found in avocados, nuts, and seeds are essential for hormone production and overall health.
  • Stay Hydrated: Water is crucial for transporting nutrients throughout your body and keeping you functioning optimally. Aim for at least half your bodyweight in ounces of water daily.

Conclusion: Forging Herculean Triceps with the Skull Crusher

The skull crusher is a potent tool in your arsenal for sculpting impressive triceps. By mastering the proper technique, incorporating variations, and strategically programming it into your workouts, you’ll be well on your way to building horseshoe-shaped triceps that demand attention. Remember, consistency, progressive overload, and proper nutrition are the keys to unlocking your tricep’s full potential. So, grab a barbell, embrace the challenge of the skull crusher, and watch your triceps grow!

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