Build Insane Triceps By Doing Skull Crushers – Laz – Tymoff

Build Insane Triceps By Doing Skull Crushers - Laz - Tymoff

Carving out horseshoe-shaped triceps is a relentless pursuit for bodybuilding enthusiasts. The triceps brachii, encompassing the long head, medial head, and lateral head, forms the cornerstone of a sculpted upper arm. Among the numerous exercises vying for the title of “tricep king,” the skull crusher reigns supreme.

This article delves into the masterful art of sculpting phenomenal triceps with the skull crusher, dissecting proper form, maximizing muscle engagement, and incorporating advanced variations to propel your triceps to new heights.

Why Skull Crushers Rule the Tricep Realm

The skull crusher, also known as the overhead triceps extension, boasts a unique biomechanical advantage. It isolates the triceps brachii through a full range of motion, placing immense tension on all three heads. This targeted stress promotes significant muscle growth and superior tricep definition.

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

While seemingly straightforward, the skull crusher demands meticulous form to maximize effectiveness and prevent injury. Here’s a breakdown of the flawless skull crusher execution:

  1. Grip Selection: Grab a barbell or EZ bar with an overhand grip (palms facing down). Hand spacing can vary depending on your tricep emphasis. A close grip (hands shoulder-width apart) isolates the lateral head, while a wider grip (hands slightly beyond shoulder-width) targets the long head.

  2. Starting Position: Lie flat on a bench with your feet firmly planted on the floor. The shoulder blades should be retracted and pinned down against the bench to maintain core stability. Raise the barbell or EZ bar overhead, extending your arms completely. This is the starting position.

  3. The Lowering Phase: With control, lower the barbell or EZ bar towards your forehead, stopping just short of touching your head. Do not allow the elbows to flare out; keep them tucked in close to your torso throughout the movement. Feel the triceps stretch as the weight descends.

  4. The Concentric Contraction: Powerfully reverse the movement, driving the weight back up to the starting position by extending your elbows. Focus on squeezing your triceps at the top of the movement.

  5. Repetitions and Sets: Aim for 3-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions for optimal muscle growth. As strength increases, progressively overload by gradually adding weight to the bar.

Pro Tips for Skull Crushing Success

Here are some additional pointers to elevate your skull crusher game:

  • Maintain a Neutral Spine: Keep your core engaged throughout the exercise to prevent your lower back from arching. A neutral spine ensures proper posture and minimizes injury risk.
  • Control the Descent: Resist the urge to rapidly lower the weight. Aim for a controlled descent that emphasizes the eccentric (lengthening) phase of the muscle contraction.
  • Full Range of Motion: Ensure a complete range of motion at both ends of the exercise. Fully extend your arms at the top and bring the weight down close to your forehead while maintaining control. Partial reps limit muscle growth potential.
  • Mind-Muscle Connection: Focus on feeling your triceps working throughout the movement. Visualize the triceps contracting as you lower and extend the weight. This mind-muscle connection optimizes muscle activation.
  • Breathing: Inhale as you lower the weight and exhale forcefully as you extend your arms back up. Proper breathing aids stability and maximizes performance.

Advanced Skull Crusher Variations to Blast Through Plateaus

Once you’ve mastered the basic skull crusher, it’s time to challenge your triceps further with some advanced variations:

  • Close-Grip Skull Crushers: This variation targets the lateral head for razor-sharp cuts and increased horseshoe definition. Utilize a narrow grip (hands about an inch apart) while maintaining proper form.

  • EZ Bar Skull Crushers: The EZ bar’s angled grip can be easier on the wrists compared to a straight barbell. This variation allows for a comfortable, yet highly effective, tricep workout.

  • Dumbbell Skull Crushers: Dumbbells offer a unique challenge as they force each arm to work independently. This can improve overall balance and coordination while sculpting your triceps. Perform the exercise with one dumbbell at a time, maintaining proper form throughout.

  • Overhead Triceps Extensions with Rope Attachment: Attach a rope to a cable machine and perform overhead triceps extensions. This variation provides constant tension throughout the range of motion, keeping your triceps under stress.

  • Decline Skull Crushers: Lie on a decline bench and perform regular skull crushers. This variation places greater emphasis on the upper portion of the triceps, specifically the long head.

Build Insane Triceps By Doing Skull Crushers - Laz - Tymoff

Building a Skull-Crusher Focused Tricep Workout

Here’s a sample tricep workout routine that incorporates the skull crusher and its variations for a comprehensive tricep assault:

Warm-Up (5 minutes):

  • Light cardio (jumping jacks, jogging in place)
  • Arm circles (forward and backward)
  • Triceps pushdowns (2 sets of 15 repetitions)

Tricep Destroyer Workout:

  • Exercise: Skull Crushers (EZ Bar)

  • Sets: 4

  • Repetitions: 8-12

  • Rest: 60 seconds

  • Exercise: Close-Grip Skull Crushers (Dumbbell)

  • Sets: 3

  • Repetitions: 10-15

  • Rest: 60 seconds

  • Exercise: Overhead Triceps Extensions (Cable Rope)

  • Sets: 3

  • Repetitions: 12-15

  • Rest: 60 seconds

  • Exercise: Decline Skull Crushers (Barbell)

  • Sets: 3

  • Reps: 8-12

  • Rest: 60 seconds

Cool-Down (5 minutes):

  • Static triceps stretch (hold for 30 seconds each arm)
  • Arm hangs

Progression and Programming

To keep challenging your triceps and inducing continuous growth, incorporate progressive overload. This can be achieved by gradually increasing the weight lifted, reducing rest periods between sets, or performing more sets/repetitions over time. However, prioritize proper form over excessive weight to ensure safety and maximize results.

Safety First

While the skull crusher is a potent tricep builder, prioritize proper form to avoid injury. If you experience any pain during the exercise, stop immediately and consult a healthcare professional. Don’t hesitate to use lighter weights until you’ve mastered perfect technique.

Fueling Your Tricep Growth

Remember, muscle growth is a holistic process. Alongside a well-structured workout plan, prioritize a balanced diet rich in protein to provide the building blocks for muscle repair and growth. Aim for 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight daily.


The skull crusher, when wielded with precision and purpose, can be your secret weapon for building colossal triceps. By adhering to proper form, incorporating variations, and designing a progressive workout plan, you’ll be well on your way to sculpting horseshoe-shaped triceps that will demand attention. Remember, consistency and dedication are key to unlocking your full tricep potential. So, embrace the skull crusher and watch your triceps reign supreme!