Skull Crushers: Exercises, Benefits & How To Do It Perfectly

Skull crushers are a famous strength training exercise that helps tone the triceps. Weight lifters usually perform it to strengthen their arms and shoulders. Let’s know more about the skull crushers in detail.

What Are Skull Crushers?

Skull crushers are upper body workouts that isolate the triceps and help to build the muscles in the back of the upper arm. It is also known as lying triceps extension, French extensions, or French presses. This exercise is performed in various forms in different strength training exercises.

Benefits of Skull Crusher Workout

Every workout is performed to improve the health or posture of a specific body part, or you can say to make it strong. Here are some benefits of doing skull crushers.

Stronger Triceps

Skull crushers help to make your triceps strong. A strong tricep is key for all pressing movement and maintaining overhead stability. Performing this exercise daily will help you to strengthen your triceps. The firmer your tricep is, the more you lift the weights.

Healthy Elbows

Your elbows become healthier when you give proper training to your joints. Increasing muscle hypertrophy will enable the muscles to take the entire load on themselves instead of putting it on the tendons, ligaments, and joints. Stronger triceps will prevent injury to the joints and connective tissues.

Improved Lockout Strength

The triceps are usually responsible for the elbow extensions used for finishing the range of motions of the bench press, clean and jerk, overhead press, and snatch. Most powerlifters and strong athletes perform triceps exercises and hypertrophy to improve lockout performance.

Bigger arms

For some athletes and powerlifters having a bigger arm is an added advantage. Triceps are usually two-thirds of your arm, so the more muscular your triceps are, the more you can lift the weight.

How To Do Skull Crushers?

Every exercise must be performed accurately and with the correct procedure to gain the expected results. Let us look at this step-by-step guide to performing these skull crushers.

Raise both your hands straight

Skull Crusher Tip 1

Lay down on your workout bench with your back resting on the bench. Now, hold the weight with both your hands and raise them. It would be best if you kept both your hands and shoulders aligned. While doing this exercise, make sure that you can flex your upper back muscles and squeeze your shoulder blades together. The distance of the shoulders varies as per your comfortability and flexibility.

Lower the weight

Skull Crusher Tip 2

Now, bring the weight parallel to your forehead, which is why it is known as a skull crusher. After that, keep your elbows actively tucked in and ensure that they don’t flare out much because too many flared elbows can deactivate the triceps.

Tip: Squeeze the weight tight because doing this will actively engage your other muscles and make it easier for you to maintain a good posture throughout the exercise.

Stretch your triceps

Skull Crusher Tip 3

Lower your shoulders and roll back your arms to bring the weight behind your head. Now you will notice that the muscles of the entire arm back are engaged and stretched intensely. You have to do this process very slowly till you feel the stretch and not quickly bring it behind your back.

Stay firm and lift

Skull Crusher Tip 4

Now, you have to slowly bring back the weight forward like you did while lowering the weight. Smoothly performing this lift will prevent weight jerking and prevent elbow and shoulder pain. Make sure that your elbows are tucked through the lifting phase.

List Of Skull Crusher Exercises

Skull crusher exercises can be performed in various ways with the help of different types of equipment. Let us have a look at those exercises.

Dumbbell Skull Crusher

Dumbbell Skull Crusher

These DB skull crushers benefit lifters with muscle imbalance or coordination issues. While doing a dumbbell skull crusher exercise, each arm with a dumbbell has to work independently. You can take the weight as per your strength because dumbbells are difficult to control. Also, a deeper elbow flexion angle can allow help in muscle development.

EZ Bar Skull Crusher

EZ Bar Skull Crusher

This exercise will be a bit easier to perform as you will have to hold the bar with both hands. It protects your wrist by preventing weight pressure on it. Also, the wider grip will help you to balance the bar with both hands and reduce the elbow flare.

Barbell Skull Crushers

Barbell Skull Crushers

If you are a beginner, you can use a barbell for performing the skull crusher exercise. It is less weight as compared to the other lifting equipment. You can hold the barbell at a distance with both hands, thus making it easy for balancing the weight & performing the exercise.

Incline Skull Crushers

Incline Skull Crushers

While doing this exercise, take a slightly inclined bench and rest your back on it. One advantage of this incline bench skull crusher is that it gives you the freedom to select your preferred weight lifting equipment. With the incline bench, you can add more stretch to your triceps and hit the muscle from different angles.

Standing Skull Crushers

Standing Skull Crushers

You don’t need a bench to rest on it for doing this exercise. Instead, you have to stand straight and hold any weight lifting equipment. While doing this exercise, the procedure remains the same as others. But since it’s a long head, you stretch more muscles making the triceps stronger.

Who Should Do The Skull Crusher Exercises?

Skull crushers can benefit the people of certain groups who want to build their triceps.

Strength & Power Athletes

Athletes perform the skull crusher exercise to increase the tricep’s strength and hypertrophy. It also helps increase the resistance power to protect the elbow joint and improve the elbow extension abilities required for sports performance.

Olympic Weightlifters

Triceps help manage the overhead stability, elbow extensions in the snatch, and the jerk portions of the competitive lifts. By performing single-joint exercises like skull crushers, the lifters can build their strength and the muscle mass essential to lock out the lifts.


Skull crusher exercise is not as functional as other exercises like push-ups and dips, and that’s why it is a good option for lifters to increase the triceps training without much wear and tear on the shoulder and the chest. It also helps them to improve their upper body strength and elbow extensions. 

Strength Sets, Reps, And Weight Recommendations For Skull Exercises

If you want to make your triceps stronger and bigger, then the sets, reps, and rest time will be the deciding factor. Here are the details of how many you should do based on different training goals.

For Strength

Lifting heavy weights and taking the rest for a long time is the key here. You need to do 4 -6 sets of 4-8 repetitions and rest for approx 2-3 minutes between sets. This will overload the triceps, but it will also engage the nervous system and prepare the body to lift heavy loads in the future.

For Muscle Mass

Lift only the amount of weight you can control and do 10 reps. This will allow you to gain more mechanical stress and tension, and this is what your muscle needs to bounce back stronger. You need to do 4 -6 sets of 8-12 repetitions and rest for 1-2 minutes between sets.

For Muscle Endurance

Some lifters may want to gain greater muscle endurance for sport, which requires higher repetition ranges and shorter rest periods. You need to do your reps to achieve this, but make sure you take less weight at the bar. You need to perform 2-3 sets of 15-20 reps and rest for a minute between the sets.

Exercise Tips For Skull Crusher 

Here are some of the tips that you can consider while doing movements of the skull crusher exercise.

  • Use only your elbows while doing the exercise. Avoid moving your upper arms back and forth; otherwise, you might put a load on your shoulder and hurt yourself.
  • Keep your upper arms perpendicular to the floor and not to the body. This will ensure that you are doing a workout against gravity.
  • You must keep your elbows tight and not flare them much. Keeping it tight will make the triceps tone better, or it may reduce the load on the triceps.
  • If you are a beginner, take the help of a spotter. He will guide you to perform a few reps, help you to give the weight, and take it from you once you are done with the exercise.
  • Lift the weight you can control and manage safely; otherwise, you might lose balance and hurt yourself.

Common Mistakes That You Should Avoid While Doing Skull Crusher

We often tend to make some common mistakes while performing the exercises and hurt ourselves. We might also not achieve the desired results if we perform it incorrectly. So, here are some of the common mistakes that you can avoid while doing skull crusher exercises.

Hand Position

Keep your hands parallel to your shoulder when you lift the weight and at a distance from each other during the movement. This way, you help prevent stress or injury to your elbow joints.

Lifting Too Fast/Slowly

You have to perform this exercise slowly to control the weight and prevent any injury easily.

Loose Grip

Keep a firm grip when you pick up the weight, else accidentally, the weight might fall on your face or head and cause injury. As a safety precaution, it is advised to improve the grip strength first and then perform this exercise.

Lowering The Weight To The Face

While keeping your grip firm, don’t lower the weight towards your face or forehead; instead, take it slowly behind your head from a distance from your face. Ensure that you don’t hit your head while taking the weight backward or bringing it in front.

Too Much Weight

While doing this exercise, do not take much weight as this can stress your elbow. Instead, take lower-weight equipment and do as many reps as you can. 

Safety Precautions To Be Taken

Performing this exercise vigorously can lead to elbow pain. If you have undergone any surgery, it is advised not to perform this exercise. Also, if you feel pain in your elbow at any time while doing the exercise, you must stop it immediately.

If you are a beginner, then start with only a few reps, and then once you start building strength and grip, you can gradually increase the number of reps. If you are using a barbell, make sure you have a spotter available to help you if you face any difficulty.


The skull crusher is a popular exercise that focuses to build your triceps. It is always advised to perform any exercise with care and not to overdo it. I hope this article has given you complete knowledge about this exercise.

Gina Alvarez

Content Creator at Always Ful

Myself Gina Alvarez. I am a Creative Wordmonger & Content Creator of Always Ful. ...

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