Dumbbell Skull Crusher Exercise Guide (Build Bigger and Stronger Triceps)

This complete guide to the Dumbbell Skull Crusher will teach you everything you need to know in order to maximise your knowledge, gains, progress and technique.

What is the Dumbbell Skull Crusher Exercise?

The dumbbell skull crusher exercise is a great way to work on triceps development and strength.

This exercise can be performed using other objects, but here we will focus on dumbbells.

Sometimes this exercise is called the French press.

The dumbbells should be held directly above your head with your elbows straight but not locked out.

Then slowly lower the weight down behind your head until your forearms are perpendicular to the floor before raising the weights back up again in one smooth motion until they are almost touching above your head again.

How to do Dumbbell Skull Crusher

  • Lie flat on a bench with a dumbbell in each hand (palms facing each other)
  • Position the dumbbells over your chest with arms straight and a neutral hammer grip on the handles. The starting position should look like a typical hammer bench press.
  • Inhale and brace your core, glutes and grip.
  • Keeping the upper arms stationary, lower the weights by allowing the elbows to flex. In this portion of the movement, only the forearms should move and raise back up to starting position without locking out your elbows at the top.
  • Flex the triceps and return the weights to the starting position.
  • Exhale.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

What are the benefits of Dumbbell Skull Crusher?

This exercise has the following benefits:

  • Increased strength in the triceps and shoulders.
  • Improved shoulder mobility.
  • Increased grip strength.
  • It helps to burn fat.
  • Promotes bone health by increasing bone density, mineral density, and mineral content.

Muscles worked by Dumbbell Skull Crusher

The primary muscles targeted by the Dumbbell Skull Crusher are your triceps brachii.

This muscle is a three-headed muscle that has several functions, but it’s main role is to extend (straighten) your arm.

In addition to the triceps brachii, the Dumbbell Skull Crusher can also exercise these secondary muscles:

  • Anconeus
  • Brachialis
  • Brachioradialis

Alternatives to the Dumbbell Skull Crusher exercise

Here are a few alternatives to the skull crusher that hit different muscles:

  • Triceps dip
  • Triceps kickback
  • Close-grip bench press

Here is an alternative that has similar motion and benefits but works different muscles:

  • Overhead tricep extension with dumbbells
Tricep Dips WODs skull crushers Perfect Triceps Workout Isolation Exercises dumbbell skull crusherSource: John Fornand on Unsplash

Mistakes with the Dumbbell Skull Crusher exercise

Avoid the following mistakes when performing the dumbbell skull crusher.

  • Using too much weight. This mistake will cause your form to degrade, increasing the risk of injury and decreasing the effectiveness of the exercise.
  • Using improper form. Make sure to keep your elbows pointed toward the ceiling throughout this move, and try not to let them flare out. Also, keep your back straight and avoid arching it when you lower or raise the weight; this will help you get stronger without injuring yourself.
  • Not using a full range of motion (ROM). When you raise it all the way up, pause for a second before lowering it again so that you can feel more tension in each repetition. The only way to fully reap benefits from this move is by doing it correctly with proper form—and that means extending every movement as far as possible without sacrificing safety!
  • Using momentum instead of strength during repetitions. You should be lifting only what feels comfortable for each repetition; don’t try to do more than this by using momentum from other muscles like your legs or core rather than focusing on isolating those triceps!

Why You Should do the Dumbbell Skull Crusher

You’ll be glad to know that you can use this exercise as a substitute for other exercises.

The dumbbell skull crusher is often compared to the lying triceps extension, but it has a less severe pumping sensation and is more focused on strengthening and isolating your triceps.

If you’re most interested in toning your muscles, the dumbbell skull crusher may be the better option over the lying triceps extension.

Although there are many ways to build muscle and gain strength, few will successfully target your triceps while also improving your grip strength as well as lifting heavier weight than with standard barbell lifts.

For methodical beginners who want to achieve big gains through small improvements, this movement should be a staple in their arm-focused routines.

What are the Benefits of Training with Dumbbells?

  • Increase strength
  • Increase muscle growth
  • Increase flexibility
  • Increase confidence
  • Increase fat loss
  • Increase endurance
  • Improve mobility and range of motion
  • Improve coordination and balance

How do Dumbbells Help to Build Muscle and Strength?

  • When you lift free weights, such as dumbbells, the weight is not evenly distributed. This makes it harder for your body to stabilize itself compared to a barbell or machine. To help stabilize the dumbbell, your muscles have to contract harder and become more active.
  • Dumbbell workouts also allow you to work one arm at a time instead of both together. This helps you correct possible muscle imbalances, while also targeting smaller muscle groups that machines may neglect.

The Dumbbell Skull Crusher is a great triceps exercise that can be done at home.

The Dumbbell Skull Crusher is a great triceps exercise that can be done at home, because it requires little to no equipment. The dumbbell skull crusher is a more challenging variation of the classic skull crusher.

It is great for building and toning triceps. You can do these on a bench or on the ground with your body held up by one arm and your leg extended on the floor. There are also variations such as doing them with alternating arms, or holding both weights in one hand and extending outwards from that position, in order to target different muscle groups.

Learn More

Try the Inverted Row or Barbell Hip Thrust.

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