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Crown Your Triceps with Skull-Crushers

Triceps Muscle and Skull-Crushers

Obtaining huge, ripped arms requires as much attention to the triceps (maybe more) the biceps muscles. This is because the triceps brachii muscle can make up about two-thirds of the upper arm mass. Having greater cross sectional mass than the biceps. Thus, if you want to stretch the arm tape measure to break the 20-inch barrier, you must be prepared. You’ll need to mercilessly hammer your triceps with heavy mass builders. A superior mass-building exercise is the skull-crusher. Also called the lying French press or lying triceps extension. This exercise activates all three heads of the triceps. Especially pounding the thick, long head of the muscle. Skull-crushers sound a bit like an old school approach, and they are. But this exercise is outstanding at building triceps mass and density.

Muscle Structure and Function

Skull-CrushersThe long head is the innermost of the three-headed triceps brachii muscle. It begins on the scapula (shoulder blade) just below (inferior to) the head of the humerus bone of the arm and shoulder joint. The muscle belly of the long head of the triceps brachii ends in a  tendon that joins the tendons from the other triceps heads. Making a common triceps tendon at the elbow. The triceps tendon crosses the elbow joint and attaches to the ulna bone of the forearm near the elbow.  The lateral head of the triceps brachii begins on the posterior part of the humerus bone of the upper arm. About two-thirds of the way toward the shoulder joint. It runs down the back (posterior), outer side of the humerus bone to connect to the common triceps tendon.

The medial head of the triceps brachii lies between and deep to the long and lateral heads of the triceps. It begins along the upper two-thirds of the posterior part of the humerus bone. The fibers of the medial head of the triceps run down the arm to connect triceps tendon, which inserts on the ulna bone. Together, the three heads of the triceps brachii muscle extend the forearm. Straighten the elbow joint. However, the long head of the triceps brachii can extend the shoulder (pull the arm to the rear of the body). Both of these functions of the long head are activated strongly by skull-crushers.


Skull-crushers require forearm extensions, so this exercise hits all three heads of the triceps. While the angles hit the long head particularly hard.

Build-Arm-MusclesYou might want to engage a training partner to spot you during this exercise. By following this plan, if the weight gets stuck on the way up, you can get some assistance to prevent the bar from crashing back uncontrollably toward your head. Although you can pile on weight with skull-crushers, that strategy does increase the risk of bouncing the bar off of your forehead. A safer strategy, especially without a training partner, is to use moderate weights for 12 repetitions. Preferentially activating the medial and lateral heads of the triceps first. Push it hard (with a spotter) as you approach fatigue, the larger and stronger fibers of the triceps will really come onboard to keep the bar moving.

Keep pushing the weight, but make sure your training partner is nearby as fatigue sets in. You should always warm your elbows up with a few lighter sets before hitting it hard and heavy.

Proper Training

When it comes to arms, your effort and consistency in training, along with proper exercise form, determines if triceps will develop the way you want them too. Make sure to warm up your elbows before hitting lying triceps extensions. Joint pain from sloppy training only brings you closer to a forced layoff. On the other hand, you will want to experience the “good” pain that is induced from temporary lack of blood flow. Meaning you are moving closer to the ultimate triceps. Persistent exercise will increase your pain threshold. Nevertheless, do not push to the limits on  lying triceps extensions without proper safety and good exercise form.

The Exercise

  1. Place an EZ barbell on the end of a flat bench. You can use a straight bar, but will likely find it easier on the wrists to use the bent bar. Lie on the bench and grip the bar behind your head with a narrow, overhand grip. Palms facing up. You can place both feet on the floor or on the other end of the bench if you prefer.
  2. Move the bar from the bench by extending your elbows and lifting the bar until it is directly over your eyes.
  3. Do not pause at the top, but immediately lower the bar toward your forehead by controlling the flexion (bending) of your elbows. When you lower the weight to your forehead, you should do this relatively slowly, over three or four seconds.
  4. Continue to lower the bar until the bar almost contacts your forehead. Control the weight so that it does not crash into your head. (Skull-crushers did not get their name for no good reason!)
  5. Immediately extend your elbows so that the bar moves upward until it is over your eyes. In the top position, your elbows should be almost straight. After reaching the top, control the lowering of the weight back to your forehead. Repeat the next repetition until the set is complete.





Crown Your Triceps with Skull-Crushers
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