How to do a Dumbbell Skullcrusher

Authored by Fitbod

About Dumbbell Skullcrusher

Sets Logged
5,515,787
Popularity Rank
11th
Difficulty
Beginner
Triceps Strength
99 mSCORE 2nd
Equipment Required
Primary Muscles
Secondary Muscles
None

Instructions: How To

Dumbbell Skullcrusher is an isolation exercise that targets your triceps. Unlike some skull crusher variations, the use of dumbbells prevents you from compensating for any differences in strength between sides, as well as adding some instability to the movement.

  1. Lie your back onto a bench while squeezing your shoulder blades together and placing your heels firmly on the ground underneath your knees.
  2. The bench should be in contact with your head, shoulders, and butt.
  3. Position the dumbbells over your shoulders, palms facing inward, and your elbows slightly bent.
  4. Keep your core braced as you lower the dumbbells overhead by flexing your elbows while keeping your upper arms vertical to the ground.
  5. Once the dumbbells have been lowered to just above your forehead, exhale to return the dumbbells back to the starting position.

Performance Tips

  • Does Dumbbell Skullcrusher work all 3 tricep heads?

    Yes, dumbbell skull crushers work all three heads of the triceps: the long head, the lateral head, and the medial head. This exercise is effective in targeting the triceps muscle as a whole, with an emphasis on the long head due to the position of the arms and the angle of the movement. To ensure balanced development and optimal engagement of all three heads, it's important to maintain proper form and full range of motion throughout the exercise.

  • Which part of the skull do skullcrushers hit?

    The term "skullcrusher" in the exercise does not refer to hitting or impacting any part of the head. Instead, it describes the motion of the exercise, where the dumbbells are brought down towards the forehead or "skull" and then extended back up, mimicking the action of "crushing" something over the head. To clarify, the dumbbell skullcrusher targets the triceps muscles in the upper arms and not the head itself. It is crucial to perform the exercise with control to avoid any actual contact with the head and ensure safety.

  • Is Dumbbell Skullcrusher the same As Tricep Extension?

    The dumbbell skullcrusher and tricep extension both target the triceps but are performed differently. The dumbbell skullcrusher is done lying on a bench, where you lower the dumbbells towards your forehead and then extend them back up, primarily emphasizing the long head of the triceps. In contrast, the tricep extension can be performed standing, sitting, or lying down. In this exercise, you raise the dumbbells or barbell overhead, lower them behind your head, and then extend back up, targeting all three heads of the triceps. Both exercises are effective for triceps development, but they use different angles and positions.

Common Mistakes

  • Limit Range of Motion at the Top

    Make sure you’re keeping tension on your triceps at the top of the movement. Many lifters will lock out their arms with the weight directly over their elbow. This gives your triceps time to rest between reps. Limit your range of motion so there’s always tension on your triceps.

  • Elbow Drift

    Don’t allow your elbows to move much during this exercise. A little movement is fine, but you want the weight to pivot around your elbow as much as possible. Try shifting your mindset from lowering the weight directly onto your forehead, to arcing around towards the top of your head.

Sets & Reps: How many to do

Use this calculator to see Fitbod's possible first recommendations for you. This would be your starting line, based on more than 4.5 billion logged sets from 1.1 million users.

  • beginner
    8
    reps
    17.5
    lbs
    1 Rep Max
    22.5
    lbs
  • intermediate
    8
    reps
    20
    lbs
    25
    lbs
  • advanced
    8
    reps
    25
    lbs
    30
    lbs

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