Despite its name, Skull Crushers are not exercise techniques that will send you to the Emergency Room; unless, of course, you fail to execute it the correct way. This particular technique is primarily intended to strengthen and really workout those triceps so you get a well-formed, beautifully chiseled upper arms. Skull crushers are generally regarded as one of the best resistance exercises for hitting your triceps really hard. Unfortunately, it can be quite risky, too, hence, the name. Here’s what you need to know about this exercise so you’ll feel a lot safer executing it.
Understanding the Basics of Skull Crushers
In its simplest form, Skull Crushers is simply a technique of lifting weights over your head while you are lying squarely on a bench. Because the barbell is directly above your head, you skull, one wrong move or a slip of your grip can send the entire barbell right across your head.
Officially, it is called the lying triceps extensions and can be a very important tool for strengthening the muscles of the upper arms primarily the triceps with some emphasis on the muscle groups of the shoulders and traps.
Executing the Skull Crushers is relatively easy. You just lie down squarely on an exercise bench and grip the barbell over your head. Extend your arms straight up with the barbell positioned right over the shoulders. This is your starting position. Alone, it can already be risky as lifting weights that are substantially greater than what you are accustomed to can increase the risk of losing grip. From the starting position, slowly lower the barbell towards your forehead. You can do this by slowly bending your elbows until the bar of the barbell almost, but never touches your forehead. Extend those arms again to return to the starting position.
There are several variations in the move. You can allow your elbows to travel slightly back as you extend your arms to the original position. Doing so will move the barbell in a rather straight line just over your forehead. This can help put stress on the triceps more significantly than the standard way of performing the skull crushers.
Variations of Skull Crushers
The lying triceps extension can be performed using a standard barbell or even a dumbbell as well as virtually any other exercise machine. The important thing to remember is to work your triceps against resistance. Because of this, the technique can have variations. Here are some of the more common ones.
- Flat bench – This is one type of skull crusher that is commonly performed. It is very straightforward and doesn’t put any emphasis on any particular triceps head. As long as you’re able to accomplish the basic move you should do just fine.
- Incline – The incline skull crusher is especially useful for individuals who would like to work the long head of their triceps or even those individuals who may have insufficient strength in this muscle group. The key is to never have an incline that is too steep, otherwise, you lose the value of the resistance upon which your triceps will be working against. Instead, the focus will be shifted towards the shoulders. It should be good if you want to work the muscles of the shoulders. But, if you’re targeting the triceps, don’t make your incline too steep.
- Decline – If it is the triceps that you really want to work out, especially the lateral sections of the triceps head, then doing the skull crushers on a decline bench can bring you amazing results. Because the bench is slanted at a particular angle, the triceps will have to exert more force to lift the weights. This can lead to substantially greater results.
- 45-degree – This version of the skull crusher is a bit different since the arms are not fully extended. Instead, the arms are at a 45-degree angle to the back, allowing you to clear the weights a lot easier over your head. This also helps prevent the tendency to rest at the top.
- Cable pulleys or straight bar – Experts believe that if you want the best results for your triceps subjecting it to constant tension is the way to go. Pulling on a cable pulley helps you accomplish such a feat by increasing the amount of time under which the triceps is subjected to constant tension. Be careful though, as sudden release of the tension can have disastrous consequences.
There are other variants of skull crushers. Regardless of the equipment you use or the position you assume, it is critical to understand its safety implications. They don’t call it skull crushers for nothing.
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