Video Demonstration

Today we are going to look at an isolation exercise to help you train your triceps.

If you are new to lifting or have not been lifting for very long, you should focus on using heavy compound movements to build a foundation of strength before you even consider adding this exercise into your training routine.

We will cover everything you need to know for adding the Barbell Skull Crushers into your training routine.

This article will include a video, image and a written step by step description on how to do this exercise.

Its difficulty level, the equipment you need to do it. The different muscle groups that get worked when you use this exercise.

The benefits you get when adding it to your training routine. Also, some different training cues to use when you are performing it.

Since this is an isolation exercise, you should add it at the end of your routine. The beginning of your workout should consist of compound movements like the bench press and shoulder press.

Barbell Skull Crusher How to Guide

Image Example

how to perform the barbell skullcrusher

Step by Step Description

Step 1: Grab a barbell using an overhand grip(pronated) with your arms approximately shoulder-width apart. Lie with your back on a flat bench with your head near the end of the bench.

Step 2: Bring the bar back in a semi-circular motion as you extend your arms bringing the bar to the overhead position. Your arms should be over your head and perpendicular to the floor with your elbows tucked in towards your body.

You are now in the starting position.

Step 3: Inhale and lower the bar by bending at your elbows while keeping your upper arms stationary. Continue lowering the bar until your forearms are perpendicular to the floor.

Step 4: Exhale as you push the bar up in a semi-circular motion (your upper arms need to remain stationary, and only your forearms should move) until your forearms are parallel with the floor. When you are at the top of the movement, squeeze your triceps hard for one to two seconds.

Congratulations you have now completed one repetition. Repeat for the selected number of reps you have chosen.

Difficulty Level

This lift should get used by people who are at an intermediate fitness level.

You should have spent some time building a strong foundation of strength before adding this lift into your training routine. The Close Grip Bench Press is a compound movement you can use to help develop your triceps strength until you feel you need isolated tricep training.

Equipment Required

To perform this variation, you will need a barbell and some weight plates.

If you do not have access to a barbell, you can also complete the same movement with an EZ-bar, Dumbbells or Kettlebells.

Muscles Worked

The Primary muscle that gets worked is your Triceps. Your forearms are also involved in this lift but to a much lesser extent.

Benefits of Barbell Skull Crusher

Skullcrushers put a direct focus on your triceps. If you feel your arms could use some extra mass, adding Skullcrushers into your routine might just be what you need.

Since it uses such a basic movement pattern, there is a tiny chance of receiving an injury.

Training Tips

If you are experiencing elbow pain try altering the angle(incline or decline) you are on. Alternatively, you can try adjusting your elbow position(in versus out).

Do not lock out your elbows at the top of the movement. Keep a slight bend in your elbows to keep consistent tension on your triceps.

Use a slow and controlled movement when your a lifting the weight.

If you are attempting to move your maximal weight or pushing to failure, you should have a spotter watching you. This lift gets its name since if you drop the weight, the bar is going to come straight down onto your skull.

Do not overtrain or lift heavy every time you use this exercise. If you do you increases your chances of receiving a repetitive stress injury. So remember to cycle your reps and weight to keep you lifting pain-free for years to come.


Instead of bringing the bar to your forehead you can lower the bar behind your head instead. If you are performing this lift alone, you should think about using this variation. If you get stuck and cannot lift the weight, just drop the bar and allow it to fall to the floor behind you.

If you increase the angle of the bench you are on, your arms will be in more of an overhead position raising the amount of weight moved by your triceps long head.

Decreasing the angle so that you are at a decline, will reduce the long head involvement and increase the amount of work your lateral triceps head will have to perform.

In Closing

Before you add this lift to your training, you should have spent several months using compound movements to build up a solid foundation of strength and muscle.

If you have never tried this exercise try adding it to your routine for a few months to see all the different benefits this exercise has to offer.

Just remember to add it at the end of your routine, after completing your compound exercises.



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