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db Skull Crushers:
Get Big Results With These 2 Variations!

db Skull Crushers

 db Skull Crushers are an effective way of targeting the muscles of the Triceps, which include the long head, and lateral and medial head from the elbows down to the lats. When I first started using this exercise, I thought it was a great movement because everything worked to a degree as a novice lifter. Over time, I found the skull crusher to be less effective and swapped it for other tricep exercises. This was until trial and error made me realize how to make dumbbell skull crushers more effective.

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db Skull Crushers

 In this exercise master class, I will show you how to get the maximum effect from the exercise by making a few tweaks to traditional dumbbell skull crushers to generate a better response. We'll target specific parts of the muscle by modifying the movement.

These modifications have partly been responsible for owning 19'' natural arms at the age of 50-something and rebuilding my right arm after a horrific car accident that nearly ended my love of training.

Who Am I?

I'm Psymon H, your online training partner and the man behind the maximum muscle- minimal equipment training resource, Mission Jacked.

What are Dumbbell Skull Crushers?

Dumbbell Skull Crushers aka - db Skull Crushers are one of the most valuable dumbbell exercises for building the triceps if you know how to get the best out of the movement.

What makes Skull Crushers such an indispensable exercise is that they can be done with one or two dumbbells lying on the floor, on a bench, or standing up. You can also do this exercise using an ez bar (ez bar skull crushers), a barbell (barbell Skull Crushers), and cable Skull Crushers.

How To Do Skull Crushers With Dumbbells:

For the benefit of this article, we're going to focus on the dumbbell version of Skull Crushers.

 The Old Way To Do db Skull Crushers:

 Cue 1: Lay back on a flat bench with feet firmly on the

ground. Hold two dumbbells in your hands with a neutral grip and extend your arms over your chest.

Cue 2: Flex your elbows by lowering the dumbbells towards the top of the bench. Keep your arms perpendicular to your torso to keep the tension of the Triceps.

Cue 3: Raise the dumbbells back to the start position. Repeat for the desired amount of repetitions.

There's nothing wrong with performing your db Skull Crushers in this manner. But, if you want to maximize your efforts and gleam bigger rewards by way of inches on your arms, there is a much better way of doing dumbbell skull crushers. Welcome to the Dumbbell Skull Crusher With Twist.

What Is A Dumbbell Skull Crusher With Twist?

db Skull Crushers with Twist are what I consider to be an upgrade on traditional Dumbbell Skull Crushers, as the exercises seem to place more stress on the tricep brachii and force you to squeeze the muscles harder as you rotate the dumbbells back and forth. There are some other marked differences between the two exercise movements which I'm going to touch on after I lay out the different exercise cues.

How To Do Flat db Skull Crushers With Twist:

How To Do Flat db Skull Crushers With Twist

Items Needed: flat bench and one pair of dumbbells.

Cue 1: have your dumbbells in each hand. Lay back on a flat bench with your feet firmly on the floor or propped up on the edge of the bench. Slide along the bench so that the top of your head is over the edge of the bench.

Cue 2: Carefully bring the dumbbells level with the crown of your head and rotate the dumbbells to a reverse grip.

Cue 3: Keep your elbows from flaring out to the sides, but try to have them pointing upwards. Start by tensing your core and lifting your chest before taking a big breath.

Cue 4: Rather than extending your arms and straightening them above your chest, extend your arms out and keep the dumbbells low. Don't hold your breath during the exercise, but exhale as you begin to move the dumbbells.

Cue 5: At full extension, try to point the top of the dumbbells away from you and squeeze your triceps.  

Cue 6: Inhale as you return the dumbbells to the start position.

Differences between the two db Skull Crushers:

The Starting Position:

As you can see, the setup and starting points of both exercises are different. With traditional dumbbell skull crushers, you start with your arms in the fully extended position and the dumbbells over the chest. The dumbbell skull crusher with a twist starts in a fully lengthened position.

Having the dumbbells near your head enables you to focus on having your elbows up instead of flared out to the sides. Having your elbows flared can put more stress on the shoulders.

The End Position:

In my experience, the theory behind the twist at the end of the movement intensifies the peak contraction.

I always find that when I bring the dumbbells back too high (over the chest) I always lose stress on the Triceps. For this reason, I prefer to travel out with the dumbbells to maintain tension on all three of the tricep heads. 

Incline Skull Crushers With Twist:

Incline db Skull Crushers With TwistEnd Position

We're going to take the lying dumbbell skull crusher and put it on a slight incline. This style of db skull crushers puts more action on the medial and lateral tricep head.

Items Needed: Incline bench set at a 45-degree angle and one pair of dumbbells.

Cue 1: Sit back on an incline bench with dumbbells in hand and lift them over your head. Reverse your grip and place the dumbbells behind the crown of your head.

Cue 2: Keep your elbows in and facing forward. Tense your core and lift your chest before taking in an inhale. 

Cue 3: Exhale as you extend your arms in line with the back of the bench and twist the dumbbells.

Cue 4:  At full extension, try to point the top of the dumbbells and squeeze your triceps. Return the dumbbells to the start position and repeat for the desired amount of repetitions. 

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The Role of the Triceps: 

The Role of the Triceps:

The triceps are the main extensor of the upper limb and the main job is to bring the arm from a curl position to a straight position. As it makes up nearly 70% of the total arm size, the triceps needs to be trained regularly.

The triceps are made up of three heads. On the outer side of the arm and visible from the side is the Lateral Head. On the inner side of the arm is the Long Head, and underneath both of those heads and only visible on well-developed arms, we have the Medial Tricep Head running down towards the elbow.

db Skull Crushers FAQs:

Q: What muscles do dumbbell skull crushers work?

A: db skull crushers target the tricep brachii. The decline position (decline dumbbell skull crushers) or the flat position (lying dumbbell skull crusher), focuses on the long head of the Triceps. In the incline position, db Skull Crushers target more of the lateral tricep head.

Q: Are there any dumbbell skull crusher variations?

A: Lying Dumbbell Skull Crusher,

Dumbbell Skull Crushers Floor

Standing Dumbbell Skull Crushers

Decline Skull Crushers

Single Dumbbell Skull Crusher

Incline db Skull Crushers

db Skull Crushers on Ball

Dumbbell Skull Crusher with a twist

Q: Can you do skull crushers with a barbell

A: The short answer is yes. While you can do skull crushers with a barbell, the one thing that differs from a barbell is that you are locked into a position that can be stressful on your wrist.

Q: What bar to use for skull crushers?

A: You can use either a barbell or an ez bar. The best bar to use is an ez bar as you can ease the stress on your wrist. 

Q: Are skull crushers enough?

A: Similar to most things, variety is the spice of life. Since skull crushers target all three Tricep heads, you still need a selection of exercises to fully target the different heads.

Thank you for reading our "db Skull Crushers" article.

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