Dumbbell Skullcrusher

Isolation exercise, Free weights




Required equipment

Main muscles

  • Triceps: Three-headed arm muscle
    (Musculus triceps brachii)

Training plans

Dumbbell Skullcrusher is a suitable substitute for similar exercises in or as a supplement to various training plans.

Dumbbell Skullcrusher: Basics and alternatives

: Involved main muscle groups Dumbbell Skullcrusher

Involved main muscle groups:
Dumbbell Skullcrusher

The Dumbbell Skullcrusher is a variation of the Tricep Pushdown. Although your overall body position is different, the motion is pretty similar: hold the weight with bent arms and extend your elbows to isolate your triceps.

You can also try the Barbell Skullcrusher. Since both arms stabilize the barbell simultaneously, it’s a bit easier to execute. With dumbbells, you’ll need to focus more on proper execution and stabilization.

There are plenty of options for isolated tricep training. You can do the Tricep Pushdown on the cable machine or the overhead Tricep Pushdown. You can also try Kickbacks or even Kickbacks with a resistance band for a home workout.

Classic strength training exercises like the Bench Press and Push-Ups also provide a great chance to train your triceps along with other muscles.

Correct Execution

Here are three options for properly executing the Dumbbell Skullcrusher. In the first one, your elbows stay in the same place, and you lift and lower the weights just by flexing your elbows.

The second option involves lowering the dumbbells over your head. Your elbows move slightly backward, guiding the weights backward, and the range of motion increases.

In the third option, lower the weights more towards your face. Your elbows move a bit forward (towards your legs), and you lower the dumbbells a bit less.

The first option is usually considered the cleanest. The second one requires more stabilization work due to the larger range of motion. The third one reduces the range of motion a bit, making it easier to execute.

You can do this exercise on a flat bench or the floor. The flat bench allows for more freedom of movement. However, if you perform it on the floor, your shoulders might be slightly restricted to the side/back, which could limit your execution a bit. To counteract this, pull in your shoulder blades and puff out your chest a bit.

Video tutorial

Dumbbell Triceps Skull Crusher

Step-by-Step instructions

Grab a pair of dumbbells and sit on a flat bench, facing its length.

Lie down on your back and hold the dumbbells in front of your chest.

With your palms facing each other, lift the dumbbells straight up, keeping your elbows slightly bent and your shoulders width apart. This is your starting position.

Slowly lower the dumbbells to the side of your head, bending your elbows. After a brief pause, control the movement and raise the weights back to the starting position without swinging.

Common mistakes

Don’t extend your arms quickly, as it can put unnecessary stress on your joints and reduce the effectiveness of the exercise. Instead, perform a controlled extension movement for the best results.

Also, be mindful of your form: The movement should come primarily from your elbows, not your shoulders. Don’t move the weights straight down by involving your shoulders and spreading your arms too much. This will activate other muscle groups and detract from the isolation of your triceps.