If you’ve been working on muscle gain in your triceps lately, then you must have practiced a set or two of skullcrushers. The widely-known skullcrusher exercise is one of the first that people tend to follow when they’re starting to lift weights for the first time. This can be a particularly difficult exercise at first and there’s a lot of ways in which you could mess this up. But skullcrushers are extremely effective and maybe the quickest way to put pressure on those triceps. However, if for any reason you’re unable to perform the skullcrusher exercise optimally, then there are some skullcrusher alternatives as well that you can include in your workout to really work on every part of your triceps even whilst skipping the skullcrusher exercise altogether.
What Is the SkullCrusher Exercise?
There are many variations you can put the skullcrusher under as well, therefore maximizing the output you receive from it. What they essentially entail is lifting your weights perpendicular to your torso, and bringing them down to your head – which is mainly why it’s called the skull crusher.
You can perform this exercise with an EZ bar, a decline chair, or maybe some good-old dumbbells. The possibilities are endless and the ease of how straightforward this exercise is really shown in the quick gains you can make. They’re not without their disadvantages, however.
What Muscles Do Skullcrushers Work?
The skullcrushers are infamously known to work all the three heads of your triceps – so if you want bigger and beefier triceps, then you might want to start implementing skullcrusher exercises in your routine. However, it is a bit more complex than that. The exercise effectively hits all three heads of your triceps – namely the long head, the lateral head and the medial head.
When you’re performing this exercise on an incline bench, then your upper arms fall more in line with your torso – which then works your long head triceps. Similarly, on a decline bench, your upper arms are near parallel to your torso, which is conducive to working on your lateral tricep heads.
Alternating between these can work on both areas equally – making this an overall versatile exercise. Not only this, but they are also helpful if you want to go on to do other sets post your skullcrusher workout – since they’re very effective in working your push-ups and grip strength as well.
Why Would You Want to Replace Skullcrushers?
While this may seem like an exercise that has a myriad of benefits, it is completely alright to choose to not do it. There might be many reasons why you’re not prepared to introduce skullcrushers into your daily workout:
Lack of Equipment
There is indeed a myriad of variations for the skullcrusher exercise. But all of them require technical equipment of some kind – whether they be dumbbells, EZ bars, the Smith machine, or cables with an appropriate attachment. If you prefer to get in your workouts at home and do not have these equipments at your disposal, then you may not want to consider adding skullcrusher exercises to your routine.
Similarly, if you still happen to be quarantined, you can imitate other complex movements at home with minimal equipment that would otherwise have required machinery. This guide discusses the scope of substituting the leg press exercise for your lower body days. The leg press is infamously known to be performed on a machine exclusively used for that particular exercise. Yet , with a little thought, you may easily find an effective replacement, if for some reason, you don’t have access to the machine.
No Access to a Gym
It thus follows that if you do not have ready access to a gym, then you may not find the skullcrusher exercise viable. These exercises are best done in the confines of technical machinery and in the vicinity of a spotter, so if you’re currently unable to find a way to get in a gym, then this is not the best option for tricep training.
Not only the skullcrusher exercise makes you more prone to injury, but it may accentuate your existing injuries as well. It is not recommended to routinely perform the skullcrusher exercise if your upper arm or elbow has sustained a previous injury.
5 Effective SkullCrusher Alternatives That Guarantee A Massive Pump
If for any of the above reasons you are unable to effectively introduce the skullcrusher exercise into your daily workout and lifts, then you may consider some alternatives to get that blood gushing into your triceps.
This is an excellent substitute for skullcrusher and works mostly on your triceps and chest. The concept of doing diamond push-ups is quite easy – all you have to do is make a diamond position with the thumbs and index fingers of both your hands and use that as a base to lift you up when you’re doing a pushup.
Make sure, however, that this diamond is touching your chest every time you go down and then up. You also have to keep in mind that you need to position this diamond right at the center of your chest and just below your chin – otherwise it would strain your shoulders and that’s not what you’re looking for.
This exercise usually works the medial and lateral heads of your triceps, but it infamously does not work your long head triceps really well. However, it can still be an excellent alternative to the skullcrusher exercise mainly due to its simplicity and familiarity.
A way to make sure that you’re maximizing muscular hypertrophy with the diamond pushups is making sure that you’re in absolutely proper form – that is, your body needs to be at a 45-degree angle to the ground. Make sure that your hips are not sagging and that your arms are not flaying outwards either, even if that feels most natural!
Close Grip Bench Press
The close grip bench press exercise is also an extremely simple alternative to skullcrushers that you must have come across before. While it looks very simplistic at first glance, it is truly a miracle for those triceps. It’s incredibly similar to the usual bench press exercise – all you have to do is use a barbell and grip it narrower than you usually would.
What this means is that your arms should be a little closer to each other than them just being right above your shoulders. Then, you simply bring down the barbell to your lower chest and exhale to push it up once again. This engages your core and works on the short tricep heads. Moreover, it being a multi-joint movement, the exercise also engages your shoulder and chest to a certain degree, essentially using them as “secondary muscles” while you perform your set. This additional help from other secondary muscles is the reason why you’ll notice that you’re able to go heavier on the barbell as compared to the weight you’d be able to push doing skullcrushers. In brief, this makes it a versatile addition to your routine.
To maximize your muscular hypertrophy, attempt to do around 3 sets of 15-20 repetitions of this exercise in your tricep training. This induces enough muscular damage and ensures fatigue in order to really work those triceps. You can also introduce variations into your routine such as paused reps and varied tempo in order to maximize hypertrophy as well. All in all, the close grip bench press is an excellent exercise for your triceps that you can easily progress on without straining your joints and tendons all that much.
Overhead Rope Extensions
This exercise can get a little technical but is an excellent way of working your triceps without much setup or prep required. Also referred to as the overhead cable rope pull, this exercise is fairly simple to understand. Fasten a rope attachment to the pulley behind you, and position yourself in a way that gripping the rope is not straining your arms too much – just above your head is the most preferable position. Grip the rope with both your hands and pull it forward, past your head.
Repeat this motion continuously and make sure that your upper arms are steady and immobile. The section of your arms doing the pulling should only be your lower arms – this helps out your triceps tremendously. This targets your long head muscles especially – which is important for overall tricep development since it makes the triceps look beefier.
To maximize muscular hypertrophy, attempt to do three sets of 10-12 repetitions – and of course, you have to combine them with other tricep workouts if you’re working solely on the triceps. The overhead rope extension exercise is an excellent alternative to the skullcrushers since all three parts of the triceps are worked on.
Weighted Bench Dips
A very surprisingly simple exercise keeping in mind its benefits, the weighted dips are something you can easily incorporate into your routine if you’re looking for maximum muscle damage and juicy tricep gains. You have to start by sitting on a bench and extending your feet parallel to the floor on the other bench.
Your lap needs to have weights of some kind – usually a weighted plate or a weighted dip belt. All you have to do now is lower yourself at a 45-degree angle onto the floor. The weight adds extra pressure to your triceps, which are thoroughly worked on with this exercise. Keep in mind to not lower yourself too much, since that can lead to injury.
This exercise is excellent because it usually works on your long head triceps – additionally, your chest, and shoulders are also worked on at the same time. To reap maximum benefits, you can do around 8-12 repetitions in sets of 3-4.
Tricep kickbacks are, in fact, an extremely versatile set of exercises that you can implement with any equipment or in any position. The bottom line of the exercise is to solely work your triceps as precisely as possible.
They can be performed with dumbbells, cables, and on the bench as well. If you’re on a bench, attempt to kneel with the opposite leg of the arm which you’re going to be working, curve your knee slightly, and swing your arm back with the dumbbell till it’s parallel to the floor. You can begin with lighter weights to get used to the exercise first, then going on to do heavier weights with more variations. Make sure that your shoulders are parallel to the ground. You can also replace the dumbbells with cables to do the same.
These tricep kickbacks are great skullcrusher substitutes because they’re fairly simple to get used to, and are also responsible for working on your long head triceps. For maximizing muscular dystrophy, you can attempt 2-3 sets with 10 repetitions for each session.
As you have seen, skullcrushers are definitely not the be-all-and-end-all of tricep training. There is a variety of them that you can implement just as easily in your workout routines and expect to see your gym bros mirin’ your gains. These sets of exercises do not only work one part of your triceps – all three of them can be worked on equally and regulated by performing them in combinations if you’re looking to work solely on your triceps. Introduce any of these in your workout and don’t let anything stop the gain train.