Now Reading
The right way to Do the Barbell Cranium Crusher for Triceps Measurement and Energy

The right way to Do the Barbell Cranium Crusher for Triceps Measurement and Energy

How to Do the Barbell Skull Crusher for Triceps Size and Strength

The barbell cranium crusher, also called the barbell triceps extension, is among the most well-known workout routines for the triceps. But it’s closely underrated as a result of a misunderstanding of carry out the train successfully.

The barbell cranium crusher can enhance energy in a wide range of actions, particularly the bench press and overhead press. When carried out accurately, the train takes your triceps via a spread of movement that can ignite your muscle-building potential and problem the triceps in a method that few workout routines can.

The right way to Do the Barbell Cranium Crusher

Cranium crushers could look like a easy motion, however lifters don’t usually optimize their place to get probably the most triceps development for his or her buck. By making use of easy adjustments to your physique place, you’ll be able to facilitate much more muscle development whereas lowering pressure on the elbow and shoulder joints.

Right here’s what you could know to excellent the motion and unlock its potential.

Step 1 — Get Into Place

Credit score: Serghei Starus / Shutterstock

Lie on a flat bench with a barbell held over your chest in a shoulder-width, palms-down grip, the identical method you’ll when performing a bench press. When you’ve got a coaching accomplice, they may also help you get the bar into the beginning place. In case you’re coaching alone, you need to use the bench press pins or “kick” the bar into place along with your knees as you lie on the bench.

Limiting any arch of the decrease again will assist to create a extra deprived place for the triceps, that means that the muscle must work more durable. And dealing more durable means you’ll construct extra dimension and energy.

Type Tip: Deal with retaining a “grounded” and totally engaged torso with no arch in your decrease again. You possibly can place your toes on the bench to deal with limiting torso extension.

Step 2 — Decrease the Weight to a Full Stretch

Man in gym performing triceps exercise with barbell
Credit score: Jasminko Ibrakovic / Shutterstock

Decrease the barbell in the direction of your brow. That is the place the “cranium crusher” train will get its melodramatic identify.

As you attain roughly the midway level, barely shift your elbows in the direction of your head to maximise the stretch on the triceps. Simply don’t allow them to transfer too far again, which might recruit your lats as a substitute of emphasizing your triceps.

Type Tip: Vary of movement is vital right here. Feeling the triceps stretched to their fullest will let you know when you’ve got carried out this a part of train accurately. It is very important not chill out the muscle and let the load pressure the joints on the backside. Make a acutely aware effort to actively contract the triceps.

Step 3 — Lengthen Your Arms to Elevate the Weight

Man in gym performing barbell triceps exercise on flat bench
Credit score: Serghei Starus / Shutterstock

Pause briefly within the totally stretched place earlier than powerfully contracting your triceps to increase your arms. “Carry explosively, decrease beneath management” is an efficient option to method each parts of this train.

Within the high place, your arms needs to be locked out with the bar above your brow, not your chest. This helps to keep up fixed rigidity and may result in extra development. With cranium crushers, and plenty of muscle-building actions, rigidity is the secret.

Type Tip: Maintain your elbows regular whereas elevating the load. Deal with getting the load up by flexing your triceps and driving your palms via the bar. Within the lockout place, your triceps ought to nonetheless be beneath rigidity, not relaxed.

Barbell Cranium Crusher Errors to Keep away from

Easy and powerful execution is the important thing to be sure to’re really concentrating on the triceps with cranium crushers. Too usually, lifters fear a lot about transferring heavy weights that they find yourself swinging their higher physique and taking work away from the triceps.

Elbows Flaring Out

The first perform of the triceps is to supply elbow extension, or straightening of the arms. To do that, you need the elbows to be secure when performing barbell cranium crushers. This permits a better reference to the triceps with out displacing stress to different muscle mass or offering added stress to the joints.

Man in gym performing lying triceps exercise
Credit score: MDV Edwards / Shutterstock

In case your elbows flare out, then you definitely lose the flexibility to maximise the strain positioned on the triceps. You additionally place the fragile elbow joint into an unstable load-bearing place which might result in ache and damage.

Keep away from It: Keep a powerful belly brace and management your respiration sample. This will increase stability as an entire, out of your torso via your arms, which is able to permit better management when performing the motion. Selecting an applicable weight and easily executing reps with managed kind can also be important.

Unstable Torso

Though you’re mendacity on a flat bench, the torso performs a surprisingly massive function when performing the barbell cranium crusher. Some lifters permit their hips to shoot up, which results in instability via the torso through extension (once you create a big arch in your decrease again).

muscular man in gym lying on bench holding barbell above head
Credit score: Skydive Erick / Shutterstock

This may have an effect on effectivity in recruiting your triceps as a result of your shoulders and elbows are then shifted backwards, which causes the complete higher physique to develop into unstable. This additionally turns the motion right into a pullover variation, which places extra work onto the lats and serratus as a substitute of the triceps.

Keep away from It: Elevate your toes onto the bench or transfer the bench close to a wall and place your toes on the wall throughout the set. This unusual resolution means that you can preserve your torso in touch with the bench and be extra secure, which boosts your capability to keep up rigidity on the triceps with elevated stability from head to toe.

Advantages of the Barbell Cranium Crusher

Some lifters select to reduce or totally overlook direct triceps workout routines, just like the barbell cranium crusher. This method to coaching is commonly primarily based on the time-efficient however arguably efficient system of counting on the triceps’ function as assistant muscle mass throughout bigger workout routines, corresponding to presses, to supply enough stimulus.

Muscular man in gym flexing muscles during triceps exercise
Credit score: Istvan Csak / Shutterstock

Concentrating on the triceps immediately with the barbell cranium crusher can ship better general outcomes as a result of elevated muscle activation throughout the train.

Enhance Lockout Energy

The triceps are liable for full elbow extension throughout higher physique urgent actions such because the bench press or overhead press. The barbell cranium crusher performs an enormous function in creating your capability to efficiently lockout every rep. Any lifter centered on enhancing these heavy lifts will see better enhancements and fewer weak factors when implementing cranium crushers into their program.

Construct Larger Arms

For some lifters, the objective of coaching is simply to construct a stable set of pipes. The triceps take up two-thirds of the higher arm, in comparison with the comparatively smaller biceps, which implies giving the triceps loads of consideration is a surefire option to improve arm dimension. The barbell cranium crusher targets all three heads of the triceps for full growth.

Muscle mass Labored by the Barbell Cranium Crusher

The barbell cranium crusher primarily targets all three heads of the triceps muscle, with particular recruitment of the lengthy head as a result of shoulder place throughout the train.

Bodybuilder flexing arm and back muscles
Credit score: Valeriya Sytnick / Shutterstock

Triceps Brachii

The triceps brachii are “the triceps” on the again of the higher arm. It consists of three separate heads — the lengthy, lateral, and medial — which perform collectively to increase the arm. All three heads connect with the forearm bone, however solely the lengthy head attaches to the scapula whereas the opposite heads connect to the humerus (higher arm).

As a result of the lengthy head crosses the shoulder joint with this distinctive attachment, it’s emphasised when performing the barbell cranium crusher (or any time the higher arm is concerned in an train).

Who Ought to Do the Barbell Cranium Crusher

No lifter ought to neglect this useful train. Its usefulness can particularly support many different actions all through your week of coaching.

Coaching for Energy and Energy

As a result of the barbell cranium crusher strengthens the triceps and improves lockout energy, lifters looking for to extend their bench press or overhead press will profit tremendously from including cranium crushers to their programming. 

Coaching for Muscle

When a lifter’s objective is constructing larger arms, the barbell cranium crusher needs to be prioritized. The entire muscle recruitment of the triceps, with particular emphasis on the lengthy head, influences muscle development in contrast to many different triceps workout routines.

The right way to Program the Barbell Cranium Crusher

The triceps have been proven to have a excessive diploma of kind II muscle fibers. These “fast-twitch” fibers permit the triceps to reply exceptionally effectively to explosive-type energy coaching and heavy lifting. (1)(2) . Nevertheless, to recruit all muscle fiber varieties for optimum growth, utilizing a mixture of rep ranges has been proven to be greatest. (3)

It is very important be aware that the triceps are activated throughout horizontal and vertical urgent actions, with horizontal presses (just like the bench press) recruiting extra triceps in comparison with vertical presses (just like the shoulder press). (4) The inclusion of isolation workout routines just like the barbell cranium crusher can be essential to totally stimulate the triceps for max outcomes.

Larger frequency coaching has been proven to be more practical than decrease frequency work. (5) Begin with coaching the triceps twice per week and slowly graduate to a few days per week for max development.

Average Weight, Average Repetition

On days once you carry out overhead urgent (shoulder) workout routines, which recruit the triceps to a lesser diploma, carry out the barbell cranium crusher for three or 4 units of 10 to 12 reps to maximally activate the triceps. This method is greatest complemented by coaching triceps in a further exercise utilizing a special set and rep vary for improved general outcomes.

Lighter Weight, Larger Repetition

Two to 4 days after the primary exercise, ideally on a day you incorporate horizontal (chest) urgent workout routines, prepare triceps utilizing three or 4 units of 12 to twenty reps. This numerous stimulus permits enough restoration from the earlier exercise. Pairing lighter weight, higher-rep triceps coaching with comparatively heavy chest workout routines additionally helps to scale back pressure on the elbow joints.

Working the triceps a number of occasions per week utilizing a wide range of units, reps, and masses is an almost-perfect option to construct larger, stronger triceps in a secure and efficient method.

Barbell Cranium Crusher Variations

Many novices bounce proper into workout routines that require a sure stage of approach. Whereas the barbell cranium crusher shouldn’t be super-technical, it does contain some particular issues to maximise the recruitment of the triceps. Studying efficient variations could also be extra applicable for lifters having bother with the barbell motion or lifters searching for selection.

Resistance Band Cranium Crusher

Use the identical physique place and flat bench setup because the barbell cranium crusher with one small distinction. Wrap a resistance band beneath the pinnacle facet of the bench or round a heavy barbell on the ground.

Lie down and seize the band along with your palms dealing with the ceiling. Start from the stretched place and lengthen your arms overhead.

Flat Bench Cable Triceps Extension

Set a bench in entrance of a cable machine. Connect an angled bar to the decrease pulley. Lie on the bench along with your head nearest the cable and carry out a cranium crusher, ranging from the underside place to full lockout.

This variation is a good alternative to apply the complete approach earlier than getting your self beneath some heavier masses. Additionally, the cable gives extra fixed rigidity on the muscle because it’s taut all through the whole thing of the train’s vary of movement.

Dumbbell Cranium Crusher

Lie again onto a flat bench with a pair of dumbbells. Start with the weights above your chest, much like a dumbbell bench press. Decrease the load beneath management in the direction of your head, angling your palms inwards to the touch the highest of your shoulders.

See Also
Do Genetics Make for Better Strength and Power Athletes?

Contract your triceps to totally lengthen your arms and start decreasing into the subsequent rep. As soon as you’ll be able to carry out these with management, you may be able to get your self beneath the bar for some extra intense cranium crushers.

Barbell Cranium Crusher Alternate options

The barbell cranium crusher is one very efficient kind of triceps extension, however different triceps extension workout routines could be helpful for bulking up the triceps. Listed here are some nice alternate options to contemplate primarily based in your general program and out there tools.

Overhead Extension

When you’ve got good shoulder mobility and wholesome elbows, overhead extensions will put your triceps into a fair deeper stretch within the backside place. This elevated vary of movement ought to stimulate much more muscle development.

Cable triceps extensions are an excellent various to the barbell. The principle variations are the loading (as a result of cable train can’t be progressed as closely as barbells) and the positioning of the higher arm.

Tricep Pressdown

Triceps pressdowns could be much less disturbing on the elbow joint than barbell cranium crushers.

They gained’t work your triceps via as deep of a stretch, which implies the muscle-building stimulus could also be decreased. The largest benefit is that pressdowns are typically simpler on the elbows, particularly if utilizing a rope deal with attachment.

Shut-Grip Bench Press

As a result of the bench press is so conducive to larger loading, it’s an ideal alternative for a triceps-focused heavy motion. Heavier masses have been proven to elicit larger ranges of triceps activation, so this train is greatest programmed in a decrease rep vary. (6)

A shoulder-width grip produces extra triceps activation than a wider bench press grip, and an inside-shoulder-width grip creates even better triceps recruitment (7) Nevertheless, such an especially close-grip can present undesirable pressure in your wrists and restrict the vary of movement. For optimum outcomes, use a shoulder-width grip to emphasise the triceps.

Time to Crush the Triceps

Barbell cranium crushers will at all times be a mainstay in triceps exercises. The vary of movement and muscle recruitment are almost not possible to duplicate with different workout routines. It improves your bench press and builds larger arms. If these aren’t two of the most well-liked targets within the gymnasium, then what are?


How can I improve the load used on this train?

A big a part of transferring heavier weights will stem out of your capability to maintain your torso secure via bracing. Tighten your abdomen as in case you had been getting punched. This will increase engagement of your whole core and helps to supply head-to-toe stability.

Elevated stability means that you can extra successfully handle every rep — decreasing the barbell to the totally lengthened backside place and ensuring the triceps are contracting to maneuver the barbell again up, not simply waving your arms up and down.

A necessary component in coaching is with the ability to produce the trouble required for every rep. More often than not, effort is the quantity of weight being lifted. However by no means lose focus in your capability to keep up rigidity on the triceps. In case you are not robust sufficient to maintain your torso secure, then the strain shifts off of the triceps and you might be left open to an damage or, worse, wasted time.

What do I do if my elbows damage when performing cranium crushers?

Complaints of discomfort and ache within the elbows are frequent throughout some triceps workout routines, particularly if the lifter has pre-existing joint issues. Overhead extensions are typically probably the most troublesome train, however cranium crushers should trigger issues.

Performing your heavier urgent workout routines first in your exercises will successfully warm-up your elbows earlier than hitting cranium crushers. The heavier work may also fatigue your triceps, resulting in a discount in weight used for cranium crushers.

A lighter weight additionally permits the next rep vary. Keep in mind, utilizing heavy masses shouldn’t be a very powerful coaching variable. Sustaining rigidity on the triceps and maximizing the vary of movement can result in better advantages. When you’ve got been performing 6-10 reps, transfer into 12-20 reps.

You may also use a special cranium crusher variation. As a substitute of a straight barbell, strive the EZ-bar to barely regulate the wrist and elbow angle throughout the train. If that doesn’t assist sufficient, use dumbbells or a cable variation, both with each arms or as single-arm workout routines to strengthen every triceps individually.


  1. Talbot J, Maves L. Skeletal muscle fiber kind: utilizing insights from muscle developmental biology to dissect targets for susceptibility and resistance to muscle illness. Wiley Interdiscip Rev Dev Biol. 2016;5(4):518-534. doi:10.1002/wdev.230
  2. Terzis G, Georgiadis G, Vassiliadou E, Manta P. Relationship between shot put efficiency and triceps brachii fiber kind composition and energy manufacturing. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2003;90(1-2):10-15. doi:10.1007/s00421-003-0847-x
  3. Schoenfeld BJ, Grgic J, Van Each DW, Plotkin DL. Loading Suggestions for Muscle Energy, Hypertrophy, and Native Endurance: A Re-Examination of the Repetition Continuum. Sports activities. 2021; 9(2):32.
  4. Barnett C, Kippers V, Turner P. Results of variations of the bench press train on the EMG Exercise of 5 Shoulder Muscle mass. 1995:222-227.
  5. Schoenfeld, B. J., Ogborn, D., & Krieger, J. W. (2016). Results of Resistance Coaching Frequency on Measures of Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Evaluate and Meta-Evaluation. Sports activities drugs (Auckland, N.Z.), 46(11), 1689–1697.
  6. Schoenfeld, Brad & Contreras, Bret & Vigotsky, Andrew & Ogborn, Daniel & Fontana, Fabio & Tiryaki-Sonmez, Raziye. (2016). Higher physique muscle activation throughout low-versus high-load resistance train within the bench press. Isokinetics and Train Science. 24. 217-224. 10.3233/IES-160620.
  7. Lehman G. J. (2005). The affect of grip width and forearm pronation/supination on upper-body myoelectric exercise throughout the flat bench press. Journal of energy and conditioning analysis, 19(3), 587–591.

Featured Picture: Serghei Starus / Shutterstock

What's Your Reaction?
In Love
Not Sure
View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

© 2021 Brand Rator. All Rights Reserved.

Scroll To Top