DB Skull Crushers

Dumbbell Skull Crushers (How To, Muscles Worked, Benefits)

Dumbbell Skull Crushers are a great triceps exercise that can be done with nothing more than a set of dumbbells.

Here’s how to do DB Skull Crushers, what muscles the exercise works and a few alternatives if you’re unable to do them.

How To Do DB Skull Crushers

Equipment Needed

  • Dumbbells
  • Bench (Preferrable but they can be done on the floor as in the video above)

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Using dumbells, lie flat on a bench with your head down, and chin up. If you don’t have a bench, you can simply lie on the floor.
  • Press dumbbells to arm’s length above the shoulder.
  • Lower dumbbells to just beside ears, bending arms at elbows, keeping upper arm vertical and elbows in.
  • Return to starting position and repeat.

Coaching Points

Keep the elbows high throughout. When DB Skull Crushers start to become difficult, the natural tendency of the lifter is to drop the elbows. Keep the elbows high and tight (try not to let them flare out to the side either).

Muscles Worked

DB Skull Crushers primarily work all three heads of the Triceps Brachii – the lateral head, long head and medial head.

Dumbbell Skull Crusher Benefits

Here are just a few of the benefits of incorporating this exercise into your strength program:

Triceps Strengthening

Skull Crushers are one of the most effective exercises for isolating and strengthening the triceps. Stronger triceps can improve your performance in other upper body exercises and activities that require pushing movements.

Improves Lockout Strength

This essentially plays off the previous benefit, but skull crushers can help improve lockout strength in other lifts like the bench press and shoulder press by building strength in the triceps.

Accessible for Home Workouts

Dumbbell skull crushers require minimal equipment and can easily be incorporated into home workout routines.

DB Skull Crusher Alternatives

If you’re not able to do DB Skull Crushers (or maybe you just want to change your workout up a bit), here are a few alternatives.

If you’d like even more options, check out my 10 favorite dumbbell skull crusher alternatives.

Barbell Skull Crushers

Skull Crushers (1)

The most natural alternative for Dumbbell Skull Crushers is Barbell Skull Crushers with a bar. You can use a straight barbell or an EZ Curl Bar (shown above) although most lifters prefer a Curl Bar because of the angle it allows the wrist to turn.

If you don’t have dumbbells, but you have a bar, this would be my first recommendation.


Dips (1)

If you have access to a dip rack attachment or a dip station, Dips are one of the best exercises you can do to build triceps strength.

Band Triceps Pushdowns

Don’t have dumbbells, but have a resistance band? Hang the band off a rack or pull-up bar and do Band Triceps Pushdowns instead.

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More Links and Info

If you’d like step-by-step instructions for more biceps and triceps exercises, check out the Arm Farm section of the Exercise Library.

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