October 26


5 Skull Crusher Alternatives: Effective Arm Workouts

Are you tired of doing the same old skull crusher exercise for your triceps workout? If so, you’re in luck! In this article, we will explore five alternative exercises that can help you target your triceps from different angles and keep your workouts fresh and exciting.

From tricep dips to close grip bench press, there’s something for everyone. So let’s dive into these alternatives and discover new ways to sculpt those triceps!

Understanding the Skull Crusher Exercise

A person not doing a skull crusher alternative or skull crusher alternative exercises but doing skull crushers, skull crusher, body weight

Before we jump into the alternatives, let’s briefly discuss the skull crusher exercise. This popular exercise primarily targets the triceps and is performed by lying flat on a bench and extending the arms straight up with a barbell or dumbbells. The movement involves bending the elbows, lowering the weight towards the forehead, and then extending the arms back up.

The Mechanics of the Skull Crusher

A person doing a dumbbell skull crushers for shoulder and elbow joints for no more wrist pain as a bodyweight exercises with no cable machine

The skull crusher exercise mainly focuses on the long head of the triceps muscle. By initiating the movement from a stretched position, you engage the muscle fibers of medial head more effectively, leading to improved strength and muscle growth.

When performing skull crushers, it is important to maintain proper form and technique. Keeping your elbows tucked in and close to your head throughout the movement ensures that the triceps are the primary muscles being worked. This also helps to minimize strain on the elbows and wrists.

As you lower the weight towards your forehead, it is crucial to control the descent and avoid any sudden or jerky movements. This not only helps to prevent injury but also maximizes the engagement of the triceps muscles.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Skull Crushers

A man using an ez curl bar with no straight bar as a chest exercise and building muscle mass

While the skull crusher exercise is beneficial for building tricep strength and size, it may not be suitable for everyone. Some individuals find the movement uncomfortable or experience joint pain. Additionally, overloading the exercise with heavy weights may put excessive stress on the elbows.

However, when performed correctly and with an appropriate weight, skull crushers can be an effective exercise for targeting the triceps. They help to isolate the muscle group and promote muscle hypertrophy, leading to increased arm strength and definition.

Furthermore, skull crushers can be easily modified to suit individual needs and preferences. Variations such as using an EZ bar or performing the exercise on an incline bench can provide different angles, range of motion and resistance, challenging the triceps in unique ways.

Now that we have covered the basics of the skull crusher exercise, let’s explore the alternatives that can give your triceps a challenging workout while offering a refreshing change of pace.

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    Alternative exercises such as tricep dips, close-grip bench press, and overhead tricep extensions can provide a different stimulus to the triceps muscles, helping to prevent plateaus and keep your workouts interesting.

    Tricep dips are a bodyweight exercise that targets the triceps, chest, and shoulders. By using your own body weight as resistance, you can effectively strengthen and tone your triceps without the need for any equipment.

    The close-grip bench press, on the other hand, is a compound exercise that primarily targets the triceps but also engages the chest and shoulders. By bringing your hands closer together on the barbell, you shift the emphasis from the chest to the triceps, making it a great alternative to the skull crusher.

    Lastly, overhead tricep extensions are another effective exercise for targeting the triceps. By extending your arms overhead and lowering the weight behind your head, the triceps extension has you engage the long head of the triceps and promote muscle growth and strength.

    By incorporating these alternative exercises into your tricep workout routine, you can add variety and challenge your muscles in different ways. Remember to always listen to your body and choose the tricep exercises that feel comfortable and safe for you.

    Alternative 1: Tricep Dips

    A person doing a skull crusher alternative, skull crusher alternatives, or excellent skull crusher alternative known as the three tricep heads or tricep extension with no cable machine similar to bench dips

    Tricep dips are an excellent alternative to the skull crusher exercise as they effectively target the triceps while engaging other muscles like the shoulders and chest. To perform tricep dips, you’ll need parallel bars or a sturdy bench.

    Tricep dips are a compound exercise that primarily targets the triceps brachii, the muscles located at the back of your upper arm.

    However, they also engage other muscles such as the anterior deltoids in the shoulders and the pectoralis major in the chest. This makes tricep dips a great exercise for overall upper body strength and development.

    To perform tricep dips, start by gripping the bars with your palms facing downward. Make sure your hands are shoulder-width apart and your arms are fully extended. Position your legs straight in front of you with your heels touching the floor.

    Lower your body by bending your elbows until your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Keep your elbows close to your body and avoid letting them flare out to the sides. As you lower yourself, focus on engaging your triceps and feeling the stretch in the back of your arms.

    Pause for a brief moment at the bottom of the movement, then push yourself back up to the starting position by straightening your arms. Exhale as you push up and fully extend your elbows. Aim for a controlled and smooth movement throughout the exercise.

    When performing tricep dips, it’s important to maintain proper form to maximize the effectiveness of the exercise and minimize the risk of injury. Keep your core engaged and your back straight throughout the movement. Avoid hunching your shoulders or letting your lower back sag.

    For beginners, tricep dips can be challenging, especially if you lack upper body strength. In that case, you can modify the exercise by bending your knees and placing your feet on the floor instead of keeping your legs straight. This reduces the amount of bodyweight you have to lift, making it easier to perform the exercise.

    On the other hand, if you’re more advanced and looking for an extra challenge, you can add weight to your tricep dips by using a weight belt or holding a dumbbell between your feet. This increases the resistance and helps further strengthen your triceps.

    When incorporating tricep dips into your workout routine, aim for three sets of 10-12 repetitions. If you’re able to perform more than 12 reps with proper form, consider adding additional weight or increasing the difficulty of the exercise.

    Benefits of Tricep Dips

    Tricep dips offer several benefits beyond just targeting the triceps. By engaging multiple muscles in the upper body, they help improve overall upper body strength and muscular endurance.

    One of the key benefits of tricep dips is their ability to enhance shoulder stability. As you lower and raise your body, your shoulders have to work to stabilize the movement, which can help improve shoulder joint integrity and reduce the risk of injuries.

    In addition, tricep dips promote muscular balance by targeting the triceps, which are often underdeveloped compared to the biceps. Strengthening the triceps helps create a more balanced and aesthetically pleasing upper body physique.

    Furthermore, tricep dips can be easily modified based on your fitness level, making them suitable for beginners and advanced exercisers alike. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to challenge yourself, tricep dips can be adjusted to meet your specific needs and goals.

    As with any exercise, it’s important to listen to your body and avoid pushing yourself too hard. If you experience any pain or discomfort during tricep dips, stop the exercise and consult with a fitness professional or healthcare provider.

    Alternative 2: Close Grip Bench Press

    A man doing a skull crusher alternative or skull crusher alternatives for triceps brachii known as the bench rolling triceps extension

    Another great alternative to the skull crusher exercise is the close grip bench press. This compound movement targets the triceps while also working the chest and shoulders. It’s an excellent exercise for building overall upper body strength.

    Proper Form for Close Grip Bench Press

    To perform the close grip bench press, lie flat on a bench with your hands placed slightly narrower than shoulder-width apart. Lower the bar towards your lower chest, keeping your elbows close to your body. Pause briefly and then push the bar back up to the starting position. Aim for three sets of 8-10 repetitions.

    Why Choose Close Grip Bench Press

    The close grip bench press offers several advantages. It targets the triceps more directly compared to a standard bench press. It also helps improve tricep strength, shoulder stability, and overall pushing power. If you’re looking for an exercise that provides a great upper body workout, the close grip bench press is a fantastic choice.

    When performing the close grip bench press, it’s important to maintain proper form throughout the exercise. This means keeping your back flat against the bench and your feet firmly planted on the ground. Engage your core muscles to stabilize your body and prevent any excessive arching or swinging.

    As you lower the bar towards your chest, focus on keeping your elbows tucked in close to your body. This will help target the triceps more effectively and reduce strain on the shoulders. Avoid flaring your elbows out to the sides, as this can put unnecessary stress on the shoulder joints.

    When pushing the bar back up to the starting position, exhale and engage your triceps, chest, and shoulders to generate the necessary force. Maintain control throughout the movement and avoid using momentum to lift the weight. This will ensure that you’re effectively working the targeted muscles and minimizing the risk of injury.

    To maximize the benefits of the close grip bench press, it’s important to gradually increase the weight as you become stronger. This progressive overload will challenge your muscles and promote further strength gains.

    However, always prioritize proper form and technique over lifting heavy weights. It’s better to perform the exercise with lighter weights and perfect form than to use heavy weights with poor form.

    Incorporating the close grip bench press into your upper body workout routine can help you achieve well-rounded strength and muscle development.

    It complements other compound exercises like the bench press and push-ups, providing a comprehensive, training program with stimulus for the triceps, chest, and shoulders.

    Alternative 3: Overhead Tricep Extension

    A woman not doing skull crushers but overhead tricep extension

    The overhead tricep extension is an isolation exercise that specifically targets the triceps. It’s a fantastic alternative to the skull crusher exercise, as it allows you to focus solely on your triceps without engaging other muscle groups.

    Performing Overhead Tricep Extensions

    To perform the overhead tricep extension, stand or sit upright with a dumbbell or cable in one hand. Raise the weight above your head, keeping your elbow close to your ear.

    Slowly lower the weight behind your head by bending your arm’s length elbow, then extend your arm back up to the starting position. Aim for three sets of 10-12 repetitions per arm.

    Advantages of Overhead Tricep Extensions

    Overhead tricep extensions provide several advantages. They target the triceps effectively, helping to increase muscle strength and definition. This particular exercise also improves range of motion and flexibility in the triceps, contributing to better overall upper body mobility.

    Alternative 4: Diamond Push-ups

    A man not doing skull crushers but diamond push-ups

    Diamond push-ups are a bodyweight exercise that primarily targets the triceps, making them an excellent alternative to the skull crusher exercise. This variation adds an extra challenge by narrowing the hand placement, increasing the emphasis on your triceps.

    The Technique of Diamond Push-ups

    To perform diamond push-ups, start in a standard push-up position. Place your hands close together, forming a diamond shape with your thumbs and index fingers. Lower your body towards the ground by bending your elbows, keeping them close to your sides. Push yourself back up to the starting position. Aim for three sets of 12-15 repetitions.

    Diamond Push-ups and Tricep Activation

    Diamond push-ups are an effective exercise for targeting the triceps and building upper body strength. The narrow hand placement places more stress on the triceps while also engaging the chest and shoulders. If you’re looking for a challenging bodyweight exercise to strengthen your triceps, diamond push-ups are a fantastic choice.

    Alternative 5: Resistance Band Tricep Kickbacks

    A man doing Resistance Band Tricep Kickbacks as an alternative to barbell skull crusher with arms extended, and no flat bench

    When it comes to sculpting chiseled upper arms, the triceps brachii muscle, or simply triceps, is a key player. This trio of muscles on the back of your upper arms is responsible for extending the elbow joint, allowing you to push or straighten your arm.

    If you’re looking to diversify your triceps workout routine and add a dash of innovation, Resistance Band Tricep Kickbacks are the way to go. We’ll explore the ins and outs of this powerful triceps exercise.

    Incorporating Resistance Bands for Portability

    One of the standout advantages of Resistance Band Tricep Kickbacks is their portability. Unlike some triceps exercises that necessitate hefty gym equipment like cable machines or benches, these bands are lightweight and compact. You can carry them anywhere, making your triceps workout routine adaptable to different environments.

    Whether you’re traveling, at home, or outdoors, your triceps exercise regimen doesn’t need to take a backseat. Simply loop the resistance band around a sturdy anchor point – a door handle, pole, or any stable surface will do – and you’re ready to roll. This portability factor also makes resistance band tricep kickbacks a fantastic bodyweight exercise alternative.

    Targeting the Triceps’ Outer Head

    The triceps boast three distinct heads: the long head, the lateral head, and the medial head. Each of these three heads plays a unique role in the overall function of the triceps, but the outer or lateral head is particularly engaged during resistance band tricep kickbacks.

    To perform this exercise, begin by attaching the resistance band to a secure anchor, standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Grasp the band with an overhand grip, keeping shoulder extension and your upper arm stationary.

    By extending your elbow, you effectively target the outer head of your triceps, giving it a thorough workout. This makes it an excellent exercise for those seeking to develop the outer muscle groups of tricep, adding definition and strength to the upper arm.

    Choosing the Right Resistance Level

    The efficacy of any resistance band exercise hinges on selecting the appropriate resistance level. Opting for a band that’s too light will result in minimal tricep activation, while a band that’s excessively heavy may lead to compromised form and potential wrist or elbow pain.

    To determine the right resistance level for you, consider your current fitness level and the number of repetitions you aim to complete.

    A good rule of thumb is to choose a band that allows you to perform 10-15 repetitions with proper form. If you find it too easy, move up to a heavier band, and if it’s too challenging, switch to a lighter one.

    Proper form is of paramount importance when performing resistance band tricep kickbacks. Keep your back straight, engage your core, and ensure a full range of motion by extending your arm until it’s fully straightened. Avoid jerky movements or rushing through the exercise, as this can lead to shoulder and elbow joint strain.


    There you have it! Five alternatives to the skull crusher exercise that can take your triceps workout to a whole new level. Whether you choose tricep dips, close grip bench press, overhead tricep extensions, or diamond push-ups, each exercise offers a unique way to target and challenge your triceps.

    Don’t be afraid to incorporate these alternatives into your routine and experiment with different variations to keep your workouts exciting and effective. Remember, variety is the spice of life, even in your triceps training!