T Nation

Prime Timers: Skull Crushers

I’ve heard some people disparage skull-crushers while many people love them. are skull-crushers inherently bad for some people our is it purely a matter of technique?

Heavy extensions really tend to bug people’s elbows - especially the medial aspect. I think that they can be incorporated into a program, but if you’re going to hit them heavy, you need to be careful about how much pressing you’re doing in the same phase. They can be pretty good for hypertrophy in the higher rep ranges, though - and generally with less risk.

From a specificity standpoing, pressing variations will always be superior in terms of carryover to benching and overhead pressing. With that said, I’ve also noticed better hypertrophy with pressing and dip variations than with any isolation stuff.

Some people that get pain or discomfort with skull crushers can do about the same movement only bringing the bar behind their heads rather than to the forehead. Basically, your elbows are pointing back more rather than straight up. I believe one of our coaches wrote that this is a superior position anyway from a hypertrophy perspective as well as being easier on the elbows.

And just to toss this in, I believe King and/or Poliquin has written about a “throat crusher” where the bar is brought lower near the throat.

Edit - Found this by Mike Robertson:

"For the throat crusher, you’ll be performing a skull crusher to — you guessed it — your throat! Just avoid actually crushing your windpipe and dying, as this has been shown in many studies to greatly interfere with strength and mass development.

The nice thing about this exercise is that it puts an emphasis on the insertion of the triceps near the elbow. You won’t be able to go as heavy on these, but your strength should come around quickly. If you start to tire in the middle of your set, slowly start to work the bar back towards your face with each rep to help you finish the set and really blast the triceps.

You can really kick up the effectiveness of both these exercises by performing them on a decline as well. The decline increases the involvement of all three triceps heads when compared to the basic flat-bench version."

[quote]Chris Shugart wrote:

And just to toss this in, I believe King and/or Poliquin has written about a “throat crusher” where the bar is brought lower near the throat.
[/quote]

yes Poliquin advocate a chin skullcrushers where you bring it to your chin and it destories the long head

[quote]bigpump23 wrote:
Chris Shugart wrote:

And just to toss this in, I believe King and/or Poliquin has written about a “throat crusher” where the bar is brought lower near the throat.

yes Poliquin advocate a chin skullcrushers where you bring it to your chin and it destories the long head[/quote]

Actually, bring the bar to the chin will restrict the amount of flexion of the humerus, so you’ll actually take the long head out of the movement and increase the stress on the medial and lateral heads. The long head is going to be most active in the overhead position, as attempting elbow extension with the humerus extended (at the side) places the long head of the triceps on active insufficiency. By putting the arm overhead (e.g. overhead extension), you can wallup the long head because it’s stretched at one joint and shortening at the other. It can’t exert optimal force when it’s shortening at both joints.

Personally I’ve always liked them. I usually do them using a decline bench to increase the stretch/ROM. I don’t go for max weight on them, and often switch out db’s for the cambered bar.

If you are using it first in your tricep workout, definitely warm-up with a light weight.

[quote]Eric Cressey wrote:
bigpump23 wrote:
Chris Shugart wrote:

And just to toss this in, I believe King and/or Poliquin has written about a “throat crusher” where the bar is brought lower near the throat.

yes Poliquin advocate a chin skullcrushers where you bring it to your chin and it destories the long head

Actually, bring the bar to the chin will restrict the amount of flexion of the humerus, so you’ll actually take the long head out of the movement and increase the stress on the medial and lateral heads. The long head is going to be most active in the overhead position, as attempting elbow extension with the humerus extended (at the side) places the long head of the triceps on active insufficiency. By putting the arm overhead (e.g. overhead extension), you can wallup the long head because it’s stretched at one joint and shortening at the other. It can’t exert optimal force when it’s shortening at both joints.[/quote]

Thanks for clearing it up EC, I assumed it was the long head because right about my elbow was sore. I refer to that area of the tricep as the ball, which is what I want to develop