Study the Dumbbell Cranium Crusher to Crush Your Urgent Plateaus

Whether or not you’re a aggressive athlete or not, you’re in all probability not coaching

Whether or not you’re a aggressive athlete or not, you’re in all probability not coaching primarily to spice up your triceps dimension and power. It’s not like max effort triceps extensions are going to be the subsequent large competitors carry. However that doesn’t imply your triceps aren’t essential to your coaching. Whether or not you’re a aggressive power athlete or simply benefit from the occasional bench urgent session in your lunch break, you want robust, well-developed triceps for those who ever wish to press heavy weight.

Why? The triceps help you in the entire higher physique lifts you see in powerlifting, strongman, weightlifting, and your common Tuesday within the health club. Robust triceps improve bench press power, arm dimension, and overhead urgent skills.

Credit score: MDV Edwards / Shutterstock

If you are technically coaching your triceps instantly by urgent actions, including extra triceps isolation coaching will assist enhance your lockout on all kinds of presses. You’ll additionally give your arms some critical sleeve-busting standing. The dumbbell cranium crusher is a kind of triceps isolation strikes that’s going to beef up your arms and your presses .

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Learn how to Do the Dumbbell Cranium Crusher

To carry out the dumbbell cranium crusher, you want a pair of dumbbells. You carry out this train on a coaching bench or on the ground Utilizing a bench helps to extend the motion’s vary of movement, in order that’s the model this information will focus on. 

Step 1 — Get Into Place

A person sets up to perform a dumbbell skull crusher on a flat bench.
Credit score: J2FIT Power & Conditioning / YouTube

Seize a pair of dumbbells, one in every hand. Lie down in your again on a bench. Press the weights above you in order that they’re over your face moderately than instantly above your shoulders. 

Coach’s Tip: By beginning together with your arms barely again (nearer to your face moderately than at an ideal 90 diploma angle with the bottom), you place stress in your triceps, even within the high place.

Step 2 — Decrease the Weights

A person performs a dumbbell skull crusher in the gym.
Credit score: J2FIT Power & Conditioning / YouTube

With out letting your elbows flare outwards, bend them to decrease your dumbbells to the perimeters of your face or to the outer edges of your brow. The one joint that ought to transfer is your elbows. Decrease the weights as little as you possibly can go. The decrease you go, the extra stretch you give your triceps.

Coach’s Tip: Maintain your elbows again as you bend them. Don’t allow them to transfer extra ahead in the direction of your chest.

Step 3 — Prolong the Weights Upwards

A person performs a dumbbell skull crusher in the gym.
Credit score: J2FIT Power & Conditioning / YouTube

Prolong your elbows. Push your arms upwards to the beginning place. Keep away from dropping your elbows so that you don’t flip it right into a chest press.

Coach’s Tip: Ensure that to not deliver the dumbbells again over your shoulders. As a substitute, lengthen your elbows absolutely together with your arms over your face. That can hold stress in your triceps always.

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Advantages of the Dumbbell Cranium Crusher

You should utilize the dumbbell cranium crusher to construct triceps power, add dimension to your arms, and help in general triceps growth for urgent actions. It doesn’t matter what your targets, you’ll probably discover a good motive to work in your tris.

Construct Extra Triceps Muscle

Your triceps accumulate a good quantity of coaching quantity from overhead presses and benching. However as a result of they’re smaller and fewer instantly focused by these greater compound strikes, your triceps are more likely to change into a limiting consider these lifts. Furthermore, it signifies that with presses alone, your tris — and your urgent numbers — are unlikely to achieve their most development potential. 

By including extra triceps isolation workout routines, you possibly can enhance your triceps coaching whereas saving your shoulders the stress of heavy urgent. You’ll be rewarded when your shirt sleeves begin stretching since you’ve added high quality, direct triceps coaching quantity that gained’t stress your shoulders.

Enhance Lockout Power

When you’ve hit a plateau together with your bench or overhead presses, poor lockout power is likely to be why. You want robust triceps to lock out just about any urgent transfer. With out them, you gained’t be capable of get that final little bit of energy you want to deliver your arms to full extension.

However the cranium crusher instantly strengthens your triceps with out including undue stress to your shoulders and chest. Which means you should utilize it to construct some critical lockout power. This may reinforce heavy urgent actions just like the bench press and overhead lifts. 

Promote Elbow Well being

Your elbows are inclined to get beat up with life and lifting. When you already are inclined to expertise elbow ache, you may discover the cranium crusher uncomfortable. Utilizing the dumbbell variation — as a substitute of a curl bar or barbell — may assist scale back that discomfort since you’ll have extra freedom to regulate your arms in keeping with your personal limb size and wishes. (That stated, if it hurts in any configuration, it won’t be the transfer for you.)

Nonetheless, for people who don’t expertise discomfort or ache from the motion, dumbbell cranium crushers can truly assist make your elbow joints more healthy. You’ll strengthen your connective tissues to higher put together them for heavier loading and overuse. Larger-rep coaching — such as you may do with this isolation transfer — may help improve blood movement to muscle tissues and connective tissues.

Muscle groups Labored by the Dumbbell Cranium Crusher

The dumbbell cranium crusher is a triceps isolation train. You’re actually focusing on your triceps in an enormous approach with this one. When you’re feeling it wherever else, this might be an indication that you’re not performing this single-joint motion appropriately.


Your triceps are composed of three totally different heads — lateral, medial, and interior. The cranium crusher does an incredible job of growing your medial (lengthy) and lateral heads. Your triceps are answerable for elbow extension, and the cranium crusher assaults this precise joint motion. Additional, you’ll goal your triceps lengthy head, which is especially essential for constructing triceps dimension.

Who Ought to Do the Dumbbell Cranium Crusher

Like different triceps actions — suppose triceps kickbacks, pushdowns, and overhead extensions — the cranium crusher has a chief place on the triceps coaching desk. Beneath, we are going to focus on how the dumbbell cranium crushers may gain advantage numerous teams of trainees.

Power Athletes

Urgent power is a key should for all method of aggressive athletes. Powerlifters, strongman and strongwoman rivals, and weightlifters alike all want robust triceps and wholesome shoulders to execute heavy lifts (and safely).

Including triceps isolation workout routines, along with already doing compound urgent strikes, may help improve triceps muscle mass, elbow extension power, and enhance joint stability. All of those elements are a strong recipe for creating stronger overhead lifts — and far greater maxes.

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Common Gymgoers

It’s not simply aggressive lifters that may profit from dumbbell cranium crushers. Common gymgoers may also use this transfer to extend arm dimension, triceps power, and muscle mass. Though many inexperienced persons solely prepare a couple of occasions per week, it is very important deal with compound actions to construct muscle as effectively as attainable. When you get stronger at these strikes, including in single-joint actions like cranium crushers can present an additional coaching stimulus to deliver up weaker muscle tissues or emphasize areas of development.

Dumbbell Cranium Crusher Units and Reps

The triceps themselves are sometimes educated with heavy masses not directly. So for those who’re searching for particular coaching diversifications from cranium crushers, adjusting your load and quantity can be key.

To Construct Power

If you’re seeking to construct power with the dumbbell cranium crusher, you are able to do so by coaching with heavier masses within the 5 to 10 rep vary for 3 to 6 units.

All the time use warning when coaching single-joint actions for power, since you don’t wish to overtax muscle tissues (and the encompassing tendons, ligaments, and the joints) you’re already loading intensely with compound workout routines. Nonetheless, when carried out correctly, you possibly can construct triceps extension power and mass with comparatively heavy reps carried out with managed speeds. 

To Construct Muscle

You’ll be able to construct muscle by coaching the dumbbell cranium crusher in the eight to fifteen rep vary for 3 to 6 units. Use reasonably heavy weights and attempt to strategy failure together with your units.

Nonetheless, for those who’re already performing lots of heavy urgent in your program, you possibly can decide to lighten the load and carry out much more reps (suppose 15 to 25) to construct each muscle and endurance.

Dumbbell Cranium Crusher Variations

Altering your train angles or gear can supply further advantages to an already nice motion. Various your dumbbell cranium crusher sport can take your triceps coaching to the subsequent degree.

Incline Bench Dumbbell Cranium Crushers

Because the identify suggests, you’ll carry out the incline bench dumbbell cranium crusher on an incline moderately than a flat bench.

The incline will increase your vary of movement. As a result of this provides further stress and loaded stretching to your triceps, you’ll stand to construct much more muscle.

Dumbbell Ground Cranium Crushers

You’ll be able to carry out the dumbbell cranium crusher with no bench by mendacity on the ground. Whereas growing the vary of movement is often related to elevated muscle mass, partial vary of movement strikes may also make you stronger.

Lowering your vary of movement may help you progress extra weight and enhance your management on the backside of the train. Plus, the smaller vary of movement might assist you to out in case your elbows don’t love cranium crushers to start with.

To make this transfer much more user-friendly, you may think about using one dumbbell (as within the accompanying video). Grasp both finish of the dumbbell in every hand together with your palms going through one another. That approach, it’ll function a mini-barbell with a impartial grip so your elbows will mechanically keep extra tucked into your physique.

Dumbbell Cranium Crushers with Bands

To carry out the dumbbell cranium crusher with resistance bands, you are taking a single band and maintain it in your hand (one hand has every finish). You then’ll grasp the dumbbell handles. 

The center of the band must be beneath the bench or anchor level in order that when your arms lengthen upwards, you’re placing stress on the band. This adjustment will add accommodating resistance to the transfer.

The band will present added resistance to the highest of the motion, the place it will get simpler with no band. So, the strain in your triceps will stay extra fixed all through your entire rep (as a substitute of accelerating towards the underside and really fizzling out on the high of the carry). With this further resistance all through the vary of movement, you’ll severely improve your time beneath stress and muscle-building capability.

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Dumbbell Skullcrusher Alternate options

If cranium crushers harm your elbows, there’s no have to pressure your approach by them. As a substitute, strive a few of these options. 

Dumbbell JM Press

The dumbbell JM press is a cranium crusher-like motion that enables your elbows to drop down in the direction of your physique as you carry out the motion. By permitting your elbows to be subsequent to your ribs, as a substitute of pointed within the air, you lower the quantity of stress in your elbow joints whereas nonetheless coaching your triceps. 

This may be useful for lifters who battle with elbow ache and discomfort throughout the cranium crusher. You gained’t be displaying as a lot like to the lengthy head of your triceps, however you’ll nonetheless be focusing on the muscle in an enormous approach.

Dumbbell French Press

The dumbbell French press is one other single-joint motion that isolates your triceps. To do that, you begin with the dumbbells within the high of the bench press place. Then, you’ll flare your elbows out to the perimeters of your physique as you decrease the top of the dumbbell to your chest. 

On the backside of the French press, your elbows must be flared out 90 levels to the perimeters, together with your thumbs pointing in the direction of your chest. Prolong your elbows and return the weights again to the beginning place, and repeat. This transfer provides a unique angle by which to coach your triceps, and may add some good selection to your routine.

Impartial-Grip Dumbbell Bench Press

The neutral-grip dumbbell bench press is a bench press variation that targets your triceps and chest. Whereas this can be a compound transfer moderately than a triceps isolation train, it does assist to develop stronger triceps and improve elbow extensor power.

Along with your arms in a impartial grip — together with your palms going through one another — you’ll take stress off of your shoulders so as to dial in additional focus onto your triceps.

Ultimate Phrase

The dumbbell cranium crusher is a triceps isolation train that helps construct stronger triceps, will increase muscle mass, and reinforces the elbow extension crucial for urgent actions. Whereas your triceps get a good quantity of coaching quantity not directly by compound urgent actions like bench presses, dips, and overhead lifts, including direct triceps isolation workout routines — just like the dumbbell cranium crusher — into your coaching can additional improve muscle development and lockout efficiency.


The dumbbell cranium crusher is a reasonably straight-forward motion. That stated, they will trigger some discomfort and ache when carried out improperly — or if the elbows themselves are a bit of beat up. So, it’s worthwhile operating by some frequent questions in regards to the dumbbell cranium crusher.

Is the cranium crusher unhealthy in your shoulders?

You shouldn’t really feel your shoulders on this motion, as it’s an isolation motion particularly for the triceps. If you’re feeling your shoulders, it’s probably that you simply’ve obtained an incorrect set-up. Attempt bringing your elbows extra perpendicular to the bottom and holding them there. If that doesn’t work, decrease the load.

What can I do if the dumbbell cranium crusher hurts my elbows?

When you expertise elbow ache or discomfort, strive performing the JM press or different options. If this is a matter with elbow tendonitis or continual nagging joint ache, you’ll want to again off from loading and prepare the motion very evenly, if in any respect. It’s advisable to have any joint ache checked out by a educated skilled.

Are dumbbell cranium crushers higher than barbell cranium crushers?

No. The dumbbell model of this carry is neither higher nor worse, simply totally different. Nonetheless, utilizing dumbbells may go simpler in your elbows as a result of it frees up a extra distinctive vary of movement relying in your physique kind and limb lengths.

Featured Picture: MDV Edwards / Shutterstock