Women's Health

The cranium breaker

Although it has an intimidating name, a skull breaker is one of the best isolation moves for training your triceps through its full range of motion against gravity, specifically targeting the long and medial heads of your triceps muscle.

The skull breaker

  1. Poles in particular can often cause elbow pain, especially if you have inflexible wrists. A curved bar, however, offers different positions for your hands, which gives more opportunities to find a comfortable range of motion that best suits your own physiology. Note: Some people still feel uncomfortable in their elbows with a curved bar. In these cases, use dumbbells with a hammer grip (pointing inward) as shown here.
  2. Although the traditional way was to hold the barbell (or dumbbells) directly above your chest with your arms perpendicular to the floor, a new mindset suggests tilting your arms back slightly so that the bar is above your eyes or even Your forehead is located giving you better results. These few degrees of incline mean that your triceps are in constant tension throughout the movement and never rest, as is the case with upright arms. There is no right or wrong way here. Try both versions and find out which one you prefer.
  3. Only your triceps should work. Bend your elbows and lower the dumbbells towards your forehead (or slightly beyond if using the alternate version) and stop before you touch down. Your upper arms should be locked and still throughout the movement.
  4. Try performing skull breakers on an incline or even a descending bench to change the angle of motion and work your muscles differently. Just make sure your upper arms are perpendicular (or almost) to the floor and your head is fully supported by the bench to maximize effectiveness and stay safe.

Do it better!

  • Use a moderate weight. Since this is an isolation move, doing high reps and lower weight is better than putting strain on your joints and trying to push a ton of poundage.
  • Move slowly and deliberately for the eccentric and concentric parts of the movement and control the weight at all times. Hey, it wasn't named Skull Breaker for nothing!
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