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Dumbbell Skullcrusher 101 Video Tutorial

Gym Modified Variation Strength


Dumbbell Skullcrusher
Dumbbell Skullcrusher

Exercise Synopsis

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The Dumbbell Skullcrusher is a potent isolation exercise primarily targeting the triceps, with secondary engagement of the chest and shoulders. In this exercise, the individual lies on a bench with dumbbells held directly above the chest, palms facing inward. With controlled movements, the elbows are flexed, lowering the dumbbells towards the sides of the head while keeping the upper arms stationary. The triceps are then contracted to extend the elbows and return the dumbbells to the starting position. This exercise effectively isolates the triceps, promoting strength and muscle growth, while also involving the chest and shoulders to a lesser extent, making it a versatile addition to upper body workouts requiring only dumbbells.

How to Perform

  1. Begin the Dumbbell Skullcrusher by selecting a pair of dumbbells and sitting at the end of a flat bench, ensuring the dumbbells rest comfortably on your thighs.

  2. Lie back on the bench and extend the dumbbells directly above your head, maintaining a neutral grip with your palms facing each other and ensuring the dumbbells are not touching.

  3. With controlled movements, bend at the elbows while keeping them fixed and pointed towards your hips, slowly lowering the dumbbells down beside your head until they reach approximately ear level, engaging the triceps.

  4. Pause briefly at the bottom position, focusing on squeezing the triceps, before smoothly raising the dumbbells back to the starting position, maintaining control throughout the movement.

  5. Avoid fully locking out the elbows at the top of the movement to keep tension on the triceps, and then repeat the exercise for the desired number of repetitions, maintaining proper form and tempo to effectively target the triceps while also engaging the chest and shoulders to a lesser extent.


  1. Maintain proper elbow positioning throughout the Dumbbell Skullcrusher exercise by ensuring they remain tucked in and pointed towards your hips, avoiding any outward flare during the lowering phase.

  2. Focus on controlling the tempo of each repetition, emphasizing a slow and deliberate movement pattern to effectively engage the triceps and maximize muscle activation while minimizing momentum and unnecessary strain on the joints.

How Not to Perform

  1. Avoid using excessively heavy weights that compromise form and control during the Dumbbell Skullcrusher, as this increases the risk of injury and reduces the effectiveness of targeting the triceps. Opt for a weight that allows you to maintain proper technique throughout the exercise.

  2. Do not allow the elbows to drift outward or flare during the lowering phase of the movement, as this shifts the focus away from the triceps and places undue stress on the shoulders. Keep the elbows tucked in and pointing towards the hips to maximize triceps engagement and minimize strain on the shoulder joints.

  3. Refrain from lowering the dumbbells too quickly or allowing them to drop uncontrollably towards the head, as this can lead to hyperextension of the elbows and potential injury. Instead, focus on a slow and controlled descent, maintaining tension on the triceps throughout the entire range of motion.

  4. Avoid fully locking out the elbows at the top of the movement, as this can reduce muscle tension and diminish the effectiveness of the exercise. Keep a slight bend in the elbows to maintain constant tension on the triceps and maximize muscle activation.

  5. Do not neglect proper breathing technique during the Dumbbell Skullcrusher, as inadequate breathing can lead to decreased energy levels and compromised performance. Remember to exhale as you push the dumbbells back to the starting position and inhale as you lower them towards your head, maintaining a steady rhythm to optimize oxygen flow and energy output.


Variations of fitness exercises refer to different ways of performing a specific exercise or movement to target various muscle groups, intensities, or goals. These variations aim to challenge the body differently, prevent plateaus, and cater to individuals with varying fitness levels.


Alternative exercises in fitness refer to different movements or activities that target similar muscle groups or serve the same training purpose as the primary exercise. These alternative exercises can be used as substitutes when the original exercise is unavailable or challenging to perform due to various reasons such as equipment limitations, injuries, or personal preferences.