Skull Crushers (or French bench press) – is one of the most effective isolated exercises for triceps training.

Skull Crushers Proper Form
Skull Crushers Proper Form


This exercise can be done both with a barbell and with dumbbells. The first option is more popular because of the convenience and easier digestion in technical terms. In this article, we will consider the technique of the French press lying down with the barbell, and with dumbbells, consider the frequent mistakes of newcomers and give useful recommendations on training triceps.

Technique of performing a Skull Crushers with a barbell (EZ-bar)

Skull Crushers Proper Form
Skull Crushers Proper Form

Prepare the bar and lie with it on a horizontal bench. It is best to use the EZ-bar, since when working with a straight bar, most athletes experience uncomfortable sensations in their wrists.
Take the barbell with the usual grip from above and lift it up. Straighten your arms at the elbows and tilt them slightly behind your head – this is your starting position.
While holding your shoulders in a fixed position, flex your arms in the elbows and lower the bar by the head. At the end point of the amplitude, the angle of inclination in the elbow joint should be 90 degrees.
With triceps force, return the bar to its original position. Carry out the necessary number of repetitions.

Technique of performing Skull Crushers with dumbbells.

Skull Crushers Proper Form
Skull Crushers Proper Form


Take dumbbells and lie down with them on the bench. Raise the dumbbells above yourself, hands should be straightened and slightly deflected back, palms facing each other – this is the starting position.
Begin to lower the dumbbells down, while not moving the shoulder joint. Continue lowering until the dumbbells are level with the ears.
With triceps force, return dumbbells to their original position and perform the necessary number of repetitions.

Common mistakes and recommendations with a Skull Crushers

  • During the French press, perform movements smoothly, without jerking, and only at the expense of the force of the triceps. Do not use force of inertia.
  • Do not bend your elbows much to the sides, especially during the French press with dumbbells.
  • Take a breath while lowering the projectile and exhaling with effort.
  • Use the EZ-bar, if you feel pain during the French bench press with a regular barbell. But if there is discomfort and while working with the EZ-bar, then we recommend to completely abandon this exercise, so as not to jeopardize elbow joints.
  • Use the optimal working weights that you will be able to properly perform for 12 repetitions per approach without failure.
  • While performing the bench press, do not put your feet on the bench. The feet need to firmly rest on the floor, as the loss of balance during the approach with large working scales is fraught with serious injury.

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