Dumbbell Skull Crushers Instructions

  1. Start with arms vertical and elbows fully extended
  2. Keep elbows rotated inward and avoid flaring them out
  3. Lower the dumbbells next to your ears by hinging at the elbows
  4. Minimise upper arm movement (most of the hinging should come from the elbow)
  5. Contract your triceps as you straighten your arms
  6. Keep your feet flat and push against the floor at all times

Dumbbell Skull Crushers Video

The dumbbell skull crusher can be used to increase the triceps’ muscle mass and elbow extension strength without generating high amounts of upper body fatigue. Reya et.al investigated factors that underly bench press performance using 13 male competitive powerlifters. The powerlifters were national and international level powerlifters with an average bench press of 155kg (142.2kg to 167.8kg).

Lean body mass, cross-sectional area (size) of the prime mover muscles and arm circumference displayed strong correlations with 1-rep max bench press performance. Elbow extension force output, concentric/eccentric shoulder flexion and horizontal shoulder flexion were strongly correlated with 1-rep max bench press performance.

It is suggested structural factors had the highest degree of association with bench press strength followed by neuromuscular (nervous system & muscle) factors. Bench press technique factors were not associated with 1-rep max bench press performance. The lack of technical factors associated with strength is likely because the lifters were all proficient at the bench press and technique didn’t differ a lot between athletes.

The technique would probably have been a larger contributor to bench press strength if the study compared novice to high-level lifters. It was also found that muscle activation of the triceps was highest in the bench press, followed by the pecs and the anterior deltoids. Muscle activation of the lats was low and appeared only to have a small contribution during the bench press. Based on this study, the increase of the triceps’ size and strength may help improve bench press performance.


Reya M, Škarabot J, Cvetičanin B, Šarabon N. Factors Underlying Bench Press Performance in Elite Competitive Powerlifters. J Strength Cond Res. 2021;35(8):2179-2186.

Paul Attard
Paul Attard

Paul is the founder and head coach of SPC Performance Lab. Paul has been coaching since 2014 and has worked with all different types of people. From first timers learning the basics, all the way up to the experienced power-lifting competitors.

He tailors his approach depending on the needs, goals and experience of the individual. Paul has extensive theoretical and practical coaching experience.

- Masters of Sports & Exercise Science (Strength & Conditioning)
- Bachelor’s degree in Exercise & Sports Science with First Class Honours
- Competed and won multiple natural body-building shows & power-lifting competitions.
- Held an Australian power-lifting record.

Free advice

SPC Performance Lab is a gym in Taren Point in the Sutherland Shire, Sydney NSW. It is a private gym that offers strength training, powerlifting and body building training. The gym is open 24 hours, 7 days a week with membership options that include casual or regular visits.

Paul also provides a choice of personal training one on one or the option of online coaching.

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