The incline skull crusher is an exercise that targets the triceps. It involves lying on an incline bench and extending the arms towards the ceiling while holding a weight.
This exercise can help to increase muscle mass in the triceps. It also improves overall upper body strength and definition. There is a lot to learn about this movement to reap its full benefits and prevent injuries.
In this article, we will cover the benefits of incline skull crusher, then switch gears to how to perform it correctly. Finally, we will list a few mistakes and variations.
What are the benefits of incline skull crusher?
Tones up the triceps
The incline skull crusher is a triceps isolation movement. This exercise works by extending the arm at the elbow joint, which is the primary function of the triceps muscle.
By regularly performing the incline skull crusher, you can increase muscle mass and strength in the triceps. Further, your overall appearance of your upper arms will improve, helping you with activities that involve arm extension (e.g., pushing, throwing).
Incline skull crushers hit the beefy part of your triceps which is the long head mainly, responsible for filling out those sleeves.
Related Reading: Best Medial head triceps exercises.
Improves upper body strength
The incline skull crusher also works the shoulders, chest, and core muscles. The shoulders and chest muscles stabilize the body on the incline bench, whereas the core muscles maintain proper form throughout the exercise.
By engaging multiple muscle groups at once, this exercise can help improve overall upper body strength.
Increases muscle activation
The incline position of the exercise increases muscle activation in the triceps by making the muscle work against gravity.
Variety in training
Changing the angle of the exercise provides a new challenge for your triceps and recruits different muscle fibers. This will prevent plateaus in your workout routine and can also target different areas of the triceps muscle.
Safe for elbow joint
Incline skull crusher is a safer option for individuals with elbow joint issues, as the angle of the exercise reduces the stress on the joint. This is beneficial for those who may be recovering from an injury or have a pre-existing condition that affects the elbow joint.
How to perform incline skull crusher
To perform the incline skull crusher exercise, here is what you need to do:
- Start by setting an incline bench to an angle of 45-60 degrees.
- Lie on the bench with your back flat against the pad, and your feet flat on the floor.
- Hold a weight in each hand and extend your arms towards the ceiling, keeping your elbows close to your ears.
- Lower the weights towards your forehead.
- Keep your upper arms stationary and only move your forearms.
- Pause briefly at the bottom of the movement and then extend your arms back towards the ceiling, returning to the starting position.
- Repeat the movement for 6-12 reps for a total of 3 sets.
- Keep your core engaged and back flat on the bench to maintain proper form throughout the exercise.
- Avoid locking out your elbows at the top of the movement. This will keep the tension on the triceps muscle.
- Use slow and controlled movement, focusing on proper form and muscle engagement throughout the exercise.
- If you are recovering from an injury, we recommend speaking with your primary care provider before performing this exercise.
Some common mistakes that people make with incline skull crusher.
Here are some common mistakes that people make when performing this exercise include:
1. Using too much weight
Using too much weight can cause poor form and increase the risk of injury. It’s important to start with a lighter weight and gradually increase the weight as you become more comfortable with the movement.
2. Locking out the elbows
Locking out the elbows at the top of the movement can take the tension off the triceps muscle, reducing the effectiveness of the exercise. Avoid this pitfall to keep the tension on the triceps.
3. Arching the back
Arching the back during the exercise will put unnecessary stress on the lower back, increasing your risk of low back pain. Make sure your back is flat against the bench and engage the core muscles to maintain proper form.
4. Not using a full range of motion
Not using a full range of motion can reduce the effectiveness of the exercise by not fully engaging the triceps muscle. Lower the weights towards your forehead and then extend your arms back towards the ceiling, returning to the starting position.
5. Not adjusting the incline angle
Not adjusting the incline angle can impact muscle activation.
Variations of incline skull crusher
Here are some variations of the incline skull crusher:
1. One-Arm Incline Skull Crusher
Instead of using two arms, you can use one arm to perform the exercise. This variation allows you to focus on one arm at a time, which increases muscle activation in the triceps and prevents muscle imbalances.
2. Close-Grip Incline Skull Crusher
This variation involves using a close grip on the weights. It’s a great option to activate the muscle fibers located in the inner triceps muscle.
3. Incline Dumbbell Extension
Instead of using a barbell, you can use dumbbells to perform the exercise. This variation allows for a greater range of motion.
4. Incline Cable Extension
You need a cable machine to perform this exercise. What’s unique about this variation is applying constant tension on the triceps muscle.
5. Incline Reverse-Grip Skull Crusher
Use a reverse grip on the barbell to perform the exercise. This variation places more emphasis on the long head of the triceps muscle.
Incline skull crusher is an excellent exercise to target the triceps and improve the appearance of your upper body. Just make sure you are following the proper form and avoid the mistakes covered above.
We hope that this article managed to highlight the benefits of an incline skull crusher, as well as the proper way to do this exercise.
As always, stay Fit & Healthy and I will see you guys’ next week!