Easy methods to Do the Barbell Cranium Crusher for Triceps Dimension and Energy

The barbell cranium crusher, also referred to as the barbell triceps extension, is among the most well-known workouts for the triceps. But it’s closely underrated resulting from a misunderstanding of tips on how to carry out the train successfully.

The barbell cranium crusher can enhance energy in quite a lot of actions, particularly the bench press and overhead press. When carried out accurately, the train takes your triceps by a variety of movement that can ignite your muscle-building potential and problem the triceps in a approach that few workouts can.

Easy methods to Do the Barbell Cranium Crusher

Cranium crushers might look like a easy motion, however lifters don’t typically optimize their place to get probably the most triceps development for his or her buck. By making use of easy modifications to your physique place, you may facilitate much more muscle development whereas decreasing pressure on the elbow and shoulder joints.

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Right here’s what it is advisable know to excellent the motion and unlock its potential.

Step 1 — Get Into Place

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Lie on a flat bench with a barbell held over your chest in a shoulder-width, palms-down grip, the identical approach you’d when performing a bench press. When you have a coaching associate, they might help you get the bar into the beginning place. In the event you’re coaching alone, you should use the bench press pins or “kick” the bar into place together with your knees as you lie on the bench.

Limiting any arch of the decrease again will assist to create a extra deprived place for the triceps, that means that the muscle should work tougher. And dealing tougher means you’ll construct extra measurement and energy.

Kind Tip: Deal with protecting a “grounded” and totally engaged torso with no arch in your decrease again. You’ll be able to place your ft on the bench to give attention to limiting torso extension.

Step 2 — Decrease the Weight to a Full Stretch

Man in gym performing triceps exercise with barbell
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Decrease the barbell in direction of your brow. That is the place the “cranium crusher” train will get its melodramatic title.

As you attain roughly the midway level, barely shift your elbows in direction of your head to maximise the stretch on the triceps. Simply don’t allow them to transfer too far again, which might recruit your lats as a substitute of emphasizing your triceps.

Kind Tip: Vary of movement is vital right here. Feeling the triceps stretched to their fullest will inform you if in case you have carried out this a part of train accurately. You will need to not calm down the muscle and let the burden pressure the joints on the backside. Make a acutely aware effort to actively contract the triceps.

Step 3 — Lengthen Your Arms to Elevate the Weight

Man in gym performing barbell triceps exercise on flat bench
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Pause briefly within the totally stretched place earlier than powerfully contracting your triceps to increase your arms. “Carry explosively, decrease underneath management” is an efficient technique to method each parts of this train.

Within the high place, your arms must be locked out with the bar above your brow, not your chest. This helps to take care of fixed stress and may result in extra development. With cranium crushers, and lots of muscle-building actions, stress is the secret.

Kind Tip: Hold your elbows regular whereas elevating the burden. Deal with getting the burden up by flexing your triceps and driving your arms by the bar. Within the lockout place, your triceps ought to nonetheless be underneath stress, not relaxed.

Barbell Cranium Crusher Errors to Keep away from

Easy and powerful execution is the important thing to be sure to’re really concentrating on the triceps with cranium crushers. Too typically, lifters fear a lot about shifting heavy weights that they find yourself swinging their higher physique and taking work away from the triceps.

Elbows Flaring Out

The first perform of the triceps is to provide elbow extension, or straightening of the arms. To do that, you need the elbows to be steady when performing barbell cranium crushers. This permits a higher reference to the triceps with out displacing stress to different muscle groups or offering added stress to the joints.

Man in gym performing lying triceps exercise
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In case your elbows flare out, then you definitely lose the power to maximise the stress positioned on the triceps. You additionally place the fragile elbow joint into an unstable load-bearing place which may result in ache and damage.

Keep away from It: Preserve a robust belly brace and management your respiration sample. This will increase stability as a complete, out of your torso by your arms, which can enable higher management when performing the motion. Selecting an applicable weight and easily executing reps with managed type can also be important.

Unstable Torso

Though you’re mendacity on a flat bench, the torso performs a surprisingly giant function when performing the barbell cranium crusher. Some lifters enable their hips to shoot up, which results in instability by the torso through extension (whenever you create a big arch in your decrease again).

muscular man in gym lying on bench holding barbell above head
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This may have an effect on effectivity in recruiting your triceps as a result of your shoulders and elbows are then shifted backwards, which causes the complete higher physique to turn into unstable. This additionally turns the motion right into a pullover variation, which places extra work onto the lats and serratus as a substitute of the triceps.

Keep away from It: Elevate your ft onto the bench or transfer the bench close to a wall and place your ft on the wall throughout the set. This unusual resolution means that you can preserve your torso in touch with the bench and be extra steady, which boosts your capability to take care of stress on the triceps with elevated stability from head to toe.

Advantages of the Barbell Cranium Crusher

Some lifters select to reduce or totally overlook direct triceps workouts, just like the barbell cranium crusher. This method to coaching is usually primarily based on the time-efficient however arguably efficient system of counting on the triceps’ function as assistant muscle groups throughout bigger workouts, similar to presses, to offer ample stimulus.

Muscular man in gym flexing muscles during triceps exercise
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Focusing on the triceps straight with the barbell cranium crusher can ship higher general outcomes because of the elevated muscle activation throughout the train.

Improve Lockout Energy

The triceps are accountable for full elbow extension throughout higher physique urgent actions such because the bench press or overhead press. The barbell cranium crusher performs an enormous function in creating your capability to efficiently lockout every rep. Any lifter centered on enhancing these heavy lifts will see higher enhancements and fewer weak factors when implementing cranium crushers into their program.

Construct Larger Arms

For some lifters, the objective of coaching is simply to construct a stable set of pipes. The triceps take up two-thirds of the higher arm, in comparison with the comparatively smaller biceps, which implies giving the triceps loads of consideration is a surefire technique to improve arm measurement. The barbell cranium crusher targets all three heads of the triceps for full improvement.

Muscle tissues Labored by the Barbell Cranium Crusher

The barbell cranium crusher primarily targets all three heads of the triceps muscle, with particular recruitment of the lengthy head resulting from shoulder place throughout the train.

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Triceps Brachii

The triceps brachii are “the triceps” on the again of the higher arm. It consists of three separate heads — the lengthy, lateral, and medial — which perform collectively to increase the arm. All three heads connect with the forearm bone, however solely the lengthy head attaches to the scapula whereas the opposite heads connect to the humerus (higher arm).

As a result of the lengthy head crosses the shoulder joint with this distinctive attachment, it’s emphasised when performing the barbell cranium crusher (or any time the higher arm is concerned in an train).

Who Ought to Do the Barbell Cranium Crusher

No lifter ought to neglect this helpful train. Its usefulness can particularly assist many different actions all through your week of coaching.

Coaching for Energy and Energy

As a result of the barbell cranium crusher strengthens the triceps and improves lockout energy, lifters in search of to extend their bench press or overhead press will profit significantly from including cranium crushers to their programming. 

Coaching for Muscle

When a lifter’s objective is constructing greater arms, the barbell cranium crusher must be prioritized. The entire muscle recruitment of the triceps, with particular emphasis on the lengthy head, influences muscle development in contrast to many different triceps workouts.

Easy methods to Program the Barbell Cranium Crusher

The triceps have been proven to have a excessive diploma of kind II muscle fibers. These “fast-twitch” fibers enable the triceps to reply exceptionally nicely to explosive-type energy coaching and heavy lifting. (1)(2) . Nonetheless, to recruit all muscle fiber sorts for optimum improvement, utilizing a mixture of rep ranges has been proven to be greatest. (3)

You will need to word that the triceps are activated throughout horizontal and vertical urgent actions, with horizontal presses (just like the bench press) recruiting extra triceps in comparison with vertical presses (just like the shoulder press). (4) The inclusion of isolation workouts just like the barbell cranium crusher shall be mandatory to completely stimulate the triceps for optimum outcomes.

Larger frequency coaching has been proven to be simpler than decrease frequency work. (5) Begin with coaching the triceps twice per week and slowly graduate to a few days per week for optimum development.

Reasonable Weight, Reasonable Repetition

On days whenever you carry out overhead urgent (shoulder) workouts, which recruit the triceps to a lesser diploma, carry out the barbell cranium crusher for three or 4 units of 10 to 12 reps to maximally activate the triceps. This method is greatest complemented by coaching triceps in an extra exercise utilizing a distinct set and rep vary for improved general outcomes.

Lighter Weight, Larger Repetition

Two to 4 days after the primary exercise, ideally on a day you incorporate horizontal (chest) urgent workouts, practice triceps utilizing three or 4 units of 12 to twenty reps. This various stimulus permits ample restoration from the earlier exercise. Pairing lighter weight, higher-rep triceps coaching with comparatively heavy chest workouts additionally helps to scale back pressure on the elbow joints.

Working the triceps a number of occasions per week utilizing quite a lot of units, reps, and hundreds is an almost-perfect technique to construct greater, stronger triceps in a protected and efficient method.

Barbell Cranium Crusher Variations

Many novices soar proper into workouts that require a sure stage of approach. Whereas the barbell cranium crusher shouldn’t be super-technical, it does contain some particular concerns to maximise the recruitment of the triceps. Studying efficient variations could also be extra applicable for lifters having hassle with the barbell motion or lifters in search of selection.

Resistance Band Cranium Crusher

Use the identical physique place and flat bench setup because the barbell cranium crusher with one small distinction. Wrap a resistance band underneath the top facet of the bench or round a heavy barbell on the ground.

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Lie down and seize the band together with your palms dealing with the ceiling. Start from the stretched place and lengthen your arms overhead.

Flat Bench Cable Triceps Extension

Set a bench in entrance of a cable machine. Connect an angled bar to the decrease pulley. Lie on the bench together with your head nearest the cable and carry out a cranium crusher, ranging from the underside place to full lockout.

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This variation is a good alternative to observe the complete approach earlier than getting your self underneath some heavier hundreds. Additionally, the cable supplies extra fixed stress on the muscle because it’s taut all through everything of the train’s vary of movement.

Dumbbell Cranium Crusher

Lie again onto a flat bench with a pair of dumbbells. Start with the weights above your chest, much like a dumbbell bench press. Decrease the burden underneath management in direction of your head, angling your arms inwards to the touch the highest of your shoulders.

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Contract your triceps to completely lengthen your arms and start reducing into the following rep. As soon as you may carry out these with management, you’ll be able to get your self underneath the bar for some extra intense cranium crushers.

Barbell Cranium Crusher Alternate options

The barbell cranium crusher is one very efficient kind of triceps extension, however different triceps extension workouts will be helpful for bulking up the triceps. Listed below are some nice options to contemplate primarily based in your general program and accessible gear.

Overhead Extension

When you have good shoulder mobility and wholesome elbows, overhead extensions will put your triceps into a fair deeper stretch within the backside place. This elevated vary of movement ought to stimulate much more muscle development.

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Cable triceps extensions are a fantastic various to the barbell. The principle variations are the loading (as a result of cable train can’t be progressed as closely as barbells) and the positioning of the higher arm.

Tricep Pressdown

Triceps pressdowns will be much less traumatic on the elbow joint than barbell cranium crushers.

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They gained’t work your triceps by as deep of a stretch, which implies the muscle-building stimulus could also be diminished. The most important benefit is that pressdowns are usually simpler on the elbows, particularly if utilizing a rope deal with attachment.

Shut-Grip Bench Press

As a result of the bench press is so conducive to increased loading, it’s an ideal alternative for a triceps-focused heavy motion. Heavier hundreds have been proven to elicit increased ranges of triceps activation, so this train is greatest programmed in a decrease rep vary. (6)

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A shoulder-width grip produces extra triceps activation than a wider bench press grip, and an inside-shoulder-width grip creates even higher triceps recruitment (7) Nonetheless, such an especially close-grip can present undesirable pressure in your wrists and restrict the vary of movement. For optimum outcomes, use a shoulder-width grip to emphasise the triceps.

Time to Crush the Triceps

Barbell cranium crushers will at all times be a mainstay in triceps exercises. The vary of movement and muscle recruitment are practically unimaginable to duplicate with different workouts. It improves your bench press and builds greater arms. If these aren’t two of the most well-liked objectives within the gymnasium, then what are?


How can I improve the burden used on this train?

A big a part of shifting heavier weights will stem out of your capability to maintain your torso steady by bracing. Tighten your abdomen as should you have been getting punched. This will increase engagement of your complete core and helps to provide head-to-toe stability.

Elevated stability means that you can extra successfully handle every rep — reducing the barbell to the totally lengthened backside place and ensuring the triceps are contracting to maneuver the barbell again up, not simply waving your arms up and down.

A vital aspect in coaching is with the ability to produce the hassle required for every rep. More often than not, effort is the quantity of weight being lifted. However by no means lose focus in your capability to take care of stress on the triceps. In case you are not robust sufficient to maintain your torso steady, then the stress shifts off of the triceps and you might be left open to an damage or, worse, wasted time.

What do I do if my elbows damage when performing cranium crushers?

Complaints of discomfort and ache within the elbows are widespread throughout some triceps workouts, particularly if the lifter has pre-existing joint issues. Overhead extensions are usually probably the most troublesome train, however cranium crushers should still trigger issues.

Performing your heavier urgent workouts first in your exercises will successfully warm-up your elbows earlier than hitting cranium crushers. The heavier work can even fatigue your triceps, resulting in a discount in weight used for cranium crushers.

A lighter weight additionally permits a better rep vary. Bear in mind, utilizing heavy hundreds shouldn’t be a very powerful coaching variable. Sustaining stress on the triceps and maximizing the vary of movement can result in higher advantages. When you have been performing 6-10 reps, transfer into 12-20 reps.

It’s also possible to use a distinct cranium crusher variation. As a substitute of a straight barbell, strive the EZ-bar to barely modify the wrist and elbow angle throughout the train. If that doesn’t assist sufficient, use dumbbells or a cable variation, both with each arms or as single-arm workouts to strengthen every triceps individually.


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