Best for: Upping your bench and adding size. If you want to get bigger and stronger, doing skullcrushers is a safe bet, but Hopkins notes that you should tweak your form by allowing the bar to travel a few inches back and behind your head at the bottom of the move.
“Your triceps tie into your shoulders, too,” Hopkins explains. “So you can use the by extending the elbow and the shoulder.”
Application: This old-school triceps move, which has you lay down on a bench, takes the momentum out of the equation. As a result, almost all of the movement is coming from you extending your arm at the elbow. Also, Hopkins agrees that for guys who want to increase their bench press max, this variation is king.
“Any time you want carryover to another move, you have to look for what is closest in motor structure—meaning the actual position you’re in,” Hopkins says. “Being supine on a bench with that same upper back extension is going to have a higher transfer to the bench press.”
Safety: Aside from the obvious risk of going too heavy and dropping a barbell on your dome, Hopkins asserts that the traditional skullcrusher is safe overall.
“You’re on your back, and you don’t have to control much other than your upper arms and elbows,” he says. Again, just check your ego and opt for moderate weight for more reps.
Rating: Safety: 3.5/5, Strength: 4/5, Hypertrophy: 4/5