Summary: Do skull crushers work the long head? This is a question that has been asked by many bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts, as the long head of the triceps is an important muscle for overall arm development. In this article, we will explore the effectiveness of skull crushers in targeting the long head of the triceps. We will examine the anatomy of the triceps muscle, the biomechanics of skull crushers, and how to perform the exercise correctly.
1. Anatomy of the long head of the triceps
The triceps muscle is composed of three heads – the long head, lateral head, and medial head. The long head originates from the scapula and runs down the back of the arm to attach to the elbow joint. It is responsible for extending the elbow joint and also plays a significant role in shoulder extension and adduction. Due to its position and function, the long head is often targeted by isolation exercises like skull crushers.
The triceps as a whole make up the majority of upper arm mass and contribute significantly to overall arm strength. A well-developed long head can enhance the aesthetic appearance of the arms, as well as improve performance in pushing exercises like bench press and overhead press.
However, it’s worth noting that the triceps function as a unit, and each head contributes to overall muscle activation during compound exercises like dips or close grip bench press. Therefore, while isolation exercises like skull crushers can effectively target the long head, it should not be the only exercise in your triceps workout.
2. Biomechanics of skull crushers
Skull crushers, also known as lying triceps extensions, are an effective isolation exercise for targeting the long head of the triceps. They involve lying on a bench with a barbell or dumbbells and extending the arms overhead, then lowering the weight towards the forehead or behind the head.
The exercise primarily targets the long head of the triceps, with some activation of the lateral and medial heads as well. One study found that skull crushers resulted in greater long head triceps activation compared to other triceps exercises like pushdowns or dips.
It’s important to perform skull crushers with proper form to maximize muscle activation and prevent injury. This includes keeping your elbows stationary and close to the head, using a controlled tempo, and avoiding excessive range of motion that could strain the elbow joint or shoulder girdle.
3. How to perform skull crushers correctly
To perform skull crushers, follow these steps:
Step 1: Lie on a flat bench with your feet flat on the floor and your head at the end of the bench. Grasp a barbell with an overhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart, and hold it above your chest with your arms fully extended.
Step 2: Keeping your elbows close to your head, slowly lower the bar towards your forehead by bending your elbows. Your upper arms should remain stationary throughout the movement.
Step 3: Pause briefly at the bottom of the movement, then lift the bar back up to the starting position by straightening your arms. Repeat for desired reps.
It’s also possible to perform skull crushers with dumbbells or an EZ-bar, and variations like incline or decline skull crushers can target different aspects of the triceps muscle.
Skull crushers are an effective exercise for targeting the long head of the triceps, an important muscle for overall arm development. By understanding the anatomy and biomechanics of the triceps muscle and performing skull crushers with proper form, you can effectively isolate and strengthen the long head. However, it’s important to remember that the triceps function as a unit and should be trained in conjunction with other exercises to maximize overall muscle activation and strength.