How The Bodyweight Skull Crusher Boosts Muscle Growth

A great bodyweight triceps workout to give you those horseshoe-shaped arms from the comfort of your own home.

For those of us who regularly visit the gym, there is certainly no shortage of machines that we can use to fuel and power our workouts and our gains. With a plethora of various equipment for all different muscles groups, getting a good pump is never really a problem. It’s for those of us at home that struggle with finding the best exercises to really target certain muscle groups that are often overlooked, or just simply hard to work. Your triceps are one such group and finding ways to really give your triceps a workout can be challenging.

The bodyweight skull crusher is a fantastic triceps exercise that will really work this muscle group without any equipment needed. We all know we need, or at least want, those bulging arms, and this is one exercise sure to fire them up. Your triceps are comprised of three heads which work to give it that shape: the long, lateral, and medial head. Each should be worked to the extent at which they will pop on their own to provide for that horseshoe-shape we all want. The bodyweight skull crusher will work to target all three heads and is a seriously effective and worthwhile exercise.

This exercise has the potential to launch your gains to a whole new level so let’s dive into the bodyweight skull crusher and see what it can do for us today. From the basics, to the muscles worked, and the mighty benefits this has on our triceps growth and other training and performance goals, this exercise will be a phenomenal addition to your repertoire.


Skull Crusher Basics

Skull crushers are a great exercise for targeting your triceps and building serious strength. When people think of skull crushers, they typically jump to the weighted skull crusher, which involves either a bar or dumbbells and a slightly different movement. But the bodyweight skull crusher is still a great exercise and one to work your triceps for the same results, but in a different way. How this exercise provides resistance, as opposed to using weights, is by letting gravity be your weight since you are facing the ground, allowing for an efficient pushing motion.


Muscles Work During The Bodyweight Skull Crusher

Bodyweight skull crushers are essentially an isolation exercise for they target your triceps the most, in particular the long head, but what you’ll find is that other muscle groups are worked as well to stabilize you for balance and keep you grounded. Your core and lats will feel a burn with this to help you stay stable and ready to take on this workout.


Benefits Of The Bodyweight Skull Crusher

Target Triceps For Growth

This exercise is meant to target those triceps and it will. By really working to give your triceps a serious burn, the bodyweight skull crusher will work to really challenge your triceps and give you the strength and size you want most out of performance and physique. Those bulging arms are not complete with simply large biceps and equally big triceps will make others envious when wearing a great tank or tee. A great pushing motion, this exercise will allow you to focus on mind-muscle connection as well for better strength gains (1).


Work On Core Strength & Balance

Although this exercise mainly challenges your triceps, it would be a mistake to think your core doesn’t see some action as well. By needing your core to stay engaged to provide for balance and stabilization, you work to really enhance all areas of your lift in order to see growth and challenge yourself to be as grounded as possible in order to effectively work your triceps (2).

Convenient & Simple To Learn

This exercise is not challenging to learn but the benefits are enormous for growth. Following instructions on how to do this exercise are fairly simple and once you add this to your routine, you won’t want to take it out. Being a bodyweight exercise, you don’t need equipment and this can really boost your at-home workouts.


How To Perform This Exercise

To perform this exercise, you can use something like a bench, or you can use a bar resting on the rack.

Place your hands on the bar with your grip around shoulder width apart. Your elbows will be tucked next to your body to keep them from flaring out and your legs will be grounded as the only movement comes from your elbows.

Engage your core and slowly lower your body, again bending at the elbows under, so your body goes under the bar. Once at a 90-degree angle, push back towards the starting position only using your triceps as you extend your elbows straight. Repeat for your desired number of reps.


Weighted Skull Crusher Exercise

For those curious about the weighted skull crusher, this exercise is great to add more resistance with either dumbbells, or an EZ-bar.

Lay on a bench with your feet either pushed up against a wall or flat on the ground. Hold the weight above your head with your elbows extended up. Like the bodyweight skull crusher, the movement comes from the elbows to maximize the work of your triceps.

Gently lower the weight towards the head, really feeling the burn in your triceps. Keeping your core engaged is important for this variation as well. Once at the bottom, push with your triceps so the weight is put back above you and your elbows extended. Repeat for your desired number of reps.

Wrap Up

Finding a great triceps exercise is essential in really targeting your triceps so they see that growth you want most. The bodyweight skull crusher is one of those exercises that will really work to target your triceps in a way you will feel a burn and see that horseshoe-shape start to unfold. With proper form and a will to want to grind, this exercise is convenient and simple to learn and will really work to provide great triceps development for those big arms we all know and love.

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*Images courtesy of Envato


  1. Calatayud, Joaquin; Vinstrup, Jonas; Jakobsen, Markus D.; Sundstrup, Emil; et al. (2017). “Mind-muscle connection training principle: influence of muscle strength and training experience during a pushing movement”. (source)
  2. Willardson, Jeffrey M. (2007). “Core stability training: applications to sports conditioning programs”. (source)
Austin Letorney is a writer, actor, and fitness enthusiast. As a former rower, he has shifted his focus to sharing his knowledge of the fitness world and strength sports with others.