How to do Tricep Extensions – Arm Exercise

How to do tricep extensions also know as skull crushes, is a fantastic isolation exercise for your triceps. There are many different variations of this exercise, some of these different variations will be shown below using different equipment and exercise positions.

While the tricep extensions main focus is on the tricep, it does also work a few other muscles. To a lesser degree it trains the muscles of the forearms, shoulders and the chest, however it very much depends on the variation of the exercise and how you perform it.

Equipment commonly used to perform tricep extensions

  • Cable machine
  • Straight bar
  • Curved bar
  • Ropes
  • Dumbbells
  • Tricep bar
  • Tricep extension machine

Some of the different variations of the tricep extension

  • Over head extension – single or double handed
  • Lying down bench version
  • Tricep kick backs
  • Cable extensions

Standing cable version with ropes

How to do tricep extensions

  • Stand up straight and grab the ropes, keep your elbows in at the side, your forearms should be just above parallel with the floor.
  • Lower the ropes until your arms are almost straight, while doing so pull your arms apart slightly, hold for a short moment and then tense your triceps, and then return your arms to the start position keeping the tension on your triceps.

I prefer to perform the exercise using ropes as it give you more control during the exercise, however you can also use a straight or angled bar.

Lying down barbell/curl bar version – aks skull crushers


  • Lie on a flat bench holding the barbell with your arms vertical.
  • have your palms facing up and your hands about 1 foot apart, slowly lower the bar so that your arms are bent at about 90 degrees, you can go a little beyond this angle for extra stress on the tricep, hold for a brief moment and then slowly return to the start position and then repeat.

The lying down tricep extension can also be performed standing up, using the exact same arm movement, you just perform it while standing, another slight variation is that it can be performed while seated on a bench.

Single arm over head extension


  • Stand up straight with your feet about shoulder width apart for balance, extend your right arm up vertically holding the dumbbell.
  • Bend your elbow and lower your forearm behind your head, your arm should be bent at about 90 degrees, hold and then straighten your arm again.

Sometimes during this exercise you can feel pressure on your elbows, if this is the case change your technique, or you might want to try another variation, a nice variation of this is simply to perform it using both arms, lowering the dumbbell behind your head.

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