Lying Triceps Extensions

Technique Summary

Lay down on a flat bench. Grab a barbell shoulder width apart. Keep upper arms perpendicular to the floor. Lower the weight onto your forehand and inhale. Bring it back up and exhale.

Exercise Type: Isolation
Primary Muscle: Triceps Brachii

Technique Details

Lying triceps extensions are also known as skull crushers. I don’t know how many people broke their heads before the exercise got its second name, but I don’t recommend you join the ranks. Needless to say, the exercise requires you to lower the barbell over your forehead. Once again, needless to say, you want to be very careful in doing so. Be deliberate in your movement as you lower the weight. When you feel a good stretch lift the bar up by flexing your triceps. Fully extend your arms until a peak contraction in your triceps without actually locking your elbows. Locking elbows may lead to tendonitis. Keep your arms - shoulder to elbow - stationary at all times.


Keep your elbows in as you perform the skull crushers. You could move them closer or away from your feet, but parallel to the body. Making this adjustment you should realize that you don’t necessarily have to lower the bar on your forehead. Lowering the bar on your forehead focuses the triceps extension on the medial and lateral heads of triceps brachii. Lowering the bar behind your head focuses the exercise on the long head of the triceps. If you decide to go with the latter, then your upper arm should make an approximately 60 degree angle with the floor.

You could perform the lying triceps extension with a regular barbell as well as an ez curl bar. We don’t recommend using a straight barbell because it places unnecessary strain on your wrists.