Yes, biceps curls are great for making you feel like a low-level action hero, but you're a wily gym veteran, so you know that the key to super-swole arms is the triceps. In honor of the suns-out-guns-out season that is nearly upon us, we asked some fitness pros for a few new triceps exercises to try instead of the old, reliable EZ bar skullcrusher. The names may not be as cool, but the workout will be just as good.
Idalis Velazquez: Dumbbell skullcrusher. Stick with the same exercise, but use dumbbells instead. This variation requires each arm to work independently of the other. The fact that dumbbells are harder to control than an EZ bar provides an additional challenge to your muscles (so yes, this means you should use less weight!). You can also experiment with different grips on the dumbbell, which affects how the triceps are recruited.
Robin Arzon: Incline single-arm dumbbell skullcrusher. Using an incline bench recruits core muscles to help develop balance, while focusing on single-arm movements addresses any imbalances that may have arisen on either side.
Jay Cardiello: Crisscross push-ups. Begin in a push-up position, but with your arms crisscrossed. Your right hand should be directly under your left shoulder, with your left hand slightly behind your right shoulder. To check your positioning, lower yourself to the floor until your forearms rest flat on the ground — your right hand will be in front of your left elbow, and your left hand will be behind your right elbow. Press through your palms and raise your body back into a push-up position. Repeat as many times as possible for 30 seconds.
Ben Booker: Single-arm cable push-downs and pull-downs. Skullcrushers are great for working the triceps, but I see many people performing them incorrectly due to shoddy elbow placement or poor shoulder mobility. Try single-arm cable push-downs and pull-downs instead. Switching up the positioning of your grip during cable work targets a different part of that magical triceps horseshoe.
Gideon Akande: Bear plank push-up. It’s as nasty as it sounds. Assume a bear hold position, with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips, like so. Lift your knees one inch off of the ground, and then perform a push-up in that position. Keeping the elbows close to the body will smoke the shoulders and ignite the triceps. Besides, this looks way cooler than regular skull crushers.
Alexia Clark: Standing rotation triceps extension. Start with your arms bent at a 90-degree angle and your palms facing each other, holding dumbbells. Keeping your arms at that degree angle, rotate your arms so that your elbows are pointing straight up to the air and your biceps are by your ears. From this position, straighten your arms to perform a tricep extension, as shown here. Rotate your arms back down to a 90-degree angle at chest level and repeat. The rotation helps develop shoulder mobility, and standing while doing the extension engages the deeper end of your triceps.