Strength or weight training, coupled with aerobic exercises, is always important to maintain our body in peak condition. One of the essential body parts we need to strengthen is our triceps, or the large muscle on the part of the arm right above the elbow. There are many ways of strengthening our triceps, and an effective tool to use is the dumbbell, or weights.
Tricep dumbbell extension exercises are also known as skull crusher exercises. Ironically, this name is derived from an incorrect way of doing the exercise—lowering the dumbbell right towards the skull. Properly done, however, these exercises benefit the muscles at the back of the upper arms.
Here are some exercise techniques to strengthen your triceps using dumbbells:
- Sit on a chair with your back straight, your abdominal muscles tight and your feet flat on the floor.
- Grasp one dumbbell around the shaft on both hands, and bring it up to full arms length.
- Lower the dumbbell behind the head, keeping the upper arms steady. Remember, the focus of the movement here should be the forearms (the part between the elbow and the wrist). You should feel a stretch in your triceps.
- The end position here should have the elbows at the highest point, shoulders down, dumbbell at neck position.
- Return to starting position, remembering to tighten your elbow at the top. Repeat process; you may do 1-3 sets with 10-12 repetitions each.
Note that this exercise may actually also be done standing up. Just make sure that you keep your back straight, abdominals tight while doing so.
Another alternative is to use just one hand instead of both to hold up the dumbbell. Just remember to alternate arms after each set.
- Lay down straight on a flat bench, bending your knees and keeping feet firmly on the ground. Remember to keep your body at a comfortable position. An option is to put up your feet on the bench itself, if it suits you better.
- Holding dumbbells on both hands, lift up arms to their full length.
- Bring down forearms to a 90-degree position relative to your body. Remember to keep your elbows at shoulder width while doing this. Control the arms and keep them at this distance from your body; avoid the common ‘skull crusher’ mistake. Another option is to flex the elbows (instead of the 90 degree position) and to lower the dumbbells behind your head, until it is level with the bench top.
- It is important to concentrate all movements on the forearm. Avoid swinging or jerking any other part of your body in order to fully obtain the benefits of this exercise.
Another option to this exercise is to use just one dumbbell, either with both hands holding it or with one arm being worked out at a time.
Weight training can seem intimidating at first, but over time you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find yourself handling heavier weights with less effort. Remember, as with any venture, the most important thing is to start it, and to keep going. Enjoy!