Yes, strong triceps help your arms stand out in a T-shirt.
But the muscles also help your arms absorb heavy forces, like when you keep them straight while pressing a door shut or driving up during a pushup. That’s called eccentric strength, and it refers to movements that lengthen a muscle at the same time it is being contracted.
One of the best ways to develop eccentric triceps strength is with the Slow-Mo Skull Crusher, a favorite move of MH fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. You’ll gain bigger arms, better pushups, and more durable elbows when you add the exercise to your training regimen.
“Your main goal is to resist the weight,” says Samuel, who uses the move in his new All Out Arms workout series. “That builds real-world triceps strength.” And serious arm muscle, too. When you implement the move into your arm day split, do 3 sets of 6 to 8 reps using weight you can manage easily to start. That eccentric challenge will make the going get tougher as you pump out the reps.
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The Slow-Mo Skull Crusher
Follow these three key cues to nail the exercise.
1. Lean Back
Lie on a bench, dumbbells directly over your shoulders, arms straight. Squeeze your shoulder blades and point your elbows toward your knees. Continue squeezing your shoulder blades as you shift your arms backward toward your forehead a few degrees.
2. Sloooooowly Lower
Bending only at the elbow, lower the dumbbells until they are nearly at your shoulders. Don’t let your elbows tip backward. Take at least 3 seconds to do this.
3 . Roll With It
Without letting your elbows flare out, pull your upper arms back in line with your torso. At the end, the weights should be near your rib cage, positioned for a close-grip bench press.
4. Press On
Keeping your elbows close to your torso, press the weights upward explosively, squeezing your triceps. Position yourself for another rep.
A version of this story originally appears in the April 2021 issue of Men’s Health, with the title “THE ULTIMATE TRICEPS PUMP”.
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