The skullcrusher is one of the most best triceps exercises out there, a potent way to add serious size, muscle and strength to the back of your arm, and it’s a move you can overload with plenty of weight for even more muscle-building benefit. The downside? It doesn’t exactly travel well. Heck, most arm exercises don’t travel well; almost all require you to use outside resistance to get the most out of them.
So what do you do when you need a quick arm pump on a Friday night? Or if you’re on the road and you still want to blast your triceps? Your answer: You do the Triceps Triple-Dropset Finisher, a nasty, all-bodyweight sequence from Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. that’ll have your arms screaming for mercy in just 15 minutes. The best part? Aside from a bench (and really, any raised surface, from a bench to a chair to a sturdy office coffee table will do), you don’t need any equipment at all. “This is probably the best bodyweight method for training triceps,” says Samuel. “And it’s harder than you think. Things get a bit easier as you go, but overall, your triceps are never getting to rest.”
You’ll start with a challenging bodyweight skullcrusher variation, then progress to one that’ll push you to squeeze your triceps hard. You’ll finish with close-grip pushups, pausing at the bottom to challenge your tris some more.
- Get in plank position with your hands on a bench, hands shoulder-width apart, elbows tight. Keeping your elbows tight and your core and glutes squeezed, bend at the elbows, lowering your head as close to the bench as possible. press back up, keeping your elbows tight. That’s 1 rep; do 6 to 8.
- Get in plank position, elbows below shoulders, shoulder-width apart, glutes and abs tight. Squeeze your triceps, straightening your arms. That’s 1 rep; do 6 to 8.
- Get in push position, hands slightly tighter than shoulder-width. Keeping your elbows close to your torso, bend at the elbows and shoulders, lowering your chest to within an inch from the ground. Pause. Press back up. That’s 1 rep; do 6 to 8,
- Rest 1 minute. Do 3 sets.
The key to the entire sequence, says Samuel, is form. “This becomes very easy if you don’t keep squeezing your abs and glutes,” he says. “And it’s easy if you let your elbows flare.” You have to tighten your entire body to prevent those two things from happening. “And when you do, you create a strong, stable way to isolate your triceps while maintaining total-body tension,” Samuel says. “Focus ultra-intently on form: The moment you’re breaking at the waist, you’re making the exercise much, much easier.”
Do those things, and the Triceps Triple-Dropset Finisher goes from a mere triceps move to a full-body workout that’ll tax you more than you realize. It’s good enough to be a quick on-the-road triceps, workout, says Samuel, so file it away for long road trips. But it can also function on arm day or push day, too. “This is a finisher,” says Samuel. “Use it that way whenever you want.”
For more tips and routines from Samuel, check out our full slate of Eb and Swole workouts. If you want to try an even more dedicated routine, consider Eb’s New Rules of Muscle program.
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