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Alternating Dumbbell Skull Crushers

The alternating dumbbell skull crusher is a variation of the traditional dumbbell skull crusher that uses single arm, alternating arm movements instead of two simultaneous motions.  I find that using this variation allows for more focus and concentration on the movement and triceps muscle. Although neither is better or worse in terms of triceps strength and development since they both have their advantages. However, I do find that I need to use lighter weight for the alternating dumbbell variation which can be attributed to the increased focus and concentration needed to ensure smooth exercise movement.    

The traditional dumbbell skull crusher can be found here.

Ready position

Starting position

Right arm extensions

Left arm extension

Position for the alternating dumbbell skull crusher

Place two dumbbells in either side of a yoga mat or towel. Lie down on a yoga mat or towel with dumbbells on each of your sides. Bend your knees until they are at a 70 degree angle. Dig the backs of your shoulders into the floor until they are flush. Puff your chest out and look straight up at the ceiling. Pick up the dumbbells and press them above your chest. Turn the dumbbells so that your palms are facing each other. Move your arms slightly so that the dumbbells are at eye level.    

How to perform the alternating dumbbell skull crusher

While keep your upper arm stationary, bend your right elbow and lower the dumbbell until it is near the top side of your head. Be careful not to hit your head with the dumbbell, they should be to the top and sides of your head. Pause for a second or two and using your triceps muscle (the backs of your arms) extend the dumbbell back up. Perform the same motion with your left arm in alternating fashion (back and forth between your left and right arm) until the prescribed repetitions have been completed.


Breathe in as you lower the dumbbell and breathe out as you extend the dumbbell upwards.

Important notes for the alternating dumbbell skull crusher

·         Be careful not to lower the weight too fast – keep the movement slow and controlled.

·         Squeeze the back of your arms (triceps) when your arm is in full extension (top part of the movement)

·         Keep your eyes fixated on the ceiling. I suggest picking a spot on the ceiling and staring at it as you perform the exercise (don’t look down at your feet).

Video for the alternating dumbbell skull crusher

Over his 30 plus years of experience, Blake Bissaillion has worked with nationally ranked body builders, power lifters and fitness professionals. In this time he has picked up volumes of applied knowledge that he openly shares with his clients. Mr. Bissaillion’s objective is to help as many beginners to weight training and fitness to achieve their weight loss and fitness goals while getting into their best possible shape. Mr. Bissaillion owns and operates Belly Be Gone, a fitness company that offers fitness and nutritional guidance and products.

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