3 Decline-Bench Rope Skullcrusher

Anecdotal feedback from my top lifters suggests this movement is more elbow-friendly than other extension variations. But it isn’t any less intense. On the contrary, it overloads the triceps more than a traditional extension, because the decline creates a longer range of motion and a deep stretch. A muscle under stretch is muscle being overloaded!

Bench Rope Skullcrusher

However, many barbell or dumbbell exercises with an “increased” range of motion just overload the bottom portion of the movement and require less effort to reach full extension. Cables require continuous tension throughout the entire movement, so there’s no diminishing tension as you raise the weight. This extra time under maximum tension will spark greater growth, which is why I use them with great bench pressers like powerlifter Peter Edgette.

Key Training Tips
  • Perform this movement on a shallow decline bench that’s angled about 15-20 degrees. Lie on the decline bench and grab the rope attached to a lower pulley. It’s easiest to have someone hand the rope to you while you’re lying down.
  • Start at the top, in an arms-extended position and with your elbows in. Lower the rope in a semicircular motion just behind your head as if doing a skullcrusher. Feel a deep stretch, then extend your arms back up by contracting your triceps and repeating.
  • To build strength, perform 6-8 reps for 3-5 sets. For hypertrophy, do 10-15 reps for 3-5 sets. Remember, this is not a power movement, so keep it controlled. Any sacrifice in technique is a sacrifice in gains.
  • As a finisher for triceps and a way to take a T-shirt-popping pump to the next level, take your 15-rep max and do it for 8 sets of 8 with just a 30-second rest interval between sets at the end of your triceps workout. Don’t reduce the weight unless you reach muscle failure prematurely.