I recently received a note from a trainee who was having elbow pain training triceps. Heavy skull crushers, or lying extensions, used to be his favorite exercise—but not since the pain started. He was losing his arm size. He asked if I had any suggestions. Of course!
Even without elbow pain, I have discovered a “quick-and-dirty” triceps combo that produces excellent growth in the upper arms, and the first move uses no elbow flexion. How is that possible?
One of the key functions of the long head of the triceps is moving the upper arm from overhead down, as in a pullover. So the combo to grow for new triceps gains without elbow pain is dumbbell pullovers supersetted with skull crushers using the same dumbbells.
Lie on a bench just as you would for skull crushers, with a dumbbell in each hand that will allow you to get about 12 pullovers. At failure, do lying extensions, lowering the dumbbells to the sides of your head. Your long heads will be prefatigued from the pullovers, so the extensions will not overstress your elbow joints.