My favorite tricep exercise in the world! I love French curls.
They’re also incredibly effective for building massive triceps.
This video tutorial will guide you through the principles of optimized form as they relate to French curls. It may be a little different from what you’re used to but if you don’t have the triceps you want, then that should be a welcome change, right? 😉 .
Trust me, if you’re used to performing a skull-crusher-to-the-forehead type movement, try this and you’ll NEVER go back – I promise!
Firstly, let’s state that building your triceps is extremely important. There’s no point in building big biceps and having a skinny rear portion; it just doesn’t look impressive. French curls will definitely help take care of this for you.
Equipment you need:
Have the bench in the flat position. Also, you want to be grabbing the curl bar in the most comfortable position possible. For me, that’s a narrow grip like so.
You may also want to grab the bar at the second bend like below.
Remember, comfort will dictate your strength on any given set. Experiment and get it right.
Check out the video of me performing French curls (some people call them skull crushers), then read the instructions below…
- Lie flat on the bench and make sure that your head is hanging slightly off the edge of it
- Also ensure that your feet are planted on the floor, NOT up on the bench
- Start by lowering the bar down slowly and smoothly. Make sure you are in control of the weight on the negative part of the rep.
- Lower to the lowest point possible behind your head. There should be no discomfort in the joints.
- Typical Skull Crushers are lowered to the forehead. This is undesirable as it severely limits the range of motion and feels unnatural compared to this type of movement.
- Now drive the weight back up to the starting position.
- The negative part of the rep should take about 2 seconds, and the positive about 1 second.
If your lower back lifts off the bench slightly while lowering the weight, don’t be concerned. This is not wrong and is totally natural. Trying to avoid this works against your own biomechanics and may lead to injury. However, don’t actively pursue an arched back either.
Note: In my opinion, a curl bar is preferable to a straight bar because it holds the wrists at a natural angle while lowering the weight behind your head. This not only means you’ll be stronger, but you’ll also avoid injury.
I can’t encourage you to incorporate French curls into your routine enough. They really are awesome! I’m convinced you’ll notice an acceleration in tricep growth if you’ve never performed them before (or never performed them as I have demonstrated here).
This Exercise Execution Series will show you how to MAXIMIZE your results by working in harmony with your body’s biomechanics, not against them – no barbell curls with a poker-straight back at MuscleHack thank you very much 😉 .
P.S. – Sorry about the poor video quality, this was shot in the evening in a pretty dark & cold garage! The things I do for you guys, eh? 😉
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Hope you didn`t freeze.. 😀
I actually brought an electric heater out there with me, it was sub-zero temperatures when filming. I survived!
Ha ha… how do you excercise then if it`s cold? You really endure a lot for us. 😀
Mark, these were and are my absolute favorite exercise. There is just something so pleasing about them.
When I first started working out, all I could do was 10 lbs. Then a few months later I had upped that to 60. So satisfying.
P.S. Don’t freeze. It was 70 here in Austin today.
@ Philip. Doesn’t matter how cold it is, I never miss a workout. This wasn’t shot during an actual workout though, I just did a light set to demonstrate the form.
@ Eugene. Sounds so good man, we’ll not be up in the 70’s for a few months yet 🙁 French curls rock!
I’ve been doing decline tricep extensions with a tricep bar. Should I do the french curls in addition to or instead of the decline tri extensions?
Mark, instead of my usual skull crushers, I did these tonight (with dumbbells though), and they totally kicked my ass!
I haven’t felt that stretch in my triceps, ever!
If I ever have another kid, I’m naming him Mark! 🙂
I agree – these are exactly what I do and the way I do them. I can see I sometimes get looks like I’m “doing them wrong” – mostly from guys with smaller triceps!
@Blackjaw. Switch it up between the 2 exercises. So, for 1 THT cycle do tricep extensions with the tricep bar for 2 or 3 sets and switch to french curls on your next cycle. Alternatively, if either 1 yields better results, you can stick with it. I’ve been using french curls for the past 2 cycles (20 weeks).
@FatBoyMuscleMan. LOL! ‘Mark’ will work, just don’t call him Musclehack! That’s exactly why I love French curls, nothing else can provide that range of motion and really target the triceps. Enjoy the new arm growth!
@Bill. Yeah, feel safe ignoring these guys. You’re performing a KILLER tricep exercise!
Glad you are making this point about the bio-mechanically optimized form. You simply don’t lift like a robot when doing isolation exercises.
Now, when doing multi-joint exercises, which also have their place, there is a stricter groove.
Hi Mark, I’m starting a new cycle this Thursday and was planning on doing three sets of these and three sets of seated dumbell extensions for my Triceps, do you think that will give a good workout with proper form or should I go for six sets of tricep french curls for better results?
@Yavor. Just a note – I consider this a compound movement, just like I consider barbell curls a compound movement i.e. if they’re done using biomechanically optimized form. See point 4 on this post for more
This is in agreement with Jeff Willet who defines ‘compound movement’ in the same manner. However, most people hold to the traditional definitions i.e. squats are compound, bb curls are isolation.
@WAI. Your first idea sounds good but if you can get some cable work in, go for it. Tricep cable push downs would be a good choice for your final 3 sets.
hi mark im a beginner so the total anabolism the T.H.T. suits for me? thnks