Dumbbell Pullover Exercise

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Dumbbell Pullover Exercise

Despite working the chest muscles, the dumbbell pullover is actually better classified as a back exercise. Nevertheless, this exercise will target your chest muscles from a new angle by pulling the weight over your head. This targets the middle and lower portion of your pectorals and also works your lats – the “wings” down the sides of your back.

Dumbbell pullover is an excellent bodybuilding exercise to develop the size of your chest and improve the overall posture of your upper body, and is useful exercise if training for throwing sports or martial arts. However, you should avoid this exercise if you have any shoulder problems. If you use dumbbell pullover exercise to open rib cage, you must work with light weights and avoid bending too much at the elbows.

Dumbbell Pullover Exercise Guide

STARTING POSITION (SETUP): Lie across the flat bench with your shoulder blades resting on a flat bench and your body extended out perpendicular to the bench, feet flat on the floor (to stabilize your lower torso) and knees bent. Hold one dumbbell with both hands (your palms flat against the top inner plate). Drop your hips (pelvis) below the level of the bench (lower than a shoulder girdle) and begin by holding the dumbbell straight up over your chest with your arms straight.

Dumbbell Pullovers Across A Flat Bench

Dumbbell Pullovers Across A Flat Bench

*Instead of lying across the flat bench you can lie on a bench with your head close to one end, and your shoulders, glutes, and head in contact with the pad.

Dumbbell Pullovers

Dumbbell Pullovers

EXECUTION (ACTION): Holding the inside edge of a dumbbell at arm’s length overhead, allow the weight to go behind you (until it reaches bench level), keeping your arms straight (or with your elbows slightly bent), stretching your pecs and lats but keeping your hips down. Reversing direction, pull the weight back up using the same arcing motion, breathing out only after reaching the uppermost position to ensure that your core is stable throughout the movement. You do not have to bring the weight all the way back up. Raise it only as long as you feel resistance; if this resistance disappears, you went too far to maintain continuous tension.

Muscles Involved in Dumbbell Pullover

Dumbbell pullover develops the bulk of the pectoralis major, long heat of triceps brachii, teres major, latissimus dorsi, serratus anterior, rhomboids, and pectoralis minor.

  • MAIN MUSCLES: latissimus dorsi, teres major and minor, pectoralis major
  • SECONDARY MUSCLES: serratus anterior, triceps (especially the long head), rhomboids
  • ANTAGONISTS: pectoralis major, deltoid (front)

Pullover Variations

  • Barbell pullover
Barbell pullover

Barbell pullover

  • Plate pullover. Pick up a relatively light weight plate and hold it over your chest with one hand placed on the left side and one on the right side of the plate whilst lying on a bench
Plate pullover

Plate pullover

  • EZ-bar pullover
EZ-bar pullover

EZ-bar pullover

  • Machine pullover. This exercise is also performed on a machine that’s found in most gyms. You begin by sitting on a seat that has a back. Above your head is a large U-shaped bar, with the open part of the U facing out. Place your elbows on the two pads at the open end. Press down firmly on the pads with your upper arms, lowering the U-shaped bar toward your chest. Stop when it touches your abs. The bar moves in a semicircular motion from start to finish. While pressing down on the bar, you can wrap your fingers around the top of the bar for a firmer hold. Keep your back firmly against the back of the seat.

Dumbbell Pullover Additional Tips & Key Moments

  • Using an excessive weight in this exercise can cause your lower back to arch, which could damage your intervertebral discs. Always use a weight that is light enough to enable you to maintain good form throughout the full range of motion.
  • Your torso should remain still and parallel to the floor, with your upper back resting on the bench and your feet firm on the floor for stability.
  • If you use this exercise to open rib cage, you must work with light weights and avoid bending too much at the elbows. If possible, use a convex bench or place yourself across a horizontal bench and position the pelvis lower than a shoulder girdle.
  • Grab a dumbbell by placing your palms against the inside of the plates at one end, positioning your hands together so that your index fingers and thumbs form a diamond shape.
  • Don’t take the dumbbell back too far – going too deep will increase the risk of incurring a shoulder injury.

Closing Thoughts

Another great middle chest exercise is the dumbbell pullover. The dumbbell pullover requires paying strict attention to form. This is an isolation movement; the only joint that should move is the shoulder. Throughout the exercise, keep your arms extended, with elbows slightly bent. Do not flex and extend your elbows during the movement.

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