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Dumbbell Pullover – The Most Controversial Exercise

Dumbbell Pullover – The Most Controversial Exercise


the pullover might be the most controversial exercise in the world of bodybuilding. According to most experts it’s one of the most effective chest and back exercises. At the same time, slight adjustments in your pullover technique can shift its target to different body parts.

It’s effectiveness in activating different upper body muscle groups has been known for decades. In fact, together with the squats, this exercise is one of the oldest tricks in the book of bodybuilding.

 It can give you that great feeling of pump in your chest, stretches the lats, builds up the seratus, and has even been attributed with the ability to stretch your ribcage.
The only known downside of pullovers is that can overload your shoulders. And although years ago everyone was doing it, nowadays it seems almost forgotten.

In this article we’re going to try to prove this theory wrong, and reintroduce the pullover into your routines in all of its former glory.
How to Do the Dumbbell Pullover

Below is a step-by-step guide on how to perform the dumbbell pullover. Along with tips on how to execute proper form.

Step 1 — The Set-Up

How to Do the Dumbbell Pullover

Lay face up on a bench, with your feet firmly planted on the ground. Maintain a slight arch in your lower back. Hold a light to a moderate dumbbell at one end with both hands (20 to 30 pounds should be sufficient to start). Slightly bend your elbows and press the weight over your chest. 

Form Tip: Set yourself as you would for a bench press — squeezing your legs, abs, and shoulder blades together. 

Step 2 — Reach Backwards 

Reach Backwards

Without letting your lower body or hips move, lower your arms back, maintaining a slight bend in your elbows. Keep lowering the weight until you feel a stretch in your chest muscles and lats. 

Reach back as far as you comfortably can, making sure to focus on feeling the stretch of the lats, chest, and triceps.

Form Tip: Depth in this movement is not a good initial marker of an effective range of motion. Focus on feeling the stretch first, as every shoulder joint and lifter is different.

Step 3 — Raise the Load and Repeat

Dumbbell Pullover – The Most Controversial Exercise

Focus on pulling your arms back into position with your lat muscles. Again, keep your elbows just slightly bent throughout all phases of the lift.  If you go too heavy, you risk recruiting your biceps and shoulders and possibly straining a muscle. 

Start by completing 10-12 controlled repetitions. After each rep, try to assume a slightly deeper stretch.

Form Tip: Focus 100% on feeling the muscles doing the work. If you don’t feel the chest and back muscles doing the majority of the work, odds are you are performing the dumbbell pullover incorrectly.

Dumbbell Pullover Mistakes

Don’t let the simplicity of the dumbbell pullover fool you — there are ways to mess it up. Here are two rookie mistakes to avoid. 

Dumbbell Pullover Mistakes