3 Dumbbell Pullover Benefits You Should Know About

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By Alex
Last updated on

Discover the dumbbell pullover benefits and see how this isolation chest exercise might be able to help you reach your goals faster.

If you are planning to add this exercise to your routine, be sure that you know how to do the dumbbell pullover.

Dumbbell Pullover Benefits

The dumbbell pullover offers a few key benefits that you can experience if you are among the best candidates for this movement (i.e. some people shouldn’t do this exercise). Listed below are the top dumbbell pullover benefits:

#1 Build Upper Body Muscle

Although it’s considered to be among the isolation chest exercises (since it’s a single-joint movement), it also effectively works the triceps and lats. So get ready for thicker chest and back muscles. I should note, though, that contrary to populare belief, this exercise does not work the serratus anterior (the “rib muscles”), at least not in any substantial manner.

#2 Work the Stabilizers

The dumbbell pullover clearly does your chest justice, but it’ll also test many stabilizer muscles throughout your body; spefically those in the abs, upper back/scapular region and the gluteal muscles. Stabilizer muscles don’t actually do the work to move the weight, but they support the muscles that do by holding them steady or balanced. Poorly developed stabilizer muscles can be a “weak link” that causes a plateau.

#3 Improve Flexibility

Although the dumbbell pullover is no substitute for a stretching routine, the stretch involved in performing the technique is effective for maintaining or improving flexibility and range of motion in your chest and shoulder region. An increase in the flexibility of this region will benefit all other related exercises in your weight lifting routine.

Alex from King of the Gym
Hey! My name is Alex and I'm the founder and author of King of the Gym. I've been lifting weights seriously since 2005 in high school when I started a home gym in my parents' basement. I started writing about fitness in 2009. Then, in 2014, I got into writing home gym equipment reviews and I haven't looked back. My current home gym is in my own house and it's constantly growing and evolving. My goal is to help you build the home gym of your dreams! Read more about me here.

14 thoughts on “3 Dumbbell Pullover Benefits You Should Know About”

  1. Hi! I like your article. But Can you add more benefits of incline dumbbell pullovers as supposed to 3 benefits only. I’d like to know more.

    • These are the main benefits. I guess I could expand a bit on the 3rd benefit of flexibility — really it’s good for mobility; specifically thoracic spine mobility, which is important for many exercises, like front squats and many others.

  2. Started doing pullovers with 12kg and now doing it with proper form even touching the floor on the eccentric part and using 24kg
    Passed from my highest 1rep max with 70kg to 5reps with 70kg.
    Started doing pullover only the last month what a miracle.
    Started to look closer to a golden era bodybuilder like having a huge back and slimmer waist (like Vince Gironda, Steve Reeves …)
    Didn’t improve so much in so little time.

  3. The first two sentences of #1 are essentially saying the same thing. Perhaps tidy that.

    I’ve done this exercise from time to time over the years. I like it but I can’t “feel” the muscles it works so it’s a mystery to me. It seems logical to me that it works the chest but I’ve had some people say that it’s a lat exercise. Odd. I wonder if it would be more effective on a decline bench.

  4. hy bro, i am indian, my body weight is 68 kg,nd my height is 5.5 inch, i am doing gym from 1 year, but there is no coach in my gym, but machines are good, i want to gain my muscle size, i am doing two excercise in one day, chest back, biceps triceps, shoulder legs…..so can u send me schedule, which excercise is best for us, i want to folllow u… so pls rep asap m waiting bro

  5. Hi! Every time I do this exercise, I end up feeling it more in my lower abdominal muscles, of all places! So much so that I feel like I pulled something or started a hernia possibly! Nowhere else have I read about this being an exercise for the core, too, but I sure notice it there! Anyone else?

  6. Depending upon how you perform the pullover will determine the muscle group most effected, i.e., chest, lats, or triceps. To emphasize the chest, lay down on a flat bench holding a barbell/dumbbell with arms extended directly above the head/chest. Begin the exercise by extending the arms back lowering the barbell or dumbbell as far as you can behind the head while maintaining soft elbow flexion throughout the exercise. Return to the starting position maintaining the same amount of elbow flexion. To emphasize lats, you need to provide a certain amount of elbow flexion throughout the movement without turning the exercise into a triceps extension. This in turn well serve to target the lats more than the chest in performing the pullover. To emphasize triceps, maintain a soft flexion in the elbows b4 lowering the barbell/dumbbell to 180 degree shoulder flexion at which point lower the barbell/dumbbell as much as you can using elbow flexion. Return or perform the concentric part of the movement by extending the elbows then pulling the shoulders forward to return to the starting position. BTW, all three methods are going to have some effect on the abdominal muscles to some degree since you are essentially stretching the area along the center of the abdominal wall. To learn how to perform the exercise to target the long head of the triceps, lookup Paul Carter’s video on YouTube. To learn how to perform the pullover to emphasize chest and lats, refer to any number of articles posted Bodybuilding.com, T-Nation, Poloquin Group, etc. For those that may not known, the pullover denotes a lost, tried and true exercise from the bodybuilding days of the 60’s, Arnold’s era. Being a baby boomer lifter during this time and after, I can tell you without reservation that when performed properly the pullover is well worth adding to your repertoire of exercises!

  7. Sorry, but I forgot to add in my previous comment. to help mitigate or prevent getting a hernia in performing the pullover exercise do not lay perpendicular on the bench allowing the hips to drop down while performing the exercise thereby increasing the stretch along the center line of the abdominal wall. Rather, lay on the bench length wise like as if you were going to set up for a bench press. In this manner, the bench is now supporting your entire core from beneath whereby you can no longer drop the hips increasing the pull down the center of the abdominal wall that can weaken the area and predispose to a hernia. Then again, if you have had or are prone to hernias to begin with, find a substitute exercise for the muscle/s you wanted to target using the pullover.


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