Dumbbell Pullover to Activate the Pectoral and Back Muscles

17th June 2019
The dumbbell pullover is one of the best exercises you can do at the gym. Here we'll tell you all the effects in each muscle group. Don't miss this great routine.

The dumbbell pullover is an excellent exercise to activate your pectoral and back muscles. Therefore, in this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about this exercise to get the most out of it.

Since this exercise engages many areas in the body, most people aren’t sure how to use it in their routines. And so, many opt to just leave them out of their training. However, it’s without a doubt an interesting exercise you should pair with pectoral or back exercises.

Now, if you’re trying to tone the chest area or you back, or both, you must perform the dumbbell pullover. Although it works both of these muscle groups, the chest receives the most benefit.

Likewise, if performed correctly, it works out a large number of muscle groups. Thereby going from the lower pectoral to abdominal, to arms and tricep muscles. Additionally, it works them out quite efficiently and in a unique way.

Since you’ll have the weight directly over the head, make sure you have a workout partner to help you.

How to perform a dumbbell pullover?

The dumbbell pullover is performed laying on your back on a workout bench. It mainly engages the major pectoral muscles and also engages most of the important muscles in the back.

Dumbbell exercises are great to grow muscle

In order to perform the dumbbell pullover, you’ll need one or two dumbbells and a bench. And so, start out by holding the dumbbells, while laying down face up, or using a ball. Make sure your feet are firm on the floor, and your core tight. Then, extend your arms upward and hold the dumbbells on your chest.

Once you’re in this position, hold the dumbbell with both hands and extend the elbows. Then, exhale as you push it up over your chest, and lower the dumbbell back behind your head. Make sure your elbows are almost completely straight for this motion.

To finish the exercise, bring your arms back over your chest and repeat. Don’t forget that you can adjust the series and the number of repetitions. You can also adjust the weight your use and start progressing with this exercise.

Other tips to perform this exercise

The dumbbell pullover seems simple but there are some key elements to keep in mind when performing it. For example, consider this exercise as a great way to start the routine. When you do this exercise, your elbows must make a slight arc and don’t bend them. Otherwise, you’ll be transferring the weight over to your triceps instead of your pectorals.

However, the arms bend naturally during the first part of the exercise. And so, to take full advantage of the exercise, inhale and open up your chest as much as possible when lowering the dumbbell. Then, exhale when you raise your arms back up.

Keeping your elbows tense during the dumbbell pullover is important, as well as stretching your triceps. Therefore, it’s essential to warm up before taking on this challenge in your routine.

Make sure to stretch before performing the dumbbell pullover

On the other hand, the dumbbell pullover works on your pecs as well as your back if you make some tweaks. Make sure you ask your trainer at the gym what variant of this exercise is right for you.

Finally, as you can see, this exercise consists of a movement that works on your back and chest alike. However, the stress is more intense on the chest. Therefore, we highly recommend you include this in your training routine.

  • Marchetti, P. H., & Uchida, M. C. (2011). Effects of the pullover exercise on the pectoralis major and latissimus dorsi muscles as evaluated by EMG. Journal of Applied Biomechanics27(4), 380–384. https://doi.org/10.1123/jab.27.4.380
  • Campos, Y. D. A. C., & Da Silva, S. F. (2014). Comparison of electromyographic activity during the bench press and barbell pullover exercises. Motriz. Revista de Educacao Fisica20(2), 200–205. https://doi.org/10.1590/S1980-65742014000200010