Dumbbell Pullover: How-to, Muscles Worked, and Benefits

The dumbbell pullover is a compound workout that works on several muscles group at once, such as the chest and the back. In this article, you’ll see how to do dumbbell pullovers for the chest and the back, what muscles worked during this move as well as the dumbbell pullover benefits.

You can do this exercise at the gym as well as at home with only a dumbbell and a gym bench.

Performing pullover correctly will help you build muscles, increase strength, and improve balance.

Dumbbell Pullover Muscles Worked

  • Chest: One of the major muscles involved during DB pullover is the pectoralis major. When you pull the dumbbell and squeeze it at the top, your chest fully engaged. And according to a study, Chest is highly activated than latissimuss dorsi during the pullover exercise.
  • Back: The flat and incline variation of DB pullover works on the back, especially the Lats muscle. To target the lats, you need to lift your lower back 2-3 inches off the bench.
  • Triceps: Pulling the dumbbell overhead and forward works on triceps muscles. Because the DB pullover is much like a dumbbell overhead extension, the only difference between them is the elbows position.
  • Shoulders: To some extent, DB pullover also works on deltoids. But don’t expect it will increase muscle mass.

How to do Dumbbell Pullover for chest

When it comes to building muscles, Form is everything. With the right technique, you can target the muscles you want. And, if your form is poor, you can’t get the desired result. Below is the step by instructions to perform DB pullover for the chest muscle.

How To Do Dumbbell Pullover

Flat DB Pullover on Bench

  1. Pick a dumbbell according to your strength, and hold one side of it (inner bar of a dumbbell) with both hands.
  2. Lie on a flat bench on your back, with your feet flat on the ground.
  3. Keep your head at the end of the bench, and extend your arms behind your head (with your elbows straight). That’s the starting position.
  4. Slightly lift your lower back off the bench, inhale and pull the dumbbell over you until it comes directly over your chest.
  5. At the top, Squeeze your chest and then return the dumbbell to the start.

Important points:

  • Performed each rep slowly and in a controlled manner.
  • If you’re a beginner, use lightweight dumbbells.
  • Suggested sets and repetitions- 3 x 12.

Related: 10+ Dumbbell Chest Exercises For Home And Gym


Decline Dumbbell Pullover

The decline DB pullover especially works on the upper chest. So if your goal is to develop the upper chest, this will be your good pick.

Here’s how to do decline dumbbell pullover:

  1. Lie on a decline bench, holding the inner part of a dumbbell with both hands, and position your feet under the lower part of a bench.
  2. Stretch your arms behind your head, brace your core, inhale and pull the dumbbell overhead until your arms are directly over your chest.
  3. Squeeze your chest at the top and then lower to the start. That’s one repetition.
  4. Keep your arms extended during the movement so that you can engage your pecs.
  5. Do three sets of 10-12 repetition each.

How to do Dumbbell Pullover for Back

You can target you back (primarily Lats) by doing both flat and incline dumbbell pullover. Both variations can help you develop stronger and wider lats. For targeting your back, you need to modify a couple of things, such as elbows position and head position.

Here are the stepwise instructions to perform flat as well as incline DB pullover.

Flat DB Pullover

  1. Lie on the bench, holding one side of the dumbbell with both hands. And keep your feet firmly on the ground.
  2. Position the backside of your neck at the end of the bench, so that your head stays in the air.
  3. Hold the dumbbell behind your head with your elbows flare. Also, keep your arms as close as possible to the body so that when you pull the dumbbell, your elbows flare out. This is your starting position.
  4. Now, Breathe in and pull the dumbbell over across from head to your chest. And as you pull the dumbbell, focus more on the lats instead of the chest.
  5. Hold for a moment and then return to the start. That’s one repetition.
  6. Suggested sets and reps: 3 x 10.

Related: Top 5 Dumbbell Workouts For Lats At Home


Incline Dumbbell Pullover

The incline dumbbell pullover allows you to stretch your muscles further compare to the flat one. Additionally, it will work on the muscle that is skipped by the flat version of the DB pullover.

Here’s how to do incline dumbbell pullover:

  1. Set a bench at a 30-degree incline, grab one dumbbell, and lie on the bench with your feet firmly on the floor.
  2. Hold the inner part of the dumbbell with both hands and extend your arms behind your head (with a slight bend in your elbows). That’s your starting position.
  3. Keeping your core tight, pull the dumbbell overhead until your arms are straight over your chest. Hold for a moment and then return to the starting position. That’s your one repetition.
  4. Make sure you focus on the lats during the movement.
  5. Suggested sets and reps: 3 x 10.

How to do Dumbbell Pullover on the Floor

  1. Start with lying on the floor, holding the inner part of a dumbbell with your both hands, bend your knees, and place your feet on the ground.
  2. Move your arms behind your head until your chest and lats are stretches. Do not bend your elbows.
  3. Keeping your abdominal muscles tight, pull the dumbbell overhead until your arms are reached directly over your lower chest.
  4. Pause for a second or two and then lower the dumbbell behind your head. That’s your one rep. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
  5. Perform each rep in a controlled manner.

Dumbbell Pullover Benefits

1. Build Muscles

Strengthening and developing muscles are one of the important benefits of DB pullover.

The pullover is a great upper body workout for increasing muscles mass, especially for chest and the back. Additionally, it also works on the triceps brachii. Most of the famous Mr Olympians like Arnold, Sergio Oliva, Zane used to do pullover for developing upper body.

2. Improve Upper Body Stability

The pullover exercise can improve your shoulders, upper back and core stability.

The dumbbell pullover requires a good balance and movement of your body to perform with correct form, especially when you perform on a stability ball. And doing it consistently will surely increase the upper body stability (while gaining muscles).

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