How to master Dumbbell Pullover | Benefits, Common Mistakes and Variations.

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best exercises for chest

What is a dumbbell pullover?

Dumbbell Pullover is a foundation exercise for building your chest as well as your back muscles. It is a compound exercise that is performed on a flat bench traditionally and it engages a group of muscles in the movement.

Muscles worked:

The dumbbell pullover muscles works to stimulate a larger group of muscles in your body. The primary muscles are the Serratus Anterior of your upper rib cage, Latissimus Dorsi of your back and Pectorals while secondary muscles include Teres Major, Posterior Deltoids, Triceps and the core muscles.

Benefits of the Dumbbell Pullover

Lats and chest both are the big muscles that are targeted by this exercise at the same time. It also engages a wider range of secondary muscles. Following are some benefits of a dumbbell pullover.

Builds a Bigger Chest and Back

it is a very useful exercise for building a bigger chest, back muscle and serratus size. The movement of this exercise puts a stretch on the upper body muscles which provide strength as well as stimulating the growth of muscles.

Improves Full-Body Stability

The body position and the movement of the dumbbell pullover help you improve your stability during other exercises as well like bench pressing and dumbbell flies. when you lower the dumbbell behind your head, you also engage a number of accessory muscles like glutes, core muscles and upper back muscles during the whole range of motion. Performing this exercise will help you get control and stability.

Improved Shoulder Mobility

Shoulder mobility can be improved greatly with the dumbbell pullover. It can be very useful in sports like golf, baseball and volleyball etc. The deep stretch of the dumbbell pullover helps in increased control and stability by activating two large muscle groups involved in shoulder mobility.

Good for posture

When you perform the dumbbell pullover, you are moving through the full range of motion it requires you to keep spine in a lengthened and stable position. If you are doing a computer or desk job the upper areas of your body may become tight. Doing dumbbell pullovers will also help in open and increased flexibility in the chest and upper body.

How to do dumbbell pullover?

dumbbell pullover
dumbbell pullover
  • Pick a dumbbell of appropriate weight and sit on a bench. Using overhand grip, hold the dumbbell with both of your hands. Lie down on the bench with slightly curved spine and keeping your elbows more than shoulder width apart, bring the dumbbell in front of your chest.
  • Lower the dumbbell to overhead back till almost in line position with the bench. Keep your upper back stable and tight. Pause at the bottom for a sec.
  • Engaging your chest muscles, lats and core, pull the dumbbell and bring it in front of chest at the starting position. Keep your neck and head in a neutral position.
  • Perform recommended no of reps and sets.

Dumbbell Pullover Common Mistakes

An exercise is only effective when performed right. Try to avoid following mistakes when doing a dumbbell pullover.

1. Improper Starting Position

Ignoring the position of your body is the first and biggest mistake you can do. Start dumbbell pullover by sitting oat one side of the bench and then lying down so that your head is not outside the edge of the bench. Unsupported neck and head can lead to neck soreness. In the same way, unsupported hips can also lead to lower back pain.

2. Not Engaging the core

The limited mobility in the chest and shoulder area may require you to arch through the spine during the eccentric phase of the movement. Try to engage core muscles, core stability protects your back and helps prevents injury.

3. Wrist Rotation or Flexion

You may experience wrist rotation at the top and bottom positions with your palms facing up. This is primarily due to heavyweights. You have to keep the wrists in a stable position with palms facing each other during the whole range of motion. If you are unable to maintain a stable wrist position, try to decrease weight.

4. Unequal Extension:

When you move your arms up and low, try to move them simultaneously. An unequal extension may occur when your one side of the body is stronger than the other side. So, one arm may move fast as compared to the other.

Dumbbell Pullover Variations

Once you are comfortable doing the traditional dumbbell pullovers, you may try these variations.

1. Straight-Arm Cable Pulldown

Although this variation trains less on your chest muscles, it is more effective on the lats and serratus muscles. You can pair it with a chest flye to get an overall dumbbell pullover training effect.

2. Dumbbell Chest Flye:

This variation targets the pectoral muscles and gives more control and stability, also increases the scapular stability. It does not target your lats. You can pair wide grip pulldowns to target lats.

3. Incline Bench Rope Cable Pullover

This variation specifically increases the range of motion as compared to the standard dumbbell pullover. It is also useful for minimizing shoulder pain due to the pull line.


What muscles does the dumbbell pullover work?

Dumbbell pullovers can build upper body strength in your shoulders and back. The dumbbell pullover works muscle groups throughout your upper body, including your latissimus dorsi, your pectoralis major, the triceps on the back of your upper arms, and the serratus muscle on the side of your rib cage.

Is dumbbell pullover worth doing?

It improves the mobility of your shoulder: The dumbbell pullover doesn’t directly target your shoulder muscles, but since it hits your lats and triceps—two muscle groups which assist in shoulder mobility—your shoulders ultimately benefit. That’s a great payoff for hard-training athletes with shoulder issues

Is dumbbell pullover good for chest?

The dumbbell pullover is a classic bodybuilding exercise that works your chest and back primarily. It is a pushing movement performed with a dumbbell.

Is the dumbbell pullover effective?

It’s a somewhat advanced move due to the equipment needed as well as the form required. Dumbbell pullover strengthen and target your lats first and foremost, which is the largest muscle in your upper back.

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