They won’t ever be as glamorous as curl movements or as popular as bench presses. However, they are among my favorite exercises, and I want to be sure they don’t become completely forgotten. I am referring to the dumbbell pullover. It’s a staple exercise from Arnold’s era, and it’s one of my favorite unique gym movements. For some reason, this fabulous exercise appears to have fallen away from most people’s regimens.
Perhaps in these times of new-age workouts and fancy machines, it’s just too easy to forget. However, I want to strongly encourage you to not follow that kind of thinking. This exercise shouldn’t be forgotten because when you add the dumbbell pullover as part of your routine, you will give yourself the opportunity for some noticeable improvements that can’t be created by any other movement. Think about it this way: if it was good for Arnold to do, then certainly it must be good enough for you as well.
The dumbbell pullover cross-bench version was made popular during the Gold Era of 1970s bodybuilding, and particularly by Arnold, who used it frequently as a brutal and effective finisher in his world-famous double-split routines. The benefits of this movement were always raved about by Arnold. He even used to state that his rib cage was expanded by the pullover.
I’m really not sure about the science available for that specific benefit in terms of pullovers. However, I do know that there is a long list of items which make it an effective tool as part of your arsenal. When performed properly, everything is hit, from your triceps, lats, abs and pecs. All of these muscles are worked in a unique and beneficial way. Given all of this, why is everybody not doing pullovers?
I came up with one theory- maybe it’s too effective for your whole upper body. Since it hits so many areas, maybe people are unsure of where it fits into their workout routines, so they just leave out. It usually is not the norm to train big muscle groups such as the back and chest together. So there is a dilemma regarding pullovers.
Here’s an easy solution and what I recommend that you do- just pick a day to do pullovers. The key is just to incorporate them into one day and then get the work done. The thing that has worked the best for me when were aren’t doing pull/push workouts (back and chest together) is making sure to do it on my chest day. Then I make sure my reps are kept high, frequently 12-20 reps. For every set, I really focus on getting a deep stretch, and I usually perform 3 or 4 sets.
It really has made a significant difference to my physique. It has improved areas that can be difficult to target and made them into strong points instead. I have much deeper serratus muscles that really stand out. I believe it comes from doing pullover work for many years. It has conditioned my lats at the same time, creating some great muscle and lines. When I started adding pullovers, I started to pop and those two areas became strengths for me.
In terms of this movement, there are a couple of major keys:
Many people rush through the exercise and don’t focus on achieving a proper stretch. You must feel a deep stretch with this exercise. Keeping your head and hips down is very important. It ensures that you don’t just swing the weight. When you keep your hips down, you will be able to really feel that your lats are working and you will see gains from it.
When you do it properly, you will feel the muscles in your triceps, lats and upper abs working hard and providing you with a pump that is hard to re-create with a different movement.
Any reason you might have not doing this exercise right now isn’t a good one. Throw them into your routine. Do the right thing and don’t allow the dumbbell pullover to go out of style.