How To Do Dumbbell Pullovers

Dumbbell Pullovers (How To, Muscles Worked, Benefits)

Dumbbell Pullovers are one of the best exercises for developing the Serratus Anterior. They also work the chest, triceps and even the lats.

In this guide, I’m going to teach you how to do Dumbbell Pullovers, including important coaching tips and a few alternative exercises as well.

How To Do Dumbbell Pullovers

Equipment Needed

  • Dumbbell
  • Bench

Muscles Worked

  • Serratus Anterior
  • Chest (Pectoralis Major)
  • Triceps Brachii (focus on the long head)
  • Latissimus Dorsi

How To

  • Lay on a bench with the top of your head all the way to the edge of the bench.
  • Make a diamond shape with your hands and place them on the inside of one of the heads of the dumbbell.
  • Press the dumbbell to arm’s length straight up over the chest.
  • Now, reach the dumbbell overhead (allow some bend in the elbow) until your hands are about even with the height of the bench.
  • Finally, pull the dumbbell back to the starting position.

Coaching Points

This exercise will give a deep stretch to the chest and triceps on the lift’s eccentric (lowering) phase. Stay slow and controlled and focus on the stretch followed by the strong contraction as you raise the dumbbell back to the start.

Benefits of Dumbbell Pullovers

Dumbbell Pullovers are a versatile exercise that primarily targets the chest and lats. Benefits include:

  • Dumbbell pullovers work not only the lats, but also the chest, shoulders, and triceps, making it a great compound exercise that hits multiple muscle groups at once.
  • Pullovers can be performed with various types of equipment other than dumbbells. A barbell, curl bar or a single weight plate can also be used, allowing for customization based on equipment availability.

How Many Reps?

Dumbbell Pullovers are generally used in training programs as a supplemental upper body exercise. These types of exercises are usually prescribed as 2 to 4 sets of 10 to 15 reps.

Dumbbell Pullover Alternatives

Don’t have a heavy enough dumbbell for pullovers? Want to add some variety to your workouts? Whatever the reason, here are a few alternatives you might be able to try out.

Cable Straight Arm Pulldowns

If you have access to a cable machine but no heavy dumbbells (looking at you hotel gym), then Cable Straight Arm Pulldowns are an excellent replacement for the dumbbell version.

The movement itself is pretty much exactly the same. The difference is, you’re standing tall and pulling the cable bar attachment down to your thighs versus laying on a bench. You don’t get quite the same stretch as you do with the dumbbell going behind the head, but other than that the two exercises are very similar.

Med Ball Overhead Throws

Med Ball Overhead Throws are essentially the dynamic, power version of a Dumbbell Pullover.

It’s a very similar movement pattern – stand tall, brace the core, reach the medicine ball overhead with both hands and throw it forward as hard as possible to a partner or a (very solid and sturdy) wall.

More Links and Info

Want to see more upper body exercises targeting the chest, shoulders and back? Head over to the Upper Body Strength section of our Exercise Library. There you’ll find dozens of exercises, all with detailed step-by-step instructions.

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