How To Do Dumbbell Pullovers Correctly


Often underestimated by amateur athletes, but for many professionals, the classic for training the serratus anterior muscles is still considered one of the best.  In addition to the serratus anterior muscle, this exercise also trains the triceps, the large chest muscle (pectoralis major muscle), and the broad back muscle (latissimus dorsi muscle).

Due to the fact that the technique is difficult to perform, its improper use can not only reduce overall efficiency but also significantly increase the risk of injury to certain muscle groups. Initially, you should begin with less weight and increase the resistance as your strength increases.


Benefits of Dumbbell Pullovers

You can benefit from the dumbbell pullover if you are among the best candidates for this exercise (i.e. some people shouldn’t do it). Here are the top reasons to do the dumbbell pullover:

  • Effects On Upper Body

Despite being considered an isolation chest exercise (since it involves only one joint), it also targets the triceps, chest, and lats. Therefore, you can expect your chest and back to get thicker. When performed for moderate to high repetitions, this exercise can stretch the muscles of your upper body and stimulate their growth.

  • Work The Stabilizer Muscles

The dumbbell pullover will also test many abdominal, upper back/scapular, and gluteal muscles across the body. The stabilizer muscles don’t move the weight, but they support the muscles that do by keeping them steady or balanced. An underdeveloped stabilizing muscle can cause a plateau.

  • Improve Overall Flexibility

Despite the fact that the dumbbell pullover cannot replace a stretching routine, the stretch it involves is effective for maintaining or improving flexibility and range of motion in your chest and shoulder region. All other weight lifting exercises related to this region will benefit from an increase in flexibility.


How To Do Pullover Training Correctly

Knowing the basic rules of a technique for performing an exercise with a dumbbell is key to being very efficient. Mastering the technical features will help you get closer to the desired result much faster.

To perform pullovers, you will need a dumbbell and bench press. Before proceeding with the execution yourself, you should decide how to lie down – lengthways or crossways. To do this, you need to understand the direction of the center of gravity.

When sitting along a bench, 3 points of support appear The shoulders, pelvis, and head. By lowering the dumbbell behind the head, the load from the pelvis is mainly transferred to the head and shoulders, which in turn leads to injuries to the cervical vertebrae.

It is best to place your trunk across to reduce stress on the cervical spine. In this case, there are already 2 points of support: the feet and the shoulder girdle. Here, the pelvis can move both down and up. Therefore, by choosing a transverse position, you can significantly reduce the risk of injury during the exercise.

Cómo Hacer Correctamente los Pullover con Mancuernas


Step #1

Lie face-up on a bench, with your feet firmly planted on the ground. Keep your lower back slightly arched. With both hands, hold a light to a moderate dumbbell (20 to 30 pounds is adequate to get started). Bend your elbows and place the dumbbell on top of your chest.

Step #2

Lower your arms back while maintaining a slight bend in your elbows without letting your lower body or hips move. You should feel a stretch in your chest muscles and your lats as you lower the weight. Focus on the lats, chest, and triceps as you reach back as far as you can.

Step #3

Pull your arms back into position by using your latissimus dorsi muscles. Throughout all phases of the lift, keep your elbows just slightly bent. By going too heavy, you risk recruiting your biceps and shoulders, possibly straining a muscle.

Ten to twelve controlled repetitions are a good place to start. As you perform each repetition, stretch slightly deeper.

Experts advice: For better form, squeeze your shoulders, abs, and legs together just as you would for bench pressing. Also, keep in mind, It is not possible to measure an effective range of motion by the depth of the motion. As every shoulder joint and lifter is different, you should feel the stretch first. In addition, focus 100% on feeling the muscles doing the majority of work.

Common Mistake

The number of sources of error in this exercise is very high. All posture errors can be avoided by trying to observe yourself from the side in a mirror, recording with a camera, or asking your training partner or trainer for feedback.



Common falsification is usually done by bending the elbows from the start of the downward movement. During the upward movement, the upper arm is usually first brought forward or into a vertical position, and then the still kinked forearm is pushed up using the force of the triceps. In this way, you almost exclusively train the triceps with more intensity. The hoped-for training results will therefore not materialize with this counterfeiting technique.

Recommended Read: Basic Strength Training For Athletes: Guide To Start


Pullovers with Barbell?

Pullovers with dumbbells do not come in a single version, they have varieties. Often a barbell is used instead of a dumbbell, which allows you to control the weight more precisely. However, the bar is heavier, so only trained athletes can fall back on it. This type of exercise is contraindicated for beginners.

Cómo Hacer Correctamente los Pullover con Mancuernas



Take a barbell in a tight overhand grip so that your hands are about 15-20 centimeters apart. Then lie down with your back on the weight bench and put your feet up to stabilize your upper body. The barbell is on your outstretched arms at the level of your hips. Then stretch your arms with the dumbbell vertically upwards. From this starting position, lower your arms as far as the mobility of your shoulders allows. Hold the position briefly and bring your arms back upright.

If you’ve been training with a dumbbell for a long time and you know that this is not enough for you, you can also double the weight by taking a dumbbell in each hand. But here it is important to take into account all the nuances in order to get the maximum effect of the exercise. The hands should be held with the palms against each other so that the weight is evenly distributed. You can even squeeze your hands when exercising with two dumbbells, but over time you start lifting them up so they don’t touch. Then pullovers are more useful.



The exercise should always be done with a weight that you can control. Better to take less weight and do more repetitions. The most important thing about the whole exercise is that you don’t bend your elbows too much and that you check the position of your elbows.

Pullovers are an effective exercise when done correctly. Therefore, pay attention to the position of your elbows and controlled movements so that you can quickly see positive results. If you are looking to reach your fullest potencial as an athlete and you want to learn more about sport science, VBT devices and how to improve your training routine. We have lots of articles that can help you achieve your goal. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask! Leave a comment or contact us here.

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