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  • Jack Wilson

Dumbbell Pullovers For A Bigger Back & Chest

There must be only one reason why you’re reading this — “bigger.”

I don’t blame you, I also want bigger; a bigger car, bigger house, bigger bank account, bigger arms, etc. And when I see something that details how to attain said bigger, I tend to check it out. Most of the time it’s the same old horse sh!t that could be found on wikiHow with an illustrated step-by-step guide to help you through the process. I honestly can’t read those guides, I get too distracted by the how-to images that I just scroll through looking only at the pictures.

As the old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” or as Ed Coan says, “If it works, don’t change a thing.” These two quotes are essentially one in the same but I’m trying to get my point across.

If something has a proven track record backed by success, why would you want to change things or alter the way it works? Almost sounds like the definition of insanity to me. Okay, not quite, but pretty close; if you make slight adjustments to something that works and it ceases to work as effectively as it did before but you keep on doing it your way because “eventually it should work” is almost the same as insanity — doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result.

With that being said, why avert from an exercise that helped sculpt the bodybuilding legends of yesteryear? No, dickhead, I’m not talking about bench presses. I’m talking about dumbbell pullovers.

Dumbbell pullovers have been a staple in training regimes of some of the greatest bodybuilders of all time; Schwarzenegger, Zane, Haney, Yates, Coleman — just to name a few.

Most people have the misconception that dumbbell pullovers are a back exercise. Up until a few years ago, I had this exact same idea about this exercise. However, I’ve learned that altering the range of motion and twisting my elbows slightly inward, makes this exercise hit the pecs — hard!

Arnold believed that by doing dumbbell pullovers you are able to “stretch” the rib cage, giving you a larger chest. This idea, however, has largely been up for debate. Maybe if you performed this movement when you were in your teen years it might’ve worked, but again, it’s debatable.

Let’s take a look at the major muscles involved during the movement to help give us a better idea of what’s going on.

1. Latissimus Dorsi (Primary muscle when targeting back)

When performing pullovers the traditional way–lowering the dumbbell below your head–you target the lats to a greater extent. Pullovers are typically performed with building the lats in mind and has been credited as a back exercise for many years.

2. Pectoralis (Primary muscle when targeting chest)

When making small adjustments to your elbows and range of motion, you’re able to target the pecs. Another way of thinking about it–to enhance mind-muscle connection–is to imagine you’re doing a dumbbell fly, except the dumbbell is moving over your head and being pulled toward your abs.

3. Serratus Anterior

The serratus anterior muscles help keep the scapulae stable during the movements of lowering and raising the dumbbell.

Execution of Dumbbell Pullovers for Back:

1. Lay on a flat bench so that your upper back makes contact with the bench and use your legs to keep your upper body parallel to the floor.

2. Hold the dumbbell on the inside. Place your hands beside the grip, not crossing your thumbs over one another beneath the grip.

3. Extend your arms, raising the dumbbell over your chest.

4. Squeeze your scapulae together, inhale and lower the weight below your head.

5. Bring the weight back up but stopping your arms shy of 90-degrees. Exhale while raising the weight.

Bro Tip: To get a greater stretch in the lats, slightly dip your pelvis as you lower the dumbbell, and raise it again as you bring the dumbbell back up. Also, try lowering and raising the weight from your elbows, not your hands.

Execution of Dumbbell Pullovers for Chest:

1. Lay on a flat bench as you would when performing chest presses.

2. Hold the dumbbell on the inside. Place your hands beside the grip, not crossing your thumbs over one another beneath the grip.

3. Extend your arms, raising the dumbbell over your chest.

4. Squeeze your scapulae together, look straight up to the ceiling, inhale and lower the weight to the point where you can’t see it in your peripheral vision. This is usually just above parallel to the floor.

5. Bring the weight back up over your chest. Exhale while raising the weight.

Bro Tip: To effectively target the chest, rotate your elbow slightly inward and press against the dumbbell with your hands. Again, try lowering and raising the weight from your elbows, not your hands.

There you have, guys. A quick instructional guide to help you utilize dumbbell pullovers to effectively target your chest and back separately.

May we also suggest:

6 Body Weight Exercises That Will Help You to Grow Massive Arms

Try These 3 Strongman Exercises To Skyrocket Your Gains

The Best Arm Workout You Should Be Doing For Bigger Guns

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