Perhaps you first noticed the pullover carried out in low-res movies of Golden-era bodybuilders. Now, it’s frequent to see in business health facilities, rehabilitation amenities, and residential gyms. The dumbbell pullover is a basic again and chest train that’s experiencing a renaissance — and for good causes.
This information covers step-by-step directions, advantages, distinctive concerns, variations, and programming for the dumbbell pullover.
Dumbbell Pullover Tutorial Video
Right here’s Dr. Merrick Lincoln instructing the standard type for the dumbbell pullover. Evaluation the shape and listen to particular suggestions earlier than working towards the motion by yourself.
The best way to Do the Dumbbell Pullover Step By Step
The dumbbell pullover is an overhead shoulder extension exercise performed lying on a bench. These step-by-step instructions ensure proper form.
Step 1 — Set Up a Strong Foundation
For the traditional dumbbell pullover, five stable points of contact are required — The back of your head, shoulder blades, and glutes must remain in contact with the bench, and both feet must be touching the floor. If your bench is too tall, placing your feet on the bench frame or atop weight plates is acceptable.
Form Tip: Position your head as far up the bench as possible. By placing your head high on the bench, you reduce the likelihood of the bench impeding shoulder range of motion during the pullover.
Step 2 — Retrieve Your Dumbbell and Brace
The pullover requires a spotter due to movement of the dumbbell over your face and head. A spotter is an individual who assists with the movement and provides physical assistance in the event of form breakdown or failure.
A spotter is also helpful, because they can pass you the dumbbell when you are ready to begin. Otherwise, you will need to transfer the dumbbell from atop your thigh to above your chest, which can be awkward positioning. Whether or not you choose to recruit a spotter, you will cradle the inside top half of the dumbbell in your palms with thumbs and fingers wrapped around the handle.
Form Tip: Grasp the dumbbell securely before bringing it over your face or before giving your spotter the signal to release it. The handle of the dumbbell should sit between the base of your thumbs and body of the hands. With one palm on each side of the dumbbell, create a “closed” grasp by overlapping your thumbs behind the handle and overlapping fingers in front.
Step 3 — Lower to the Bottom Position
Begin with dumbbell above your upper chest with your arms vertical and elbows unlocked or slightly bent. Brace your abdominal muscles and maintain the five points of contact with the bench and the floor. Lower the dumbbell toward the floor with control. End the downward movement when you reach the greatest amount of shoulder flexion (stretch) that you can tolerate and control.
Form Tip: Achieve a tolerable stretch across your shoulders at the bottom position. The goal is to move through your full available range of overhead motion, not simply bringing the weight as close to the ground as possible.
Step 4 — Raise to the Top Position
Reverse the movement by pulling the dumbbell through the same arc of movement. The repetition is complete when your upper arms are vertical. Keep your head locked in neutral and your gaze directed at the ceiling — don’t follow the weight with your eyes or head. Allowing your head to tilt into extension (looking overhead) promotes undesirable extension throughout the entire spine.
Form Tip: Maintain the same degree of arm bend throughout each repetition. If your elbows are bending and straightening during the exercise, you’re shifting muscular stress away from your chest and back and onto your triceps.
Step 5 — End the Set Safely
If you are using a spotter (recommended), indicate the set is complete. The spotter should take the dumbbell with both hands. (1) If you’re coaching solo (at your individual threat), carry the dumbbell to your thigh.
Kind Tip: Keep away from dropping the dumbbell in your face or chest. Except you’re itching for a go to to the hospital and sure cosmetic surgery, security is precedence primary. Make sure the spotter has full management of the dumbbell earlier than you let go. If coaching alone, preserve a safe grip till the dumbbell rests in your thigh.
Dumbbell Pullover Errors to Keep away from
The pullover seems easy and sounds self-explanatory — Lie in your again and “pull the dumbbell over,” proper? Nicely, sure, however a plethora of approach faults plague this train. Avoiding these errors to enhance the effectiveness and security of the dumbbell pullover.
Extreme Elbow Bend and “Flaring”
Through the conventional dumbbell pullover, slight elbow bend permits the lifter to carry the dumbbell whereas transferring their higher arms in the sagittal plane (i.e. parallel to the body’s midline). When lifters allow excessive elbow bend, the difficulty of the pullover is reduced, because the dumbbell is now closer to your shoulders.
More often than not, excessive elbow bend is also associated with “flared,” or outward-pointing, elbows. This position reflects internal rotation of the shoulder and may increase stress on the inside of the elbow (i.e. ulnar collateral ligament stress) during the pullover.
Avoid it: Focus on keeping your elbows pointing forward and/or up during the dumbbell pullover. While elbows should always remain “unlocked,” the pullover should never feel like a triceps extension (“skull crusher”).
Losing Contact with the Bench
Although allowing your hips to rise from the bench may give the impression of increased range of motion, back and hip extension does not equate to shoulder mobility. Unlike a competition-style bench press, arching is counterproductive to the pullover because it ultimately removes tension from latissimus dorsi. (2)
Worse nonetheless, extreme arching might enable a heavy dumbbell to destabilize your place, which may end in a “glutes over dumbbell” tumble over the again of the bench.
Keep away from it: Anchor your self to the bench by digging your heels into the ground and aggressively bracing your stomach muscular tissues.
Not Permitting the Dumbbell to “Cling”
A typical mistake is to try to carry or orient the dumbbell horizontally through the repetition somewhat than vertically. This requires pointless motion of the wrist flexors and does little to enhance the pullover. At worst, this error may trigger untimely grip fatigue.
Keep away from it: The dumbbell ought to cling naturally out of your fingers all through the pullover. (1) Though it is best to preserve a agency grip on the dumbbell, keep away from turning or tilting the dumbbell throughout your set.
The best way to Progress the Dumbbell Pullover
Lifters new to the pullover ought to begin gentle when first studying the train. Like all train, the pullover should be progressed to make sure ongoing advantages. Start by progressing conventional variables like including reps and weight. Then, sooner or later, contemplate the easy approach modification mentioned under.
Enhance the Repetition Quantity
As an adjunct train, the pullover is usually programmed within the reasonable repetition vary (i.e. eight to 12 reps) or a better repetition vary (i.e. 12 to 16 reps). Sure, it is a broad advice, but it surely means you possibly can seemingly progress for a while by including a repetition right here and there as in a position. When you’re capable of full your repetition target, simply add one more rep the following workout. In the short term, progressing volume is likely most appropriate for those focused on hypertrophy. (23)
Enhance the Weight
When you attain the highest of your goal repetition vary and really feel you would do extra, it’s time to improve the load of your dumbbell. Alternatively, in case your major aim is constructing energy, progressing weight is prone to be your finest short-term technique. (23) Since small jumps in weight dramatically improve the resistance skilled by the shoulders on the backside of the pullover, incremental weight development is finest.
Preserve Fixed Stress
The dumbbell pullover historically begins and ends when the dumbbell is above the chest. (1) Nonetheless, many of the key muscular tissues of the pullover are offloaded at this level within the vary of movement, as a result of the dumbbell is now not creating demand for the shoulder extensors (i.e. lats, pecs, and many others.). A minor tweak to pullover approach will increase the issue of the early portion of the motion.
Though “fixed rigidity” is only a catchy misnomer (no muscle experiences fixed rigidity throughout dynamic train), we are able to intensify the pullover by ending the repetition and starting the following rep whereas the shoulder extensors are nonetheless working. Slightly than pull the dumbbell over your chest, merely reverse the motion when the dumbbell passes above your brow.
Advantages of the Dumbbell Pullover
The dumbbell pullover trains the shoulders through an arc of overhead motion. Due to its ability to place substantial tension on already lengthened muscles, this simple exercise offers exciting benefits.
Accelerated Muscular Growth
Mechanical tension, or the end-to-end pulling force experienced by muscle tissue, is generally accepted to be a primary driver of muscle growth (hypertrophy). (3)(4) Muscle groups expertise mechanical rigidity on account of muscle contraction and stretch-induced contributions. These forces mix and, when nice sufficient, set off a cascade of mobile occasions that in the end end in muscle development. (3)
Coaching at lengthy muscle lengths will increase the stretch-induced contributions to mechanical rigidity. Rising proof means that coaching muscular tissues of their lengthened place leads to larger charges of muscle hypertrophy. (5)(6)(7) Sadly, no long-term hypertrophy research to this point has centered on the pullover. Nonetheless, the architectural properties of latissimus dorsi and pectoralis main, two major muscular tissues of the pullover, counsel that coaching at lengthy lengths could also be significantly efficient. (4)(8)
In contrast to lat pulldowns, pull-ups, and chin-ups, the resistance torque of the dumbbell pullover is maximized within the overhead place. That is additionally the place the place the typical lifter’s lats and pecs are at or close to their longest lengths — Altogether, the dumbbell pullover seems to impose excellent calls for for “stretch-induced hypertrophy.”
The dumbbell pullover trains the shoulder extensor muscular tissues at lengthy muscle lengths — within the “stretched” place. Along with the potential hypertrophy advantages, common resistance coaching is thought to advertise adjustments in muscle construction and enhance flexibility. (9)(10) Within the short-term, a single bout of resistance coaching leads to rapid will increase in shoulder flexion vary of movement. (11) Improved shoulder flexion could also be fascinating, as a result of even devoted gym-goers can endure from restricted vary of movement. For instance, aggressive powerlifters — those that focus totally on the bench press, squat, and deadlift — might show substantial limitations in shoulder flexion. (12)
Though analysis on the direct impact of the dumbbell pullover on shoulder flexibility is proscribed, proof is mounting to assist its efficacy. Morton and colleagues in contrast the results of 5 weeks of resistance coaching or static stretching on flexibility. The resistance coaching group accomplished 4 weekly units of the dumbbell pullover. (10)
Whereas each teams confirmed improved shoulder flexibility, the resistance coaching group confirmed a development for superior shoulder extension good points. (10) Whereas coaching durations better than 5 weeks could also be essential to substantiate the impact or present statistically vital findings, it seems the dumbbell pullover is at the very least equal to stretching for shoulder flexibility.
Improved Overhead Power and Stability
In comparison with different frequent free weight workouts, the pullover requires your shoulders to work by way of a better vary of movement and leads to considerably better shoulder joint torques when equally loaded. (13) Knowledgeable by the specificity precept, these options might end in superior energy and stability variations, particularly by way of the overhead vary of movement.
The pullover works the stomach core together with the shoulders. Combining overhead train with core coaching is beneficial for integrating energy into whole-body actions and resisting challenges to shoulder place. (14) Programmed appropriately, the pullover seems to be a powerful train choice for focused shoulder strengthening and robustification.
The first motion resisted by the dumbbell pullover is shoulder extension. (1) Subsequently, the train trains the muscular tissues that reach the shoulder. Figuring out these muscular tissues might seem easy, however few workouts show the complexities of purposeful anatomy higher than the pullover.
In fundamental anatomy, we study muscle actions from “anatomical place” — a place together with your arms at your sides. However the dumbbell pullover happens by way of overhead vary of movement, and since muscle actions might change as joints transfer away from anatomical place, referencing an anatomy textbook to find out the muscular tissues that reach the shoulder labored through the pullover could also be deceptive. Furthermore, completely different elements of broad or fan-shaped muscular tissues could also be biased all through sure ranges of movement. In excessive instances, one a part of a muscle might have a completely completely different motion than different elements of the muscle. (15)(16)
Till a long-term coaching research consisting solely of dumbbell pullovers is carried out, we lean on anatomical modeling and electromyography research to deduce the reply to the query, “What muscular tissues are skilled by the pullover?”
The latissimus dorsi is a broad, fan-shaped muscle spanning from the low- and mid-back, pelvis, and again of the ribcage as much as the arm. (2)(8) Latissimus dorsi is lively through the Pullover. (17)(18)(19) The decrease fibers, or iliac half, which attaches to the pelvis, are best for producing shoulder extension, the motion resisted by the pullover. (8)(16)
Positioned prominently on the chest, the pectoralis main is one other giant, fan-shaped muscle. It’s generally divided into two elements — the higher clavicular head and the center to decrease sternocostal head. Every half contributes disproportionately to varied shoulder actions.
For pec coaching, actions like bench press, pec flye, and incline press are frequent. Nonetheless, the sternocostal head of pectoralis main is lively through the pullover. (18)(19) Obtainable information counsel the decrease fibers of pectoralis main act to increase the shoulder by way of the overhead vary of movement. (16) Subsequently, the sternocostal pectoralis main is taken into account a major goal of the pullover.
The posterior deltoid, or “rear delt,” extends the shoulder. It’s lively through the pullover. (19) From a mechanical standpoint, research counsel the posterior deltoid is a extra environment friendly shoulder extensor through the pullover than the latissimus dorsi or pectoralis main. (15)(16) It is because posterior deltoid demonstrates extra “leverage” to provide extension (i.e. a better extension “second arm”) all through the arc of movement skilled by the pullover. (15)(16) Whereas the pullover may not be your first choose in the case of posterior deltoid coaching, don’t underestimate its potential to construct the again of your shoulders.
The triceps brachii’s major motion is to increase the elbow. As well as, the lengthy head of triceps brachii extends the shoulder. In the end, the triceps stop extreme elbow flexion and help with the precept actions of the pullover. The muscle controls the motion into shoulder flexion through the downward part and extends the shoulder through the upward part. (17)(18)(19)
Serratus Anterior and Abdominals
The serratus anterior consists of small projections that run diagonally alongside the ribcage. It acts on the shoulder blade. The decrease portion of serratus anterior has been proven to be significantly lively within the backside half of the pullover. (20)
The stomach muscular tissues are lively through the Pullover to withstand extreme arching of the trunk, which might in any other case be brought on by the dumbbell touring overhead. (18) It’s honest to categorize the pullover as an anti-extension stomach train.
The best way to Program the Dumbbell Pullover
As a single-joint motion, the dumbbell pullover is usually categorized as an adjunct train. Historically, accent workouts are carried out after multi-joint (“compound”) workouts. When programming equipment, keep away from extraordinarily heavy masses and one-repetition most makes an attempt. Slightly, give attention to a number of grueling, moderate-to-high repetition units.
Reasonable Weight, Reasonable Repetitions
These wishing to construct muscle and energy with the pullover ought to contemplate three to 4 units of eight to 12 repetitions. Carried out after chin-ups or heavy lat pulldowns, pullovers allow you wring out a bit more hypertrophy work without taxing your grip.
Low to Moderate Weight, High Repetitions
Pullovers are a greater exercise to begin or end your upper body workout. As an opener at the beginning of your workout, pullovers prime your shoulders for subsequent overhead lifts. As a finisher to end your training session, pullovers provide a dose of “pump work” and a potent stimulus for hypertrophy. Two to four sets of twelve to sixteen repetitions will do the job.
Classic exercises tend to accumulate many variants over time, and the pullover is no different. Pullover variations tend to switch out the resistance implement (e.g. dumbbell for a barbell) or the support surface (e.g. bench for a Swiss ball). Four of the most common pullover variations are shown below.
Cross-Bench Dumbbell Pullover
The cross-bench dumbbell pullover is performed by orienting the body perpendicular to the bench and performing the exercise from a bridge position.
Not only does this setup facilitate activity of the glutes but it also encourages a stable pelvis position and allows the solo lifter to place the dumbbell conveniently on the bench before and after exercise completion.
Without access to a full run of dumbbells? Having trouble securely holding the dumbbell during the pullover? If so, you may wish to try the EZ-bar pullover.
The EZ-bar allows incremental loading with “change plates.” The semi-pronated inner grips on the bar may be easier to hold for those with stiff forearms, tight shoulders, or smaller hands.
Those training for shoulder stability may wish to consider the single-arm dumbbell pullover. By training unilaterally, you’re challenging your shoulder to control movement in an additional plane.
Owing to the natural tradeoff between stability and maximum load, expect to drop the weight 60 to 80% for the single-arm dumbbell pullover.
Cable pullovers are performed with a pulley or cable column set to a low position, while holding a triceps rope, strap, or short bar. The cable pullover changes the line of the resistance. Instead of encountering maximum resistance torque at or near the bottom position as in the dumbbell pullover, the shoulders experience maximum resistance torque earlier in the movement during cable pullovers.
The cable resistance also increases the productive range of motion of the exercise. Rather than ending the repetition with vertical arms, continue “pulling over” until the cable gently grazes your forehead.
It’s both. The pullover also hits muscles in the shoulders, arms, and trunk. (16)(17)(18)(19)(20)
Should you’re utilizing a coaching cut up, you’ll need to resolve learn how to categorize the pullover. Some like to incorporate it in “chest day,” as a result of Pullovers hit the decrease portion of pectoralis main. (16) Others put pullovers on “again day,” as it may be used to coach latissimus dorsi earlier than or after grip-intensive train similar to rows, lat pulldowns, or pull-ups. The excellent news? There isn’t any unsuitable reply.
The straight-arm pushdown, additionally known as “stiff-arm pulldown” or “lat prayer,” is a shoulder extension train carried out standing with a cable machine or excessive pulley. This train could also be interesting for a number of causes. There’s is not any must occupy a bench, the upright place lets you monitor your type (and your “pump”) within the mirror, and altering weights is less complicated on the cable stack. However for lifters in search of hypertrophy, the crux of the query will not be comfort and even the “really feel” of the train. It comes all the way down to inherent variations between train biomechanics.
The pullover and pulldown are completely different workouts, every with its personal distinctive resistance profile and muscular exercise sample. (18) Anecdotally, lifters are likely to “really feel” their lats extra throughout pulldowns than pullovers. The reverse appears to be true for “feeling” pectoralis main. Certainly, the pulldown exhibits better muscle exercise within the latissimus dorsi than the pullover, and the pullover exhibits better muscle exercise in all elements of pectoralis main than the pulldown. (18)
Does this imply the pullover is best for again and the pulldown is best for chest? Completely not. This false impression stems from a typical misunderstanding of train electromyography (EMG) research. Larger EMG doesn’t equal a “higher train,” as a result of we can’t predict long run coaching outcomes from EMG research alone. (24)(25) Furthermore, EMG will not be a sound indicator of mechanical rigidity, a key driver of muscular variations. (24)(3)
Briefly, many options should be thought of when figuring out train choice. These embrace, however aren’t restricted to coaching targets, private preferences, and the way the train suits into this system as an entire.
Presently, there is no such thing as a definitive pullover approach modification to bias one agonist muscle over one other. Though some have claimed flaring the elbows through the pullover favors latissimus dorsi and holding elbows straight favors pectoralis main, both approach compromises the train.
Flaring the elbows outward leads to shoulder inside rotation, which takes rigidity off latissimus dorsi. (26) — Not fascinating when you want to make the most of elevated rigidity within the muscle, stretch-mediated hypertrophy, and adaptability advantages of the train. (4)(8)(9)
Protecting your elbows utterly straight appears to make it simpler to “really feel” or contract your pecs on the high of the repetition, but it surely additionally requires excessive shoulder abduction on the backside of the repetition (consider your biceps touching your earlobes). I don’t advocate both choice.
The Perplexing Pullover
The pullover train is a conundrum. It’s carried out in hardcore bodybuilding gyms and rehabilitation clinics, alike. It’s an train for constructing muscle and enhancing vary of movement. It’s a again train and a chest train. It’s cherished and hated.
Regardless of its complexities, the dumbbell pullover has stood the take a look at of time. Perhaps now could be the time to give attention to pullovers in your coaching program?
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