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There is a great exercise that works the anterior as well as posterior areas of the upper body. The dumbbell pullover is a chest exercise as well as a back exercise.

Below we’ll look deeper into squat jumps and cover the following topics :

  • Muscles involved in dumbbell pullovers
  • Benefits associated with dumbbell pullovers
  • How to properly do dumbbell pullovers
  • Common mistakes when performing dumbbell pullovers
  • Upper body exercises to complete your chest and back workout
  • Video on how to do dumbbell pullovers

What Muscles do Dumbbell Pullovers Work?

Dumbbell pullovers work numerous muscles:

  • Chest Muscles: Pectoralis major and pectoralis minor
  • Back Muscles: Latissimus dorsi
  • Core Muscles: The erector spinae (set of muscles that run vertically along the side of the vertebral column, originating at the hip and extending up to the skull – These muscles help rotate and extend the spine and neck) and abs (muscles in the abdominal wall:  rectus abdominis, obliques, transverse abdominal) make up the core muscles.
  • Triceps Brachii: These are the muscles on the back of the arm and have 3 heads (long, lateral, and medial head).

The classic dumbbell pullover is a widely used resistance exercise that primarily strengthens the muscles in the chest (pectoralis major) and the large wing-shaped muscles in the back (latissimus dorsi). By making variations to the movement, you can also engage the core muscles and the back of the upper arm (triceps). Depending on how you grab the weight and keep your arms will determine the muscle that you’ll be hitting more intensely. For instance, keeping the arms as straight as possible concentrates more on the chest while bending the elbows out targets more of the back muscles.

Benefits of Dumbbell Pullovers

  • Aesthetics: Dumbbell pullovers work your upper body, giving you an upright confident look.
  • Hypertrophy: They help you increase muscle mass in the chest and back area.
  • Increased Flexibility: Dumbbell pullovers not only help you to build muscle but give your upper body a big stretch. This increases the range of motion of your shoulder joint and expands the chest, makes your upper body more flexible.
  • Efficiency: This exercise trains the front of the body and the back of the body at the same time.
  • Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Health: Dumbbell pullovers, like other resistance training exercises, improve lung capacity and airway flow while working on your heart and circulation.
  • Posture: Strengthening your chest, back, and core muscles help improve postural stability.
  • Core Strength: Dumbbell pullovers engage your core muscles, helping improve stability and strength in the core area.
  • No Machines Necessary: You don’t need access to a gym or tons of equipment. All you need is a dumbbell and a bench. But a bench is not mandatory, you can use a stepper, a stability ball, or just a mat on the floor.


How to Do Dumbbell Pullovers

  • Sit on the narrow end of a bench
  • Plant your feet on the floor slightly wider than hip-width
  • Roll down and rest your back, neck, and head on the bench
  • If you are using a small stepper (as I’m doing on the video) or stability ball, plant your feet on the floor and rest your back, neck, and head fully supported while keeping your hips stable
  • Grab a dumbbell between your hands and place your hands in a diagonal-like ◆ position
  • Extend your arms over your chest and keep the elbows slightly bent
  • Tighten up your core while you inhale and extend the weight back and over your head until you reach a fully extended position where the dumbbell is behind your head.
  • Upon fully extending your arms back, exhale slowly and bring your arms up to the starting position over your chest
  • Repeat

    Remember, if you want to target more of the chest area, keep your arms as straight as possible (but don’t lock the elbows). If you want to concentrate more on the back, bend the elbows out a little bit more.

    Dumbbell Pullovers Mistakes

    • Not engaging the core: Keeping your core tight protects your back, prevents injury, and gives you more control over the weight.
    • Moving the weight unevenly: If one side of your body is stronger or more flexible than the other, you may see one arm extending further over your head or bringing the weight up faster than the other. So, you should be mindful of this and move both arms simultaneously.
    • Improper support: Make sure that your upper back, neck, and head are fully supported when you lay back so you don’t strain your neck. 
    • Too much weight: Using a very heavy dumbbell can make you lose control over the weight. This mistake can strain your wrists and doesn’t allow you to maintain proper alignment or to complete the exercise with full range of motion.
    • Posture: Strengthening your chest, back, and core muscles help improve postural stability.
    • Moving Too Fast: This is an exercise to be performed in a controlled fashion – It’s not about speed. 


    Dumbbell Pullover Video

    (In the video, I’m targeting more of  the chest than the back)

    Dumbbell Pullovers

    Chest & Back Workout

    If you want to target your chest, you can complete your workout with Flyes, Pushups, and Bench Presses.

    If you want to target your back, you can complement your back workout with Bent Over Underhand Barbell Rows and Lat Pulldowns.

    Lift, Burn more Fat, Get Stronger, & Live Healthier!

    To a Fitter Healthier You,

    Adriana Albritton

    The Fitness Wellness Mentor

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