T Nation

Are Dumbbell Pullovers Effective?


There seem to be far to much clashing views on this exercise. So i'm wondering what opinions any experienced bodybuilders might have here???


I'm not an experienced bodybuilder, but FWIW I love pullovers (machine, DB, or BB). They have made a huge difference in my lat, chest, and triceps size. I have recently shied away from DB's though, as my gym does not carry heavy enough DB's.


From what I've read, the old nautilus pullover machine was tha bomb.
DB pullovers are ok, but once the DB is over your chest, theres no resistance on the lats. I use Thib's preferred Decline cable pullover, so you get resistance the entire movement.


Nautilus pullover was the best, somehow the LA fitness that i used to go to had one. Felt awesome on the back. I do a variation of the DB pullover for tris (PJR pullover) that has been an awesome addition. But regular old DB pullover never really did it for me.


I like the decline bb pullover and the pullover floor press

yes, definite lat/chest/tri rocker!


HS pullover and nautilus pullover are the only things worth doing WRT to isolating the lats.

Free weight pullovers have their place to stimulate other areas of the body


Love the nautilus machine, and in recent years have been a huge fan of straight arm pressdowns with a rope for just torching the back,



I appreciate the info everyone.
I've been reading "Book Of Champions" about the 10 Mr. Olympians, which is from 1965 to 2004. They use this exercise in their chest workout, but it doesn't seem to hit the chest much. I guess I'll try some of the variations.


In a word, yes.

However if you are really a double agent for Estrogen Nation, ( like enough of the people in that blown out 'calling all 23 and younger...' ) this shit won't work for you.

Provided you have the basics down ( nutz off the floor etc. ), these are very useful for a BB'er.

I train three free weight Pullover Variations.

That does not mean any one else should, but these work well for me.

That holy-grail-Nautilus-thing, should not be mentioned, because it is almost extinct.

HS Pullover is good, though, a fair enough replacement for the Naut.

HS/DB/BB Pullovers are all DIFFERENT shits, and should be looked at as HS/DB/BB Bench are looked at ( similar but not IDENTICAL ).


People often forget about the chest expanding qualities of the pullover - the rib cage gets "bigger" (small muscles in-between ribs get bigger) which pushes the pecs out/up more.

When I used to do them, I loved the cable version (modified my pulley machine lol). But now, I separate my back & chest on different days, and as I remember, that exercise did both. Wouldn't mind doing it again sometime though...


Here are the ones I started doing at the end of back day.



Do they actually work the intercostals? And if so, would an overhead squat or something with a similar arm position above the head do it to the same extent?


Yeah,.. uh,.. I never bought into that 'expanding the rib cage' nonsense. Sure, you get a really good stretch, but let's face it, a lot of Arnold amazing suggestions were pretty off base, and he was just genetically well off, started juicing at an extremely early age, and had very little regard for his own safety -lol.



I'm no expert, and I understand there is much controversy over this (expanding the rib cage). But many do report the benefits. I've heard of some men (not just teens/newbies) adding 3+ inches to their chest measurements in only one month (when doing the flat lying dumbbell pullover every day)...which in my opinion can't just be attributed to pec/back growth.

I guess it goes to say that if you can increase your lung capacity, then you should also see an increase in the size of the cage.

Whatever the case, I think I'll start doing them up again and do a log or something...there's nothing to lose.

Not sure about the overhead squat exercise doing the same, but supposedly breathing squats (20+ reps) are good for it.


Hise Breathing Shrug


Not a huge fan of the typical DB or Barbell pullover for the reasons mentioned. A HIGH Decline variation is better, but what about cables?

Kneeling high cable straight arm pulldown or even a cable pullover on a bench or stability ball.

I've gotten a great isolation in my lats from the kneeling pulldown. You have to kneel and lean forward to really get that stretch then as you bring the bar down and into your waist you lean back into a straight up and down position. Of course this works for me because I'm 5'5" with short arms. Taller lifters may have a difficult time getting any sort of stretch unless your pulley is 8 feet tall..:wink:

Cross Lat Cable Pull-outs are also pretty good as well. You can do this on any sort of dual pulley. Arms cross above your head. Arm straight, bring cables out into an iron cross position.


Do you use a wide, medium (shoulder-width), or narrow grip?


Yea I remember Arnold suggesting pullovers for expanding the rib cage in his encyclopedia of bodybuilding. But I'm not sure I buy into that either.

I vote a study be done :stuck_out_tongue:


I vote that people leave the Pandora's-Box-of-Rib-cage-Expansion the fuck alone.


Wait a minute... that means it was impossible for the Wolfman to expand his ribcage in the movie!!! Damn it and to think I started pullovers again for that!!!