The Perfect Pullover

Bring back this muscle-building move. Here’s a version that protects your joints while allowing you to go heavier.

The pullover – using barbells, dumbbells, machines, or cables – is a classic muscle-builder. It works a lot of muscles at once: the lats, chest, and triceps.

It was a staple in the programs of Golden Era bodybuilders, but it’s fallen out of favor in recent decades. Why? Well, mainly because…

  1. It’s inconvenient. People have a hard time getting the bar or dumbbell safely into position.
  2. It can put the shoulders in a risky position. People who worry about blowing out their shoulders likely won’t go through an adequate range of motion.
  3. Ending a set is tricky. Lifters have a hard time safely ditching the bar or dumbbell at the end of the set.
  4. It can be hard to figure out what to do with your torso. Some people get too much arch in their low back when doing it off a bench with their feet down.

Even if it’s done safely enough, most people leave too many reps in reserve and don’t push this beast of an exercise close enough to muscular failure. They leave gains on the table.

A Better Pullover

This variation solves all of those issues. Simply do the pullover from the floor while lying on a 4-8 inch elevated surface.

Here’s why it’s better:

  1. It’s easy to get the bar or dumbbell safely into position at the start.
  2. You can get a consistent and safe range of motion by adjusting the surface height and using the floor as your depth gauge.
  3. You can keep your low back flat. You’ll also get a great ab workout because the hips are flexed and the pelvis stays either neutral or in posterior tilt.
  4. It’s easy to ditch the bar or dumbbell at the end of the set, and you avoid over-stretching the shoulder joint.

Because of these things, you can train it heavy and go closer to failure. Doing more volume at a higher weight while protecting your joints is a win for gains.

If you’ve avoided training pullovers heavy, try to work up to 130-150 pounds for reps. Give this variation a shot and start reaping the massive strength and muscle-building benefits this classic exercise has to offer.