Barbell Pullover: A Great Exercise for Building Bigger Chest

The barbell pullover is an exercise that targets the pectoralis major muscle group. The pectoralis major is one of the most important muscle groups in the body because it helps lift your arms and shoulder girdle. It’s also important for movements such as pushing and pulling.

If you’re looking to build bigger chest muscles, perform regular barbell pullovers. This is an incredibly versatile muscle-building exercise that works all of your chest muscles. Not only will this exercise help you build larger chest muscles, but it will also improve your back posture and abdominal strength. So if you’re looking to maximize your results, start incorporating barbell pullovers into your routine!

What is a barbell pullover exercise?

The latissimus dorsi (lats), pectoralis major (chest), and triceps brachii (behind the arms) are all worked out in the barbell pullover. It is performed while lying on a flat bench with an overhand grip on a barbell held across your chest. Slowly lower the barbell behind your head until it reaches your upper back, then draw it back up with your lats to the starting position.

The barbell pullover is an excellent workout for increasing lat bulk and strength. It also aids in the improvement of shoulder mobility and flexibility. To avoid injury, however, good form must be used.

Benefits of Barbell Pullover

Barbell Pullovers are a great exercise for developing the muscles of the chest, shoulders, and back. Some of the specific benefits of Barbell Pullovers include:

Increased muscle mass: Barbell Pullovers are a compound exercise that works for multiple muscle groups at once, which can lead to increased muscle mass when done in combination with a regular workout regimen and proper diet.

Increased upper-body strength: Barbell Pullovers target multiple upper-body muscular groups, including the chest, shoulders, back, and triceps. You’ll notice an increase in upper body strength as you get stronger and can lift more weight.

Unique Angle of Resistance and Movement Pattern: The barbell pullover has a distinct resistance angle and movement pattern, all of which make it an efficient means of targeting the lats and chest.

Improved flexibility and range of motion: Barbell Pullovers, when performed correctly, can also aid to develop flexibility and range of motion in the chest and shoulders.

Muscles do Barbell Pullovers Work

While the barbell pullover does primarily work with the latissimus dorsi muscles, there are other muscle groups involved.

Latissimus dorsi

The latissimus dorsi is a powerful muscle because it is the largest of the back muscles and the widest in the human body. The lats, which cover the majority of the lower back, are in charge of shoulder movement, including inward movement, extension, and internal rotation. When pulling yourself up, the lats assist in moving the trunk forward and up toward the bar.

Teres Major

The latissiumus dorsi is assisted by the thick teres major muscle on the back in stretching, twisting medially, and adducting or pushing the upper arm inward. Teres major also contributes to the humeral head’s stability.

Pectoralis muscles

The barbell pullover works the pectoralis or chest muscles in addition to the lats. Pullovers will draw attention to the upper chest, clavicle area, and lower chest, sternum area. Depending on the motion, the chest muscles execute distinct jobs.

The chest fibers around the clavicle, for example, are responsible for humerus flexion, whereas the sternal head extends the arm at the shoulder from a flexed position. Both heads act together to rotate the arms medially and adduct (move the arms toward the center of the body).

How to do Barbell Pullovers

How to do Barbell Pullovers

Barbell Pullovers Instructions

  • Lie on a flat bench with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent.
  • Set yourself up at a 90-degree angle to the flat bench, with your shoulder blades resting on it.
  • Your feet should be wider than shoulder-width apart on the floor, and your torso should be straight.
  • Maintain a straight posture with your arms completely extended. This is the exercise’s starting position.
  • Slowly lower the barbell behind the back of your head, maintaining your arms straight, until your arms are parallel to the floor.
  • Do not pause before returning the bar to its beginning position.
  • Repeat for the appropriate number of reps.

Barbell Pullovers Tips

Barbell Pullovers Tips
  • At the apex of the movement, don’t bring the bar too far forward. You should only advance till your arms are straight up.
  • Make careful you lower the bar all the way down and keep your arms straight during the action.

Common Barbell Pullover Mistakes to Avoid

In order to perform the barbell pullover safely, avoid making the following mistakes.

Swinging the Barbell

The barbell pullover is an exercise that emphasizes muscular tension, particularly in the latissimus dorsi muscles. Swinging the barbell will not only eliminate much of this important tension, but it may also harm the shoulder joints.

In order to maximize the benefits of the barbell pullover, ensure that each repetition is performed in a slow and controlled manner, with attention paid to maintaining tension in the chest and lats.

insufficient Range of Motion

A common mistake made with the barbell pullover is performing it with an insufficient range of motion. 

Because the exercise requires lowering a barbell beneath our line of sight, determining whether the proper range has been accomplished can be challenging. This can result in inadequate recruitment of specific muscle groups or an increased risk of shoulder injury.

One good cue to ensure a full ROM is achieved is to feel the position of the upper arms. If they are parallel to the sides of the head, a full range of motion has likely been reached.

The lifter can also assess the level of tension in their lats. If their lats lose tension at the midway of the exercise, they’ve probably lowered the barbell too far.

Bending the Elbows Excessively

Although some small amount of flexion is required to ensure the arms are not injured, bending them to an excessive angle can shift the focus of the exercise and potentially injure the lifter.

In order to perform the barbell pullover correctly, the lifter should strive to keep their arms as straight as possible while maintaining a slight bend in the elbows. This ensures that all the correct muscles are targeted, but that the elbows remain safe from injury as well.

Raising the Hips Off the Bench

Lifters who are moving a lot of weight may have difficulty staying on the bench at the mid-point of the barbell pullover. If the hips begin to slip or rise off the bench, this could suggest a lack of upper back mobility or that too much weight has been added.

In any instance, it’s critical to hold the hips (and glutes) against the bench for the duration of the repetition. The need to move them indicates that something is amiss with the loading or mobility.

Barbell Pullover Alternatives

Machine pullover

The machine pullover is an excellent choice since it allows you to achieve a deep stretch while not requiring you to focus on weight stabilization. It will be most similar to the barbell pullover, and it may be the best pullover variation you can do.

Dumbbell Pullover

Dumbbell Pullover

The dumbbell pullover is one of the most popular pullover variations, and it’s an excellent workout for developing your chest and lat muscles. This version is performed identically, but maintain your arms farther stretched to engage the lats more effectively.

Straight-arm pulldown

Straight-arm pulldowns or pushdowns are great for the lats, but they’re also great for increasing scapular stability, which translates nicely to deadlifts, squats, bench presses, pullovers, and other compound actions.

Not to mention, the movement is pretty similar to the pullover so mix things up and do these sometimes as well. 

Landmine Presses

The landmine press is a similar exercise in that it targets the trapezius muscle rather than the latissimus dorsi.

The lifter pushes one end of a weighted barbell upwards while the other end remains in a landmine connection, resulting in a unique angle of resistance that differs from both the barbell pullover and other chest press variations.

The landmine press is a good alternative to pick if you find the barbell pullover to target the lats too much, but wish to retain the same pectoral muscle stimulation nonetheless.

Cable Straight Arm Pulldowns

If you have access to a cable machine but no barbell (looking at your gym), then Cable Straight Arm Pulldowns are an excellent replacement for Barbell Pullovers.

The movement itself is virtually the same. The difference is that instead of laying on a bench, you’re standing erect and dragging the cable bar attachment down to your thighs. The stretch isn’t quite as good as with the barbell behind the head, but otherwise, the two workouts are pretty comparable.


what body part does the pullover work out?

According to fitness experts, the dumbbell pullover works both the pecs and the lats. However, depending on your form, you can only receive the full advantages for each muscle group. You can target your pecs by positioning your arms and elbows in a specific way.

Are pullovers better than rows?

Because of how the origins and insertions of the lats are positioned in the lat pulldown, your lats will likely have a somewhat better training benefit than in rows. Vertical pulling gives your lats an additional range of motion and puts them closer to their attachment points. What exactly is this? Your lats, as well as other back muscles.

Is the Pullover a Push or Pull Exercise?

The barbell pullover is a traditional bodybuilding exercise that primarily targets your chest and back. It’s a pushing movement done with a dumbbell, though barbell variations exist, and when done correctly, it hits everything from the bottom of your pecs to your abs, lats, and triceps.

Are pullovers better than pulldowns?

The lat pullover causes the lats to stretch out, but lat workouts such as pulldowns make them more powerful. Pulldowns increase strength while pullovers increase muscle. Both should be part of your backup regimen.

What muscles do decline pullovers work?

The decline bench barbell pullover is a great way to work your chest, triceps, and lats. While moving the dumbbell down behind your head, it will stretch your back and chest muscles. Our coaches like to include it in chest workouts alongside a variety of other exercises from our exercise collection.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *