Band Pullovers - The Torso Builder

Tom MacCormick

Strength and Conditioning, Personal Training, Sports Science


The classic dumbbell pullover is an exercise bodybuilders have been doing for ages. Back in the Golden era they were credited with building bigger lats, pecs, and serratus. Many top bodybuilders also swore they increased the size of your rib cage too. You have probably seen old black and white pictures of people like Arnold Schwarzenegger doing them.


And some people went as far as to call them the upper body squat.



Fix Your Dumbbell Pullover

While there is no doubt that the dumbbell pullover is an exercise that trains multiple muscles at once, it does have a major problem in common with many other dumbbell exercises.


This problem is that it’s resistance profile isn’t ideal. At the bottom of the lift the long lever arm means that massive amounts of tension go through the lats and upper pecs. As you lift, however, the lever arm shortens.


The tension on the muscles drops significantly, making the top half of the lift very easy. As you can probably guess, this makes this portion of the lift largely redundant from a muscle building point of view.


Fixing this issue is simple, cheap, easy to do, and effective. The addition of a band anchored behind you allows you to keep tension on the muscle throughout the entire range.


When done like this the band keeps adding tension throughout the range while the resistance provided by the dumbbell reduces (due to the lever arm shortening). Rather than only having to work hard for half of the lift you now get a muscle building challenge across the whole range. That adds up to bigger chest and lats!


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