Exercise Analysis: Pullovers
Do pullovers target your pecs (chest) or your lats (back)?
In the training world there is debate over what muscles pullovers with a barbell or dumbbell actually target. We’re going to put an end to that debate once and for all! The pullover is a very popular exercises because it is a multi-joint upper body movement in which the athlete can move pretty heavy weights because of the major muscles groups involved.
How to perform the lift properly?
- Your arms should start perpendicular to your body with weight in hands
- Move weight and arms straight backward until the are parallel to the floor
- Elbows can be bent or straight at this point
- Straighter arms result in a larger resistance and it helps eliminate the triceps from being involved
- Pull the weight back to the starting position without movement at the elbow.
An analysis of the muscle activity during this exercise has shown that pectoralis major (chest) had a significantly higher activation during the entire lift. In fact, the latissimus dorsi was only about 10% of the muscle activation level of the pecs. Finally, they established that straighter arms during the ascent of the lift resulted in greater muscle activation of the pecs.
Bottom Line: Pullovers target your pecs significantly more than your lats and they should be done with your arms as straight as possible to maximize pec muscle activity.
Featured Image By: IronGrif