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Chest Workout (8) – Straight Arm Dumbbell Pullover

October 24th, 2010 · 7 Comments ·


Dumbbell pullover is unique in that its movement because it works the chest from a tremendous variety of angles. This exercise takes quite a bit of coordination, which adds to the challenge of the exercise. You can do this straight arm or bent arm. Somehow I found that the straight arm pullover stretches the chest more whereas the triceps get more the workout in the bent-arm dumbbell pullover. That is why I prefer straight arms.

The main muscle involved is chest, but other muscles worked include triceps, shoulders as well as lats. Athletes who play tennis, javelin or football throw-in will gain the benefit from this compound workout.


  1. Lie flat on your back on a flat bench. Feet flat on the floor or on the bench.
  2. Begin by holding the dumbbell above your chest with straight arms.
    Inhale deeply. Slowly lower the dumbbell in semicircular motion behind head as far as possible without pain.
  3. Your arms and the dumbbell will actually go behind and above your head and will drop down below the bench – this movement will really give you a great stretch.
  4. Return the dumbbell to the start position slowly, focusing on keeping your elbows locked in the slightly bent position.
  5. Do 3 sets of 8 – 12 repetitions each set.



  • When choosing the correct weight, make sure you choose a weight that allows you proper handling. You will be lifting this weight over your head and you do not want it to slip.
  • Also, you could injury shoulders, so be careful. Make sure that here is no added strain. Only lower the dumbbell as far as it is comfortable.
  • If possible, lower the arms on a four count and bring them up on a two count.

That is another way of doing the Dumbbell Pullover which I am currently doing – Straight Arm Dumbbell Pullovers Across A Bench. The difference is the orientation of the bench. In this case, your entire back does not lie on the bench. Only your upper back. This position allows you to get a much fuller stretch as compared to normal pullovers on a bench.




  1. Turn a bench sideways.
  2. Lie back so that your upper back is on the bench and your torso and legs extend out perpendicular to the bench.  Your body should actually form a right angle to the bench or seat.
  3. Keep both feet on the floor shoulder width apart and your knees bent at a ninety degree angle.
  4. Your body should form a bridge with support points at your upper back and feet. Grasp a dumbbell with two hands, palms flat against the inside of one of the plates.
  5. Extend both arms directly up above your face.
  6. With a slight bend in your elbows, lower the weight down and back above your head until your arms are parallel to the floor.
  7. Use your upper chest muscles to raise the weight back to the starting position. Do not raise your hips.




  • For an extra triceps burn, each time you complete a pullover, lower the dumbbell straight down until it touches your chest.




Category: Chest

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7 responses so far ↓
  • gymgoers // Oct 28, 2010 at 3:32 PM

    I performed on Straight Arm Dumbbell Pullover and i found out there are more bites on the triceps rather than chest. Having stretch my arm straight to put more stress on the chest and the result is the same. In the end of the sets, my triceps feels sore but not in the chest.

    Another strange thing is i feel strain on my neck while doing it with a cross bench. Am i doing it right? or i can’t do it right?

  • xavier // Nov 1, 2010 at 12:17 PM


    try a lighter weight to familiarize with the movement first and sometimes if the weight is too much, we will tend to use a bit more of the triceps for the extra push. also concentrate on your chest when doing the lift, this will subconsciously help in reducing the usage of your triceps.

    as for the neck strain, try adjusting on how you rest on the chair. i used to have the same problem as you last time then i try to rest more of head on the chair and the problem just went away. hope it helps. :)

  • gymgoers // Nov 2, 2010 at 3:22 PM

    Hi xavier,

    You are right about the resting more of my head on the bench which previously i was resting my shoulder on it hence it strain my neck. Thank you and that helps quite a bit.

  • xavier // Nov 2, 2010 at 8:19 PM


    no problem dude, glad that i can help. enjoy your workout and remember, no pain no gain. :)

  • Kasey // Nov 7, 2010 at 2:28 PM

    I’ve taken the time to go step-by-step through why the pull over is an inneffective exercise and a waste of time.


  • Michelle // Nov 21, 2010 at 11:35 PM

    I always love this as a finishing move on chest day.

  • Athlete // Aug 13, 2011 at 9:52 PM

    @gymgoers: I have the same prblem everytime I do this excersise espcially when I use heavy weights. I remain two days after the excersise having pain in my chest and neck when I take a deep breath.
    P.S: I rest my head on the bench

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