The exercise you’re (probably) not doing

The exercise you’re (probably) not doing

Just quickly, I wanted to let you all know that I’ve seen an osteopath and a doctor today and I’m relieved to report that I have nothing serious wrong with me. The osteo is 99 per cent certain that my neck is what’s causing the dizziness. My blood pressure is in the ideal range, and my urine tested negative to everything (including pregnancy for those asking!). I will know the results of my blood tests in five to 10 days. I’ll do a full post on it all next week, but I just wanted to share the news now.

Moving on, today I wanted to cover an often under-utilised exercise: the dumbbell pullover. This is a great exercise I frequently do with my clients, as it hits multiple muscle groups at once. I’ve been training some of the other trainers’ clients who have been visiting the studio for years, and none of them have done this exercise before!

Purpose: This exercise will hit your chest, lats, shoulders, rhomboids, triceps and abs. Whenever I give this exercise to clients, I let them perform one set on their own and then I always ask what muscles they think they’re working. They never say their back, so when I tell them to engage their lats and focus on squeezing from the back as opposed to letting the arms do the work, the difference is phenomenal.

A large part of the exercise’s effectiveness comes from the fact that it stretches your upper body, so you’re better off sticking to a higher rep range and working through a full range of motion. You will see more benefits from doing them at the end of your workout, when your muscles are tight.

Set-up: Beginners can lie flat on a bench, while intermediate to advanced lifters should lie side on with only their shoulders on the bench – with knees bent and hips in a straight line – as in the picture below.


Hold the end of a dumbbell with both hands, and position it directly over your chest with straight arms. If you have not done this exercise before, always pick a light weight to practice with – you don’t want the weight crashing down on your head! Conversely, when you’re ready to lift really heavy, be sure to hook your feet under another dumbbell so you don’t lose balance and fall backwards.

Execution: Slowly lower the weight backwards, stopping when your elbows become parallel to the ground and you feel a stretch in your chest and triceps. Squeeze your lats to reverse the movement, returning the weight to a position over your chest. Keep a slight bend in your elbows throughout the movement.

Upper body workout: 
Bench press: 2 x 12, 2 x 6
Chin ups: 4 x max or 5 assisted
Bent over barbell row superset with push-ups: 3 x 10
Barbell push press: 4 x 6
Dumbbell pullover: 4 x 12-15

Have you ever tried a dumbbell pullover?

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