How to do a Barbell Pullover – Step By Step Guide


Barbell pullover exercise allows you to develop the pectoral muscles more effectively rather than when you use dumbbells. Don’t assume that in this variation of the exercise, the latissimus dorsi muscles don’t work out. They are also involved in the work, but to a lesser extent.

Proper Technique


You can get the most of the bar pullover only if you follow the proper technique.

To get started, you should:

1. Take  the bar by the medium grip;

2. Lie on the horizontal bench and make sure that your head is on the edge of the bench;

3. Stabilize the bar over the chest with an overhand grip. Keep your hands slightly bent and raised vertically.

Your lower back should not bend much. 

The position in which the feet are placed on the back of the bench allows you to relieve excessive pressure on your abs.

How To Perform Pullover Movement:

1. Take a deep breath, then slowly lower the barbell behind your head;

2. Hold the barbell with your hands parallel to the floor for about one or two seconds;

3. Breathe out and get back to the starting position

While you keep your hands behind the head, you should focus your attention on muscle strain. It is necessary to detach yourself from deadlifts completely.

It’s also important not to bend your arms. If you bend them, you will perform the bench press instead of a pullover, so you’ll give a charge to other groups of muscles.

General recommendations

1. It’s recommended to perform this exercise with the EZ-curl bar. This barbell allows you to ensure the natural position of the elbow and wrist joints while you perform pullovers. 

2. The bend angle of the elbow joint should not change. It should be about 150 degrees.

3. The considered load is the weight of an empty barbell. It ranges from 8 to 10 kg. Then the load should be increased. The maximum limit is 25 kg.

Don’t exceed the recommended weight as it can cause abdominal hernias.

Ways to execute the exercise

Lying Barbell Pullover


This is a complicated variation for more advanced athletes. 

When you place the barbell behind your head, you can lower the pelvis down. This way, you can include in work the muscles of the abs and the back. It is best to perform the exercise with a partner. This allows you to make yourself comfortable because the partner passes you the barbell.

Bench with a reverse slope

The load falls on the lower pectoral muscles and the back. This leads to a decrease in the amplitude of motion and increases the load on the elbow joints.

Exercise analysis

Barbell pullover is a “finishing” exercise for training the target muscle group. It reduces the risk of muscle hypertrophy. You can warm-up with this exercise before strength training. This allows you to improve the mobility of the shoulder joints and prevent injuries from high loads during the strength training workout.

What muscles work when doing barbell pullovers?


This exercise develops the long head of the triceps brachii and pectoralis major muscle. The triceps takes a supporting role while the trapezoid is responsible for stabilizing.

How is it different from a dumbbell pullover?

The classic version of the exercise assumes that the range of motion is wide, so the muscles stretch more. When dumbbells are replaced with a barbell, it reduces the arm span. This allows you to better work out the contour of the pectoral muscles.

Who needs this exercise?

Pullovers with a barbell are much more traumatic than pullovers with a dumbbell due to the fact that the motion of the hand is strictly limited. Particular measures must be taken to reduce the risk of injury. Do not proceed to the exercise without checking the mobility of the shoulder joint.

To check this, do full amplitude pull-ups. If it’s easy for you, you can proceed with the pullover. This test should not be carried out for those who have fresh shoulder injuries because it’s a direct contraindication to the exercise.

Interesting facts


There is an opinion among athletes that this exercise becomes more effective when combined with a bench press; in other words, they make a superset. This is not true. The classic bench press brings results only when you use high weights. When you do a pullover exercise, you use light weights. This means that the combination of two exercises in the superset is unproductive when it comes to the bench press and is traumatic when it comes to the pullover.

In some sources, this exercise is positioned as the exercise that targets the pectoral muscles. Such a conviction is valid only for the period of active growth of the organism. The rest of the time, this effect cannot be achieved.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here