The Lat Pullover exercise is a popular move in bodybuilding circles. However, it is beginning to make a comeback in workouts for athletes.
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Why? It’s one of the best ways to directly strengthen the lats, the large muscles that run down the sides of your back under your armpits. Typically, these muscles are strengthened with Pull-Ups, Pull-Downs and Rows. However, the Pullover is about as close to an isolation exercise for the lats as you can get.
In addition, the Pullover confers several other benefits that make it a great addition to your workouts.
How often do you strengthen the pullover action? A Med Ball Slam is probably as close as you get, and that hardly counts. This makes it a highly effective exercise for quick strength and size gains in the lats.
It’s applicable to sports
It might be hard to see how this could help sport performance. The Pullover is an overhead movement where you bring your arms downward. Shooting hoops, throwing a football or a baseball and swinging a tennis racquet all involve overhead movements.
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It trains more than your lats
The Pullover blasts the core, chest, shoulders and back into submission. And because it engages so many muscles, it’s an easy way to elevate the heart rate.
It improves core strength
Performing the Pullover requires you to lock down your abs to prevent your spine from extending overhead. This strengthens your core and teaches you how to maintain proper spinal alignment during overhead skills, It also helps decrease the risk for injury.
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It improves flexibility
Many people suffer from tight lats because the muscles are rarely stretched or worked through a full range of motion. Pullovers can substantially increase lat length, which can improve shoulder mobility on overhead lifts and skills.
I often have my athletes do Pullovers on press-focused days to counteract the Bench Press or whatever variation they perform. It can also be a great addition to a back workout—or really any workout for that matter.
Here’s how to perform the Lat Pullover.
- Step 1: Lie on a bench with your feet on the ground, your core tight and your back flat. Hold a dumbbell over your chest so the dumbbell is vertical and your hands are under the top weight. You can also hold two dumbbells with your palms facing together as shown in the video above.
- Step 2: With your elbows slightly bent, lower the weight overhead until your upper arms are in line with your body. Don’t lower any further if you feel your back begin to arch.
- Step 3: Pull the dumbbell over your chest to return to the starting position.