I feel like there are always moves that sort of get “forgotten.”
They fall out of popularity or get hated on because of one specific issue, or don’t seem “hard enough” and then people stop using them.
Even when they’re crazy amazing and beneficial.
One such move is the pull over.
This upper body exercise is controversial and often overlooked yet it is truly an amazing and efficient upper body move.
So why is it often overlooked and underrated? And what’s the controversy when it comes to pull overs?
The pull over has fallen out of popularity because it became demonized for causing shoulder pain.
Much like squats and lunges are blamed for knee pain and deadlifts for lower back pain, pull overs are blamed for causing shoulder pain.
But none of these moves are evil, they are just often misused. And often misunderstood.
While the pull over may not be right for someone with shoulder impingement issues or restricted shoulder mobility, it is an amazing move for anyone without current shoulder issues.
We have to remember that just because a move may not be right for someone WITH an injury or issue who can’t recruit the correct muscles, doesn’t mean it isn’t right for someone without any issues at all.
And demonizing and fearing the pull over for causing shoulder pain may be causing you to miss out on an absolutely amazing compound upper body move.
One that could actually even keep your shoulders healthy and happy long-term.
A move that is incredibly efficient at working your upper body, making it great for anyone short on time and looking to work multiple large muscles all at once.
So if pull overs are so amazing, why are they so controversial?
Part of the pull over debate is…
What do pull over actually work?
Are they a back exercise?
Or a chest exercise?
Or even a tricep movement?
There has long been a debate about which training day, pull overs should be placed on.
But the simple answer is….
Pull overs actually work all three of those areas!
They can even be used to strengthen your serratus anterior.
So if you’re really looking for a full upper body workout all in one move? The pull over may just be the answer you’re looking for.
When you do the dumbbell pull over, you can lie fully supported with the entire length of your back on a bench or even with just your upper back on the bench. Especially if you’re just starting out and going lighter, plus want the extra glute and ab work, the upper back only variation is great.
If you’re looking to really max out on loads and have built up the strength, you may want to perform the pull over with your back fully supported so you aren’t tempted to use the momentum of dropping your hips as you pull over.
You will want to keep your elbows soft as you reach the weight back overhead. Do not lock out your elbows. However if you end up only bending or extending at your elbow, you’re going to turn this isn’t more of a tricep move than a lat or chest one.
Feel a stretch through your lats as you reach overhead. Then really focus on pulling your elbows back down and over your head as you pull the weight back up toward the ceiling.
Think about the sides of your back working as you pull the weight over to make sure you’re engaging your chest and lats.
Then slowly extend back overhead to repeat.
You can also vary how much you activate each muscle by when you use the move in your workout.
The pull over may be a great move to include toward the end of your chest day to fully fatigue the muscle.
Or it can be a great way to create a bit of pre-fatigue for the lats and establish that mind-body connection when used earlier in your workout on a back day.
It is also a great accessory lift if you’re working to improve your pull ups!
But do NOT fear this amazing upper body move!
If you’re including pull up work or overhead pressing? You have the mobility to include pull overs!
Just start light and build up.
Remember every move is only as good as our implementation.
But if you need a very effective compound moves to target…well…debatably almost every muscle of your upper body (at least almost), you want to include the pull over in your routine!
For a great follow along workout I did including the pull over, click below!