How To Do Straight Arm Pullover Properly

The straight arm pullover is perfect if you’re looking to build a large chest and back with minimal equipment.

It’s an exercise that was popular decades ago but not anymore despite its simplistic and practical nature.

The heavy dumbbells scared many people, but advancement in fitness health doesn’t come close to what this workout offers. The iconic pullover bench where it all action goes down still rules.

If you wonder how to go about nailing this oldie exercise, this article highlights it all.

Here is how you successfully perform a straight arm pullover.

  • Lie on your back on a bench with the dumbbell close to your body.
  • Make a 90-degree bend in your knees so that your back is at a neutral angle — not arched or flat.
  • Then, construct a little “t” against the bench by laying it horizontally across it.
  • Adjust the distance between the two of your feet to ensure that your upper back is in contact with the bench.
  • Raise the dumbbell straight up to your chest with your arms straightened out in front of you.
  • Inhale as you bring the dumbbell back over your head.
  • Roll over and grab it with both hands like you’re throwing a two-handed pass.
  • Lower the weight as far as possible behind your head.
  • Bring the weight back up to your chest.
  • Pause and squeeze at the top of the action to fully connect your mind to your chest.
  • Maintain a straight wrist.
  • Position yourself to allow you to focus on or ease off on specific muscle groups.


The straight arm pullover works a host of muscles in your back and upper body. Even better is that the training targets smaller muscles as well.

Here is a comprehensive analysis of each muscle worked.


The pectoral major and pectoral minor are the primary muscles in your chest. They aid your shoulder’s mobility and the movement of your arm forward across your body.


In addition to supporting and stabilising your spine, the lats strengthen your shoulders and back, allowing you to lift heavier weights. Your lats also help you move your shoulders and arms correctly.


The resistance partly moves to the abdominals, keeping the trunk sturdy throughout the workout.


It is the job of the rotator cuff muscles to keep the shoulder joint stable by controlling the fine movements of the humeral head. The humeral head sits in the glenoid fossa.


For better breathing, the three serratus anterior muscles raise the ribs. Another essential function is to help keep the shoulder blades aligned and in contact with one another while moving.


As mentioned earlier, the straight arm pullover is simple but has excellent results. Here they are.


As an upper-body workout, the pullover exercise is excellent for increasing the strength of a wide range of muscles.


As a workout targeting the upper body, it gives a strong boost to the shoulders, thereby increasing their mobility.


This pullover exercise is a remedy for athletes’ rounded upper backs and stiff shoulders. It is particularly essential to javelin throwers and tennis players alike who heavily depend on shoulder flexibility for performance.


There are several amazing alternatives to the pullover targeting the same muscles, although performed differently.

They include:


Latissimus dorsi and other muscles of the back, arms and abdomen work with the weighted cable pulldown exercise.

How to do it:

  • Tighten your abdominal muscles.
  • Hold the hand attachments with your elbows locked and your arms straight, using an overhand grip about shoulder-width apart.
  • Rather than locking your knees, keep them supple.
  • Slowly lower the cable down to your thighs.
  • Exhale, and keep your arms straight and your hips flexed with your back straight.
  • When your hands are at thigh height, take a break.
  • The weights should come back up to full arm extension as you inhale.
  • Before moving on to the next set, be sure the cable is still taut at the end of the previous rep.
  • Repeat three sets of 10-12 reps each.


One of the best exercises for building a strong upper and inner chest is the close-grip incline press.

How to do it:

  • Set yourself up on an incline bench with a 45-degree angle.
  • Lift both dumbbells to your shoulders, maintaining your arms straight.
  • Keep your chin up and shoulders tucked in to get more out of your chest.
  • To begin, lower the dumbbells until they are at your mid-chest level. As you go, keep your elbows tucked under.
  • Come to a complete halt with the dumbbells slightly above the chest at the bottom.
  • Press the weights, and then bring the dumbbells up.


Plate-based swend press is a fantastic workout for working your inner chest.

How to do it:

  • Keep your back straight and your feet hip-width apart.
  • Place your hands between the plates to hold them in place.
  • The beginning position is to keep your shoulders back and your chest up.
  • Bring the plates up to your mid-chest to begin the exercise.
  • Retain your chest tension while moving your arms slightly upward with your elbows tucked.
  • Repeat the process by bringing the plates back down to the chest.


As much as this pullover exercise is simple, you could be making the following mistakes.

  • Keeping the core loose.
  • Overly straightening one’s arm. Maintaining a slight natural bend should be the primary goal. The movement becomes a triceps exercise if the elbows bend excessively during execution.
  • Failure to establish a strong mind-muscle coordination with the lats and going through the motions without thinking about what is going on.
  • Excessive use of forwarding motion.
  • Not paying attention to your posture when stretching. Always maintain a moderate amount of shoulder depression and retraction.


Ironically, the straight arm pullover is one of the most underrated exercises, but it is an excellent choice for workout. In addition to increasing shoulder stability and mobility, these exercises work nearly all of the muscles in the upper body. It works the complete core quite well. So, it’s time to add it to your training regimen.


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