Pullover Exercise Substitute

Weightlifter On Benchpress
An adult male working out in the gym (Image: Ibrakovic/iStock/Getty Images)

The dumbbell pullover, which targets the pectoral muscles, can be awkward to execute. The balancing act while you're lying prone and extending a dumbbell over your head can be tricky. When a client has difficulty doing a pullover, personal trainer Matt Siaperas of Hardbodies Gym in Blackfoot, Idaho has a few alternative chest exercises to recommend, and because the pullover works the lats and triceps, too, he includes a couple of exercises to work those muscles.

Bench Press

The bench press is a staple chest exercise of most workouts. You simply lie on a bench and lift the barbell from the rack. Lower the bar to your chest, then press it back up, extending your arms but not locking your elbows. The triceps are engaged and will benefit from the bench press in addition to your pectorals.

Cable Chest Dip

The cable chest dip requires wide dip bars in front of a cable machine with a belt attached to the lower cable for resistance. Put the belt around your waist and hook the cable to it. Stand between the bars and grasp them with your hands, palms down. Press down lifting your body up so that your arms are straight and you are suspended above the ground. Bend your knees slightly and cross your ankles to keep your feet off the floor. Bend your elbows, lowering your body until your chest is almost at elbow height. You should feel a stretch in your chest at the bottom of this exercise. Press down, bringing your body back up to the starting position, arms straight. This is another exercise that works the triceps and the chest.

Lever Pec Deck Fly

The pec deck machine is built to allow you to do an upright fly to target your pectorals. Sit in the machine, resting your back against the pad. Reach back and slip first one arm, then the other behind the arm pads on the levers, bringing them forward a bit. Your elbows are bent, your forearms are almost level with your face and your hands are gripping the handles level with the top of your head. Press inward with your arm, bringing the levers together in front of you. Allow the levers to come apart, back to the starting position, then repeat. This exercise is effective for focusing on the chest.

Cable Pulldown

A cable pulldown is a useful exercise to work your lats if you won't be doing the pullover. It is done on a cable machine with a bar attached to the upper cable. Reach up to grab the bar in a wide grip, then sit on the seat, sliding your legs under the thigh supports. Pull the bar down to your upper chest, leaning back slightly as you pull. Allow your arms to extend back up until your elbows are straight but not locked.

Cable Forward Tricep Extension

Working your triceps with a cable machine is an alternative to the exercise they get with the pullover. Attach a stirrup handle to the medium high pulley of a cable machine -- it should be just below the height of your head. Turn so that the machine is behind you and position your right hand so that you're holding the handle palm up; your elbow is bent, your hand just over your shoulder. Step forward with your right foot to brace yourself and pull tension into the cable. Press forward with your hand, extending your arm and bringing the handle out in front of you. Keep your arm about shoulder height as you perform this move. Bend your elbow again, allowing the handle to return to the starting position over your shoulder. Repeat with your left arm. Your lats get a little benefit from this one as they are one of the stabilizing muscles engaged with this exercise.

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