The dumbbell pullover, which targets the pectoral and triceps muscles, can be awkward to execute. The balancing act while you're lying prone and extending a dumbbell over your head can be tricky. You also risk low back injury if you don't keep your abs tight. However, there are dumbbell pullover alternative exercises that work the same muscles in a more manageable position.
1. Bench Press
HOW TO DO IT: Lie on a bench on your back 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.
2. 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.
HOW TO DO IT: 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.
3. Lever Pec Deck Fly
HOW TO DO IT: 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. Bend your elbows with your forearms almost level with your face and your hands 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.
4. 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.
HOW TO DO IT: 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.
5. Cable Forward Tricep Extension
Working your triceps with a cable machine is an alternative to the workout these muscles get with the pullover.
HOW TO DO IT: 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.