Dumbbell Lat Pullover: Benefits and How to Do It Correctly

If properly developed, your lats could develop into some of the most well-known muscles of your body and add aesthetic dimensions and strength that can aid in various movements and exercises.

Many exercises target this region of your upper body, like the lat pulldown or the inverted row. However, one exercise is often overlooked: that of the dumbbell lat pullover.

It’s an extremely effective exercise that pushes your lats in a wider range of movement than other exercises for your back. We’ll go over all the advantages of the dumbbell lat pullover, including how to do it right and the various variations offered to ensure you’re equipped with the information needed to master this movement.

The Dumbbell Lat Pullover

Also called straight arm pullover, the dumbbell lat pullover is among the most effective exercises for strengthening muscles in your upper back. This exercise compound offers many benefits to people at all levels of fitness.

This article will go over all you should be aware of about the dumbbell lat pullover.

The Dumbbell Lat Pullover: Working Muscles

The Dumbbell Lat Pullover Working Muscles

Primary Muscle Group

As you might have guessed, the dumbbell lat pullover is primarily a workout for your lats. The muscle originates in the lower and mid-back in the lower-mid back; the muscle latissimus doers is the largest muscle in the back.

The lats play an important role in many “pulling” exercises, such as the dumbbell lat pullover and various exercise routines for rowing.

You might be amazed to discover that the dumbbell lat pullover is also a chest exercise that relies on the chest as the primary moving part of the workout.

The pectoralis principal (the largest muscle in the chest) comprises two heads: the upper head, clavicular, and the lower head of the sternal. The dumbbell lat pullover is primarily a challenge to the sternal head that is part of the pectoralis main.

Secondary Muscle Group

The dumbbell lat pullover integrates the deltoids, triceps as well as the abs, serratus, as well as upper back. While your chest and back should be doing the bulk of the work in the workout, your abdominal muscles are contracted to strengthen your middle section. The deltoids and triceps are activated to help stabilize your arms.

The upper back and serratus help assist your upper body during the dumbbell lat pullover.

The Dumbbell Lat Pullover: Benefits

The Dumbbell Lat Pullover Benefits

#1 Bigger And Stronger Upper Body

Straight arm pullovers are unique in that they can aid in developing muscles in your chest and back muscles at the same time. This is why you will get the benefits of two exercises simultaneously.

This gives the dumbbell lat pullover an advantage since the strength of your upper body is vital to improving your athletic performance and other compound exercises and everyday routines.

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#2 Improved Stability Of The Core

You can’t safely complete the dumbbell lat pullover without utilizing your core. This workout requires you to work on deep core muscles, such as the Transverse Abdominis.

In the end, consistent training that includes the dumbbell lat pullover can help increase your core stability, which will increase your performance for other activities.

#3 Injury Prevention

The dumbbell lat pullover can strengthen your back and the core. These muscles help to support your spine, thereby safeguarding you from future back injuries.

Straight arm pullovers will also work your deltoids and other muscles around the shoulders, which strengthen your rotator cuffs and decrease the chance of injuring your shoulders. Overall, the dumbbell lat pullover can help you build muscle and reduce the risk of injuries at the same time!

The Dumbbell Lat Pullover: Instructions


For this workout, you’ll need an exercise ball and an exercise desk (or similar surfaces).


  • Begin by picking up a set of dumbbells and standing on the bench.
  • Place your feet on the bench, and set your feet flat on the floor. Relax your back until your head is at the bottom of the bench.
  • The dumbbells should be raised in a row, just above your chest, with your palms in front.
  • Connect your abdominal muscles by pulling your belly button towards your spine.


  1. Keep your arms straight, squeeze your lats, and slowly lower the dumbbells behind your body until they line up to your head.
  2. Squeeze your lats with a lot of force at the bottom. Contract your chest to bring the dumbbells up to an upright position. Make sure you squeeze your chest as hard as you can when you are in that position.
  3. Keep your core tight in your core, and repeat!


It is recommended to do three sets, ranging from 12-18 repetitions in the dumbbell lat pullover. It is important to work with light weights and feel a stretch through your chest and lats while working through each repetition.

The Dumbbell Lat Pullover: Mistakes

The Dumbbell Lat Pullover Mistakes

#1 Bending Your Arms

Many lifters will bend their arms when performing the dumbbell lat pullover. Bending your arms will allow the triceps to be the dominant muscle during the exercise, thereby taking tension off your back.

The dumbbell lat pullover transforms into the equivalent of a skull crusher for the dumbbell. Keep your arms straight throughout the dumbbell lat pullover to strengthen your back and chest.

#2 Reaching Back

Another mistake often made during the dumbbell lat pullover is to overarch your back. Although a slight arch is fine, overarching puts a huge burden upon your back that could result in injuries.

Instead, focus on your core and ensure that your back is flat while the dumbbell lat pullover.

#3 Pulling Too Far Back

Many weightlifters let their dumbbells fall even lower than their heads. Although they might be trying to work harder, they’re actually putting more pressure on their shoulders, which could result in injury.

There are times when less can be better. Retract the dumbbells until they are at the head level for maximum the dumbbell lat pullover.

The Dumbbell Lat Pullover: Variations

#1 Floor Dumbbell Lat Pullover

You can perform the dumbbell lat pullover without using an exercise bench. Start by lying back, knees bent with your feet on the floor. Take a dumbbell with an overhand grip. Then lift your arms straight over your chest.

Make sure to squeeze your lats as you slowly move them back to where your dumbbells reach the floor. Then, tighten your chest to return them to its original position. Repeat!

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#2 Alternating Hammer Pullovers

Relax on your back and bend your knees firmly on the floor with your feet. Take a pair of dumbbells with your palms facing one to the other. Extend your arms straight upwards over your chest.

Release your lat as you slowly move the right hand back to where your dumbbell touches the floor. Then, tighten your right pec to return the dumbbell to the original position. Repeat this exercise on the other side, and continue to alternate your arms!

#3 1-Arm Floor Lat Pullover

It is also possible to do the dumbbell lat pullover unidirectionally. Start by lying back, knees bent, and your feet firmly on the floor. Take a dumbbell or a kettlebell using an overhand grip and raise your arms straight upwards over your chest.

Make sure to squeeze your lat as slowly pull your arm back until it touches the ground. After that, you should contract your chest and return your arm to its beginning position. Repeat!

The Dumbbell Lat Pullover: Alternatives

If you liked the dumbbell lat pullover, take a look at these other exercises for improving the strength of your upper body:

#1 Straight Arm Band Pulldown

Connect your resistance band to an elevated hanger or doorframe, and either kneel or sit on the floor.

If the band has handles, reach your arms to the side to grab the handles using your palms facing the forward direction. If the band doesn’t include handles, you can grab the piece with palms forward and hand slightly more than your shoulder length apart.

Keep your core in place, then bring your shoulder blades downwards and up, and then while keeping your arms straight, draw the band downwards till your hands remain at your side.

Take a moment near the top, squeeze your lats, and slowly return to your starting position. Keep your core tight, and repeat!

#2 Overhand Barbell Row

Install a barbell onto the ground using a light or medium weight. Stand up with your feet shoulder-width apart. Make sure that you step forward to ensure that your barbell is above the middle of your feet.

Take the bar in an overhand grip, placing your hands on the outside of your knees. Engage your abs and back, and raise the barbell until you’re standing with an upright back.

Keep your back and abs firm, and pull your hips inwards to ensure your spine is equal to the floor. Straighten your arms and keep your focus on a few feet in front of you.

Keep your elbows in a tucked position and your elbows straight; push them up and back, bringing the barbell towards the belly button. Make sure you squeeze your lats towards the top, stop for a second, and slowly return to your starting position. Keep your core tight as you go back. Repeat!

#3 Incline Dumbbell Fly

Take a set of dumbbells and take the position of a sit on an incline bench at 30 degrees. Then, lift your arms above you with your palms together and bend your elbows.

The weight should be lowered slowly and steadily on each side, and stop at the point that the weights are within your shoulders. Then, utilize your shoulders and chest to return the dumbbells to their original position with a steady and consistent motion. Keep your chest tight and repeat this movement!

Incorporate The Dumbbell Lat Pullover Into Your Routine Of Training

If you’re trying to improve your physique and want to improve your strength, you should do the dumbbell lat pullover 3-4x 8-15 at the end of your next chest exercise. Concentrate on squeezing the pecs to start the upward movement from the lower position. You should make sure you hold the squeeze throughout the repetition.

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Do you use them in the back of your day? Be sure to initiate the pull using the elbows and disregard the hands. This will help you be able to isolate your lats better.

Is The Dumbbell Lat Pullover Effective For Lats Or Pecs?

Fitness experts say that the dumbbell lat pullover works the pecs and the lats. But, you will only benefit from each muscle group based on how you perform. When you put your elbows and arms exactly, you’ll focus on your pecs. If you make a few minor adjustments, you’ll put more pressure on your thighs. It comes down to your technique and form.

Does The Dumbbell Lat Pullover Either Back Or Chest?

Does The Dumbbell Lat Pullover Either Back Or Chest

It’s both. There may be some disagreement over whether the exercise targets the chest or back; however, it will engage muscles in both regions fairly equally if done correctly.

In squeezing your lats to the lowest point of the exercise and then squeezing your chest on the upper end, your chest and back will be working hard.

How Can You Pinpoint The Dumbbell Lat Pullover?

The dumbbell lat pullover will naturally concentrate on your lats, a primary source of movement. Still, If you’d like to focus on them, you should slow down the workout further while lifting less weight. This can increase the length of your lats, which makes them exert more effort.

Is The Dumbbell Lat Pullover Dangerous?

The dumbbell lat pullover is an exercise that is a little riskier for people with shoulder issues. Make sure you can move your upper body and correct any problems before trying the dumbbell lat pullover. Don’t overstretch your shoulders in the overhead position to reduce the risk of shoulder injuries, and don’t use too much range of motion.

Last Words

The dumbbell lat pullover is an exercise that can aid in developing your lats and pecs, as well as a few additional. The muscle group you focus on depends on the position of your elbows and the distance that the dumbbell is to your own body. Perform the move with the correct technique. You will be able to reap enormous gains from this exercise regardless of whether you’re targeting your pecs or lats you wish to strengthen.


  • Timothy P. Carnes

    Timothy P. Carnes is a certified personal trainer with a Bachelor's degree in Exercise Science from the University of Florida. With over 8 years of experience in the fitness industry, Timothy is an expert in strength and conditioning, body composition, and overall health and wellness. He also holds certifications in strength and conditioning through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and corrective exercise through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). As an author at FitGAG, he shares his knowledge and expertise on a variety of topics, including strength training, body composition, and overall health and wellness tips. Timothy believes that consistency and discipline are the keys to achieving fitness goals, and he strives to inspire his readers to prioritize their fitness and wellness journey. Through his articles, Timothy aims to empower his readers to take control of their health, enhance their performance, and live their best lives.

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