The very fact that Arnold himself suggests a specific exercise gives it all the credibility it needs for you to try it out. If there’s anyone you should take advice on how to build muscle, it’s him.
He won the Mr. Olympia title seven times in the course of his bodybuilding career, before he decided to switch to a career in Hollywood that would make him famous worldwide and truly turn him to a legend.
One of the things that made him stand out from the bodybuilding crowds was his enormous chest, and old school training footage proves that it was one of the muscle groups he trained the hardest. Even though for the majority of people the bench press is the main movement for adding mass to their chest, there is one exercise which Arnold loved above all other to add thickness to his chest.
It’s an exercise which some hardcore professional bodybuilders use to this day, however it’s an exercise that sadly lots of people have forgotten or no longer wish to include in their chest training regimen.
The exercise is the dumbbell pullover. Arnold claims that this is the movement that gave him that thick, barrel chest and wide back development that helped him win all those titles. Other great bodybuilders from the Golden era of bodybuilding such as Dorian Yates and Frank Zane also swore by this movement for developing perfect upper chest, triceps, lats and even the serratus muscles.
You must have heard bodybuilders using the phrase ‘attacking the muscle from every possible angle’ and it’s true. If you can train the muscle through as many different planes and ranges of motion, you’ll inevitably achieve better muscular development. This is the reason why doing only bench presses and dumbbell flyes, for example, will never give your a chest a complete training and the look you want to achieve.
This is why you need the dumbbell pullovers. They train the chest muscles through a completely different plane of motion compared to the bench press variations which only rely on pressing a load away from the body. Even though these variations are excellent for developing the pecs, back and lats, studies involving EMG activity tests have shown that they target the pectoralis major more.
Dumbbell pullovers also work the pectoralis minor muscles which lay under the pectoralis major, which gives you a more complete chest workout and results in a greater thickness in the upper chest.
How to perform a dumbbell pullover
- Lie on a bench with only your head and shoulders over the end.
- Form a diamond shape with your hands and with your palms turned upwards, grab a dumbbell and position it over your chest with a slight bent in your elbows.
- Start the exercise by slowly lowering the dumbbell over and behind your head in an arch-like movement until the upper arms are in line with the torso and parallel to the floor.
- After a short pause, pull the dumbbell back in the same arch-like movement over your head to the starting position where you finish the movement by squeezing the chest isometrically.
- Do this for anywhere between 8 to 12 reps.