The dumbbell pullover was one of Arnold’s favorite exercises that he prescribed for building a big chest. Arnold had undeniably one of the greatest chests in the sport but he was misinformed about it being a great chest builder according to new research. Recently, a study reported that the dumbbell pullover exercise recruits latissimus dorsi fibers, without significant differences between those musculatures and muscles portions of the pectoralis major.
Researchers wanted to examine the muscle activation of the dumbbell pullover and the flat bench press. The aim of the study was to compare the EMG activity (i.e. muscle activation) of the following muscles: clavicular portion of pectoralis major, sternal portion of pectoralis major, long portion of triceps brachii, anterior deltoid, posterior deltoid and latissimus dorsi during dynamic contractions between flat horizontal bench press and barbell pullover exercises. The sample comprised 12 males individuals experienced in resistance training. The volunteers made three visits to the laboratory.
The results showed a higher EMG activation of the pectoralis major and anterior deltoid muscles in the flat horizontal bench press in comparison with the barbell pullover. The triceps brachii and latissimus dorsi muscles were more activated in the barbell pullover. So based on the results of the study, pullovers are better for triceps and lats than building a better chest.