Are Pullovers Dangerous?


I read somewhere where pullovers were dangerous. Is that true and if so, are all pullovers dangerous? Like is a machine pullover more dangerous than a DB pullover??


It really isn’t accurate to generalize, because there are too many different variables.

For example, your unique physiology and biomechanics may make pullovers of any sort problematic.

I’ve also seen some really good – and really bad pullover machines.

Pullovers with a DB should offer more flexibility, at least in that you’re not “locked” into one particular motion as with a pullover machine.

On the other hand, there is no mechanism to press from the elbows, a key advantage insofar as engaging the lats.

Still others struggle with imbalances that can skew things. Meaning if you have a bum right elbow or shoulder and try to compensate by using more of my left side during a pullover, then yes I’d imagine that person is going to be asking for problems.

Having said all of that, I’ve found that over the years if a person wants to find a pullover they can perform productively, they will.

Some may choose a machine, others a DB or even use an EZ curl bar. Some can’t do pullovers of any sort with an incline, some people thrive on it.

The reality is that you’ll have to go through a bit of trial an error to find the pullover that’s right for you.

And to be certain, I think it’s worth the effort.

Like dips but to an even greater extent, the power of the pullover to add mass to the upper body has been lost, particularly since the advent of bench press hysteria in this country.

There was a time not so long ago that champion bodybuilders built most of their upper body mass with weighted dips and pullovers. Some guy named Arnold did plenty of both.

Vince Gironda only considered bench presses to the neck to be productive, and far and away used dips and pullovers to build his champions from the 1950’s forward.

One article everyone should read was penned by Arthur Jones in the September 1st 1970 edition of Ironman Magazine, “The Upper Body Squat.”

It’s out there online today, and easily found with a google search. Mandatory reading for everyone interested in the history and benefits of this movement.

Hope that helps.

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Coach Rob Regish

Rob Regish is an internationally recognized name in the field of health and fitness. He's been a weekly contributor to for almost a decade, answering listener questions from around the world.

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