How The Barbell Pullover Works For Wider & Larger Lats

barbell pullover

This Barbell Pullover exercise is perfect to add in your training program for larger lats and a massive back.

For many of us, we know exactly which muscle to work and which exercises to do, but certain things like the barbell pullover may not be on our radar. With so many exercises out there, it can be easy to miss some that are vital and those of which can seriously boost all of our gains. But the barbell pullover is underutilized and often forgotten, lost in the mass of exercises so many of us either know or seek to know. By working our back and giving us the best chance at growth, it is important to remember that the barbell pullover is something we should absolutely not take for granted.

The benefits of a strong back are incredibly important to our overall growth as bodybuilders and athletes for it will enhance pulling motions, provide for better stability, and work to improve posture, both for other lifts and for our confidence. But the barbell pullover does more than just widen out our lats. This exercise will target your chest, triceps, shoulders, and core to give us a well-rounded upper body exercise sure to fire up our gains to new heights.

Let’s check out the barbell pullover and see what this exercise is all about. From what it is, to muscles worked, and the benefits of this often forgotten exercise, we’ll also explain how to properly perform it for optimal growth. By adding this into your routine, you won’t be disappointed with the results.

barbell pullover

What Is The Barbell Pullover?

The barbell pullover is an often times underused exercise that many lifters don’t take advantage of. Using a barbell or dumbbells, this will work to boost lat growth while also aiding in other areas of physical development including your pecs, triceps, and shoulders (1). With equipment easily found in the gym, and a movement relatively easy to learn, you can’t go wrong with the barbell pullover for all your weightlifting needs.

Muscles Worked

When it comes to the barbell pullover, a number of muscles get worked. The main group is your lats which can work for better pulling motions and aid in a wider physique as well. One muscle in particular that can prove to be worthwhile with this exercise is the teres major which is located on the shoulder joint. By strengthening this, you will work to help stabilize the shoulder joint and provide for better movement. Your pecs and triceps also get good work done which is an added bonus to pushing motions, better stability and joint movements, and of course, a nice aesthetic.

muscle strength training masculine performance

Benefits Of The Barbell Pullover

The barbell pullover works for a number of benefits that greatly affect your back strength and size while also aiding in other important physical functions.

  • Increase lat growth: Work to build strength and size in your lats to support pulling motions and a wider physique (2).
  • Chest development: Work your chest and build strength for added stability while enhancing the development, both physically and aesthetically.
  • Protect the shoulder joint: By building muscle around the shoulder joint, you work to protect it from injury and enhance proper movements (3).
  • Improve posture: Building upper body muscles, you will enhance posture and give yourself the confidence to stand tall.
  • Support functional movements: A great exercise to support daily functional movements, this is a well-rounded exercise to boost strength for training, performance, and daily activities.

How To Perform It

Here are the steps for performing the barbell pullover.

  1. Set up your barbell with the desired amount of weight and lie on the bench. Your knees will be flat on the floor and work to engage your core for added support.
  2. With an overhand grip on the barbell, position the bar over your chest by bending your elbows.
  3. With your elbows in this position, lift the bar over your head and take the bar behind your head. Your shoulders will feel flexed but only go as far as your range of motion will allow for.
  4. Bring the weight back to the original position in a controlled movement. Make sure your core is engaged throughout to stay in a strong position.
  5. Repeat for your desired number of reps.

Featured Supplement For Back Gains

When it comes to building some serious strength and size, and packing on that lean muscle, eating right and having a solid training routine is vital. But supplements should not be overlooked for what they can do for your gains. Something like a pre-workout is huge for providing energy and muscle pumps and a BCAA product can reduce fatigue and keep those workouts going for longer. A good protein supplement, however, can boost those gains and aid in recovery, where muscle growth does in fact take place.

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Wrap Up

The barbell pullover is a great exercise often forgotten amongst so many others. What this can do is seriously boost your gains when it comes to wider and larger lats while also providing for a better upper body workout. With benefits to your physical and mental health, this is a vital exercise to include in your routine and you will absolutely not be disappointed by the results.

Let us know what you think in the comments below. Also, be sure to follow Generation Iron on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

*Images courtesy of Transparent Labs and Envato


  1. Marchetti, Paulo H.; Uchida, Marco C. (2011). “Effects of the Pullover Exercise on the Pectoralis Major and Latissimus Dorsi Muscles as Evaluated by EMG”. (source)
  2. Hori, Naruhiro; Chiu, Loren Z. F.; Kawamori, Naoki (2009). “Pulling movement in weightlifting exercises from a biomechanical standpoint”. (source)
  3. Asker, Martin; Brooke, Hannah L.; Walden, Markus; Tranaeus, Ulrika; et al. (2018). “Risk factors for, and prevention of, shoulder injuries in overhead sports: a systematic review with best-evidence synthesis”. (source)
Austin Letorney
Austin Letorney is a writer, actor, and fitness enthusiast. As a former rower, he has shifted his focus to sharing his knowledge of the fitness world and strength sports with others.