The Benefits of Barbell Pullovers

Discs for the barbell

Barbell pullovers target your latissimus dorsi muscle, the flat, triangular shaped muscle that covers the lower part of your back. Your latissimus dorsi is the largest and most powerful muscle in your back. Barbell pullovers are isolation exercises that only require a single joint movement. This isolation exercise can improve your performance in sports that require strong lats.

Shoulder Adduction

Barbell pullovers improve your ability to perform shoulder adduction movements against resistance. Shoulder adductions involve moving your shoulders and the upper part of your arm toward the midline of your body or move your upper arm down and to the side of your body. Shoulder adduction strength helps you pull your body up against gravity. Pull-ups and chin-ups are examples of shoulder adduction movements.

Shoulder Extension

Barbell pullovers strengthen the muscles you use to perform shoulder extension movements. Shoulder extensions involve rotating your shoulder to move your outstretched arms down and back. Shoulder extension movements such as the barbell pullover increase your flexibility and help you maintain or increase your shoulder’s functional range of motion.

Chest Development

Barbell pullovers contribute to developing your chest muscles by working your pectoralis minor, the smaller of the two pectoral muscles. This muscle is located under your pectoralis major muscles. It originates near the anterior part of your shoulder, and attaches to ribs 3, 4, and 5 on your rib cage (ribs are numbered from the top down). Exercises such as tricep dips and push-ups require strong pectoralis minor muscles.


Barbell pullover exercise can help improve your posture. In addition to your core abdominal muscles, your latissimus dorsi is one of the main muscles that supports a healthy posture. You may develop a hunch back over time with poor posture that makes you appear as if you are slouching. This is because your latissimus dorsi tightens and rounds over time, especially if you spend a lot of time hunched over a desk or computer. Barbell pullovers encourage good posture by helping strengthen this muscle.

Physical Activity

Barbell pullovers improve your ability to perform daily functional movements such as pushing a door open or pushing down on the arms of a chair to stand up. This exercise strengthens your downward stroke during swimming motions such as the crawl so you can propel further and faster in competitions. Barbell pullovers strengthen the muscles you need to pull your body up during climbing activities. This exercise can improve your performance in rowing and paddling sports and activities.