Every few years, the fitness industry changes its mind about which exercises are beneficial and which are contraindicated. The pullover, both the machine and the dumbbell exercise, is a prime example. Whilst people with shoulder joint vulnerabilities need to exercise caution, when performed correctly, the pullover exercise reaps many benefits. In fact, the risks and rewards of any given exercise often comes down to a matter of form. For this reason, some people now do their personal training sessions with physiotherapists.
Pullovers and Muscle Symmetry
Symmetry, an essential weight-lifting concept, implies a balanced development between the muscles in your body. Some weight-lifting enthusiasts lack muscular symmetry because they spend most of their gym time developing their “beach muscles,” such as the pectorals. The pullover machine engages your front and rear torso muscles. When combined with back exercises such as the lat pull-down, the seated row and the reverse fly, it effectively contributes to muscular symmetry.
History of the Pullover Machine
The dumbbell pullover dates back to the early 20th century. At the time, bodybuilders considered it an important exercise for lifting the chest and developing the muscles of the ribcage. During the 1970s, Arthur Jones, creator of the Nautilus line of equipment, developed a seated machine called the torso pullover. The machine targeted the chest, the lats, the triceps, the posterior deltoids and the serratus anterior, which are the muscles supporting the upper, lateral parts of your ribcage. The pullover machine engaged as many upper body muscles as the squat activated during lower body workouts. As such, Jones jokingly referred to it as “the squat for the upper body.”
Balanced Variable Resistance
The pullover machine falls into the balanced variable resistance machine category. This type of equipment features a cam, which lessens the resistance at your muscle’s weakest point and increases it where you are strongest. Balanced variable resistance machines provide muscular resistance from the fully stretched position to the fully contracted position. In an article featured on the American Fitness Professionals and Associates website, clinical exercise physiologist Paul Sorace explains why this feature gives the torso pullover machine a distinct advantage over the dumbbell or barbell variation.
Dumbbell vs Machine
Constant resistance throughout the exercise is just one of the significant differences between the dumbbell pullover and the pullover machine. Body position is one of the most obvious differences. The dumbbell pullover exercise uses the supine position, whereas the machine uses a seated, upright position. Range of motion is another essential difference. The dumbbell exercise begins with the weight parallel to your face. Then, you carefully bring the weight over your head. In contrast, the pullover machine exercise begins with your elbows resting against the pads, your hands on the grips, and the seat aligned with the cam. Then, you slowly raise the bar.
Pullover Machine Benefits
If you work in a hunched-over position throughout the day, the pullover machine offers a much-needed antidote to the corporate slouch. As you raise the bar over your head, your spine lengthens and your abdominal muscles pull upward and inward, creating an ideal sitting posture that you should probably practice throughout the day. The fuller range of motion also triggers some abdominal muscle activity, sports medicine specialist Joseph M. Horrigan told “Iron Man Magazine.” The pulling down movement also engages your lats, which are the back muscles that you should use when you reach overhead and take things down from a shelf.
Are pullovers right for you? Speak with one of our physiotherapists and call (08) 9272 7359 today!