Top 7 Dumbbell Lat Pullover Variations and Alternatives

WildnSwole is reader-supported. When you buy through links on my site, I may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you.

Lat Pullover

When it comes to lifting weights, there are many different exercises that can be utilized to achieve a great chest and back workout.

Today, I will focus on one in particular – the dumbbell lat pullover.

I’ll talk about when and how to use it for the best results, as well as some reasons why it’s such a great exercise.

The dumbbell lat pullover is an excellent movement for targeting the latissimus dorsi, which is the largest muscle in the back.

It also works the pecs, shoulders, triceps, and core.

Try adding the dumbbell lat pullover to your next workout and see the amazing results for yourself!

Follow these simple steps below to perform the dumbbell lat pullover flawlessly.

How To Do The Dumbbell Lat Pullover With Proper Form

  1. Lie down on your back on a bench and hold a single dumbbell in both hands with your arms extended above your chest, palms facing forward.
  2. Keeping your elbows slightly bent, slowly lower the weight behind your head.
  3. Pause when your upper arms are parallel to the floor and the dumbbell is slightly below your head.
  4. From this position, slowly bring the dumbbell back up to the starting position directly above your chest. That’s one rep.
  5. To make it harder, try holding the contracted position for a count of two or three seconds before moving the dumbbells back up to the starting position.
  6. You can also perform this exercise with two dumbbells, one in each hand.

Execution Tips:

  • Keep your shoulders retracted
  • Maintain a slight arch in your back
  • Stretch your lats at the bottom of the movement
  • Focus on moving with your elbows to limit tricep involvement
  • Be sure to keep your feet planted firmly on the ground throughout the entire exercise.
Dumbbell Lat Pullover With Bench Support

You can also perform the dumbbell lat pullover with your lower body off of the bench.

One way is not particularly better than the other, it depends on your preference and which one you’re able to feel the most stable doing.

Dumbbell Lat Pullovers Without Lower Body Bench Support

Dumbbell Pullover: Common Mistakes

  1. Overextending the dumbbell behind your head
    • Lower the dumbbell behind your head until your arms are about parallel to the floor.
    • If you start to feel shoulder strain take over the movement from the lats, you’ve gone too far.
  2. Bringing the dumbbell too low during the eccentric motion
    • To keep better tension on the lats and chest hover the dumbbell over your chest during the starting phase of each rep.

Dumbbell Pullovers: Rep/Set Ranges

When performing dumbbell pullovers, try to aim for a rep range of 8-12 reps per set.

Start with a lightweight and gradually increase the amount of weight you’re using as you get stronger.

Test out 3 sets of 8-12 reps and adjust from there.

Lat Pullover: Muscles Worked

The lat pullover primarily works the latissimus dorsi (lats) and the chest.

The secondary muscle groups worked include the core, triceps, deltoids, rhomboids, and serratus muscles.

Latissimus Dorsi

The Latissimus Dorsi is a muscle located along the spine and extending down to the hip.

It is responsible for pulling the arm down and across the body and is often worked in exercises such as pull-ups, rows, and lat pullovers.

Strengthening this muscle can help improve posture and movement.

Chest Muscles

The chest muscles are the pectoralis major and the pectoralis minor.

The pectoralis major is a large, fan-shaped muscle that covers the front of the chest.

The pectoralis minor is a small, triangular muscle that lies beneath the pectoralis major.

These muscle groups are responsible for moving the arms and bringing them close to the body.

The pectoralis also helps to stabilize the shoulder joint.

They are important for a variety of activities, such as lifting weights, playing sports, and even performing everyday tasks such as pushing open a door.

Strong chest muscles can help to prevent injuries to the shoulders and neck.

Serratus Muscle

The serratus muscle is a small, triangular muscle located on the side of the rib cage.

It helps to stabilize the shoulder blade and assists in various arm movements.

The serratus is most visible when the person is flexing their abdominal muscles.

Core Muscles

The core makes up the muscle groups in the torso that support the spine and help keep the body stable.

They include the abs, lower back, and pelvic muscles.

The core muscles are important for balance and stability, and they also play a role in movement and breathing.


The triceps are a set of three muscles that make up the back of the upper arm. The long head, medial head, and lateral head.

They attach to the shoulder and the upper arm bone and help to straighten the arm and lift it overhead.

The triceps are involved in many exercises, such as push-ups, bench presses, and dumbbell pullovers.


The deltoid muscles are a group of muscles located in the shoulder.

They are responsible for lifting the arm away from the body and also help to stabilize the shoulder joint.

The deltoid muscle is divided into three sections: the anterior (front), middle (side), and posterior (rear).

Each section of the deltoid muscle has a different function.


The rhomboids are a pair of muscles that are located in the upper back, and they play an important role in shoulder movement and stability.

The rhomboids are responsible for pulling the shoulder blades together, and they can be worked with a variety of exercises like rowing, reverse flys, and the dumbbell pullover.

Strengthening the rhomboids can help to improve posture and alleviate pain in the upper back and shoulders.

Dumbbell Lat Pullover: Benefits

Dumbbell Lat Pullovers are a great exercise to add to your back or chest workout.

They require dumbbells and a flat bench press and are best when performed at the end of a back or chest workout because of the stretching motion.

They allow for a great range of motion to work the complete lat muscle.

Standard benefits:

  • Improve overall upper body strength and muscle mass
  • Improves shoulder mobility
  • Great stretching exercise for the chest and lat muscles
  • Can be performed at the end of a back or chest workout for optimal results

Emotional benefits:

  • Feel stronger and more powerful after each workout
  • See noticeable improvements in your physique over time

Dumbbell Pullover Variations and Alternatives

Below are some variations and alternatives to the normal version of the dumbbell lat pullover.

Lying Dead Stop Dumbbell Pullover Variation

  1. Lie on your back on the floor with a single dumbbell in both hands.
  2. Begin by holding the dumbbell directly over your chest with your arms straight.
  3. Keep your back pressed firmly against the ground and your shoulder blades together as you lower the weight down toward the floor, behind your head.
  4. Once the weight touches the ground hold it there for a few seconds to stretch out your lats.
  5. Use your elbows to help guide the weight back to the starting position.
  6. Repeat

Standing Cable Pullover

  1. Attach a rope attachment to a high pulley on a cable machine.
  2. Grasp the rope with your palms facing each other, and extend your arms overhead.
  3. Step backward so that the rope is taut and there is no slack. This will be your starting position.
  4. Keeping your core engaged and your arms straight, pull the rope down and inwards toward your stomach.
  5. Once your hands are at or below waist level, pause for a moment and then slowly return to the starting position.

Wide Grip Lat Pulldown: Stretch Focused

At the top of each rep focus on relaxing your lats and shoulders for a few seconds to really stretch out your back muscles.

  1. Sit down at the lat pulldown machine and adjust the seat so that it is comfortable.
  2. Grab the bar with a wide overhand grip (As wide as your hands will go) and pull it down to nose height.
  3. Keep your back straight, and squeeze your shoulder joints together at the bottom of the movement.
  4. Return the bar to the starting position and allow your lats and shoulders to relax at the top for a good stretch.

Resistance Band Lat Pullover

  1. Anchor a band around a sturdy post or object.
  2. Lie with your back on the ground, retract your shoulders and maintain a slight arch.
  3. Hold the band with your palms facing the ceiling and pull it toward your chest.
  4. Slowly lower the band back to the starting position.

Remember to breathe throughout the movement and focus on contracting your latissimus dorsi.

This exercise is a great way to add some extra resistance to your back routine with limited equipment.

V-bar Lat Stretch

This is one from the legendary John Meadows.

  1. Place one foot on the bench and grip the v-bar handle.
  2. Row the bar into your middle stomach area and arch your back while squeezing your lats.
  3. Then release the weight to the stretched position and let your arms go straight out.
  4. Be sure to bring your head down between your arms at the stretched part of each rep.

Grow Your Upper Body With The Lat Pullover!

Compound movements such as the deadlift and barbell row work a lot of different muscles at once, but they don’t always target the lats as much as you might like.

The dumbbell lat pullover is a great exercise to add to your routine if you’re looking to really work those muscles.

Not only does this exercise help to build strength and muscle in the upper body, but it also stretches out the chest and lat muscles.

Making this a great exercise to perform at the end of a workout when your muscles are already warm and loose.

If you’re looking for an exercise that will really help you build those lats, this is it!

  • Target the largest muscle in the back
  • Works Chest, Deltoids, Triceps, and core muscles
  • Can be done with lightweight for warm-up or heavier weight for a more challenging workout
  • Adds a new exercise to your chest and back day routines
Eric De Cremer
Eric De Cremer

Eric is an NCCA-accredited Certified Personal Trainer and competitively trained powerlifter. Feel free to contact him anytime at!