Today, we’re talking about the cable pullover. This exercise targets your lats and overall upper body. This is a great isolation exercise to finish off your back at the end of an upper body day.
Let’s get into how to do it.
How to do cable pullovers (Form & Benefits)
Go to the cable machine. And if all you have are short rope handles, use two of them at the same time so you can grab them on either side of your hips.
Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, but move back a bit if you wanna make it harder. Then bend your knees a little and lean forward at your hips, keeping your back straight and your shoulder blades locked in place by squeezing those muscles in your upper back.
Don’t forget to engage your hips too, to keep yourself stable. Now, pull that weight down, but keep your elbows slightly bent the whole time. T
ry to bring your elbows to your sides and behind your back to really feel it in your lats. Don’t cheat by using momentum though, we’re only interested in moving your upper arm bone and working those lats. And when you’re done with each rep, bring your arms back up with control.
If you’re struggling to keep good form, lower the weight a bit.
Benefits of Cable Pullovers
Here are benefits of the cable pullover:
- Gain upper body strength: Doing cable pullovers can help you get stronger in your back, chest, shoulders, and arms
- Get ripped lats: Cable pullovers can help to define your lats and will help you eventually be able to do the lat spread
- Stand up tall: Cable pullovers require good posture and form, which means you’ll be standing up straighter and feeling more confident.
- Increased flexibility: Cable pullovers can help to increase your range of motion and flexibility in your shoulders, which means you’ll be able to reach for stuff on the top shelf like it’s no big deal.
Tips for perfecting cable pullovers
Here are some tips to help you perfect your cable pullovers:
- Use proper form: Make sure you’re using the correct form and technique, with a slight bend in your elbows and a straight spine. Avoid rounding your shoulders or hunching over.
- Start with a lighter weight: Begin with a lighter weight to focus on form and to avoid using momentum to complete the movement.
- Engage your core: Keep your core muscles engaged throughout the exercise to help stabilize your body and maintain proper form.
- Focus on your breathing: Remember to breathe throughout the exercise, inhaling on the way down and exhaling on the way up.
- Gradually increase the weight: Once you’ve mastered the proper form, gradually increase the weight to continue challenging your muscles and to progress in your fitness journey.
- Use a slow and controlled motion: Avoid jerky or rapid movements, and instead use a slow and controlled motion to maximize the effectiveness of the exercise and prevent injury.
- Experiment with different handle attachments: Try different handle attachments to vary the exercise and to target different muscle groups.
How do cable pullovers work?
Cable pullovers are a great exercise that work your upper body muscles, especially your lats. You basically stand in front of a cable machine with a handle or rope attachment, and use your arms and back muscles to pull the weight down in front of your body.
The exercise is great for hitting your lats, shoulders, and arms. As you pull the weight down, your upper arms move behind your torso and your shoulder blades retract, which works those back and shoulder muscles.
The cable pullover is a great exercise that can help you get stronger, bigger muscles and improve your posture and range of motion. The best part is, you can customize the exercise to suit your fitness goals and preferences.
I recommend doing 4 sets of 8-12 reps on the cable pullover.
How to do a Standing Cable Pullover?
Here are the steps to do a standing cable pullover:
- Start by standing in front of a cable machine with your feet shoulder-width apart and facing away from the machine.
- Attach a rope or handle to the high pulley of the cable machine.
- Grasp the rope or handle with both hands and extend your arms straight up over your head.
- Keep your feet planted on the ground and hinge forward at your hips until your upper body is at a roughly 45-degree angle.
- Keep your spine straight and your shoulder blades pulled down and back.
- Begin the exercise by pulling the rope or handle down and in front of your body, keeping your arms straight and your elbows slightly bent.
- Continue pulling the rope or handle down until your hands are level with your hips, and your upper arms are parallel to the ground.
- Hold this position for a moment, then slowly reverse the movement and raise the rope or handle back up over your head.
- Repeat for your desired number of reps.
Everything you need to know about cable pullovers
The cable pullover is a fantastic exercise for anyone looking to build upper body strength and improve muscle definition. This exercise mainly targets the lats, which are the muscles on the sides of your back. This gives your body a V-shape. Aside from the lats, it targets the shoulders, and arms.
Cable pullovers can be performed in different positions, such as standing or kneeling, and with different attachments. I would use a straight bar or a single handle. This variety helps to keep the exercise challenging and engaging, preventing your muscles from adapting to it.
I use the cable pullover in my back day pretty regularly as an isolation exercise. I always switch up the grip just to shock the muscle.
Overall, cable pullovers are a great exercise that can be incorporated into any upper body workout routine. They help you to build strength and get huge lats. Be sure to gradually increase the amount of weight you do, because you won’t make any gains if you don’t.
Implement Cable Pullovers into Your Routine
The best way to implement the cable pullover into your workout routine is to use it as a finisher.
You’ll get way more back growth by doing the compound exercises like pull ups or rows first. These are most effective when doing 4 sets of 8-12 reps, however you can drop set cable pullovers as well.
Drop setting the cable pullover would essentially look like doing 5-15 reps, and then instantly dropping the weight down. You can’t take any breaks, and you have to go until you are at the bottom of the weight stack.
This is what a drop set should look like:
- 100 lbs x 10
- 80lbs x 10
- 50 lbs x12
- 40 lbs x 15
- 30 lbs x 13
- 20 lbs x 20
Once you hit something you can do for 20 reps towards the end of your set, end the drop set. If you don’t feel the burn, you did it wrong.
Your lats should feel on fire and you should be TIRED at the end.
Muscles worked during cable pullovers
The cable pullover is an exercise that primarily targets the lats. Those are the muscles on the sides of your back that give your body a V-shape. This exercise also works the shoulders and arms, including the delts, triceps, and biceps. The cable pullover engages multiple muscle groups in the upper body, and it is great to add in on back day.
Cable Pullover Mistakes
The most common mistake I see people making with the cable pullover are as follows:
1- not using proper form
2- swinging the weight
3- not using enough weight
The cable pullover is an exercise where you can only get results from good form. Without it, you’ll just either be stretching or doing an ab exercise.
I’m not gonna lie- it is hard to nail the form on the cable pullover. That’s why I emphasize how to do it so much in this article.
The next big mistake I see people make is swinging the weight. I mean when you pull with your hips and make it some sort of explosive kettleball movement.
This is meant to target your lats, not your posterior chain.
The last mistake is actually not using enough weight. Sometimes we can get roped into worrying about form so much that we don’t challenge ourselves with the lift.
You need to find the happy medium between good form and heavy, challenging weight.
Cable Pullover Sets and Reps
The ideal reps for the cable pullover are 8-12. This is hands down the best range for hypetrophy.
Here’s why the 8-12 method is the best:
- The 8-12 rep range is optimal for hypertrophy because it creates a balance between tension, stress, and muscle damage, all of which are key factors in muscle growth.
- Progressive Overload: The 8-12 method also allows for progressive overload, which means gradually increasing the weight lifted over time. You also have the option to keep the weight the same and increase reps.
- Time Under Tension: By performing 8 to 12 reps per set, you spend more time working your muscles. Time under tension stimulates muscle growth.
- Recovery: The 8-12 method is also great for recovery because you can take enough time to rest in between sets.
Here’s how I incorporate it into my back routine:
- Pull-ups: 4 sets of 10-15 reps
- T-bar rows: 5 sets of 8-12 reps
- Seated cable rows: 5 sets of 10-12 reps
- One-arm dumbbell rows: 5 sets of 10-12 reps
- Cable pullovers: 5 sets of 10-12 reps
Who Should Do the Cable Pullover?
Anyone should do the cable pullover. Unless you have some sort of injury or reason why you can’t, you should be adding it into your back routine.
Obviously, consult with your doctor because he knows more than I do about you.
Cable Pullover Alternatives
The best alternatives to the cable pullover are as follows:
- Dumbbell Pullover
- Resistance Band Pullover
- Incline Dumbbell Press
- Chest Fly
- Cable Crossover
- One-Arm Dumbbell Row
Cable Pullover Variations
There are so many different variations of the cable pullover. Some are more effective than others. Here are my top 7:
- Single Arm Cable Pullover: Instead of using both hands to hold the cable, use one hand at a time to perform the exercise, switching between arms.
- Cable Pullover with Rope Attachment: Instead of using a straight bar, attach a rope to the cable machine and hold onto the rope to do the exercise. This will allow for a wider grip and will target the muscles in a slightly different way.
- Standing Cable Pullover: Stand facing away from the cable machine and hold onto the handle with both hands. Lean forward slightly and extend your arms overhead, then pull the handle down towards your thighs.
- Seated Cable Pullover: Sit on a bench facing the cable machine and hold onto the handle with both hands. Extend your arms overhead and lean back just slightly, then pull the handle down towards your chest.
- High to Low Cable Pullover: Instead of starting with the cable handle low and pulling it up overhead, start with the cable handle high and pull it down towards your hips.
- Low to High Cable Pullover: Start with the cable handle low and pull it up overhead, instead of starting with the handle high and pulling it down towards your hips.
- Single Arm Standing Cable Pullover: Stand facing away from the cable machine and use one hand at a time to perform the exercise, alternating between arms. This variation requires more stability and core strength.