Kindal doing a single kettlebell pullover with a kettlebell.

How To Do Pull Overs With A Kettlebell and Dumbbells

I love the pull over.

It's a chest exercise that doesn't require pushing. This makes it unique.

You can also integrate it with some floor presses or ab exercises for a tougher challenge.

We'll get there in a minute... you'll love these combinations.

In this post I'm going to show you how to do a pull over correctly...

  • With a kettlebell
  • And with a dumbbell
  • A few variations but nothing crazy

This should be a pretty short... let's break it down.

The Pull Over Breakdown

It's Your Chest Not Arms or Shoulders

A lot of women get confused on what the pull over is supposed to be working.

It's your chest. Your pecs are contracting and bringing the weight back over to the top of your chest.

Your arms will obviously support, but they are not the primary mover.

Hinge At Your Shoulder

Hinge might be the wrong word... rotate... move... at your shoulder joint.

Your elbows are slightly bent.

And they retain this slight bend all the way through the enire rep range. But they do not bend actively.

Kindal walking out in an inchworm with great form
Form Tip

I've seen a lot of women bend or "hinge" at their elbows.

This changes the exercise completely. It now becomse a skull crusher... or in simple terms... a tricep extension.

We'll talk about tricep exercises in another post.

But remember anytime your elbow is hinging and you need to straighten your arm... it's your tricep muscles that are doing the contracting.

One more time..

Hinge or move at your shoulder joint. Everything else is quiet.

Keep Your Low Back Down

When you go back into the extension part of the pull over... you'll probably notice your low back come flying off the ground.

There are a couple reasons this happens.

Tight Shoulders and Pecs

If you're like most women (all people in general)... you have tight pec muscles.

All day long... if you're sitting or standing... you're in a slouched position with your shoulders rolled forward.

This keeps your pec muscle in a shortened position for long periods of the day. So your pec muscles get's tight. They gets used to being in that position.

You also forget how to use your rhomboids and traps to pull your shoulder blades back and together for good posture.

Roll your pecs using a trigger ball to help bring blood flow into the area. Then stretch and you can restore muscle tissue length.

Trigger ball thereapy might be the missing part of your recovery plan... espeically if you find stretching is not fully helping.

How To Hold Your Kettlebell or Dumbbell

If you're using a dumbbell, hold it by one of the ends... you'll have to look at the picture. It's really hard to explain in words.

If you're using a kettlebell, hold it as if you were doing a floor press with a kettlebell.

You can hold kettlebell by the handles.

In some ways this makes the pull over hard... that's good... but your grip and wrists are going to fatigue really fast. So I do not recommend this.

Finally... you can use two light dumbbells in each hand and do a pull over.

I like the staggered feeling of this variation.

How Low Do You Go?

Most of the time, I do the pull over on the floor.

We don't all have access to a bench.

If you're on the floor... I like to go all the way until I tap the weight to the ground.

If you're back comes flying up off the ground... you can stop short of the weight hitting the ground.

Bring The Weight Back Over Your Chest

Finally, just bring the weight back over your chest.

Right over your chest. I've seen lots of women bring the weight to their waist... or over their stomach.

Kindal pushing really hard in a pushup
Intensity Tip

Here's a little rule of mine.

Unless your going light because you're doing a high rep combination exercise... go heavy. You should not be able to bring the weight close to your waist becuase if you did you'd drop it.

That is a good rule to follow with the pull over.

Pull Over Exercise Combinations

Pull Over To Press

This is my favorite combo and I use the most in a real FWW LIVE workouts or Habit workouts.

I like it the best because...

  • You can go heavy
  • Your hitting your chest with the chest press
  • Your hitting your chest again with the pull over

But the pullover hits your chest in a different way... it's a different type of push exercise.

That's why this combo is so effective.

Learn more about the dumbbell and kettlebell floor press exercise . It's your foundational chest exercise.

Pull Over Toe Touches

I don't use this variation that much... but I do use it.

After the pull over part...

  • Raise your legs to the sky... with a slight bend
  • Crunch and reach up towards your toes with the weight.
  • Return down... feet down... and into your next rep.

I like this variation because when you go into the toe touch crunch... you're having to crunch your abs and push your low back down into the ground hard.

Learn core crunching secrets with this beginner ab workout .

I think it's good to keep that crunch action in your head... after all you want to try and keep your low back down during the pull over as well with a slight crunch.

Pull Over Hollow Press

This is the same as the pull over press... but you'll do your floor press in a hollow position.

You can't go as heavy in this position... well you can... but you're form will be sloppy. (Which is not always a bad thing.)

  • Do your pull over
  • Crunch into a hollow hold
  • Do your floor press
  • Return all the way down for next pull over

Just like the toe touches... I like the reinforcement you get from crunching your abs down. It's always good practice to crunc your abs and push your low back down.

Light Double Pull Over To Weighted Sit Up

Kettlebell sit ups are one of my favorite ab exercises.

Learn more core exercises with kettlebells in this post.

You can do them with dumbbells... I just always use kettlebells.

You need to go light. I typically use 18lb kettlebells for this.

  • Hold tight and do your double pull over... this will be tough.
  • Then press the kettlebells up above your chest high.
  • Legs go wide and flat on the ground.
  • Sit all the way up keeping the kettlebells pressed over your head.
  • Come back down... go into your next pull over.

This is a fun exercise and really tough exercise combination.

It's a shoulder killer and ab killer. Let me know what you think of this.

That's How To Do The Pull Over

It's a pretty easy exercise to perform from a form standpoint.

It's a very tough and effective exercise when you add in the appropriate weight.

I use the pull over all the time in workouts. It's a great chest exercise that's not your traitional (normal) push.

But it will help you get stronger with your pushups too.

If you need help with pushups, read my 7 step pushup progression .

If you need help using the pull over in workouts... go learn more about Fit Women's Weekly LIVE. It's my online personal training community and it's limited in membership.

Think of it this way...

I actually get to know you and train you as if you were coming into my private studio.

If you have any questions, higt me up on social.

If you're interested in my outfit today... I was wearing:

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