Strengthening the back and chest muscles: how to perform it best Pullovers?
The reason for the great popularity of the exercise rests on the fact that it results in a strong contraction of two large and important muscles, which perform a raid of the shoulder joint. One, the latissimus dorsi muscle, is located in the back of the body and its strengthening gives the body the famous "triangle" appearance; The second, the pectoralis major muscle, is located in the front of the body, and its main function is to perform a horizontal approximation movement with the shoulder (for example, in the butterfly exercise), but it also contracts strongly when performing a shoulder lunge.
Strengthening these two muscles is an integral part of any training program that is carried out in the gym or in the various fitness trainings, thanks to its great contribution to improving the performance of various sports activities, especially those that require action against resistance, such as martial arts, gymnastics, climbing, swimming and more.
There are two main ways of performing the exercise: standing or lying down. While standing, it is performed by using a dedicated device, with the arms placed above head level and holding the resistance using a bar or rubber band, while the elbows are slightly bent and the shoulder joint is raided by lowering the hands towards the center of the body. In the absence of a dedicated fitness device, many of the exercisers turn to the second alternative - performing the exercise lying down on a gym bench: holding a barbell above the head with slightly bent elbows, and similar to the standing exercise - bringing the barbell towards the center of the body.
As a result of the exercise's popularity, the question arises as to whether performing it in different positions results in contraction of the same muscles. The significant difference between the two performances lies in the fact that when the exercise is performed while standing against the resistance of a cable or rubber band, the resistance continues for the entire length of movement in the shoulder joint. On the other hand, when performing the exercise lying down with a barbell, the greatest resistance occurs in the initial position of the performance, and gradually decreases until the barbell reaches the chest line.
The question of how this difference affects the action of muscle contraction was the basis of a study published last month in the journal Applied Sciences. In the study, the subjects performed the Pull Over exercise once while standing and once while lying down, and during the performance the electrical activity of the muscles in the upper body and the abdominal area was measured as a
measure of their contraction strength.
The study found that indeed the change in posture causes a significant change in the action patterns of the muscles. Performing the exercise while lying down results in an increased contraction of the chest muscles about 30% more than when performed while standing in the lower areas of the muscle and in the area close to the collarbone. On the other hand, while performing the exercise while standing, a 25% greater contraction of the latissimus dorsi muscle was measured compared to lying down.
It turned out that the reason for the difference in the strength of the muscle contraction between the positions is due to the fact that while performing a shoulder thrust, the chest muscle contracts strongly, especially at the beginning of the exercise, when the arm is at head level. On the other hand, the latissimus dorsi muscle contracts strongly in the last degrees of the stroke, when the arm reaches the shoulder line.
Another interesting point that emerges from the study is the manner of grip. Compared to performing the exercise lying down using a barbell, which requires a relatively narrow grip, when performing it standing you can change the width of the grip, which led to the thought that using a wide grip causes an increased contraction of the chest muscles. However, in the study it was found that the width of the grip has no effect on muscle contraction. For this reason, when performing the exercise while standing, the width of the grip can be chosen according to the comfort of the practitioner.
In conclusion, the standing Pull Over exercise is effective if the goal is to strengthen the latissimus dorsi muscle. If the goal is also to strengthen the chest muscles, an additional exercise such as the "butterfly" exercise is necessary. Practicing lying down will be effective when the goal is to strengthen the chest muscles, and less effective for strengthening the latissimus dorsi muscle. For those interested in strengthening the latissimus dorsi, it is necessary to perform the exercise while standing, or to combine another exercise such as tension increases.