The Bent Arm Pullover
If you want to gain mass, one of the most simple and effective programs you will see out there is the so called “squats and milk” program. It goes exactly how it sounds: you do heavy, high rep (usually 20 rep) squatting and drink lots of milk, preferably whole milk. Tons of people have followed this exact program and put on muscle ridiculously fast, but what few people realize is that this program is incomplete. In fact, this program started as the squats, pullovers and milk program. Old school bodybuilders made pullovers a staple of their mass gaining phases. Heavy bent-arm pullovers might just be the single best upper body exercise you aren’t doing! Read on!
To perform a pullover, take a weight (either a barbell or a dumbbell) and lie on your back on an exercise bench. Then, lower this weight behind your head to your comfort. This can be done with straight arms or bent arms (which I recommend — this makes it a bent-arm pullover). Raise your arms, keeping the angle constant (same amount of bend or straight) the whole time, and continue this motion until the weight is above your chest.
Here’s the great thing about pullovers: they work both the back AND the chest at the same time, which is very unusual considering these are generally considered antagonistic muscle groups. At the end of an upper body workout or a chest workout, the bent arm pullover can give you a huge pump and stretch the lats nicely.
Here is a nice chest/arms routine I have done in the past that incorporates bent-arm pullovers and always gave me a massive pump:
- Speed Bench Press*: 3-4 warm up sets, then 8 sets of 3 approximately 50% of 1RM
- Dips (weighted if needed): 3 sets of 8-12 reps
- Dumbbell Bench: 3 sets of 5-8 reps
- Close-Grip Bench Press: 2-3 warm up sets, then 3 sets of 4-6 reps
- Bent Arm Pullovers: 3 sets of 10-12 reps
- A1 Standing Barbell Curls**: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
- A2 Triceps Pushdowns**: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
* A speed bench should be done by pressing with good form but accelerating the bar up as fast as possible. Rest between sets should be kept to 30-60 seconds. These 8 sets should only take 6-7 minutes to complete.
** The A1, A2 designation signifies that these exercises are performed in a super set (do a set of exercise A1, then immediately do a set of exercise A2, then rest for a minute and repeat until the sets for both exercises are completed.