Bent-arm barbell pull-over

The bent-arm barbell pull-over was a staple exercise of the "Golden Era" of bodybuilding and a favorite of Arnold Schwarzenegger himself. Done properly, the exercise targets the pecs, lats, and serratus anterior muscles. Old-school bodybuilders would perform them with light weights for sets of 20 between sets of heavy 20-rep squats, but pull-overs are more popular today in moderate rep ranges, such as 8-12 reps per set, as part of an upper-body workout.


  1. Hits numerous upper-body muscles at once
  2. Helps make the serratus muscles pop
  3. Works the chest and back from a unique angle
  4. Allows for a wider grip than dumbbell pull-overs

Bent-arm barbell pull-over Images


Bent-arm barbell pull-over Instructions

Bent-arm barbell pull-over muscle diagram
  1. Lie on a flat bench with a barbell using a shoulder grip width.
  2. Hold the bar straight over your chest with a bend in your arms. This will be your starting position.
  3. While keeping your arms in the bent arm position, lower the weight slowly in an arc behind your head while breathing in until you feel a stretch on the chest.
  4. At that point, bring the barbell back to the starting position using the arc through which the weight was lowered and exhale as you perform this movement.
  5. Hold the weight on the initial position for a second and repeat the motion for the prescribed number of repetitions.


  • You can perform this exercise using a dumbbell or an E-Z bar instead of dumbbells.