Learning to master the pullover machine can add more
than just variety to your upper body workouts. The brain child of
Nautilus founder Arthur Jones, this machine offers a unique and
complete upper body workout. Built in the late 60's and marketed
in the 70's to the public, this was the first truly innovative machine
in over 100 years. Jone's created it in a quest to build the "perfect
exercise" machine devoid of sticking points and the leverage
flaws of traditional machines and free weights and with a full range
succeeded with the super pullover and brought back/torso training
to a new level. What is really fun about this machine, especially
for the advanced man that has been lat pulling or chinning for years,
is that you can push your back to the next level, to failure and
beyond, in compete saftey--and your hands don't give out first!
Find a gym that has one and use it!
Lastest Version of the Pullover from Nautilus. A very nice
The Nautilus Nitro Pullover.
If you can find one, and most decent gyms have one, a super
pullover machine (Nautilus makes them, Camstar, Cybex, Maxicam,
MED-X as well, HAMMER STRENGTH currently makes a plate loaded one)
is an opportunity to benefit from a fantastic exercise: the machine
Plate Loaded Hammer Strength Pullover.
THE CYBEX EAGLE
Pullover machine. A fantastic machine and the exact one I
have in my garage. In case I need to do pullovers when the
gym is closed.
Start slowly with the
Super pullover exercise with light weights and give yourself months
(not weeks) to build up to heavy weights. And trust me, you will
build up. This exercise works the entire torso. It will be worth
it. Be careful with your shoulders. This exercise should always
be performed with control. No jerking movements. That being said
I do perform semi-fast reps while doing 1/3 bottom movements, which
I will describe in a moment. Those are safe. The full movement I
in the machine. Have your shoulders in line with the pivot of the
machine. Generally you have to sit a little lower than you might
think to get this position right. Experiment for a few minutes with
the seat height adjustment till you feel you are in the correct
groove while performing the pullover movement. Relax the hands and
push from the back of the triceps against the pad. Let your back
contract as you push against the resistance. Don't hunch forward
(excessively) or or lean forward as you bring the bar down. Sit
upright. As you finish the movement you can lean slightly forward
contracting the abs and chest as you complete the movement. Hold
the bar at your abs for a pause and then raise the bar very slowly.
How far should
you go back? Not too far. The machine can hurt your shoulders with
it's greater than normal arc or range. Raise the bar back to about
the position you would be if you were at the top of a lat pull.
Don't risk going back any further.
The pullover machine
can work the back and lats like nothing else as it takes the hands
and arms out of the equation as much as possible. The full range
movement is like a chin, a row, and pullover all at the same time.
Work hard on mastering the superpullover. It will build your torso
in a unique and powerful way. There is truthfully nothing else like
THE PARTIAL RANGES
original Nautilus Pullover Machine. Nice cams!
The partial ranges (the
top of the arc, the middle of the arc and the bottom of the arc)
can be used as exercises all by themselves, with different weight
schemes. Move slow during your reps. The bottom of the movement
is the strongest point and you can load up the weights. I love to
do these bringing the bar up about 14 inches from the bottom, then
jamming it back down to my abs. It's like intense rowing. I like
to rep out with it occasionally. It's very intense on the abs and
The top of the pullover
movement is upper back blast and feels much like a dumbbell pullover.
All those muscles that tie into your armpit and lat are blasted
by doing partial reps at the top of the pullover. Weights are light
as you're in a position of weak leverage at the top of the arc.
The Slo-Mo training camp
has discussed the benefits of the pullover machine. The machine
lends itself to doing slow motion reps if you desire. Actually performing
the first reps super slow on any exercsie is a good idea, but especially
on the pullover. As you tire, start to push harder with more momentum,
you may not even be movng faster (as you are tired) but the "feeling"
is one of faster exertion. Again this is a great way to perfrom
any set: start slow and end "fast" or at normal rep tempo(even
though you are not actually moving fast).
I think the pullover
deserves as much attention as the squat and bench press. If you
dedicate yourself to this exercise it will pay back bigtime. Your
shoulder joints need time to strengthen once you begin a program
of pullovers, so take it easy. It's easy to hurt the rotator cuff
with sloppy form or improper warm-ups or just plain over use.
One more word of caution.
Under your trapezius in your upper back are a set of small stabilizing
muscles that are used to counter balance your arms (as they push
from the elbow) as you perform the superpullover. You can easily
pull these muscles, even as an advanced person. Be sure to warm
up carefully. Be on guard for this as you learn the movement.
A good variation is actually
grabbing the bar with an underhand grip and doing bottom arc rows.
Let the bar come up 14 inches and then pull back down to the abs.
This is a really nice feel and using the hands lets you pile on
some weight. For the most part I try my best to NOT use my hands
while doing pullovers. I really push hard against the pads and isolate
my back, my hands are lying on the bar but not pulling.
ROUTINES SPECIAL ADVICE
Shrugging in all it's forms can be a very powerful aid to developing
strength. Start slow and be careful. Master each shrug as you decide to
learn them. The results are nothing short of incredible. A couple months
of shrug work can add considerable weight to your lift maximums. I didn't
believe it at first. You might not either. Shrugging trains your muscles
in a unique and intense fashion. You must try it for yourself.
I was first introduced
to shrugs through the writings of Paul Kelso. At first I dismissed it.
What a bunch of nonsense I thought. However, years later when I was having
trouble getting stronger on a continual basis I started doing Kelso shrugs
on a chest supported rowing machine for my back. I figured what the hell
I had nothing to lose. I wish I had done them years earlier. The entire
shrug system or method of training is very productive. The Kelso shrugs
worked. Kelso shrugs are shrugs done on an incline bench or row device
with arms extended holding the weight. Using just the movement of your
shoulder girdle and scapula you draw the weights backwards, squeezing
your shoulder blades together. You can really build up to some tremendous
poundage's in shrugging and I did. Soon I was rowing more than ever. Kelso
was right all along.
kinds of shrugs:
Soon I experimented
with all sorts of shrugs. You can apply the shrug principle to just about
any piece of equipment you use in the gym that requires your hands and
some that don't. Exercises
like the Shrug Squat.
I started doing them to improve my squat. It worked! I did shrugs on the
dip bars. I did shrugs on my lat pulls and chins. And yes I even did regular
shrugs. The routines made me sore in places I don't often feel sore. it
was fantastic. After a time, these movements made me feel very strong
in the center of my body. The middle back, the entire shoulder girdle,
rhomboids, chest and lats, all of them felt connected like never before.
makes a nice one as do several companies. Nautilus made one years ago
you did not use your hands with to perform the shrug. I have seen several
"hands free" machines but have not experienced them first hand
in a training environment. I have used the Hammer Strength unit and I
like it. It works seated and standing with different grips available.
One of the things I like most about this machine is that you can do deadlifts
with it as well. I face into the machine and deadlift and the arc of movement
is very smooth.
movements and partial reps:
Shrugs led to
me doing a program of unique half movements and static holds
that I had good leverage in. These half lifts or even shorter allowed
me to lift considerable weights. I did lat pulls for about an 8 inch range
of movement (under hand grip), from about chin level to chest. I did 1/5
rep dips with as much weight as I could humanly attach to the dip belt.
I did bench and squats and deadlifts with short heavy lifts, that were
very close to nothing more than static holds with heavy weights.
Lifting heavy dumbbells as if I was going to one arm row them, just picking
them up holding them for a few seconds and putting them down, really helped.
You can pick up a lot more weight than you can row. Try it, it works.
Shrugs and partial
rep movements can be done together in the same workouts or training cycles
as they do have similar strength benefits and movement similarities. You
can rotate their use as well. After several months of shrugging, several
months of half rep work would be a good follow up, then returning to full
range of motion reps for a complete cycle. Be careful to rest several
days between workouts. Be prepared to be sore. Your joints and connective
tissue take a real beating with this sort of training.
My advice is experiment
with various shrug movements just as I did and see what works for you.
Shrugs can be done as a separate routine or as sets at the end of regular
sets. Work on them for several months and you will be impressed by the
results. I have included a list of my favorite shrugs and some half movements
that I suggest you try.
LAT PULL SHRUGS:
Variations include: wide grip, medium grip, under hand grip, over hand
grip, on chinning bars, and between cross over cable machines. Grab the
bar and shrug (with the lats and back), contracting and drawing downwards
and back with the scapula muscles. See illustration below FIGURE 6.
FIGURE 6: Lat
Pull Shrugs. Draw downwards with the back muscles drawing the scapula
DUNN LAT PULLS:
A movement introduced to me by bodybuilder John Dunn, I have found very
effective combined with lat pull shrugs on a cable cross over machine.
I call it the Dunn Lat Pull. Stand between a cable crossover, stretch
fully and pull downwards bringing the upper arms to the ribs. Focus on
just letting the back muscles do the work. SEE FIGURE 7.
FIGURE 7. DUNN
In the dip position let the shoulders drop down then using
the force of the arms and delts and torso bring your body
upward at the same time arching and rounding the back bringing
the buttocks high. You end up in a crescent shape. You can do them
with a straight back with head up. Experiment with different form. Wonderful
for serratus development.
Using a bar or dumbbells lock out on the bench. Using the torso shoulder
girdle (and not the arms) move the weight forward (or upwards) contracting
the chest and shoulders, then downward and repeat. If you are using dumbbells
you can bring the bells together at the top and contract your chest.
Experiment with wide and close grip form. SEE FIGURE 7
FIGURE 7: BENCH
Face down on an incline bench holding a bar or some dumbbells and draw
backwards using the muscles of your back and scapula. Various grips and
widths should be explored. One of my favorites.