• Photo for Pump and run: The lying pullover to a press
    Photo Credit: Kevin Caudill

Pump and run: The lying pullover to a press

By Mitch Rustad

We don't always admit it (well, some of us do!), but every fitness-conscious guy wants his body looking extra-pumped before a special night on the town.

Luckily, there's a simple exercise to create an attention-getting pumped-up look by working virtually your entire upper body in less time than it takes some to gel unruly locks—the lying pullover to a press.

"This is a truly phenomenal workout, and the bonus is that you get a full stretch from your abs all the way to your chest," says Henry Levy, a personal trainer at Peak Performance gym in New York City. "It expands your rib cage, and some clients tell me they can even breathe better."

The lying pullover to a press throws a highly effective curveball at your chest, back, shoulders and triceps, and offers a comprehensive, time-effective workout when you've only got 15 minutes in your day to spare. Call it the "no excuses" routine, because that's exactly what it is.

The lying pullover is also unique because it simultaneously targets two opposing major muscle groups—your chest and back-in a single exercise—which is not only time efficient but important for those who tend to camp out at the pec deck station day after day.

Ready to get started? Follow these quick and easy steps:

  1. Assume the position (see Photo 1): Lie perpendicular to a flat bench with your upper back resting on the bench and a moderately heavy EZ curl bar pressed up in the starting position above your chest. Your head should be lifted slightly off of the bench, your feet should be anchored on the floor, and your hands should be positioned a little bit less than shoulder-width apart on the curl bar. Make sure your entire body is engaged from your back to your knees—don't let your butt sag.
  2. Stretch it back (see Photo 2): With arms extended and the bar directly above your face, slowly lower the bar back over your head. You'll feel the stretch in both your pecs and lats.
  3. Get it up (see Photo 3): When you've reached your maximum stretch behind your head, pause for a moment, then return the bar back to the starting position in one smooth, steady motion
  4. Drop it down (see Photos 4 and 5): Once you have the bar back in the starting position, immediately lower the bar for a classic chest press, then bring it back up again.
For best results in the shortest amount of time, do three sets of 12 to 15 reps of the lying pullover to a press. To incorporate this exercise into your weekly routine, add it into your back workouts.

You can also try one of the variations below to mix it up or focus on specific muscle groups.

Variation 1: Pump Your Pecs
To super-pump your pecs, incorporate a series of slow "time under tension" reps—a four-second ascent followed by an eight-second descent—during the chest press phase. Or you can add a series of chest press reps between pullovers (or vice versa), to exhaust the muscle fibers even more.

Variation 2: Target Your Triceps
To give your triceps an extra pump, slide your hands together until they're about six inches apart and launch into a series of close-grip chest presses. This will pre-fatigue your pecs before the traditional chest press phase and hit your triceps harder.

Mitch Rustad is a freelance writer who has written for numerous fitness and health publications, including Men's Fitness, Tennis, and Shape. A former tennis professional, he resides in Manhattan.