What is a High Pull in Weightlifting: Your Guide To Pull High

In weightlifting, various exercises target different muscle groups and develop strength in unique ways. One such dynamic movement is the high pull. This compound exercise focuses on increasing explosive power, speed, and overall athleticism, making it a must-add to your weightlifting routine.

As you begin to explore the high pull, it’s essential to understand the correct form and technique. The exercise involves a combination of a deadlift, upright row, and shrug, targeting your posterior chain, shoulders, and traps. Proper execution will maximize your gains and reduce the risk of injury during your workout sessions.

Incorporating the high pull into your weightlifting plan offers numerous benefits. It improves explosiveness, coordination, and full-body strength, all crucial for athletic performance. Practicing this exercise will pave the way for a more robust and efficient weightlifting experience.

What Is a High Pull in Weightlifting

To high pull, a set of weights involves lifting the bar to your chest. High pulls contribute to your overall strength by targeting essential muscle groups. It engages your posterior chain, which includes the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings, as well as upper body muscles like the trapezius and shoulders. As a result, you’ll notice improved power and stability in other lifts.

There are two variations of this movement, as listed below.

Snatch High Pull

You’ll move similarly to the snatch lift in the Snatch High Pull without catching the bar overhead.

First, stand with your feet hip-width apart and grasp the bar with a wide grip. Pull the bar up to your chest while extending your hips, knees, and ankles (triple extension). Keep the bar shoving against your body throughout the movement.

Clean High Pull

The Clean High Pull is a variation of the clean lift, focusing on the first and second pulls.

First, use a shoulder-width grip on the bar and position it over your mid-foot. Perform a clean deadlift to the knees, then explode into a triple extension, pulling the bar upwards to your chest level. Keep your elbows high throughout the lift.

Maintaining proper form and avoiding potential injury when executing these high pulls is crucial.

Here are some critical points for both Snatch and Clean High Pulls:

  • Keep your chest up and back straight throughout the entire movement
  • Maintain a firm grip on the bar
  • Keep the bar close to your body

Practicing these high-pull variations will improve your explosive power and ultimately enhance your performance in both the snatch and clean lifts.

Fundamentals of the High Pull

The fundamentals of this movement consist of principles to abide by in each segment of the movement. We divide them into the starting position, first pull, second pull, and triple extension.

Starting Position

To begin the high pull, position yourself with feet shoulder-width apart and toes under the bar. Grasp the barbell with an overhand grip, wider than shoulder-width. Engage your core and ensure your back is straight, chest up, and shoulders retracted.

First Pull

Initiate the lift by pushing your hips back and bending your knees. While maintaining a flat back, create power by driving your heels into the ground. Use your hip and knee muscles to generate enough velocity to separate the barbell from the floor.


Second Pull

As the barbell rises above the knees, explosively extend your hips and knees into a triple extension. The speed of this movement is critical in achieving the required height of the bar. Simultaneously, pull the barbell up using your traps and shoulders, creating an upward trajectory.

Triple Extension

In the final phase, your hips, knees, and ankles should fully extend while your elbows pull the barbell upwards. Focus on the technique of the movement rather than the weight. Mastering the proper form ensures you’ll generate the most significant power and efficiently utilize your strength.

Muscles Involved in High Pulls

This movement involves a lot of muscles in one go. Here are the muscles that work to make this movement happen.

Posterior Chain

The high pull is a fantastic exercise that targets the posterior chain. Your glutes and hamstrings are major components of this muscle group. The powerful hip extension you perform in a high pull will engage and strengthen these important muscles.

Upper Body

In addition to the powerful lower bodywork, the high pull challenges multiple upper body muscles. While your biceps and deltoids stabilize the movement, your traps and rhomboids work together to drive your elbows high during the pull. This coordinated effort results in a full upper-body workout.

Important upper body muscles involved in high pulls include;

  • Latissimus Dorsi: As the most significant muscle in your back, the lats are responsible for the extension and adduction of the shoulder joint. In the high pull, they’re activated as you pull the weight toward your chest.
  • Trapezius: Split into three sections (upper, middle, and lower), the traps work together to stabilize your shoulder girdle and assist in pulling movements.
  • Triceps: Although not a primary mover, your triceps play a role in stabilizing your elbow joint during the high pull.

Don’t forget about your core muscles! The abdominals, hip flexors, and quadriceps are all engaged to maintain proper posture and balance during the high pull. By training this compound movement, you effectively strengthen your entire body.

Proper Form and Technique

You must have the proper grip and posture to perform high pulls safely. Fortunately, both aspects of a great high pull game are easy to master with the right tips. Ahead, we’ll consider maintaining proper form and technique during high pulls.

Grip Types

There are two common grip types for a high pull: overhand grip and hook grip. With the overhand grip, position your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, with palms facing you. Alternatively, the hook grip involves wrapping your thumb around the bar, followed by the index and middle fingers, creating a secure hold.

Posture and Alignment

Maintaining a solid posture is essential for performing the high pull effectively. Keep your big chest up, and ensure your arms remain straight as you initiate the movement. As you lift, control the weight with your lats and engage your core to maintain proper spinal alignment.

Common Mistakes

Here are some common high pull mistakes to avoid:

  • Lack of control: Ensure you maintain control over the weight throughout the entire movement, preventing any jerky or uncontrolled motions.
  • Inefficient energy use: The high pull is a powerful movement pattern, so proper energy transfer is crucial. Engage your glutes and hips during the lift to utilize the full power of your lower body.
  • Incorrect arm position: Your arms should be an extension of the bar and only bend during the final pull phase. Avoid bending your elbows too early, which can hinder the lift’s efficiency.

Injury Prevention and Safety

High Pull has a lot of room for errors. Even as simple as having your foot positioned right below one of the weights will hurt you if they land on it.

In weightlifting, it’s essential to identify and address your weaknesses. This helps prevent injuries due to muscle imbalances or incorrect movement patterns. For the high pull exercise, focus on strengthening supporting muscles like your back with exercises such as rows.

Meticulously work on your movement patterns to ensure proper form during the high pull. This will reduce the injury risk and allow you to engage the target muscles effectively. Make sure you’re using a suitable weight.


High pulls are an effective exercise for improving your weightlifting techniques. By focusing on explosive hip extension, you can generate more power and transfer it to the barbell.

Remember to keep your elbows high and perform the movement quickly without sacrificing your form. This will help you increase your overall strength and build a solid foundation for more advanced lifts.

So, try high pulls in your next workout session and experience the significant benefits they provide. Stay consistent, and you’ll surely see improvements in your weightlifting performance.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a high pull?

A high pull is an explosive weightlifting movement that targets your posterior chain muscles. It involves your hamstrings, glutes, upper back, and traps and helps improve power, strength, and coordination.

How do you perform a high pull?

First, stand with feet shoulder-width apart. After that, hold the barbell (or kettlebell) with an overhand grip. Next, lower it to your knees while maintaining a flat back.

Afterward, explosively extend your hips and knees to pull the weight upward. Keep your elbows high as you pull to bring the bar to chest height.

What are the benefits of high pulls?

Increased strength and power, improved coordination and balance, enhance athleticism, and an activation and development of posterior chain muscles.

How can I integrate high pulls into my workout routine?

Start by adding them to your power or strength training days. Perform three to four sets of four to six reps with moderate to heavy weight. Gradually increase the weight and maintain proper form to maximize its benefits.

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