How To Do High Pulls/Upright Rows

How To Do High Pulls/Upright Rows

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Barbell High Pull

Skill Level: Advanced

Type: Strength Training

Equipment Needed: Barbell

Main Muscle Group(s): Quads, Hamstrings, Glutes, Shoulders, Biceps, Abs and Traps

Barbell high pulls help develop full-body power. High pulls also build size and strength through the legs, back and shoulders. The high pull is good for building clean strength and improving your deadlift unlike the hang pull. This exercise requires you to pull the weight up from a dead stop on the floor. Make sure you extend your hips to pull the weight up as you shrug your shoulders and traps and bring your elbows back to lift the weight. The movement should mimic what your lower body would be doing in a jump without actually leaving the floor. 

Make sure you place your feet (shoulder-width apart) and stand close to the barbell so your shins are a couple inches away from it. You want to push your hips back, bend your knees, while grabbing the barbell with an overhand grip.

This is where you want stand as tall as you can and shrug your shoulders pulling the barbell as high as possible before slowly lowering back to your starting position.

A couple of tips when doing the high pull with barbells:

* Avoid leaning too far forward during the exercise. You want to keep your chest up throughout the entire exercise.

* The majority of the power is going to come from the hips. You don’t want to use your upper body to pull the weight up. This will defeat the purpose.

* Be sure you are fluent between the different steps of the exercise and try not to pause at any point during the exercise.


Upright Row

Skill Level: Beginner

Type: Strength

Equipment Needed: Barbell

Main Muscle Group(s): Traps

Secondary Muscle Group(s): Biceps and Shoulders

Here are the five steps to do the barbell Upright Row…

  1. The barbell upright row is one of the top exercises for building your upper traps and your shoulders. Put the weight you want to use on the barbell and stand with it in front of you, with your feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Grip the barbell with an overhand grip. Palms facing down and hands slightly closer at shoulder width apart.
  3. When picking up the bar, bend your knees and make sure you are keeping your back straight.
  4. Look forward while keeping your back straight and lift the bar straight up, keeping it as close to your body as possible. The bar should be up to your chest height almost touching your chin.
  5. Then slowly lower the bar back to the starting position.

Some tips to remember when doing the Upright Row:

  • Make sure you focus on keeping your elbows higher than your forearms. The elbows are what push the motion for the exercise.
  • You need to keep your body fixed throughout the set. Don’t lean forward as you lower the bar and don’t lean back as you raise it. You won’t get the most of the exercise if your movement isn’t right.
  • Squeeze your traps at the top of your movement. If you want to add intensity to your exercise, lower the bar really slowly.



-Terry Asher


  1. @ Colm I personally like the hang high pull better (with the dip). Its a more athletic movement and gets you some leg involvement.

    I wouldnt alternate, pick one and stick with it.

  2. Love this exercise. High Pulls did more for my delts in six months that years of pressing. And I agree with Vic that “laterals” are useless and even potentially damaging to your shoulder capsule as you get into heavier weights, but then all islolation exercises are not useful for that matter.

  3. In the video you show upright rows. High pulls are an explosive movement.

    High pulls are done from the floor. It’s an olympic weight lifting assistance exercise. It’s a first step in the direction of cleans. and similar to hang cleans you can do hang high pulls and so you have the same options (from below the knees, from above the knees, …)

    • @ Matthias: Alright man, ‘fess up. Are you a professional trainer? Professional athlete? Or just one hell of a knowledgeable guy? Your comments are always spot on and you seem to catch things that the average reader misses or takes for granted. Not only that, but when you do have a comment that issues a correction or disagrees with a post, you are always professional and courteous. Keep the comments coming, Matthias!

      Now to respond to your comment. . . I agree that “high pulls” are typically associated with training the Olympic Lifts. However some people use the terms “high pull” and “upright row” interchangeably and we just wanted to be sure to use both terms so as not to exclude anyone. Kind of like “pull up” and “chin up” are considered different exercises by many, but the terms are used interchangeably by some.

      And for the record. . . I typically use the Hang High Pull with clients as opposed to Upright Rows. Thanks again!

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