Master the kettlebell high pull

Kettlebell swing

The high pull is a dynamic exercise which focuses on the musculature of the posterior chain. This exercise if a fundamental exercise and should be mastered after the swing and before the snatch

Working the upper back musculature dynamically is valuable for developing upper body endurance, strength or power, which is useful for throwing sports and martial arts.

To avoid shoulder injuries it is important not to perform this exercise in the same way as an upright row -the movement instead  comes from the lower body.     

Muscles used during the high pull

With all dynamic kettlebell exercises there is a demand for large muscle recruitment.

Below are the specific lower body muscles used during the high pull.

Muscles used in kettlebell swing

Coaching points for the high pull

The hih pull is an extension of the kettlebell swing, but at the top of the arc on the swing  continue the arc slightly.

As the kettlebell reaches chest height dynamically retract the shoulder girdle and in a fluid movement pull the kettlebell towards and to the outside of the shoulder. 

Keeping the shoulder relaxed, the forearm straight, the wrist and body strong. Keep the movement going by punching the kettlebell forwards and reversing the action while dropping into a stable kettlebell swing.

How it should be executed

To be able to execute the high pull correctly, it needs to be broken down into the ascending and descending  phases. 

See how its should be performed in this demonstration video which we have broken down into the two phases.

Common mistakes

The high pull is a dynamic exercise which has many benefits once executed correctly, however with lack of practice or poor execution then injury can occur.

When performing the swing make sure that you avoid:

Too much upward drive.

Spinal hyperextension.

Week forearm / wrist.

Low elbow / high wrist.

Lack of draw and drive.

Alternative exercises

Once you are comfortable with the high pull you may wish to progress and try the following alternative exercises which are slightly more challenging;

Double high pull.

Alternative high pull.

Split stance high pull.


Download our free kettlebell exercise guide.

Download our free booklet here, explaining exactly how to complete the 7 different fundamental kettlebell exercises which will be a great addition to your or your clients workouts.



Would you like to become a kettlebell instructor? We deliver online and face to face courses, to become level 2 qualified through our Active IQ qualifications.

If you would like to enrol onto our next course or find out more information about our course click here