How To Do An Overhead Pull

By: Chris Freytag, CPT

The overhead pull is a upper body move that uses dumbbells to help strengthen your upper back muscles as well as your shoulders. You also use core strength and stability.


Enter your email & get this article sent to your inbox.

    We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

    How To Do The Overhead Pull Exercise

    Follow these simple steps to master performing the overhead pull:

    • Lie on back with knees bent and feet on the floor. Arms are extended above chest to start. Engage your abdominals.
    • Lower dumbbells past your head with a slight bend in the elbows. (You don’t want to lock out your joints.) Keeping your abdominals engaged and low back slightly pressing into the floor, raise dumbbells back to start.

    Targets: triceps, back, shoulders

    Chris Freytag demonstrating an Overhead Pull

    Learning how to do an overhead pull can be confusing at first. Many people mistake it for a tricep exercise and make the mistake of bending at their elbows. In this move, you want to keep a SLIGHT bend in your elbow, but it should remain stationary.

    In other words, do not bend and straighten at the elbow. The move should be done by moving at the shoulder and using the upper back muscles to do the pulling.

    This exercise also calls upon your core muscles. As you lower the dumbbells behind your head, keep your abdominals engaged and avoid arching your low back.

    Then, as you pull the weights back up to eye level, you will feel your upper back muscles engage and work to lift the weight. Overhead Pulls can be preformed with a barbell or a body bar, but I like to use dumbbells and get the same results.

    Benefits of a Strong Upper Back

    Don’t take for granted the benefits of a strong upper back. Strengthening your back will reduce the dreaded “bra bulge” and back fat and will improve posture.

    Weak upper back muscles will create a rounded shoulder look or what some people refer to as a “hunchback” appearance. So don’t overlook your back as a worthy muscle group to train.

    Why is the upper back so overlooked?

    Probably because there are not a lot of common moves that target that specific area. The Overhead Pull is a simple way to tackle this often-forgotten spot and see some real results.

    Incorporate the overhead pull into your fitness routine or check out our workout 7 Moves to Sculpt Your Back and Shoulders.

    (This will help us personalize your experience so that you can get the best advice possible from us!)
    Skip to content