How To Do Overhead Pull

By: Chris Freytag, CPT

Chris Freytag demonstrating an Overhead Pull

Overhead Pull is a upper body move that uses dumbbells to help strengthen your upper back muscles as well as your core strength and stability. As the dumbbells lower behind your head you can feel your belly pulling in tighter and tighter. This is a great core strength move. Then, as you pull the weights back up you will feel your upper back muscles engage and work to lift the weight. Overhead Pull has been used with a barbell or a body bar, but in this a great way to use dumbbells and get the same results.

Learning how to do Overhead Pull can be confusing at first. Many people mistake it for a tricep exercise and make the mistake of bending their elbows. In this move, you want to keep a SLIGHT bend in your elbow, but it should be fixed. In other words, do not bend and straighten. Keep the same angle so that the move is being done using the upper back muscles to do the pulling.

Don’t take for granted the benefits of a strong upper back. Not only does it look fantastic, but it helps with good posture! Weak upper back muscles will enhance a rounded shoulder look or what some people refer to as a “hunchback” appearance. Often people focus a lot of their strength training on glutes, legs and push-ups.  Most people do more ab work than anything else. However, it is extremely important to have well-rounded workouts that target every different major muscle group. 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 one, 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.

Here are the steps to performing Overhead Pull:

1) Lie on back with knees bent and feet on the floor. Arms are extended above chest to start. Engage your abdominals.

2) Lower dumbbells past your head keeping arms mostly straight with elbows slightly bent. Keeping abdominals tight raise dumbbells back to start. Low back should stay firm against the floor throughout.

Targets: triceps, back, shoulders


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

    We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.
    (This will help us personalize your experience so that you can get the best advice possible from us!)
    Skip to content
    Send this to a friend