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Are Kettlebell High Pulls Safe

Kettle bell exercises are a fantastic way to build strength and develop aerobic capacity at the same time. The swing is a foundational kettle bell move that's perfect for beginners and for those working up to more difficult movements, like the high pull and the snatch.

James Smith
• Friday, 18 December, 2020
• 9 min read
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(Source: kettlebellsworkouts.com)

A hip pop at the end of the movement enables the kettle bell to “float” in midair for a moment. A notable difference between a kettle bell swing and a high pull is the bell's proximity to the body.

In the swing, the bell begins close to the body but reaches a full arm's distance away at the end of the move. That straight upward trajectory is performed with elbows bent, keeping the bell closer to the body.

In a high pull, however, the shoulders, scapular area and muscles surrounding the elbows, in both forearms and upper arms, also need to work dynamically to complete the movement. Grab a kettle bell in your first week of training and start doing snatches like you’ve seen other more seasoned kettle bell enthusiasts perform with ease, and you’re playing with fire, there is no doubt you’re going to get hurt.

The same applies to grabbing a barbell in your first week of training and start snatching it like you’re in the CrossFit Games, you’re going to get hurt. This fact doesn’t change whether you take a dumbbell, tax, sandbag, fit ball or anything else, you need to respect the tool, treat it with care and progress from step one.

Progression is a journey of taking your kettle bell training step by step, a journey preferably done with a certified kettle bell trainer from any style or company —don’t get dragged into “this style is better”, learn them all— and usually starts with the conventional double-arm swing, progresses to single arm swing, cleans, presses, Turkish get-ups and snatches. The way a coach progresses you all depends on your learning capabilities and goals, here’s how I normally would progress someone with online coaching from nothing to a professional kettle bell enthusiast, taking into consideration that the student has no issues and is in good physical shape.

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*I throw the “Assisted single-arm clean” in very early, as I like my students to get familiar with the corkscrew motion, dealing with the proper weight distribution of the kettle bell to avoid pressure on the forearm, which is not dealt with early-on hinders progression at the stage of racking, cleaning and pressing. Yes if you start doing weird things that you should not be doing or your body is just not ready for, otherwise, no they’re not bad for your shoulders, they’re amazing for shaping your shoulders, creating better range of motion, making them stronger and resilient to injury.

The people that ask these questions either have participated in a kettle bell class with a cowboy trainer teaching or heard their friend complain about their back who just started swinging the bell while watching the Julian Michael's version on YouTube. I would lie if I said I never seen anyone get injured during kettle bell training, I’ve never seen serious injury from a kettle bell, I have seen people out for a week because they did not listen to the weight suggested to them, they did not listen when the coach said, take a step back, regress and learn the hip hinge first.

In fact, when CrossFit coaches receive their L1 certification, the sumo dead lift high pull, or DHP, is taught as one of only a handful of foundational movements. In fact, when I was doing my orientation training at my box, our coaches told us essentially that they would teach us the movement, but not to expect to use it because they didn’t feel it was safe.

Now, I’m curious — is a sumo dead lift high pull a safe or scary way to build strength? A DHP involves lifting a bar (or kettle bell …or dumbbell…) from your shin to right beneath your chin.

This is done by gripping the bar in the middle with both hands and doing a full hip extension as you pull, keeping your elbows high and pointed out. Sumo dead lift high pulls, when done correctly, are a movement driven from momentum from your hips and core.

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If you want a really science-y version, we enjoyed this excerpt from Dallas Hart wig’s piece I Heart My Supraspinatus. Hart wig is the founder of Whole9, functional medicine practitioner, Certified Sports Nutritionist and licensed physical therapist.

But in reality, if there is any degree of disco ordination due to improper attention to form, the complicated neurological pattern of the movement, or plain old fatigue (all wickedly common factors), there will realistically be a significant amount of arm pull at the top of the movement — arm pull in a compromised, internally-rotated position. Other skeptics have also been quick to point out that many avid Crossfires and coaches don’t believe that the DHP has a place among the foundational movements of CrossFit.

In his piece “The Sumo Dead lift High Pull is Stupid”, published in Breaking Muscle, McCarty is frank about his feelings when it comes to SDPS. I can think of a number of movements I would want to invoke in order to lay a foundation of strength and conditioning.

And then there’s running, jumping rope, and proper rowing technique, or basic core work like front leaning rest and side planks. Because Greg Glassman decided this in 2005 and so far no one who works for CrossFit has the balls to raise their hand and tell the emperor he is naked.”

After doing a good bit of research on my own, I’m fine with my affiliate’s decision not to include sumo dead lift high pulls in programming. When performed properly, the sumo dead lift high pull is a decent way to improve on strength and well as hip-pocket explosiveness.

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(Source: www.alamy.com)

In an organization shrouded by controversy when it comes to safety, the sumo dead lift high pull is an unnecessary movement. Sumo Dead lift High Pull: Scary or Safe Way to Build Strength?

In fact, when CrossFit coaches receive their L1 certification, the sumo dead lift high pull, or DHP, is taught as one of only a handful of foundational movements. In fact, when I was doing my orientation training at my box, our coaches told us essentially that they would teach us the movement, but not to expect to use it because they didn't feel it was safe.

The kettlebellhigh pull is a very cardiovascular exercise that builds on from the one handed kettle bell swing. Horizontal pulling exercises help to balance out all the sitting and rounded shoulders that so many of us suffer with in today's office based society.

Full body conditioning exercise using over 600 muscles per movement Highly cardiovascular without the need to move your feet Great for improving posture due to the horizontal pulling action Excellent full body fat burner due to both cardio and muscle activation Fun transitional exercise to add into your kettle bell circuits You achieve the benefits of the kettle bell swing but with the added bonus of the horizontal pulling movement and ramped up cardio.

As the high pull is very dynamic the smaller muscles have to work hard to keep the joints in correct alignment. You will achieve more benefits by mastering the one handed swing first than trying to use the high pull exercise.

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(Source: arkitectfitness.com)

Be aware that sweaty or greasy kettle bell handles may interfere with your grip and make this exercise really challenging. The kettlebellhigh pull exercise lends itself beautifully to be used with other kettle bell workouts.

You can also set an interval timer to beep every 30 seconds and use that as your signal to change exercise. Technique and forearm endurance are often a determining factor on the length of a set of Highballs.

The kettlebellhigh pull exercise is a highly effective full body movement. Once mastered it adds a great variation to many kettle bell workouts and is excellent for improving cardio and full body conditioning.

You've probably seen ripped-up dudes whipping barbells up over their heads if you've ever stumbled into a CrossFit box or tuned into an Olympic weightlifting competition. That complex move is called a snatch — and if you want to add it to your routine, you should start slow by mastering the motions that go into the exercise.

The kettlebellhigh pull is a favorite of Don Saladin, the trainer responsible for the superhero physiques of stars like Ryan Reynolds, Sebastian Stan, and David Harbor, who have all flexed their way into comic book character costumes on the big screen. The full-body exercise isn't just a training ground for the snatch — the high pull homes in on the hips, back extensors, and rear Delta, giving you a formidable workout as you hone your technique.

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(Source: www.fitdrills.com)

Instead, novices to the mature version of the exercise will have the ability to work on hip-rhythm and the motion they'll eventually use to toss weight skyward. “The move has explosive hip action like a snatch, but it won't bang your wrist when your technique is not that great,” said Saladin.

When you're just starting out, make sure that the weight is light enough that you won't be in danger of hurting yourself — you can even practice without the implement with an empty hand to get the motion down to begin. Using your hips, swing the weight up to hairline height, stopping short of lifting your arm over your head.

Try the kettlebellhigh pull if you're working up to a full snatch, or use the move to build power and coordination in your typical workout routine. Brett Williams, NASA Brett Williams, a fitness editor at Men's Health, is a NASM-CPT certified trainer and former pro football player and tech reporter who splits his workout time between strength and conditioning training, martial arts, and running.

Few exercises build muscle and develop power and strength in your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back like the kettle bell swing. Whether you’re a new entry to kettle bell training or a veteran, injuries can still strike at any time if you’re practicing the moves incorrectly.

We asked Mike Steele, owner of Training Room Online, what common mistakes he sees athletes of all experience levels making—and how to avoid them. When you bend your knees, the quads take over, and this eliminates the main benefits of the swing.

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(Source: www.onnit.com)

To set up, begin with the KB about a foot in front of you, grab it, and then throw your arms back as if you were hiking a football. This engages the wrong muscles, wastes energy, and is a telltale sign you should be using a heavier KB.

Keeping your arms tucked in at your sides as you swing eliminates tension from your body and will result in a “soft” swing—meaning, it’s not done with enough force. Overly extended stances during swings leave several areas—like your hips, knees, and lower back—vulnerable to injury.

Overemphasis of upper-body muscles during ballistic movements deteriorates exercise flow and can place strain on vulnerable areas like your neck, shoulders, and lower back. Instead, relax your upper body, use a hip snap, and lock your knees out with each rep.

Ultimately, your form will suffer and lead to injury, so make sure you stop several reps short of failure. Stop, and put the bell down before paying the price in your lower back.

Attempting to invent new movements outside the basics won’t provide a reward worth the risk. Make sure you relax your grip and hold the bell in the hook of your fingers, rather than the meat of your hand.

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(Source: arkitectfitness.com)

To avoid making this mistake, punch the kettle bell upwards instead of swinging it while relaxing the grip and allowing the bell to gently catch against your forearm. Step 3: At the top of the motion, quickly pull the kettle bell back keeping it horizontal to the ground.

Push the kettle bell handle back into the down swing quickly and repeat. Innit Academy is the most comprehensive database of information related to Unconventional Training, a unique new form of fitness methodology that focuses on functional strength, conditioning, and agility using the most efficient means and tools possible.

The online database includes articles, videos, tutorials, and workouts featuring alternative implements like kettle bells, sandbags, steel maces, steel clubs, battle ropes, and more. Notify our team, telling us why it wasn't a fit for you, and we’ll get you a refund right there on the spot — no return necessary.

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The kettlebellhigh pull is very similar to the single-handed kettle bell swing, except we add a little pull in the top, which means we get all the benefits of the regular single-handed swing, but we also start to activate a lot more muscles at the back of the body, too. Then with a nice, tight grip, pull the kettle bell back towards us with a straight arm, high elbow.

Absorb the weight with our heels, hamstrings, and our buttocks, then we drive back for the second repetition. Start with the kettle bell in front, nice flat back.

Nice tight wrist, high elbow. So, you would change hands after the turn of the single-handed swing, and then you’re going to move straight into the high pull.

And next we’ve got another explosive exercise to keep on moving forward and building that heart rate.

1 livehealthy.chron.com - https://livehealthy.chron.com/kettlebell-swing-vs-high-pull-2509.html
2 www.cavemantraining.com - https://www.cavemantraining.com/caveman-kettlebells/kettlebells-safe-no-theyre-not/
3 www.fitnesshq.com - http://www.fitnesshq.com/sumo-deadlift-high-pull/
4 kettlebellsworkouts.com - https://kettlebellsworkouts.com/teaching-points-for-the-kettlebell-high-pull/
5 www.menshealth.com - https://www.menshealth.com/fitness/a22698853/how-to-do-kettlebell-high-pull/
6 www.mensjournal.com - https://www.mensjournal.com/health-fitness/top-10-dangerous-kettlebell-mistakes/
7 www.onnit.com - https://www.onnit.com/academy/kettlebell-exercise-high-pull/
8 kettlebellsworkouts.com - https://kettlebellsworkouts.com/kettlebell-pro-high-pull/