MODULE 2.5: The Upper Body Pull

What is the upper body pull?

Upper body pulling patterns refer to a group of movements that obviously all involve an upper body pulling pattern. There are several ways these pushes can be categorised, however we generally like to group them according to direction of pull relative to the body (horizontal vs vertical), and laterality (unilateral vs bilateral). 

What does the upper body push train?

Muscles

Upper body pulling patterns will train a variety of muscles depending on what variation you're completing. Generally speaking, all upper body pulling variations will train the biceps, forearm/grip musculature, and middle or posterior deltoid. Horizontal and vertical pulling patterns train fairly similar muscles with slightly different biases due to the significant overlap between the muscles responsible for scapular depression and scapular retraction (rhomboids and trapezius), and the muscles responsible for shoulder adduction, extension, and horizontal extension (posterior deltoid, infraspinatus, teres major and minor, latissimus dorsi). All rowing patterns will also train the biceps and forearm/grip muscles. Additionally, depending on how the rest of the body is organised there is frequently core/trunk stabilisation required to allow for the production of heavy pulling forces through the upper limb, with some pulling variations requiring core/trunk/kinetic chain action too.

Movements

Training an upper body pull pattern transfers to few sport specific tasks, with some transfer to batting, tackling, and marking/catching. Upper body pulling movements are more important for balancing the upper body pushing forces required in sport such that athlete's shoulders are kept healthy!

What are the technical KPI's of an upper body pulling pattern?

Very movement-specific, however general recommendations are:

  • Elbow stacked over wrist/hand

    • Improves efficiency of movement, less unbalanced rotary forces

  • Shoulder blades either retracting or depressing as part of the movement

    • Improves stimulus through scapular stabilisers and scapular movement capacity​​

  • Consider how the rest of the body is organised

How can we address technical errors?

​As with all movements, we use the following tools to address technical errors. However given the huge variations in different upper body push movement patterns it's impossible to give specific examples for each.

  • Cuing

  • Regression/progression of the movement

  • Use of constraints

What are some variations of the upper body pull?

  • Dumbbell rows

  • Chin-ups/pull-ups

  • Reverse flyes

  • Lying T raises

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