Bodyweight pulling movements are among the most challenging exercises around. So, to develop better strength and stability in this movement pattern, you will need to use some resistance instead of your own bodyweight.

High pulls

The high pull exercise targets muscles in the shoulder and arms, as well as building core strength for many everyday tasks. For this , you will need to use something other than bodyweight to create resistance. This can be tubing or dumbbells, or you can improvise with a weighted bag or box, for example.

Start with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart (a split stance can be used if preferred).

Hold the weights/tubing to the front.

A Draw your elbows towards the ceiling, keeping the resistance close to your body.

Keep increasing the resistance as far as your chest, then return to the start position under control.

Ensure your lower back does not arch and that your chin does not protrude forwards.

Bent-over pull

The bent-over row/pull is a staple exercise for weightlifters and athletes everywhere. As well as developing strength in the pulling muscles of the back, it also challenges core strength and posture by working the lower back and buttocks to hold the exercise position. It’s a must-do exercise for total body strength.

Start with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.

Bend forwards from your hips, ensuring that you keep a slight arch in your lower back.

Look ahead – relaxing your neck muscles also causes your lower back muscles to relax.

Keep the resistance close to your body throughout the movement.

Using a wide grip, pull the resistance in towards your abdomen. Take care to maintain good posture while doing this.

Control the weight back to the start position.


Pullovers can either be done lying on a bench, step or, best of all, a stability ball. This movement will help stretch tight muscles of the chest and back actively, while also challenging core muscles to maintain correct pelvic positioning.

The tendency with this exercise is to arch your lower back, so prevent this by focusing on keeping your abdominals tight and your backside tightly squeezed.

Sit on the stability ball or bench. Move into a supine position. If using a ball, ensure that your head and shoulders are supported.

Hold the weights overhead with your arms extended straight up towards the ceiling.

Keeping a slight bend at your elbow, slowly lower your arms behind your head. Make sure you do not arch your lower back.

Return to the start position.

Archer’s pull

For this exercise you will need a piece of tubing or resistance band. One of my favourite movements, the archer’s pull emulates truly lifelike patterns by combining the actions of pulling and twisting. This means that you are training the muscles of your back along with those of the core that control rotation.

Start in a split stance with the opposite leg forward to the arm which is pulling.

Keep your free arm held high to maintain good shoulder alignment.

Draw back your arm as if you were drawing back the string of a bow.

Allow your shoulders to rotate back so that your body twists with the movement (this should come from the upper back, not the lower back).

Return the arm under control.


Another one of my favourite exercises, the uppercut again combines the muscles of the shoulders and back with those of the core. It helps to train dynamic movement between the pelvis and spine, as well as developing powerful arms and shoulders. You can either use dumbbells or improvised weights for this movement.

Start with your feet around shoulder-width apart.

Turning your palm towards your chest, rotate your body to one side and perform an uppercut movement, bending at the elbow and shoulder. Allow your hips and feet to twist with your upper body.

Return to the start position and perform on the opposite side.

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