Kettlebell High-Pull (Sumo Deadlift): How To Do & Muscles Worked

Jason Williams
kettlebell high-pull

The Kettlebell High-Pull is an exercise that can be used to diversify your crossfit workouts. This exercise is derived from Sumo Deadlift and Narrow-Grip Upright Row.

This pull motion is also similar to lifting the barbell (kettlebell or dumbbell) to the chest. The principle of the exercise is practically the same.

Benefits Of The Kettlebell High-Pull

The Kettlebell Sumo Deadlift High-Pull helps to develop the strength and endurance of the muscles in the legs and shoulder girdle. To do this, you will be working out in the high rep range and with a light weight. You will find that this exercise will help you make better progress in other exercises.

In addition, the Kettlebell High-Pull is a very suitable exercise for working out against the clock. For example, set a goal for yourself to complete 50 reps in 1 minute. To achieve this, you will set yourself intermediary goals of 20 reps, then 30, 40 and so on until you achieve the 50 rep goal. This will allow your muscles to adapt to faster works. Thanks to this method of training, you will be able to break many records in your crossfit workouts as it will “tune” the psyche so that the brain signals the muscles to work in a mode of short rest time between contractions. It also increases aerobic and anaerobic endurance. In addition, you will expend a lot more energy and burn more fat since the glycogen reserves are depleted faster during this type of training.

What Muscles Do The Kettlebell High-Pull Work?

The Kettlebell High-Pull can be divided into two phases: Sumo Deadlift and Narrow-Grip Upright Row.

The main work of the deadlift falls on:

  • Adductor muscles of the hips;
  • Gluteal muscles;
  • Quadriceps.

The hamstrings and spinal extensors work a little less.

Start pulling the kettlebell to your chin when the knees are fully straightened. At this time, the main working muscle groups are: deltoid muscles (especially the anterior bundle) and trapezius. A small part of the workload also falls on the biceps and forearms.

The stabilizers are the abdominal muscles during the entire movement. Thanks to them, you keep your balance and do not let the kettlebell fall too sharply.

kettlebell sumo deadlift high pull

How To Do The Kettlebell High-Pull?

The Kettlebell Sumo Deadlift High-Pull execution technique looks like this:

  1. Place the kettlebell on the floor in front of you. The kettlebell handle must be parallel to the body. Put your feet a little wider. The width depends on your stretch. You should not feel any discomfort in the inner thigh.
  2. Keep your back as straight as possible with a slight forward tilt no more than 10-15°. Sit down and grasp the kettlebell handle with both hands using a close-grip.
  3. Stand with kettlebell using the muscles of the legs. Keep your back straight throughout the entire lift. The movement should be as explosive and as fast as possible to give the kettlebell good momentum so that the shoulders will not get tired from the pull, which will then enable you to do more reps. The same principle of operation applies when performing the kettlebell swing with two hands in front of you.
  4. The kettlebell should “fly” slightly upward by inertia when you fully straighten up and extend your knees and you need to take advantage of this. There is no need for you to pull it to your chest; You just need to continue its movement. Pull the kettlebell to about chest level straining your shoulders a little and bending the elbows. The movement is performed in much the same way as in the Narrow-Grip Barbell Upright Row. Spread your elbows to the sides to emphasize the load more on the shoulders, and not on the trapezes. The elbows should be placed above the hands at the top point.
  5. After that, perform the next repetition.

If completing this exercise as part of a CrossFit workout, the kettlebell should be lowered as sharply as possible while tilting your back down to enable you to perform as many repetitions as possible for the set time duration.


  • You can perform the exercise in a slightly jerky style (helping yourself create more momentum with your body and legs), when performing the exercise with a larger / heavier weight.
  • You can use dumbbells if its design allows.
  • High-Pull can be performed with two kettlebells, dumbbells, or a barbell.


The Kettlebell Sumo Deadlift High-Pull is an exercise more suitable for intermediate to advanced athletes. For beginners, it is best to start mastering this movement with a barbell or dumbbells.

The Upright Row is put in the first half of the shoulder workout as it is a basic exercise to warm up the muscle. As a general rule, move on to the Kettlebell Sumo Deadlift High-Pull after the second or third set of regular Upright Rows with a barbell or dumbbells.

The High-Pull is done first if the goal is to develop the anterior deltoid muscle more, however, this is a rare occurrence.

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