Exercise Profile
  • Target Muscle Group
  • Exercise TypeOlympic Weightlifting
  • Equipment RequiredKettle Bells
  • MechanicsCompound
  • Force TypePull (Bilateral)
  • Experience LevelBeginner
  • Secondary Muscles
    Abs, Adductors, Biceps, Calves, Glutes, Hamstrings, Quads, Shoulders, Upper Back
Target Muscle Group


Traps Muscle Anatomy Diagram

2 KB Kettlebell Sumo Deadlift High Pull Overview

The 2 KB kettlebell sumo deadlift to high pull is a variation of the clean and an exercise used primarily to target the muscles of the shoulders and traps.

The 2 kb kettlebell high pull is a combination exercise (combining a sumo deadlift with a high pull) and will target other muscles groups such as the upper back and hamstrings.

High pulls are performed explosively, and since the traps respond well to explosive movements, will help with trap muscle growth. They also have a significant amount of application in sports-specific training where explosiveness is an important indicator for performance.

2 KB Kettlebell Sumo Deadlift High Pull Instructions

  1. Position the kettlebells between your legs and assume a wider than shoulder width stance (determined by your hip structure and limb length).
  2. Push your hips back and hinge forward until your torso is nearly parallel with the floor.
  3. Reach down and grasp the handles of the bells with both hands.
  4. Inhale, drop your hips, and keep the chest up tall.
  5. Drive through the whole foot and focus on pushing the floor away.
  6. As the kettlebells nears your hips and your legs lock out, shrug the shoulders and then pull aggressively with the arms.
  7. The kettlebells should rise to sternum level at the completion of the movement.
  8. As the kettlebells return to the hip position, reverse the movement by pushing the hips back and hinging forward.
  9. Return the kettlebells to the floor, reset, and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

2 KB Kettlebell Sumo Deadlift High Pull Tips

  1. Stance width varies greatly depending upon the individual. Rather than spending too much time trying to calculate your ideal stance width, simply experiment and see what feels best on your hips in the long run while simultaneously allowing you to generate the most power. For some folks this will be a semi medium width (hybrid) position whereas for others their toes will very wide.
  2. The hips should be lower than the shoulders and you should be able to see the logo on the lifter’s shirt before they pull (i.e. “chest up”). The chest up cue is usually accomplished when the lats become locked in though so this cue is typically not needed if the lifter understands how to initiate the lats.
  3. Ideally the knees should be tracking out over the foot. If you find that you have trouble keeping this neutral knee position, focus on spreading the floor by trying to push your feet apart as you push into the floor. In other words, imagine there is a crack in the floor and you’re trying to spread it open by pushing your heels away from each other. This will help to activate your glutes more during the movement and stabilize the knee joint.
  4. Neck position is highly individual - Some prefer a neutral neck position (i.e. keeping the chin tucked throughout the lift) while others do well with looking slightly up. Here’s some factors to consider:
    • If you’re someone who is more globally extended (i.e. athletic background), then you will likely be able to keep a neutral position more effectively by packing the chin.
    • On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you tend to be more flexion dominant (especially in your thoracic spine - upper back) then it would behoove you to look up slightly as this will drive more extension.
    • Experiment with each and see which one works best for your individual anatomy and biomechanics.
  5. Ideally you should cue and emphasize a vertical shin, especially in the sumo deadlift.
  6. Toe angle is highly individual - this will be dependent upon your hip anatomy. Experiment (toes slightly out or neutral) to see what feels best for you.
  7. Do NOT retract your shoulder blades. This is mechanically inefficient and a self limiting cue as it shortens the length of the arms thus requiring a larger range of motion.
  8. Make sure you wrap your thumbs around the kettlebell and don’t utilize a false grip. Squeeze the handle as tight as possible like you’re trying to leave an imprint of your fingerprints on the kettlebell.
  9. If you focus on keeping the weight entirely on the heels, you won’t be able to effectively recruit your quads at the beginning of the lift and thus you’ll be slow off the flow. So, to combat this, you should focus on driving through the whole foot - you want 3 points of contact: big toe, little toe, and heel.