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Overhead Arm Pull Exercise 2023

The overhead arm pull is a stretching exercise primarily designed to improve flexibility in the shoulders, triceps, and the side of the body, or the flank.

Overhead arm pulls are an effective exercise to enhance the flexibility of the shoulders, arm, and trunk muscles.

  • It helps to condition and strengthen the arm, chest, shoulder, trunk, and upper body muscles.

Army PRT Overhead Arm Pull

The overhead arm pull is the first of the five Army Recovery Exercises.

Overhead Arm Pull Exercise
Overhead Arm Pull Exercise


  • This exercise develops flexibility in the arms, shoulders, and trunk muscles.

Starting Position: 

  • Begin with a straddle stance, placing hands on the hips.

Position 1: 

  • On the command, “Ready, STRETCH,” raise the left arm overhead and place the left hand behind the head. 
  • Grasp above the left elbow with the right hand and pull to the right, leaning the body to the right. 
  • Hold this position for 20-30 seconds.

Starting Position: 

  • On the “Starting Position, MOVE” command, assume the starting position.

Position 2: 

  • On the command “Change Position, Ready, STRETCH,” raise the right arm overhead and place the right hand behind the head. 
  • Grasp above the right elbow with the left hand and pull to the left, leaning the body to the left. 
  • Hold this position for 20–30 seconds.

Starting Position: 

  • On the command “Starting Position, MOVE,” return to the starting position.

Check Points:

  • Throughout the exercise, keep the hips set and the abdominals tight.
  • In positions 1 and 2, lean the body straight to the side, not to the front or back.


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Muscles worked by the overhead arm pull.

The Overhead Arm Pulls work on the following muscles:

  • Deltoids (Shoulders)
  • Upper Trapezius
  • Rhomboids
  • Latissimus Dorsi (Lats)
  • Triceps Brachii
  • Core Muscles (including rectus abdominis, obliques, and transverse abdominis)

How To Do Overhead Arm Pulls

Here is how you can do the overhead arm pull correctly to get the desired flexibility and muscle strength:

  • Stand straight 
  • Raise your left arm over your head. Now bend the arm at your elbow; it will automatically slide down the hand to the upper portion of the back, right between the shoulder blades. 
  • Once your left arm is settled, put the right hand on top of your left elbow and use it to pull the elbow behind the head.
  • Try to stretch the left elbow with the right hand as far as possible.
  • Hold the stretch for as long as you desire.
  • Now, swap the hands and follow the same steps with the swapped hands.

Tips for Proper Form:

Tip: Here are a few tips to ensure that you do the exercise correctly:

  • Always stay alert while doing the exercise.
  • Keep your chin off your chest.
  • Look straight ahead.
  • Keep your spine upright.

Variations of the Overhead Arm Pull Exercise

Here are a few variations of the overhead arm pull:

The easier version

  • If you are a beginner and cannot get the right hand on the stretched-out elbow, do not worry because it might be due to tight pecs and triceps.
  • To make the exercise easier in this scenario, you can stand right next to a wall.
  • Use the wall to support your upper arm and elbow to assist in the stretch.

The challenging version: 

  • If you are familiar with the exercise and have already become a pro, it’s time to level it up for a better stretch.
  • To do that, you can use the other arm and take it under the shoulders to your back to slide down in the fingers of both hands behind the back. 
  • Pull with the other arm to elevate the stretch with these linked hands. 

Benefits of the overhead arm pull.

The following are the many overhead pull exercise benefits:

  • It helps to maintain and improve posture
  • It helps in daily routine activities by making your core muscles stronger in the upper body
  • It stabilizes the muscles in the shoulder and prevents any shoulder injuries.


While the overhead arm pull offers significant benefits for upper body development, it can be detrimental if performed incorrectly. It’s advisable to consult with a professional trainer to ensure proper form. 

Potential drawbacks include:

  • Overdoing this exercise can lead to muscular imbalance in the body. This is why I always moderately build muscles. 
  • Don’t try this exercise if you have any shoulder injuries or past medical issues. 
  • Incorrectly doing the overhead arm pull can strain your shoulder muscles and affect your arm mobility (temporarily)
George N.