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Straight Arm Pull Up Exercise 2023

Straight Arm Pull

The Straight Arm Pull is an upper-body exercise that helps develop strength and endurance in the muscles of the shoulders, back, and arms.

The Straight Arm Pull Up is the First Exercise in Climbing Drill One.

This exercise develops the soldier’s ability to initiate the pull-up motion, maintain grip, and contract upper back and shoulder muscles.

The purpose of the Climbing Drills is to provide a wide variety of pulling exercises to improve upper-body strength and endurance. This range of exercises allows soldiers to pull up as well as onto and over obstacles.

There are four more exercises in Climbing Drill 1:

Army PRT Straight Arm Pull Up Drill

Straight Arm Pull Up
Straight Arm Pull Up

Purpose: This exercise develops the ability to initiate the pull-up motion and maintain a contraction in the extended hang position

  • This drill also involve spotters whose skill and strength will play an important role in the safety and success of the soldier in training, testing, and combat situations. 
  • Spotters are used when exercisers cannot perform five repetitions of all exercises unassisted.

Here is a breakdown of the exercise, which would be conducted in a formation with two spotters. 

  • Cadence: MODERATE
  • The starting position for the straight arm pull is the extended arm hang using the closed overhand grip. 
  • The two spotters are unnecessary if the soldier states no spotter is needed. 
  • Otherwise, the spotters assume staggered stance positions in front and behind the exerciser. 
  • The first spotter places palms toward the exerciser at chest height to support the exerciser if their grip fails. 
  • The rear spotter places palms toward the exerciser at chest height to support the exerciser if their grip fails.



  • On Count One: From the starting position and keeping the arms straight, pull the body up using a shrugging motion.
  • On Count Two: Return to the starting position.
  • Repeat the exercise five to ten times.

Check Points:

  • Throughout the exercise, keep the arms shoulder width, palms facing away from the body, with the thumbs around the bar.
  • Throughout the exercise, keep the elbows straight but not locked.
  • On count 1, pull the body up by engaging the shoulder muscles (squeeze the shoulder blades together).

How to do the Straight Arm Pull Up at Home

The straight-arm pull is a versatile exercise that primarily targets the lats but also engages the shoulders, triceps, and core muscles. Below is a step by step process on how to do this exercise at home.

  • Stand before a cable machine with a straight bar attachment at chest height.
  • Grab the bar with both hands, palms facing down, and step back to create tension on the cable.
  • Keeping your arms straight, pull the bar down towards your thighs by engaging your lats and squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  • Slowly return to the starting position and repeat for the desired reps.

Straight Arm Exercise for Beginners

  • If you’re new to the straight-arm pull exercise, starting with a lightweight and focusing on proper form is essential. 
  • Gradually increase the resistance as you become more comfortable with the movement, ensuring you maintain proper technique throughout.

Straight Arm Exercise Progression

  • As you become more proficient with the straight-arm pull, consider incorporating straight-arm pull progression exercises to challenge your muscles further and promote continuous growth. 
  • These progressions may include increasing the weight, pauses or holds, or training on an incline bench.

Straight-Arm Pull Benefits: Why You Should Add It to Your Routine

Incorporating the straight-arm pull into your workout routine offers several benefits, including:

  1. Improved lat activation: The straight-arm pull is one of the most effective exercises for isolating and strengthening the latissimus dorsi muscles, which play a crucial role in various upper-body movements.
  2. Enhanced shoulder stability: By engaging the scapular muscles, the straight-arm pull can help improve shoulder stability and reduce the risk of injury.
  3. Increased core strength: The movement requires a solid core to maintain proper form, thus contributing to overall core strength and stability.
  4. Improved posture: Strengthening the lats and scapular muscles can improve posture and reduce upper back pain.

Straight Arm Variations: Mix It Up for Maximum Gains

To keep your workouts fresh and continue challenging your muscles, consider incorporating these straight-arm pull variations:

  1. Straight Arm Lat Pulldown: Perform the exercise using a lat pulldown machine, maintaining straight arms throughout the movement.
  2. Straight Arm pull with resistance bands: Replace the cable machine with a resistance band anchored overhead, offering a more portable alternative for home or travel workouts.
  3. Single Arm Straight Arm pull: Perform the exercise one arm at a time, allowing you to focus on each side individually and address any muscle imbalances.

Workout Routine and Equipment

To maximize the effectiveness of your straight-arm pull workout routine, consider incorporating the exercise into your back or upper body training sessions. 

Aim to perform 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps, adjusting the weight and rest periods according to your fitness level and goals.

Regarding equipment, you’ll need access to a cable machine with a straight bar attachment or a resistance band for the alternative variations mentioned earlier.

Muscle Activation and Tips

To ensure optimal straight-arm pull muscle activation, focus on engaging your lats and squeezing your shoulder blades together during the pulling phase of the movement. 

Keep your core tight and slightly bend your knees to protect your lower back.

Finally, remember these tips for mastering the straight-arm pull exercise:

  1. Start with a lightweight and focus on proper form.
  2. Progress gradually by increasing resistance or incorporating advanced variations.
  3. Be consistent with your training and incorporate the exercise into your regular workout routine.


The straight-arm pull exercise is a powerful addition to any fitness enthusiast’s workout routine. 

You can effectively target your lats, shoulders, and core muscles by mastering the techniques, understanding the benefits, and experimenting with variations. 

Start with the basics, progress gradually, and stay consistent in your training to unlock the full potential of this versatile exercise and elevate your fitness journey.

George N.