T Nation

Pin Pulls from Below Knee for Muscle Growth?

Hey, Coach, I’ve never really done much of pin pulls except every now and then (but still rarely). Except for recently after doing one of your programs. Now, I really like doing them.

My question is if my goals are directly related to muscle building in the context of bodybuilding, would you still recommend that exercise or is there a better option to hit the hip-hinge movement pattern for a compound lift? Thank you!

Well, I wouldn’t use it as my hinge movement, the RDL is much more effective for the hamstrings. I like the rack pull from below the knees to build upper back thickness. In which case I like to do them “Yates style” in which I let the scapula “open up” in the bottom and retract them as I pull.

1 Like

Thanks, Coach. Because of doing them Yates style, would I use slightly less weight than I would normally? In order for me to open up and retract with a good mind muscle contraction?


Many thanks!

As effective as SGHP for trap growth ??


For a two main reasons.

  1. The traps action in the rack pull is static/isometric which, by itself, is a much weaker growth stimulus than a concentric/eccentric action.

  2. In the high pull, the traps have an important absorption action when you bring the bar down. This causes a lot of muscle damage which is a strong growth stmulus.


I started them after seeing one of your articles. Holy shit… A marked improvement in trap size in no time. I do a 5,4,3,2,1 protocol one day and 5 x 5 the other. Good for hypertrophy or is there a better rep scheme ? Thanks for replying

Not really.

You can’t really use higher reps in straight sets because of the nature of the movement. Rest/pauses are effective, but the scheme you mentioned are as good as any.

Much appreciated. I follow up with paused shrugs and program loaded carries in too during the week. High pulls your favorite trap builder ?


If you only have 4 kg dumbbells, bricks (4kg each) and several resistance bands at your disposal, is there still a way to effectively grow the traps?

The traps respond very well to muscle damage in the SGHP because of the high load and explosive nature of the movement, but can’t they also grow from localised fatigue and growth factors, induced by a greater time under tension or higher rep set?

Yes. There are 3 very effective trap exercises that I use with light weights.

The first one is a cross between an overhead shrug and a lateral raise.

The starting position is what would be the finish of a lateral raise BUT with the thumbs toward the ceiling.

From that position, perform a lateral raise with the widest “circle” possible until the DB are overhead.

IMPORTANT: while you are doing the “lateral raise/circle” you must also shrug the shoulders up.

Hold the peak contraction 1-2 seconds.

The second exercise is the high rep plates raise used by Paul Carter but using DBs.

The last one are full range lateral raise: do your lateral raise but going all the way up (imagine trying to touch your ears with your arms). I call these Xiaojun Raises because I first saw them done by Chinese olympic lifter Lu Xiaojun.

Notice how there is also some shrugging at the top.

1 Like

It honestly depends. I don’t have personal favorites. My favorite is actually influenced by my mindset and goal quite a bit.

For example, when I’m motivated to improve strength and performance the high pull is my favorite. But when I’m in “bodybuilding mode” oddly enough performance exercises do no motivate me and I prefer other trap movements. My brain is kinda weird!


The exercise performed by paul carter is actually one I used to do quite a lot back in the day when I first started lifting. Back then I had no clue that it stimulates the traps. I used to follow a lot of mainstream bodybuilder programs (typical rookie mistake) in which this particular exercise was performed to build the front delts. Oddly enough my traps were a lot bigger during that time.

Very practical and precise feedback, I’m going to try these out right now!

What do you prefer then in bodybuilding mode ? Great answer and I totally get it

I like the “Wendler row” which is a t-bar row done standing up (not leaning forward) focusing on shrugging the traps.

I also like Kirk shrugs and the exercises I told Lou about in my previous post.

Much appreciated sir