The Double Arm High Pull is a great exercise, especially if you are looking to totally tear up your shoulders and rotator cuff (specifically supraspinatous)! I'm pretty shocked that this is being demonstrated as something to be done, not to mention that NASM has shown this to be a contraindicated and unsafe move for at least a decade. I shudder to think how many shoulders will be torn up after seeing this on your current newsletter. Just looking to advocate for the masses here. Thank you.
I would first like to respond by noting that it is nice to have trainers express such passion in their views, and it is also nice to see people who are not afraid to challenge what is written.
From the way this question is written, I am given the impression that you do not have a lot of experience/exposure to “Olympic” style, power lifting or kettlebell training. With that being noted, I will make the following comments. For the most part, the exercises taught with a kettlebell find their basis in both Olympic and power lifting. What does this mean? It means that the primary mover is not the upper extremities but rather the lower extremities. The movement is ballistic in nature and is generated from the ground force reaction of the lower extremities bearing down into the ground and explosively driving the body up. It is this force (momentum) that propels the KB upward, not the arms lifting the bell. The arms act as a guide. In the high pull exercise, the lever arm of the upper extremity is about as short as you can possibly get it, and the movement is not held at the top. The muscles in the shoulder girdle that are involved are primarily the following: upper trapezius at initiation (it is this motion that properly positions the glenohumeral joint to allow space so that the RTC tendons are not impinged or damaged); the deltoids are the primary abductor with of course the supraspinatus assisting. If you take a look at the model’s position before she starts the motion (see video), she is in a perfect squat position with strong support to her lumbar spine and the thoracic spine moving into extension. The scapula is lying in the coronal/frontal plane. The position of the scapula remains in this plane, decreasing the incidence of increased or excessive internal rotation, which would be the culprit of impinging or damaging the tendons of the RTC or lats. It is my impression that this position is what prevents excessive internal rotation from occurring at the shoulder.
As with any form of training, it is up to all trainers to educate themselves properly in anatomy, physiology, biomechanics and special populations. If a trainer does not have the training to work with people who have injuries or special needs, they need to find someone who is trained. It goes without saying that if someone has a contraindication to a specific motion, then one should not train someone in that motion.