Rack Pulls For More Pulling Strength – What Are Rack Pulls?

man performing rack pull exercise at gym

If you’re looking for a beginner-level weightlifting exercise, the rack pull can improve your deadlift numbers and help you build bigger and stronger back.

The rack pull targets many of the same muscles as a regular deadlift but is not as strenuous since it has a smaller range of motion.

You may have made the error of disregarding people who were performing rack pulls at your gym as being a poor man’s deadlift. While rack pulls do have a shorter range of motion than a deadlift, they target many of the same muscles as a regular deadlift and allow you to lift heavier weights, but are not as strenuous owing to the smaller range of motion.

So, rack pulls, often known as a partial deadlift, may well be considered an excellent way to ease yourself into a full deadlift. It’s a fantastic addition to any back or lower body strength routine. It will help you develop stronger back muscles and improve your form and power in the top half of a conventional deadlift.

Also Known As: Partial deadlift, pulling in the rack
Targets: Lower back, hamstrings, and glutes
Equipment Needed: Barbell, weight plates, squat rack
Level: Intermediate

How to Do Rack Pulls With Proper Form

man performing rack pull exercise at gym

To perform rack pulls, you’ll need a barbell and a power rack. Also, there will be a large amount of weight involved, which means it’s definitely an exercise best performed in a gym rather, even if you have a barbell at home.

it’s important to set your rack height which will vary for everyone depending on body height. However, a common practice is to set the rack just below or just above the knee.

Add the plates to the barbell and set it on the rack. Set a goal of matching or exceeding your normal deadlift weight. If you’re not sure, start with a lighter weight and increase it as needed.

  1. Approach the bar with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes just under it. Ensure that your chest is up, shoulders are back, body is straight, and your eyes are fixed straight ahead.
  2. Bend the knees a bit and lean forward at the hips, keeping your hands just outside of the legs on the bar. Both overhand or mixed grip are acceptable.
  3. Breathe in and lift the bar. Push through the heels and extend through the hips and thighs as you raise it.
  4. Pull the weight up and back, bringing your shoulders back at the same time until you reach a lockout.
  5. Pause for a brief moment at the top.
  6. Bend your knees and lower your entire body as you return the bar to the rack. Keep your back straight and look forward as you come out of the posture while exhaling.

Rack Pull Benefits

Adding the rack pull to your workout might also help you do more everyday activities more easily, making it a functional exercise. This could range from movements such as taking a heavy suitcase from one room to another or picking up a small child playing on the floor.

Higher Pulling Strength

The rack pull is a great exercise for improving your deadlift. The higher starting point allows the trainee to lift more weight and focus on the lockout part of the deadlift. As we mentioned earlier, rack pulls target multiple muscle groups much like deadlifts including primarily the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calf muscles, while also working the core and muscles in upper body.

You’ll also have a better grip since it enhances the lifter’s ability to lift more weights from this partial range of motion lift. Increasing a lifter’s grip strength can improve neurological adaptions to lifting more weight, readiness for heavy lifts and help them keep their back locked during deadlifts.

Your central nervous system (CNS) is a network of nerves that connects your brain to your muscles. Since your body “can not do” what it “doesn’t know”, handling a heavier weight will help your CNS realize that it can accomplish the task.

Lesser Lumbar Stress

The rack pull is higher up, allowing you to pull from a slightly more vertical posture. This is beneficial to your lower back. The rack pull is sometimes used to reduce training volume and/or apply less stress to the lower back. Needless to say, It’s also proven to be a better choice than the regular deadlift or stiff leg deadlift for lifters with a history of back injuries.

Stronger Traps

The rack pull is a fantastic exercise to target the upper back muscles since it involves a partial range of motion at a heavier load (than a regular deadlift). This can be beneficial for lifters who don’t have much size or strength or desire bigger, fuller traps for aesthetic reasons.

Other Variations of a Rack Pull

Depending on your skill level, there are a few changes that may make the pull-up exercise simpler or more difficult.

Higher Rack Height

Adjust the rack height so that the bar is positioned above your knees to make this exercise simpler for beginners. This reduces the range of motion, allowing you to master excellent form and technique before progressing into a greater range of motion.

Unweighted Rack Pull

Another option for reducing the intensity of a rack pull is to begin with an unweighted bar. Add light weights as you become more comfortable with the motion. Increase the weight you lift as your strength improves.

Lower Rack Height

To make the exercise more difficult, lower the rack height below your knees. This extends you in terms of motion. Rack lifts with this position can help prepare you for conventional deadlifts.

Resistance band rack pull

Attaching resistance bands to the rack’s feet and both ends of the bar is an easy method to increase the difficulty of your rack pulls. This will raise the overall resistance of the exercise and gradually increase that resistance at the top of the move, as the tension in the band is at its highest. If you’re doing rack pulls to enhance the top part of your deadlifts, this is a clever method to make it even more effective.

Take Away

Rack pulls are an excellent stepping stone to gaining the strength required for full deadlifts. Rack pulls are used by professional weightlifters to develop their strength for other pulling workouts like dumbbell rows and biceps curls. This exercise can be utilized to build muscular growth, fundamental pulling strength, and as a deadlift teaching progression and is beneficial to lifters who want to improve upper back strength, glute growth, and/or range of motion. 

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