Rack Pulls: 4 Benefits And How To Do Them

Rack pulls are a solid deadlift variation to help you gain more strength and learn proper form to lift heavier loads and stack more plates on the barbell. We’re going to talk more about how to incorporate the rack pull in your training to help you stack bigger gains and improve your overall athletic performance.

What Are Rack Pulls 

Rack pull is literally a deadlift variation pulled out of the rack. Rack pulls are essentially half the movement of a traditional barbell deadlift. As opposed to pulling the bar from the floor, you start from the pull out of the rack with the barbell set just above the knees.

Rack Pulls Muscles Worked

Rack pulls work and activate many of the same muscles and muscle groups as the traditional barbell deadlift. Considering that the rack pull is only the ladder half of the deadlift movement, the movement focuses on the pull motion in the upper body, working the upper back, core, and glutes.  

Rack Pull Benefits

Considering the hardest and most challenging part of a deadlift is the pull from the ground, you may be thinking what are the benefits of rack pulls?

1. Proper Form And Technique

One of the primary benefits of rack pulls, is teaching you proper form and technique from the top of the lift. This can help increase your pulling strength because your focus is on a specific phase of the movement, as opposed to spending all your strength and effort on the bottom pull. Newbie or seasoned athlete, this can greatly benefit your athletic performance.

2. Increased Pulling Strength

With the focus honed in on the ladder half of the deadlift, your focus is placed on developing upper back and shoulder strength. This will not only help you increase pulling strength for the deadlift, but also increase the pull for other Olympic weightlifting movements, such as the snatch, power clean, and clean and jerk.

3. Decreased Lumbar Pressure

Rack pulls raise the bar from a more vertical position. Traditional deadlifts load your lower back and pull from a bent over position, therefore, rack pulls will deload your spine liming the physical stress placed on your lower lumbar spine.

4. Grip Strength

Rack pulls benefit grip strength since it allows you to lift heavier weight from the rack, instead of from the floor, in a traditional barbell deadlift.

Training protocols, such as powerlifting, bodybuilding, and high-intensity functional training like CrossFit all require grip strength to compete and lift heavy. A grueling metcon can leave you fatigued and slow you down especially as your chipping away in the workout round after round. Having good grip strength is crucial to focus on proper form and push yourself through your training. 

RELATED ARTICLE How to Strengthen Grip

How To Rack Pull 

  • Setting up the rack pull, you can start from the pins, blocks, box, or stack some plates to get the barbell off the ground and to knee height. Whatever set up you choose, choose a safe starting weight to test the movement before going ham.
  • Start with your shins against the bar and neutralize your spine, straight and positioned over the bar.
  • Bend your knees and hinge your hips with your chest parallel to the ground and get in the deadlift stance. Brace your core, grip the bar with either over hand or over-under grip.
  • Drive your feet through the floor and push your hips forward pulling the barbell from your knee to your hips with hips fully locked out.
  • Hold, then reverse and set the weight back down at starting position

Rack Pulls: Takeaway

Rack pulls can greatly benefit your overall training performance, helping you lift heavier weight and perform with better form and posture throughout technical olympic weight lifting movements. Adding the rack pull to your training schedule for ancillary training movements, and active recovery days will help you become a better athlete. 


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