Gym Shorts: The Block Pull

New to the block pull or looking for a quick technique tutorial? Learn correct form in one short video.

The Block Pull

Gym Shorts videos provide short video demonstrations of correct form for various exercises.

Follow these steps

  • Set Up:
    • Bar rests on block 3-4″ below knee caps
    • Hip width stance
    • Shins vertical touching bar
    • Grip bar outside shins
    • Squeeze chest up hard
  • Movement:
    • Drag bar up legs
    • Keep your back flat
    • Maintain gaze about 12 feet in front of you
    • Push the floor away

What Is It?

The block pull is a deadlift variant that shortens the range of motion by starting with the bumper plates resting on an elevated surface–such as blocks. This eliminates the initial movement off the floor in the deadlift.

The elimination of the beginning portion of the deadlift lessens the contribution of the quadriceps, as that movement is mostly knee extension. Once the lifter overcomes the novelty of the lift and gets the form down, he should be able to lift more weight with the block pull than with the deadlift.

Because of the reduced range of motion and ability to lift more weight, the block pull is an “intensity” supplemental variation on the deadlift as opposed to a “volume” variation, which increases the range of motion or time under tension.

The block pull is essentially a different way to perform a rack pull. If you do not have access to a squat rack–or the rack is not secured to the floor–but you have access to blocks or some other sturdy, stable surface you can perform block pulls.

Programming

Programming block pulls tends to be lower rep sets, as we’re stressing intensity. Sets of 2-5 are the norm, though singles or higher rep sets are okay.

Because of the sheer intensity of these, these are often performed with straps, though straps certainly don’t have to be used.

We typically program block pulls for intermediate lifters who need a supplemental deadlift exercise. These can also, however, be programmed for novice trainees who are struggling to extend their lumbar spine in the bottom position of the deadlift. Most lifters can flatten their lower back with the plates and bar elevated.

If you’re an intermediate or advanced lifter looking for a deadlift variation that stresses intensity, or a novice lifter struggling to extend your lower back no matter what cue or exercises you try, consider adding the block pull to your program.

Click HERE to watch a more in-depth video on how to set your back and HERE to learn more about the two deadlift tracks and which one might be right for you.

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