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The Rack Pull Field Guide

Rack pulls target the hip extensors, back, lats, and CNS for a stronger deadlift. Rack pulls to improve your deadlift lockout and drive high levels of training stress with extra heavy weights.

The Barbell Logic Field Guide:

Rack Pulls

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Rack pulls are partial range of motion lifts, often acting as a supplemental lift for the conventional deadlift. The shorter range of motion allows most lifters to rack pull more weight than they can deadlift. The movement targets the hip extensors, back, lats, and CNS for a stronger deadlift.

Use rack pulls to improve your deadlift lockout and drive high levels of training stress with extra heavy weights. Click on the image above for a short instructional video, and follow the cues and steps below to help make it a valuable part of your training repertoire.

Start with the Setup

Rack Pull Setup

  • Set your bar 2–3” below your knee cap. This position will vary a little bit by person, purpose, and equipment.
  • Use 12–15” blocks (if available) to prevent possible damage to your barbell.

Stance

Approach the bar: place your feet under the bar so that the bar is touching your legs.

  • Take the same stance as a conventional deadlift (feet under your hips).
  • Turn your toes out slightly.

Grip

With straight legs, bend over and grip the bar just outside your legs.

  • Use a standard deadlift grip.
  • At heavier weights, use lifting straps.

Position

Set your back: squeeze your chest up and pull your back flat.

  • Push your knees out slightly.
  • Be careful not to bend your knees or move the bar,

How to Lift

Drag the bar up your legs.

  • Focus on squeezing your lower back and holding it rigid.
  • Set the bar straight down, gently.

Useful Cues

  • Push your midfoot into the floor.
  • Be patient. Squeeze the bar off the pins.
  • Set the bar down close to you.

When to Use Rack Pulls

The rack pull is a supplemental deadlift exercise. Use this lift for low-volume/high-intensity slots in your weekly training. Often this will temporarily take the place of your heaviest deadlift sets. If you are new to the lift, use lighter weights than for a conventional deadlift and increase the load over a few weeks.

Introduce rack pulls into your training with a single set of five once per week. Then, work the sets and reps down to two sets of three, sets of two, and heavy singles as you add weight each training session. The progression will teach you how to hold onto weights heavier than you can deadlift, and the increasing intensity of the lift will build a strong lockout.

  • Supplemental deadlift
  • Overload the lift
  • Low-Volume / High-Intensity
  • Occasionally, remedial or deadlift alternative.

Read more on the Barbell Logic Technique Training Page.

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