Rack Pull Exercise Form Guide with Video & Pictures
How to Do Rack Pulls with Proper Form

Rack Pull Exercise Form Guide with Video & Pictures

Exercise Name

Name

Rack Pull

Also Called

Pin Deadlifts, Deadlifts from the Rack

Muscles Worked

Primary

Spinal Erectors, Glutes

Secondary

Back, Calves, Forearms, Hamstrings, Quadriceps

Classification

Function

Strength

Mechanics

Compound

Force

Pull

Equipment

Main

Barbell, Power Rack with Safety Pins

Optional

Lifting Straps, Chalk, Belt

Guidelines

Experience

Beginner/Intermediate

Rep Range

3-8

Training Tempo

2-0-x-1

Related Exercises

Variations

Deadlift, Sumo Deadlift, Deadlift from Blocks

Alternatives

Good Mornings, Romanian Deadlifts, Glute Ham Raises, Hip Thrusts, Hyperextensions, Reverse Hyperextensions

Instructions with Pictures

1. Starting Position

Rack Pull Foot Poistion - Front View

Source for this & images below: Mark Rippetoe

Rack Pull Foot Position - Side View, Closeup
  • Using the safety pins to elevate the weights off the floor, set the barbell somewhere in the area between mid-shin and the top of the knee cap.
  • Foot position should remain inside the shoulders, ideally at hip width. Utilize a hip hinge motion to lower the hands down to the bar.
  • Keep the shoulder blades pulled together and depressed down into the lats while bracing the core to ensure a neutral spine alignment.
  • With the hands set just outside the body, use a hook or mixed grip technique to hold the bar.
  • The bar should be grazing your legs.
  • You should be “hinged” to the point where the shoulder blades are set over the bar.
Rack Pull Starting Position with Hip Hinge - Side View
Rack Pull Starting Position with Hip Hinge - Side View, Closeup

2. Concentric Repetition

  • While continuing to actively brace the core and retract/depress the shoulder blades, simultaneously drive the hips forward while imagining “pushing your heels through the floor.”

3. Midpoint

Rack Pull Lockout / Midpoint - Side View
  • Push the hips forward and stand up until the shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles are all aligned.

4. Eccentric Repetition

Rack Pull End Position - Side View
  • While under complete control of the bar, hinge the hips back while maintaining a neutral spine until the bar makes contact with the safety rods.

5. Repeat

  • Wait until the bar is completely motionless before performing another rep.

Common Rack Pull Errors to Avoid

Mistake:

Solution:

Rounding lower back​​​​

Firstly, reduce the weight being used until you can establish a rigid neutral posture. Remember to brace the core by pushing out with the obliques, keep a posterior tilt in the hips, retract/depress the shoulder blades, and actively pull the bar into your body to engage the lats.

Varying bar placement in starting position

Be sure to purposefully and under complete control, hinge the hips to lower the bar exactly to the position it started in. If the bar is too far out in front of you, reset your entire position.

Holding bar away from body

Imagine that you are trying to bend the bar around your body or that you are at the end of the “straight arm pulldown” exercise. This will actively engage the lats and keep the bar close to your body.

Pulling with lower back

Explosively push the hips forward while driving through the heels of your feet. Don’t forget to maintain all of the postural tension developed during the starting position.​​​​

Not locking out

Focus on squeezing your glutes in order to ensure the hips completely extend. The weight may need to be lowered if this is a recurring issue.

Hyperextending neck

Keep the head/neck retracted by slightly tucking the chin back. This will help keep a neutral cervical spine. Try to look straight ahead or a few inches down.

Rack Pull Tips

  1. Make sure you are warmed up! Rack pulls will allow you to throw weights around that are significantly higher than you are actual deadlift max. Jumping into supramaximal (weights over your actual max) while your muscles are too cold is just begging for an injury.
  2. Don’t forget to BRACE. Take a big deep breath before each rep, pull it as deep into your stomach as you can, and hold it as tight as you can. This is commonly referred to as the Valsalva Maneuver and helps ensure neutral/rigid lower back. This is key for lower back safety during a rack pull.
  3. Learn to hip hinge. The goal of the movement is a powerful hip extension. In order to achieve that, the hips must be kept high and back during the start position.
  4. If you’re having trouble keeping your spine in a neutral position, practice hip hinging with a PVC pipe or broomstick. Basically, you want to hold a broomstick behind your back while you do an “air deadlift.” The goal is to keep your upper hips, upper back, and head in contact with the PVC throughout the movement.
  5. To ensure maximal and optimal hip drive, imagine you’re “driving your heels through the floor.”
  6. During both the concentric and the eccentric phases of the lift, the hips and shoulder should ascend and descend at the same time.
  7. Explosively push your hips forward. The goal is to achieve maximal glute activation by actively extending the hips.
  8. Letting the bar swing away from the body increases the moment arm (decreases your mechanical advantage) and can cause you to lose postural tension, increasing the risk of injury. Keep the bar against your thighs at the start and imagine that you’re trying to bend the bar around your body. This will actively engage the lats and help reduce bar swing.
  9. The bar should go down the same way it came up. The negative motion should be slow, deliberate, and completely under control. Just dumping the bar or slamming it down drastically reduces the benefits of the lift and increases risk of injury in the long run.
  10. Ideal footwear for rack pulling is something with a flat, hard sole. Check out my article on deadlifting shoes for specific footwear recommendations. Unless you are training for a weightlifting meet, don’t use a heeled shoe because it may throw you too far forward when you start the pull.
  11. If you notice your grip is the limiting factor, use straps or chalk to help your hands. Also, to ensure long term progress on all of your pulling lifts, start doing some focused grip training to get your hands as strong as possible.
  12. If using an alternated grip, switch it up often. This will help limit imbalances. Also, experiment with hook and double pronated grips for an extra challenge.
  13. It can be easy to want to just load up all the weight you can physiologically handle, throw on some wrist straps, and try to pull the world in a rack pull. When learning the lift, do not go any higher than 10% over your one rep max deadlift from the floor. This will ensure a base level of strength to help reduce overuse or overreach injuries. Slowly increase weight over course of several months.

Is the Rack Pull Right for You

Rack pulls are excellent options for individuals that may have mobility issues that don’t allow them to deadlift from the floor with proper technique. Also, rack pulls are a great lift for developing a brutally strong back, glutes and grip strength.

About the Author Alex

Hey! My name is Alex, and I'm the owner and author of King of the Gym. I started this website back in late 2009 during college, and it has been my pet project ever since. My goal is to help you learn proper weight training and nutrition principles so that you can get strong and build the physique of your dreams!

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