Rack pulls exercise is a variation of a deadlift workout. The focus of this exercise is mainly to improve your posture, gain strength, and bulking up your lower back. This workout targets the same muscles like that of deadlifts. The primary target of rack pulls are lower back muscles, but the movement also works on hamstrings, traps, glutes, and upper back. The ROM of rack pulls is shorter than that of a deadlift because the weights are lifted from knee height than the ground. So that’s why people often term rack pulls as partial deadlifts.

Rack pulls are primarily performed using three things that are rack, a barbell, and the desired weight. A major boon of this workout is that it helps to lift the heavier weight which results in strong upper back muscles and thus it is also the best choice of exercise for weight lifters. But this workout can only be done at gyms in the presence of an instructor and not at home because there is a risk of accident or injury due to the heavyweight lifts.

Detail Step by Step Instructions to Do Rack Pulls Exercise

  1. Initially, set and adjust your rack height. You can prefer to set the rack below or above your knee.
  2. Keep the barbell on the racks and start by adding lower weights.
  3. Position yourself against the bar in the correct deadlift position. 
  4. Your back should be arched and your feet should be set as shoulder width.
  5. With your head gazing forward, grab the bar with a comfortable grip.
  6. Inhale. Pull the weight up and back until lockout.
  7. While you are completing this lifting movement, make sure that you pull your entire shoulders back and then return the weight down to the pins by lowering your upper body and bending your knees.
  8. Exhale and repeat this entire movement cautiously.

Variations of Rack Pulls

Trap Bar Deadlift

This is a perfect choice for deadlift beginners. This deadlift is performed by hexagonal or diamond-shaped weight bar and it majorly benefits your quads than the lower back. The movements of this workout are similar to other weightlifting exercises. To maintain the overall posterior chain, the trap bar effectively targets glutes. It helps to build your upper body strength and muscular hypertrophy during lifts and you can build a strong back safely.

Resistant Band Rack Pulls

This variation of rack pull helps to build functional strength, improves motor unit recruitment, and increases overall mass in the upper back, forearms, and glutes of your body.

Resistance Band Rack Pulls

Isometric Rack Pulls

In this kind of rack pull, the lifters place the barbell under safety stoppers. After pulling the barbell, isometric contractions begin which helps to increase strength in muscles and enhance muscle firing patterns.

Recommended Reps and Sets

The number of reps and sets depends upon your fitness goals. If you are choosing muscle hypertrophy, then a rep range of 6-10 for 3-5 sets is preferred. If your focus is on muscle strength, then always opt for 3-6 reps per set.

See also: How to Do a Tricep Pushdown with Proper Technique to Improve Your Physical Fitness

Rack Pulls Target a Specific Number of Muscles


Quads have limited involvement during the rack pull movement. If you want to achieve benefit in quads, then you have to place the bar’s starting position at a lower point and then lift it.


To activate hamstrings, you have to put effort into placing the bars staring a position slightly at a higher point than what you do for quads. Very soon you will start noticing the change in your hamstrings.


Glutes are the most emphasized muscle in rack pulls workouts. They are the major target for attaining higher strength and stability. Here heavy weight lifting benefits glutes improves your overall performance during deadlifts.

Lower Back Muscles

In comparison to common deadlifts, less hip flexion is needed in rack pulls because of the low range of motion. If your goal is to have stronger lower back muscles, the rack pull is the key.

Trapezius Muscles

This is the largest muscle group that implies twisting your arms and turning your neck. Rack Pulls are hugely effective for the development of this muscle group.

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Pros of Rack Pulls

Pros of Rack Pulls
  1. The more you start lifting heavy weights, the better improvement of pulling strength.
  2. The grip is an important part of weight lifts, where people often overlook. Your grip will be stronger from handling heavy loads.
  3. If you have a history of back injuries or suffering from lower back pain, then rack pulls deserve a schedule in your daily routine.
  4. If you want to have that aesthetic look of fuller traps, then rack pulls is a correct choice of workout
  5. By applying proper techniques for this exercise, it helps to activate muscles through the whole posterior chain.
  6. With having so many benefits with this workout, no doubt rack pulls are a professional weight lifter’s best friend. 

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