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LAVERA STEWARTEditor-in-Chief of the Approved By Coach
Have you ever imagined that we are going to live in a global scale pandemic in the 21st century? No? Honestly, neither have we. Yet, here we are, the second year into trying to combat COVID 19.
SARS CoV 2 indeed wreaked havoc. It probably messed up the life of every single human on this planet. Many times, we talked with friends about ways it made us feel more depressed, anxious, insecure, etc. You probably did, too! But, as weird as it sounds, it also brought something good! It’s safe to say that it raised awareness of the importance of health!
It seems that because we spend the last twelve months and more surrounded by death, that many people globally started to realize how precious life is and that we have to do whatever is in our power to maintain good health. So, if you look around, you will see many people engaging in physical activities, whether in the park or the gym.
Now as a beginner arriving at the gym, you are probably super enthusiastic, and you want to try everything you see. But the problem is that it is challenging to know what all those machines and exercises are. So, for example, we see that people try some workouts but then are under the impression it is not for them, and they give up. And some of these workouts, such as rack pulls, may be super useful for them. The thing about physical training that many people neglect is that it also has a scientific element. Before starting to train, we have to understand various aspects of the workouts we want to do. What is it? What does it do? How should I do it? These are just some of the questions you need to answer before you engage if you want to be satisfied with the results.
As we mentioned, it caught our attention that plenty of people struggle with rack pull exercise. We are aware that most of you don’t have time to study each thing you would like to do. Hence, we decided to lend a hand and create this text that will provide you with answers to all the questions you may have about rack pulls.
What Are Rack Pulls
Now we come to another thing that may confuse beginners. Apart from the fact that there are plenty of exercises, there are maybe even more names. And often, one exercise has various names. For example, you may come across someone who has heard about rack deadlift. But when you start talking about rack pulls, that same person may look like they have no clue what you are talking about. Nevertheless, these are two names of the same workout in reality.
Rack pulls are a variation of a conventional deadlift. The difference is that the motion range is shorter, in this case, because you are lifting the weights from knee height and not from the ground. You will also hear about it as the partial deadlift.
It is a compound movement, the same as a standard deadlift. That means that there are plenty of muscles and joints involved in this move. These exercises are an excellent choice for beginners and people who still didn’t develop the strength needed for standard deadlifts. It targets many of the same muscles the conventional exercise does, primarily focusing on the lower back and hamstrings.
You may be wondering, what do rack pulls work? It depends on the height you start the workout from which muscles are going to be targeted. If the barbell is lower, the focus is on hamstrings and glutes. If it is higher, then the movement focuses more on the lower back muscles. It is essential to know that the core is always engaged regardless of the starting position. Generally, it is safe to say that deadlifts and rack pull work the same muscle groups. The difference is that this exercise isn’t as strenuous as the deadlift, mainly because of the smaller range of motion.
If you want to do rack pull form, you need to have access to a barbell, squat rack, and weights. Some people choose to use weightlifting belts and wrist straps to make the workout easier.
Benefits of Rack Pulls
Now, it’s time to look at some of the benefits of this exercise. Basically, we already shared with you rack pulls muscles worked, right? But, there are more reasons why you should engage in this phenomenal workout. Let’s check them out.
- Many people use this exercise to strengthen their lower back, hamstrings, and glutes. However, given that you do it correctly, this is a full-body workout. It increases overall strength and challenges every muscle in your body.
- It’s a really good exercise for beginners. Nonetheless, it doesn’t mean that professionals aren’t doing it. On the contrary, you will see plenty of professional powerlifters and bodybuilders doing rack pull to improve pulling strength. They do it mainly because it boosts their performance in other exercises such as the standard deadlift, bicep curls, etc.
- It puts less stress on the lower back, which is why it is used by people who are still not strong enough to do conventional deadlifts without risking injury or experiencing pain.
How to Do Rack Pulls
Although rack pulls form is easier some people may be hesitant because it is a deadlift variation. We are here to tell you that there is no need to worry as long as you carefully follow the instructions. Keep in mind that you should do the barbell rack pull at the gym because you need to have the barbell, weights, and access to the squat rack. Here is how to do it.
Come close to the rack and adjust its height. Remember that this is an individual thing because it depends on your height. Most people put it just below or just above the knees.
Put the barbell on the rack and add weights. Generally, you should use a similar weight as you would do with deadlifts. However, if you are a beginner and unsure how much you can lift, start with a lower weight and gradually increase. Assume the position. Come close to the bar, making sure that your toes are under and pointing forward. Keep feet shoulder-width apart. Your back should be leaning.
Bend the knees and place your hands around the bar. It is up to you whether your grip is overhand or mixed. Make sure that your hands are just outside the knees.
When you are ready, take a deep breath and start lifting the bar. While you are lifting, extend through the hips and knees. The point is that you pull the weight and your shoulder forth and back until you reach a lockout.
Hold the weight at the top as long as you can.
Put the bar back on the rack. Bend your knees and lower your upper body. Remember that the back needs to be straight. Exhale and return to the starting position.
Repeat the rack pulls.
Like with any other exercises, it is not uncommon to make mistakes when doing rack pulls. We are now going to list some of them and explain how to correct and prevent them. Keep in mind that you can make similar mistakes with regular and banded deadlifts, too.
Pushing the Hips Forward
Although rack pulls primarily target the lower back, people often use them to work the lower body. Considering it focuses on hamstrings, glutes, and quads, you may feel tempted to push your hips forward to challenge the muscles more. However, there is a chance that you disturb the form of the movement by doing this. The result of that can be that your back rounds up. It is vital to maintain a controlled and steady movement. Otherwise, you are facing a higher risk of injury. Also, keep in mind that building strength takes time, so be patient.
Adding Too Much Weight
The funny thing about working out in the gym is that we always want more. So we think that adding more weight will help speed up results. But that is a big misconception! Adding more weight when you are not ready will not make your muscles grow faster. On the contrary, it will probably make you feel sore. There is even a risk that you risk getting hurt if you are lifting too much too soon. It is always better to start with a lower weight and then increase gradually as you get stronger.
Bending the Knees
You have maybe seen some people doing deadlifts with their feet facing outward and knees bent at the angle. It is a phenomenal movie, called sumo deadlift. However, for this movement, you need to be more experienced. Also, you have to be stronger because a sumo deadlift puts a lot of pressure on your knees and ankles. If you are not ready for it and still do it, you may get thrown out of balance. Keep your feet facing forward, and don’t bend the knees outward for now.
Proper posture is critical for performing the exercises safely and correctly. So make sure that your back is always straight, shoulders back, and feet shoulder-width apart. If you fail to pay attention to the posture, you probably won’t do the exercise correctly. And that will not only negatively affect the result, but may even cause back pain.
Safety Tips & Precautions
- Whenever you are doing strength training, you have to make sure to do everything correctly to prevent strains and injuries. Here are some tips on how to safely do rack pulls.
- Do another exercise if you have back issues.
- Consider wearing weightlifting gloves for protection. Some people also prefer to use weightlifting belts and straps.
- Make sure to have proper posture and do the correct form.
- There is no need to hurry. Take your time to do the exercise slowly to affect the muscles adequately.
- Stay relaxed and pull your shoulder back. You don’t need to create tension.
- Always keep your back straight.
That is all about rack pulls for today, folks! As you could see, this is a phenomenal deadlift variation, perfectly designed for beginners and people who are still building their strength. But as we said, it is also popular among professional powerlifters because it offers them the possibility to strengthen their pull which is useful for other exercises. Have you ever tried this variation? What are your experiences? If not, would you like to try it?