Rack Pulls

Exercise Summary
Primary Muscle(s) Lower Back
Secondary Muscle(s) Glutes, HamstringsMiddle BackQuadsAbdominals
Equipment Barbell
Emphasis Compound
Type Pull

Rack Pull Instructions

  • You can use a power rack or place the bar on blocks.
  • Roughly knee-level is where you want to be for the starting position.
  • You want the bar at roughly knee level. 
  • Be in a strong athletic position: knees flexed, core and glutes activated, chest up, and shoulders back. 
    • Rib-cage set over your pelvis.
  • Position the bar over your shoelaces.
  • Feet are just inside shoulder-width.
    • Set your feet as if you were about to jump as high as possible.
  • With your knees slightly bent, tighten your mid-section and hinge at your hips to grab the barbell.
    • Maintain a neutral spine throughout, never rounding or arching your back.
  • Grip the bar just outside your knees with a pronated hand position.
  • Re-tighten and engage your body for the lift. You are trying to take all the "slack" out of your body. Imagine pulling your hips into proper position.
    • Raise your hips slightly then lower.
    • Activate your upper back & lats by trying to break the barbell with your hands.
    • Screw your feet into the floor.
    • Take a deep breath and fill your stomach with air.
  • The barbell is as close to your body as possible.
  • Your neck is in a neutral position.
  • Drive your feet through the floor and stand up. 
  • Maintain your core tightness throughout the movement.
    • Squeeze your glutes at the top.
  • Keeping your knees slightly bent and core tight, hinge at the hips to lower the weight back to the starting position.
  • If lifting in a power rack, slamming the bar into the pins will result in a damaged barbell and/or rack.


  • The decrease range-of-motion allows you to load heavier weight.
  • For a more extensive look at the deadlift, read this piece about the biomechanics of it.
  • Avoid arching your back excessively. This is false sense of core stability.
  • You can employ a mixed or a standard pronated grip. 
  • Do not "look up". You want to maintain a neutral neck position.
  • Keep the bar as close to your body as possible
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