Rack Pulls: Benefits, Muscles Worked, and How To

Rack Pulls: Benefits, Muscles Worked, and How To

No matter where you are on your fitness journey, if you’re looking to increase your pulling and grip strength or break through strength plateaus, it’s time to add rack pulls to your workout routine.

In this guide, we’ll discuss what rack pulls are and which muscles they work, look at the benefits of performing them, and give you a step-by-step guide to doing them correctly so you don’t get hurt.

What Are Rack Pulls?

First of all, what is a rack pull? A rack pull is a weightlifting exercise that targets the muscles in your lower body and involves pulling or lifting a weighted barbell from an elevated position on a power rack or a squat stand.

You'll recognize this move if you’ve ever done a deadlift. A rack pull is the second half of the deadlift motion, but instead of lifting the barbell from the ground, you’re lifting it from the pins or safety arms on your rack.

Equipment needed for this lift

To do rack pulls in your home gym, you’ll need:


Muscles Worked with Rack Pulls

Rack pulls work your entire posterior chain, which is made up of the muscles in the back side of the lower half of your body. These muscles allow you to do crucial everyday things, like get up off the floor, run, and pick up heavy items.

Specifically, here are the main muscle groups in your lower body that are activated during a rack pull:

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Calves
  • Quadriceps
  • Lower back muscles, such as the erector spinae and laatissimus dorsi (lats)


But that’s not all. Rack pulls also work your upper back — specifically your trapezius muscles. These are the large muscles responsible for stabilizing your shoulders and neck.

Plus, you’ll gain hand and arm strength. For such a quick lift, it really does engage most of your muscles.

Benefits of Rack Pulls

Before you start working up a sweat with rack pulls, you probably want to know why you should incorporate this move into your workout routine.

Let’s look at some of the many benefits this exercise provides.

Increased pulling strength

As we mentioned, rack pulls target the muscles in your lower body — including the glutes and lats — which are essential for performing daily movements like lifting heavy objects.

By strengthening these muscles, you’ll be better equipped to handle everyday tasks with ease. You’ll also be able to lift more weight during other exercises, such as the deadlift, since you’ll have more strength.

Improved grip strength

The grip strength required for rack pulls can be intense. The barbell is lifted from a dead stop and held for several seconds before being returned to its starting position.

Continuously gripping the weighted bar helps strengthen the muscles in your hands and forearms. As your grip strength improves, you may find that you’re better able to perform other exercises as well.

Additionally, grip strength is especially important for tasks that become harder as we age, such as opening jars or completing household chores. It may seem like a small thing, but regularly working on this element of fitness is a great way to stay in your best shape later in life.

Breaking through strength plateaus

No one likes feeling stuck in their workout routines, but strength plateaus are something every athlete faces at one point or another.

If you’re having trouble reaching your fitness goals, rack pulls may be your ticket to getting to the next level because the movement pattern of a rack pull challenges your entire posterior chain, which helps increase your overall strength.

Stronger muscles in your lower body

You can build stronger and more defined lower body muscles by incorporating rack pulls into your exercise regimen. Since this move has a shorter range of motion than other popular lifts, you can overload your muscles and target them more precisely.

Holding the weight at the top of the lift for a few seconds can also increase muscle time under tension, which is crucial for muscle hypertrophy or growth.

Less strain on your back than deadlifting

Deadlifting requires you to lift the weight from the ground. While this is excellent for working your muscles, it can strain your lower back, especially if your form is off.

Rack pulls minimize back strain by starting from an elevated position. This reduces the range of motion and puts less strain on your back while still targeting key muscle groups.

For those who struggle with pain or other lower back problems, rack pulls may be a safer alternative to conventional deadlifts. Just make sure you’re using proper form (which we’ll discuss below), and don’t try to lift more weight than you can handle.

And, like with any new exercise, you may want to talk with your healthcare provider before incorporating rack pulls into your workout.

How To Do a Rack Pull

Ready to add rack pulls to your gym time? Follow these simple steps for proper form.

1) Prepare your rack

First, you need to get your barbell in the right position. Adjust the height of your rack so the bar is at or slightly below knee level when you stand in front of it.

Before you start lifting, double-check the safety pins. These are there to catch the bar if you need to drop it.

2) Assume a deadlift grip

Stand in front of the bar with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees slightly, push your hips back, and reach down to grab the bar with an overhand grip, with your palms facing you.

To help you perform the lift properly, here are a few pointers:

  • Grab the bar by positioning your arms on the outside of your legs.
  • Keep your arms straight and your back flat.
  • Start with your shoulders lined up above the bar.
  • Brace your core to maintain a neutral spine.
  • Keep your shoulder blades retracted through the lift; don’t round your back.


By following the tips above, you can minimize the risk of injury.

3) Lift

Once you have a good grip, you’re ready to lift. Brace yourself, then push through your heels and straighten your legs. Keep the bar close to your body as you stand up tall.

4) Hold the weight

When you reach an upright position, squeeze your glutes for maximum benefit. You’ll want to hold the weight for a few seconds, then carefully lower it.

Remember not to lock your knees — you don’t want to put unnecessary strain on your joints.

5) Repeat

If you're just starting out, you may not want to do this step. But the best way to build strength and reap the benefits of a rack pull is to do multiple repetitions, with short rests in-between.

While you’re in charge of your own training regimen, here are some suggested guidelines to help you succeed:

  • Start with three sets of five repetitions, held for five seconds each.
  • Rest for a few minutes between sets.
  • As you get stronger, increase the number of repetitions or hold the weight for longer.


And, most importantly, take it slow and don’t try to rush. Proper form and technique are the keys to winning with weights, and you can’t achieve that if you’re in a hurry.

Rack Pulling Mistakes to Avoid

While the rack pull is a simple exercise, it’s important to be mindful of common mistakes that can cause injury or hinder your progress. Let’s look at four of them more closely.

Starting out too heavy

When first starting with rack pulls, you may be tempted to go heavier than your body can handle. Resist this urge, and start with a weight that is challenging but manageable. Otherwise, you may end up with a thoracic outlet injury that’ll set you back months.

Rounding your back

Another mistake lifters make is rounding their back during the lift. Doing this puts undue stress on your spine and can cause an injury. Keep your core engaged, and focus on holding a proper form during each repetition to stay safe.

Not setting up your rack properly

It’s important to set your rack up the right way. As we mentioned earlier, you want it at or slightly below knee level while doing rack pulls. Starting too high or too low can impact your form and put more strain on your back.

Bouncing the bar

Finally, avoid bouncing the bar as you move through your reps. If you get in a hurry and drop the bar, the momentum will force it back up slightly, giving you an advantage on your next rep that will take away from your results.

To avoid this, control the weight and maintain a steady pace as you lift.

Conquer Your Goals with Titan

Rack pulls are a great way to continue — or start — your fitness journey. They can help you target the muscles in your lower body, get stronger, and break through plateaus.

As you start incorporating rack pulls into your workout routine, remember that Titan Fitness is here to help you conquer every goal. From rack pulls to other strength training exercises, we have the necessary equipment and expertise to support you.

We offer premium equipment — including racks, barbells, and weight plates — without the premium cost. Our equipment is for every person seeking to push themselves to be better and to achieve their personal goals.

With our equipment, you can safely push yourself to new levels, so grab the Titan Fitness equipment you need and start lifting. Unleash your Titan.