Lower back exercises are constantly neglected, so you end up with a weak back because you don’t do any. How do you fix it? Rack pulls are the answer.
What The Hell Are Rack Pulls?
You’ve probably seen guys do rack pulls at the gym but you may have thought they were doing barbells rows funny. I don’t find it’s a very popular exercise in of itself, but it’s definitely effective.
In short, rack pulls are a modified deadlift with a limited range of motion.
Rack pulls are performed in a rack (duh). The bar is set on the safety guides at about knee height, depending on how deep you want the range of motion.
Rack pulls are effective at really working your lower back since you’re not limited by leg strength like deadlifts. This way you can target your lower optimally, without relying on your quads or hamstrings.
How Are Rack Pulls Different Than Deadlifts?
When you deadlift, whatever grip it may be, the bar is set on the ground. In some instances, you can step on a platform or plate to increase the range of motion of the deadlift.
As you straighten up with a deadlift you metaphorically push your feet through the floor, using the strength of your legs and back to raise the weight.
Now for rack pulls, the barbell is resting on the safety guides of the rack. For most, the safety is set to around knee height. If it’s too low, you’re just doing a deadlift and if it’s too high, the range of motion will be too short.
Just like a deadlift, you want to hinge your hips as you complete the exercise. Since your legs will be left out of the equation, your lower back will be constantly worked during the exercise.
Since the range of motion is shortened, you can overload the weight on rack pulls. Having said that, if you have a sensitive or weak lower back, this will be the last thing you want to do. Warm up with a lighter exercise such as hyperextensions, with or without additional weight, before you jump into rack pulls. This will reduce the chance of injury by literally warming up the muscle.