T Nation

I Can't Do Rack Pulls

I like to think I know my way around the weight room, and I’m reasonable strong, but I can’t do rack pulls to save my life. When I try to pull from the rack, I can’t get my hips into the right position and I feel like I’m going to stiff-leg each rep.

I’ve been pulling from just below my knee. Should I adjust that up or down? I feel like dropping it down would make it too close to the full deadlift, and raising it would make the lift pointlessly easy. But, I’m willing to experiment if that’s all there is too it. Any ideas what I’m doing wrong? Any cues for the setup that would help?

Go lighter, start lower, and hammer your form and work up the rack as you progress. You may also be standing too close to the bar. Make sure it is over the last set of joints of your toes if your pulling conventional (roughly).

Also, make sure your not spending forever setting up your grip, and also make sure your driving thru your heels as you would a normal pull.

I had the same problem. Also, I pull conventional normally, and hate sumo pulls from the ground. However, after squats I have started doing heavier sumo rack pulls from mid shin and I am liking them. Maybe give that a shot too if you want to just work your hips and overload your grip/back.

However, if you compete and want to overload your dead more overall, maybe look into reverse band deads from the ground. These I find work better, especially if you pull conventional.

cheers,

pat

I hope you get some good responses in here cause I’m in a similar boat.

I just did rack pulls for the first time ever last week. I found it really weird for the first few reps/sets and thought it was oddly hard to get the weight off the pins (lowest setting). Took a few good chunks out of my shins and seriously need to work on lowering the weight in a controlled manner. Once I got the weight going I was decent, but the first pull seems like a struggle.

Anyone know of a good article on rack pulls…I searched last week to no avail.

You probably are not doing anything wrong. Think about your deadlift and if you have a video go back and look at it. Where are your hips when you get the bar to knee height? They are likely pretty high and you probably have only a slight bend in your knees at this point.

When you are doing rack pulls from this height your strongest position is one in which you have high hips and only a slight knee bend. This puts your hips and lower back in its most efficient position so you are at your strongest. If you drop your hips you will end up trying to squat the weight up, or your hips will just come up first anyways. You shouldn’t be stiff-legging it, but most of the movement IS in the hips.

If you are doing these to help your lockout, I’m with Tags on doing reverse band dls instead. Rack pulls have their place, but the carryover is usually poor. Cable pull throughs will likely help your conventional lockout more than rack pulls.

Well, I had two reasons. One, I wanted to help my lockout, and two, rack pulls are one of the back thickness exercises for DC training, so I wanted to get used to them for when I try it out this summer. In actuality, I don’t see any reason not to substitute reverse band deads. Seems like a good idea.

Thanks guys.

Have you tried deadlifting before rack lockouts, to get your groove?
Another suggestion, if you have a good rack: Instead of your DL routine do 2 sets of 3 with about 85% of 1RM from the floor (warm up first of course) then try the same wt. at the lowest pin level, do a set then move up to the next pin height. Continue until you feel your form is compromised. Hopefully you will either find the level your form breaks down (then you can train just below this level for a while then try next pin up) or you will have nailed your form anyway.

Hope this helps

I read somewhere on westside, that you should set the pins at a height that allows you to do 10lbs more than your dl from the floor(or was it 10% or 10kg more.) Not sure which one it was, but you get the point. Pick a set percentage more, and work them like that. Then either increase the weight, or decrease the pin height, set a dl pr and re-adjust the weights.

[quote]dankid wrote:
I read somewhere on westside, that you should set the pins at a height that allows you to do 10lbs more than your dl from the floor(or was it 10% or 10kg more.) Not sure which one it was, but you get the point. Pick a set percentage more, and work them like that. Then either increase the weight, or decrease the pin height, set a dl pr and re-adjust the weights.[/quote]

For what it’s worth, last time I worked rack pulls hard whatever I could pull from 5 inches below my knee I could pull 10kg less from the floor.

Try setting the pins higher until you get how it’s supposed to feel.

The idea is to be able to use more weight than you can pull from the floor.

It’s a partial, like a board press or a high box squat. Used for overloading.

Keep working on them. If you can, videotape yourself.

Keep back flat/arched, shoulders back, bar against your body. Your first movement should be trying to push your hips forward.

Start high and keep lowering the pins…

Monopoly

I wouldn’t view them as something you do to increase your lockout necessarily, but rather something that helps build mass that will ultimately support the ability to pull heavier weights.

Additionally, properly performed they should help to increase shoulder flexibility and teach you to lock the weight out further down your thighs which is an important thing to work on.

They are going to feel awkward at first but that probably becomes more of a reason to do them.

The traditional Jackal’s Gym template has you pulling 6 singles from the floor one week and pulling from the rack the next. They utilize 4 rack heights starting just above the knee and working to just above the floor, one rack height a week, then you start at the top again and work down.

I do this cycle once a year and it is always amazing to me how sore I get and I am always able to identify a rack height that clearly needs work so I pull from that height as an accesory movement when I structure a meet cycle.

It is tough to beat heavy rack work for back mass and if you have ever seen Brad Gillingham in person you recognize he is one of the thickest lifters on the planet (he is as thick front to back as I am side to side). Rack work is a huge staple of their training. I don’t even think they know what a pull thru is.

[quote]Monopoly19 wrote:

Start high and keep lowering the pins…

Monopoly[/quote]

This I did not know, I just jumped in from the lowest pin setting. Do you do this to get the form down, then lower the pins as you get more comfortable?

Sorry OP, don’t mean to barge in on your thread…

Keep doing it and it will feel less awkward. Your numbers will go up. I used to be amazed at how much some people could rack pull. At the time, I was pulling in the mid 500s but my pull from just above my knee was only in the low 600s. In time and with practice, that gap grew. Now I pull 680, but I can haul 835 from my knees for a double.

Also, don’t be afraid to use some body english to get the bar moving on the first rep. I think a lot people get hung up on making rack pulls look like the top half of a deadlift. This is a lost cause if you want to handle heavy weight. And that’s why we rack pull.

[quote]Pinto wrote:
Keep doing it and it will feel less awkward. Your numbers will go up. I used to be amazed at how much some people could rack pull. At the time, I was pulling in the mid 500s but my pull from just above my knee was only in the low 600s. In time and with practice, that gap grew. Now I pull 680, but I can haul 835 from my knees for a double.

Also, don’t be afraid to use some body english to get the bar moving on the first rep. I think a lot people get hung up on making rack pulls look like the top half of a deadlift. This is a lost cause if you want to handle heavy weight. And that’s why we rack pull.[/quote]

Agreed.

I have also observed the same basic relationship in terms of weight handled as you discussed regarding pull just above the knee and full range of motion.

Not to hijack your thread, but this reminds me of something stupid I did when I started out.
Dave Tate wrote an article for the purpose of demonstrating how easy it is for a guru to make something stupid sound like the biggest breakthrough ever.

Anyway, the article was about how pin pulls solve everything. Want mass, do pin pulls, want strength, do pin pulls, want a better vertical jump, do pin pulls.

Well I was a newb and completely bought it. It wasn’t till a few days later I read some other articles of his and realized he was joking. I think there was something in there where he told you it was bullshit, but I probably skimmed over that part.
/hijack