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Performing Proper Rack Pulls


I want to start incorporating rack pulls for upper back thickness, however I am unsure of exactly how they are supposed to be performed. Are you supposed to keep your scapulae retracted throughout the movement, essentially holding an isometric contraction throughout every rep? Or do you only retract as you are approaching the top position of the rep then hold for 2 seconds and reset?


I do them as shrugs, I rack the weight then with leg drive bring the weight up to peak contraction and lower slow.


I bring my shoulder blades back at the end of the movement....but to be perfectly honest I don't do them perfectly all the time. Sometimes you just need to lift the weight through the full range of motion and forget about the little things. I think rack pulls are one of these movements. Retracting your scapula probably will help hypertrophy and back thickness, but in the grand scheme of muscle building, I personally don't think it matters as much as just pulling the weight fully up.


Well from the looks of your back it seems you know what you're talking about. I suppose I could just experiment and see what feels best for me. Thanks.


Good thread here, should answer most questions.



Don't keep your shoulder blades retracted the whole time. Only retract them once you've locked out the weight, otherwise you're in for trouble with the heavier weights...

Set up so that your feet are a little forward, so that you'd fall over backwards if you were to let go of the bar.
Keep the bar in contact with your legs and drive the hips through to lock it out, then chest out and shoulders back/scapulae retracted briefly.
Lose the retraction before going back down.


Yeah that seems like it would make more sense than holding the contraction the whole time. I'm glad I asked.


C_C's got the right advice as usual.

Use that advice, then pick that shit up and put it down. Long as it's heavy you'll grow.


Just thought I'd add that you should be setting up the pull from just below the knee, with the legs only slightly bent. You want to be thinking of the position you are in at the second part of a deadlift, if you bend the legs too much at the start, you'll be reducing the back involvement a lot and making it a lot easier.


I think this depends on the lifter's proprotions though. For me, I have short arms and so putting the bar below knee level is a bitch, and i'd have to bend my legs too much, putting my back more parallel to the ground.


Yeah, form will vary based on your individual proportions. I'm having trouble though seeing how it isn't possible to set up below the knee (you should see me trying to pretend to have short arms and pretending to rack pull). I have long arms myself but I can't imagine it being impossible to do, it would just be harder - slightly more bent legs and slightly more parralel, but surely thats the position you'd be in at that portion of a deadlift anyway. For bodybuilding rather than improving your deadlift though I imagine as long as your form is consistent it doesn't really matter (as long as you're not pulling from above the knee with a vertical torso)


I did them tonight, right above the knee. I've never been able to nail my form down and it pisses me off. I've tried below the knee and it didnt' feel right.

It's also why I don't pull from the floor.


Oh and one more thing (sorry to highjack, OP) but my thinking was that if my legs and back were more parallel, this would give me a much smaller margin for error regarding my hips rising too fast.

When someone has more traditional deadlifting proportions their back/upper legs are gonna be at roughly 45 degrees, shoulders much higher than hips. So if their hips rise a bit at the start, prolly not a huge issue since their back angle wouldn't be too bad.

Me, once the weight got heavy, my hips would prolly shoot up and it turns into a real ugly lift.

At least that was my thinking, which is why I haven't done floor deads in a long time (I also have a suspect lower back issue).


Best advice I've heard so far today


You could get someone to scream "chest up" at you whilst you lift, otherwise I'm out of ideas. Alot of people have to pull from a more bent over position depending on anthropometry, you probably do have a smaller margin for error though.

At least you've got an advantage in benching.


Mein, you need more weighted ab work + perhaps EZ rollouts, then put PL good mornings into your next blast and ease off the rack pulls for a while.

Do you go touch and go or even bounce?

If yes, just do every rep from a dead stop from now on (or once you resume rack-pulling) and make sure your setup and tightness is what it should be before and during every single rep.


Yeah I have been neglecting ab work. When i'm done with my workout I just wanna go home, but 2 sets weighed ab work doesn't take much time. Guess I just gotta suck it up.
Btw, ez bar ab rollouts - never thought of that lol.

I probably lean more towards the touch and go, but it's not the worst you could imagine. Definitely not banging the bar like some tool, but i'll make sure to reset before each rep.



No problem.

You could make Saturday an AB day btw... If necessary. Just one weighted ab movement + EZ rollouts or so.

And you can do Ab-Wheel or EZ rollouts at home, after training...


(twice a week would probably be a good idea)



Trust me, once you load it up and are pulling heavy (3 or fewer rep maxes) you will feel your whole trap/upper back region working hard just to keep your arms attached to your torso!