T Nation

Rack Pulls


I've never done rack/pin pulls before and I'm wanting to know what everyone thinks about a decent set/rep routine.

Should I just approach them the same way I do my full pulls?


I would keep them between mid shin and knee height and never go higher.

Start out lighter because fatigue can creep up on you with these.


I concur and especially if you're doing Sheiko.

OP, do you have any particular reasons for doing rack pulls?

You could do something Sheiko-esque(based off of Prilepin's Table) like this


I would base my T.M. off of my deadlift max to err on the side of caution.


Saying this is risky. People hear "between mid shin and knee height" and they get thinking anything JUST below knee cap is a useful movement. And as most of us should know, "rack pulls" done from too high are more of an ego lift than anything else.

Stick to mid shin, and especially if you do rack pulls against bands/chains, I think you'll find they light your whole back up nicely.


i like to do them for more reps in a conventional stance and for more of a heavy movement in a sumo stance. I usually set it up at the lowest pin setting and the bar is mid shin with the plates hovering about 2-3 inches off the floor


It's good to see you back in the PL forum. Glad your back.

You don't think doing them from just below the knees can be good for building confidence and getting used to heavier weight?


Thanks...had a drink spilled on my laptop, and didn't have much spare cash for a bit to get a new one.

But no, I really don't think it's a wise use of effort/time in the gym. I've known guys pulling like that in the 700's who have trouble pulling 4 plates from the floor.

I don't think you necessarily need to be "used to" super heavy weight to deadlift heavy, if you know what I mean. After my last meet about 6 months ago, I didn't deadlift once until about 2-3 weeks ago. For the last 3-4 months, my only squat variations has been front squats. But my first time deadlifting again, I hit 585 for a pretty easy single, and a week late pulled 605x4, all after a complete lack of heavy training for back movements, with the exception of doing rack pulls once. Now I realize this is at least partially rebounding, but if not always training super heavy was that much of a mistake, I would've expected to see a lot of regression.


My goal would be partially to feel heavier weight, but also to train for strength just off the floor. I'm adding defecit pulls in to help off the floor and want to reduce the level of actual "full pulls" I do to once every 3 weeks or so. I have only been training for DL for 3 months so I'm just trying to find out what works well and what doesn't.

I'm also hoping this will add some bulk to my back, because why the hell not right?


I'd agree but I also think high rack pulls are great for the upper back. I honestly don't think I've ever FELT better whole back stimulation (saying it that way because my back gets plenty work from power snatches and other things now, strong as ever probably stronger, but doesn't feel the same). So I think those are useful for assistance and for bodybuilding (yeah I know this is the PL forum, but others might read).

You just have to be aware that the lift isn't going to transfer to the DL from up high at all....unless your lockout at/above knee sucks and in that case I have other solutions that would probably work better (reverse band deads come to mind).

Different people get different carryover.


I'd agree here too, but you think maybe the front squat specialization had something to do with it? They're big for helping the deadlift in a lot of people.

I had a similar situation when I went pretty much exclusively to high pulls and power snatch for hip dominant work (I still back squatted some and did front squats). No other pulls at all but it didn't cause me to lose any huge amount of strength (just some groove and polish)


I love pin pulls. Sure, I get to play with more weight than I can get off the floor with a regular deadlift but that's not a bad thing, IMO. Besides, don't the worlds strongest man events pull from 18"? Rack pulls are just another tool in the box. I will concede that If one pulls 500# from the knee and can't break 315 from the floor, yeah there's a problem but we responsible lifters don't do silly shit like that.

Another thing to consider from the "West-Side wisdom" article.... "we almost never pull a deadlift off the floor, usually from pins until we go to the meet".

If it's good enough for the folks at Westside, then it must be fairly solid. To me, rack pulls are the 'board press' for the deadlift.


Absolutely the front squats were the biggest helping factor; the point I was trying to make is that you don't always have to go super heavy on one movement relative to the weight used on another to get better at the 2nd one...if that makes any sense. With front squats, my recent best is 375x3, not quite ATG, but about 2-3 inches below parallel, no belt. I know for a fact that's why my deadlift has been getting pretty good again, even though the weight on frong squats is a LOT less than with deadlifts.