T Nation

Smith Machine Rack Pull


It's nearly beach season now and the number of people going to my gym to get ripped just increases day by day. I normally do rack pulls in the one and only rack in my gym and I don't mind waiting 5-10 minutes if there is someone using it.

However, today there are more than 3 guys waiting to use the rack so I said fuck it, I'll just try the smith machine instead. I put 2 plates a side for my warm up. It felt...right. I increased the weights till I reach my working set and I really enjoyed it. Grip wasn't as much of an issue as normal rack pulls and I feel like I can really focus on working my back and traps.

I'm still going to do normal rack pulls as one of my main back exercise, but I think that using the smith machine can be a good back-up.

Any of you guys tried doing rack pulls using the smith machine? Any issues with it? Any tips on techniques/minimising potential injuries? Thanks a lot in advance.


I've done it before, it's not so bad.


I would be interested in some comments from those who do it, or don't for whatever reason. My gym has no power rack, just a squat rack, so I haven't been doing them but have heard of others using it for RPs.

Taufiq, did the setup over the bar felt different? Was it a vertical or angled Smith?


It felt a bit different at first since you have to twist the bar to get it out of the safety thingys but after a couple of reps and adjusting grip position it felt alright, and the bar is thicker than a normal olympic bar so using a strap didn't really help much for me. I used the vertical one for my sets. After I finished, I went to the angled Smith to try it out, just with the bar though and I think it'll feel more natural for some people. I'll probably try using that one next week.


I'd prefer to do RDLs with the smith before rack pulls.

Does the smith machine you use have catches or something? How do you get the bar to stop where you want it to?


I have used the smith at my gym quite a few times for DLing. Due to the stops it doesn't go down far enough for a true deadlift (i like sumo's). I end up pretty much doing a rack pull due to the limited range of movement. However, i can go heavier so it is still a good workout.

I have read people dissing the smith for DL around here but I have stimulated my back plenty using it. Is yours bolted to the ground? Mine isn't and it seems to shake and rattle when you start lifting more plates on it.


Necessity is the motherfucker of invention.


Yeah, it has a safety catch, but I don't like using it because it automatically twists the bar back if you hit them, so I use a bench instead. The height of the bench is perfect for me, as it stops the bar just a few cm below my knee.

RDL on a smith? Never thought of that before. Thanks for the suggestion.


Nope, it's not bolted to the ground. Haha, yeah, the rattling and shaking turned a few heads but I think the machine is heavy enough (from the plates on the racks) so as not to move that much.


The one at my gym has safety catches that can be swung out and adjusted.


Taufiq, when you tried the angled Smith, I assume you let the angle come toward you, yes?


Yup, you're right, so that the bar stays close to the body.


I have not tried the smith machine rack pulls but I will give it a try. I recently started doing the DC style deadlift on the plate loaded shrug machine which also simulates a neutral grip rack pull and it is working out well so far.


Yeah I'm surprised some an asshole hasn't come in bashing the smith machine (well not yet at least lol)

As for trying the rack pull. I have yet to try it. Curious as to how it feels.


I do mine in a smith because I have no power rack. I like it, mine has catches that I can set and I don't have to worry about twisting it out of the safety bits.


I'd say conventional rack pulls are better than smith rack pulls. Try it if you want, by all means, but don't replace a good exercises just for the sake of it.


x2 I do the same for the same reason. Plus I can use an extra 90lbs because the smith in my gym has a counter balanced bar.


For what it's worth, some DC guys do "drag rack deads" where they do rack pulls with the bar pulling against the uprights of the rack...sounds similar to rack pulls in the smith..


Do you mind posting a video or description of that?


I'm sure if you posted in the DC thread here, one of those guys would be willing to dig up a description for you.