Rack Pulls for Strength and a Thicker Back
Rack pulls are one of those exercises that you will not see many people doing in the gym. The rack pull is like a deadlift with a shorter range of motion. I have had friends train with me on back day and most give up halfway through the workout. I believe the only way to achieve muscle thickness is to focus on compound exercises, the rack pull, along the deadlift are two of the best exercises for that.
Rack pulls help build up strength fast
There have been a few times in my life where I have been absent from the gym for 6 months or longer. If you have trained with weights, you know how quickly you can lose strength after you stop training.
Rack pulls, if performed on a regular basis (once a week), can help increase how much you can deadlift fast. After one prolonged absence from the gym, I was only able to deadlift 220lbs. After one month of deadlifting along with heavy rack pulls I was easily able to jump up to deadlifting 440lbs.
Rack pulls will make your back thick as hell!
Rack pulls target the whole back, part of the upper hamstrings, glutes, traps, and forearms. Rack pulls allow you to lift more weight, and since the range of motion is shorter, you can target the whole back. If you struggle with locking out deadlifts at the top, rack pulls will help make the lockout easier.
Rack Pulls put less strain on your lower back
Since the rack pulls have a shorter range of motion, many guys prefer to do them. They can be almost as effective as deadlifts without putting too much physical strain on your lower back. In fact, people who have suffered some kind of lower back injury will find that rack pulls are easier, and they do not stress the lower back as the deadlift does.
What not to do with rack pulls
Since rack pulls allow you to lift more weight, this does not mean you should turn this exercise into an EGO or powerlifting exercise. Some men make the mistake of bending their knees up under the bar and use their legs to bring the weight up. This is not how it's done. A proper rack pull uses your back and hips with almost no assistance from your legs.
Rack pulls can improve mobility
Besides increasing brute strength, rack pulls can improve mobility. Deadlifts require proper form and good mobility, if not done properly, you can injure your back. If you are a novice, it's better to start off with rack pulls using a moderate weight. Doing rack pulls with an adjustable rack will let you gradually lower your starting position, helping you get used to the deadlift.
Should you do rack pulls?
Some guys will say that rack pulls are not worth doing. I totally disagree. Seeing is believing. If you are serious about increasing massive back thickness, the rack pull is a must. It should be a staple in your back routine. I tell everyone, try it for at least 5 weeks and then tell me your results, I guarantee you will be amazed at the gains you will make with this exercise.
Below is one of my favorite videos with Mark Rippetoe where he explains in lengthy detail how the rack pull should be done.