The rack pull has been said to be both useful and detrimental by many professionals. Strength trainers and weightlifters tend to lean towards the useful side of the rack pull while therapists and chiropractors advise their patients to stay away from the exercise. In this article I will be discussing both sides of the argument. I will provide the benefits and downsides of the rack pull while giving tips on how you can effectively use this exercise safely.
Why The Rack Pull?
The rack pull is infamous for being an accessory movement to the deadlift. Considering the shorter range of motion throughout the lift, this exercise mimics the last 50% of a deadlift. The rack pull exercise allows a lot of weight to be used with little movement. Being a pulling/lifting exercise, the rack pull is beneficial to the posterior chain (when done properly). If you are serious about increasing your deadlift, the rack pull is a good accessory lift.
Rack Pull muscles worked: Glutes (maximus, medius, minimus), hamstrings, erector spinae (lower back), quadriceps, traps, upper back, forearms/hands.
Rack Pull How To Guide:
First, choose a comfortable weight that allows you to master the form of the rack pull before you test your body's true strength.
To begin the rack pull, place the barbell slightly below knee level. This is a very important step to help you complete the rack pull exercise with maximum efficiency while protecting yourself from injury.
Next, grip the bar outside your knees at a comfortable position. Before you start to lift the bar, make sure your head is up, spine is straight, and knees are pushing externally and not internally.
When at the top of the movement, sustain good posture while squeezing your shoulder blades back (do not let shoulders round). When lowering the bar, slowly hinge at the hips and maintain a neutral spine.
Repeat this motion for a comfortable amount of repetitions.
Further Low Back Strengthening And Relief:
A downside of the rack pull is the strain the exercise places on the lower back. When heavy weight is involved, exercises like the deadlift and rack pull are detrimental to the lower back. If you injure your lower back through lifting, deep tissue massage is a great way to help reduce tension and relieve pain.
To do this you are going to want to apply targeted, effective deep tissue massage to a few lower back and upper glute muscles (QL, spinal erectors, and Gluteus Medius). This can be done by a trained physical or massage therapist, but I highly recommend using a purposefully made tool on your own time like the QL Claw. The QL Claw was designed specifically to relieve muscle-induced lower back pain for cases like this.
If you are looking to build lower back strength in a safer and less stressful way, check out my Back Of Steel Strengthening Program. This program includes exact exercises that helped me create a bulletproof lower back that has been healthy ever since my prior pain.
 Donnelly, Joseph M. Travell, Simons & Simons Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: the Trigger Point Manual. 3rd ed., Wolters Kluwer Health, 2019.
 Davies, Clair, and Amber Davies. The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief. 3rd ed., New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 2013.