If you’re trying to figure out whether you should be doing rack pulls vs. deadlifts, you should keep in mind that power lifters, body builders and athletes alike commonly use both types of workouts to build muscle and increase strength, and neither can be claimed to be better than the other.
Both exercises serve their own different purposes which mean that depending on what you’re trying to achieve, will have different advantages and shortcomings. Try to pinpoint your actual goal and take into consideration any injuries you might have had in the past and identify your own level of fitness to see which one is more suited for you.
They Are Two Different Types Of Technique
The techniques in performing a rack pull vs. a deadlift are very similar yet different in a way. Whenever you are doing a deadlift, you will be lifting the weight from the floor as compared to a rack pull wherein you will be lifting from a higher level.
Performing A Regular Deadlift
- 1. Stand with your feet right beneath the bar
- 2. Align your hands with the width of your shoulders and grasp the bar
- 3. Bend your knees until your shins are grazing the bar
- 4. Push your hips back and lift your head and chest to flatten the line of your back
- 5. Lift the bar by extending your knees until you’re standing upright
- 6. Once you’ve reached the top of the movement, slightly push your hips and pull your shoulders back
- 7. With great control, lower the bar back onto the floor
Performing A Rack Pulls
- 1. The safety pins of the rack bar should be right below your knee level on the power rack
- 2. Follow the same procedure as with deadlifts but from this elevated level
Differences Between Deadlifts And Rack Pulls
As you can see, both workouts are very similar except for the level of the starting point. But how much difference can this actually make? Well, that question is very similar to why an inside pushup can have different results from a regular pushup. When it comes to working weight, each position and angle variation can mean the world of difference.
Both Are Strength Builders
Both workouts are intended to build your strength and essentially make you stronger. However, one of the notable differences between these two workouts is that regular deadlifts are a contentious powerlifting exercise which is even included in the Olympics, while rack pulls are not.
Many weight lifters would recommend using rack pulls as an ancillary or a starter exercise before doing deadlifts. As you gain more strength and power and transition to lifting heavier weights from the rack, it will transpose into better gains into doing deadlifts. However, you should always set the rack pins below the level of your knees as doing any lifts above this level can slow down your progress tremendously.
Targeted Muscle Groups
Performing both exercises is very optimal as it can work out more than one muscle group. Both workouts put your hamstrings, glutes, abs, oblique, upper and mid back, and your arm muscles all at the same time. Being to achieve so much from a single type of workout is what makes them popular among weightlifters. However, if you want less focus on your hamstrings and more on your back muscles, then doing a rack pull will be the better option for you.
Complexity In Movement
Performing a regular deadlift is tougher than it seems. Most people don’t have enough mobility and power to successfully and correctly pull weight from the floor. Forcing yourself to perform deadlifts when you are not ready for it can cause severe damage to your spine, which won’t only stop you from working out entirely, but to some extreme cases, have even led to paralysis.
Accidents can happen when you are not able to control and handle the weight you are lifting, and this is a word of caution you would be wise to heed as even professional athletes can be a victim of freak accidents. You can start by performing rack pulls and gradually lower the height you are working with as you become more mobile and capable of doing deadlifts from the floor.
Which Workout Is For You?
Doing rack pulls is a great starter workout to condition you for deadlifting. If you don’t have any intention of competing and would rather focus on sculpting your back, then doing rack pulls will be the choice for you.
Deadlifting is the king of all workouts and is great for almost your entire body as most of your muscles groups will have to work together to give you a precision of movements. Remember to contract your core muscles when performing either workout to minimize the pressure on your spine.
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