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Deadlift vs rack pull [Article]

Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

Nov 27, 2018 9:30:00 AM

Deadlift vs rack pull

Deadlift vs rack pull


The deadlift is with the squat a main component of a strength regimen. Rack pulls are accessory work to specifically overload the lower back. Pick and choose depending on your goals

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What are your goals


Why do you compare the deadlift and the rack pull? Are afraid of straining your back with a deadlift? Do you want to move more weight to make your back grow? Are you looking for strength or muscle? All these questions are very relevant when it comes to setting your goals. When it comes to fitness I usually see three main goal sets:


  • Looks 
  • Performance 
  • Health


If you are all about looks you are in for a tough time. Unless your abs are big like the hulks will have to pay minute attention to diet. Building a front cover physique is mainly about that. It is secondly about how you train. Focus your research on diet plans and practice to own the kitchen. This will get the results you want. Whether you do calisthenics, bodybuilding or powerlifting is second to that. 


If you are all about performance diet is still important, but not the main driver. The main driver will be to put in hard workouts which are relevant to the goal that you want to reach. Work in the uncomfortable zone without getting injured. Diet is your source of energy, not the main regulator for your results. 


If you are mainly about health you will not go near the troubles of attaining the perfect look or result. All you care is about is to stay mobile and active. You will look into interesting diets, try new things and do some yoga. The good thing is that you will be a lot more relaxed than facing the pressure of living up to your high standards. 


All in all, it is important to know whether looks, performance or health are most important to you. Looking your best might leave you with a lacking energy. Performing the best might not make you look your best. Being healthy might take off the edge you need to be the best. 


The conventional deadlift


The conventional deadlift is one of the most iconic movements with a barbell. Even though there are other variations of the deadlift the conventional version is what most people think of when you mention the deadlift. 


You start with the barbell right in front of you. Get good footing. Make sure your feet are below the bar. Grip the bar with your hands. Get tight and pull. Stop when you can’t go any further. These are the basics. If you want to read more follow my blog. 


The biggest advantages of the deadlift are its comprehensiveness and manliness. There are very little movements which activate your body as complete as the deadlift. It also gives you serious bragging rights. 


The biggest disadvantages of the deadlift are its risk of injury and lack of explosiveness. A poorly performed deadlift can injure your spine. The deadlift will also not make you very fast. 


The rack pull


The rack pull is a variation on the deadlift which shortens the range of motion. This is especially done for accessory training. 


Set up the bar in the rack at a height of your choice. You can use pins or J cups for this. This sets the starting point higher for the deadlift. As this makes the movement easier you can use more weight. 


The biggest advantages of the rack pull are the higher weight and less injury risk. You will put your back under less strain assuming the same load. With the higher weight, you can stimulate your lower back to grow. 


The biggest disadvantages of the rack pull are its isolation and the false sense of strength. By shortening the range of motion you cut out multiple muscles from the deadlift. Your exercises will, therefore, have less impact. Moving a heavyweight for only a few inches can give you a false impression of how strong you are. 


Which is better, the deadlift or the rack pull


It depends on your specific goals. The deadlift will help you to get stronger. The rack pull mainly helps you to build your muscle. Generally, the rack pull is considered an accessory and not the main gospel.


Further reading




Topics: Lift stronger, Deadlift, Fitness, Strength