The barbell rack pull is a compound exercise which builds muscle and strength in the entire surface area of the back. But it also works the legs, core, and entire posterior chain to a degree. Now, the rack pull is essentially a shortened version of the deadlift but you’re mostly pulling through the top part of the movement to solely stimulate your back muscles.

The rack pull should be the first lift since it’s a compound movement which requires a lot of strength and energy. But it’s also effective during any part of a back workout even if training with lighter poundages. So, if you want to really hit your back muscles with some growth stimulus, then you should include the rack pull in your training routine.

In This Exercise:

  • Target Muscle GroupAll back muscles (Erector Spinae, Lattisimus Dorsi, Trapezius, Rhomboids) 
  • Type: Strength
  • Mechanics: Compound
  • Equipment: Barbell, power rack
  • Difficulty: Beginner

Exercise Instructions

  1. Set up a barbell on the power rack at about knee level.
  2. Then, bend down with your back straight and grip the bar with a slightly wider than a shoulder-width grip. Your feet should be shoulder-width distance apart and pointed forward.
  3. Now, push through your heels and thrust your hips forward while extending your back upward. Exhale during this portion of the exercise.
  4. Then, lower the bar back down until the bar touches the support bars. Inhale during this portion of the exercise.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Variations & Tips:

  • You can also do the rack pull on a Smith machine which requires less stabilization.
  • Push through your heels to protect your knees.
  • Keep your shoulders down and back while extending your chest upward.
  • Keep your lower back arched and upper back only slightly rounded to maximize the effectiveness of the pull.
  • The barbell rack pull targets the entire back but the legs and core also get worked. The rack pull is a very effective posterior chain exercise as it’s a shortened version of the deadlift.

Watch: How to do the barbell rack pull