As you go about structuring your workout routine to help accelerate strength gains, one question you might start to ask is whether you should be doing rack pulls vs deadlifts.
Both have been proven time and time again to be excellent strength building movements that are great for increasing your metabolism, adding lean muscle mass, and building up a high degree of power.
But which is the superior option for you?
Is there one that you should be doing more frequently over the other?
Let’s have a quick look at a few things to consider.
Your Back Health
The very first and possibly most important thing to think about when assessing rack pulls vs deadlifts is the health of your back.
Since deadlifts are going to have you picking up the weight all the way from the floor while rack pulls only have you lifting the barbell weight from a raised position on the power rack, there is less of a range of movement the back will have to go through.
Those who are currently suffering from back pain will likely find that the deadlift aggravates it to a much greater extent, therefore making the rack pulls a better choice.
Your Strength Level
The second thing that you’ll want to take into account when thinking about rack pulls vs deadlifts is what your strength level is.
While rack pulls are typically a max strength building exercise because you are using such a short range of motion meaning you’ll be able to hoist a very heavy weight, it’s the stronger individuals who are typically going to be doing deadlifts.
Since you have that longer range of motion to move through as you exercise the deadlift exercise, more muscle fibers will be involved.
You’ll typically be weaker at the very bottom of the deadlift movement than you will towards the top, which is the area the rack pull emphasizes, that means you’ll require more maximum strength to lift similar amounts of weights.
If you want to make sure that you’re targeting your weakest link so to speak, the deadlift is a better exercise option.
Your Workout Programming
Finally, you should also consider your overall workout programming. Since rack pulls won’t hit the lower back quite as much as the deadlift will, they’ll be more applicable to those who are also adding in numerous other exercises for the lower back as well.
This could include movements such as supermans, weighted back raises, or if you’re going to mix deadlifts into the program, single leg deadlifts as well.
Just be extra careful about combining both rack pulls and deadlifts in a single workout however as both exercises are extremely intense and this could come to tax the central nervous system just a little too much.
So there you have the main points to note in the debate about rack pulls vs deadlifts. There really isn’t a ‘better’ exercise so to speak, but rather a best choice based on your overall goals, body type, and preference.
[stextbox id=”grey” caption=”About the Author”]Shannon Clark holds a degree in Exercise Science from the University of Alberta, where she specialized in Sports Performance and Psychology. In addition to her degree, she is an AFLCA certified personal trainer and has been working in the field for over 8 years now.[/stextbox]