Rack Pulls or Deadlifts? A Detailed Comparison of Strength Exercises

Rack Pulls or Deadlifts? A Detailed Comparison of Strength Exercises

What could be the best workout for back muscle for you: Is it Rack Pulls or Deadlifts? Which exercise will give you the best back gains?

Choosing the best workout exercise remains a debate, especially on which back muscle workout exercise bears first. Although they share one common goal; to strengthen the back muscles, various perspectives and perceptions, however, have collided and caused a small argument on the effectiveness of these two kinds of back muscle workouts.

Before digging into the answer which workout for back muscle is best, learn and explore first the structure of man’s back muscles.


The back composed of a large and complex group of muscles that work together to support the spine, hold the body upright, and enables the body’s torso to move, bend, and twist in a number of directions.

A man’s back muscles are considered to be one of the largest muscle group in the human body. The human back is the large posterior area of the human body, rising from the top of the buttocks to the back of the neck and the shoulders. It is the surface of the body opposite from the chest.



Various back exercises create a sculpted backside that looks good as you walk away. Back exercises have a deeper bearing, especially developing a strong back muscle that keeps a man’s power and strength through powerlifting. Here are few points of the benefits of strengthening back muscles.


  1. It serves as support for all other parts

Whenever you are doing your regular chest exercise, your back plays a vital role in executing different forms of exercise. Not only workouts for chest but for other parts of the body as well. You can not expect to have a strong chest without having a strong back support.

Furthermore, your back assists in most of the weightlifting activities. Even if it is as simple as doing your regular leg exercises. Your upper and lower body relies mainly on the conditioned of you back muscle and if it is as strong as it should be or not.


  1. Significantly Improves Posture

It enables a person to undergo back strengthening which means making sure of yourself to a proper posture. Having a strong back means you are exercising every bit of its maximum potentials, and this implies that you are reaching its highest capabilities.

N case you’re a bodybuilder or powerlifting competitor, however, all parts of your body are up for judgment. Therefore, you need to do back exercises to provide symmetry between the front and back sides of your body.


  1. Ensures Overall Fitness

If you are able to train sufficiently, then strengthen your back, with this you actually reducing the risks of injuries and illnesses. Having a strong back means you are capable of performing strenuous activities. Because a strong back is very crucial when it comes to executing power and lifting even during our day-to-day life activities.

Furthermore, strengthening your back lowers the risk of developing muscular disorders in the back area. Now that we have fueled our knowledge regarding the importance of our back area, let us now weigh the enormity of either rack pulls or deadlifts.



 Both exercises target the back area. However, they work in different ways that sometimes can be overlooked as not effective or helpful for back training. Either, the rack pulls or deadlifts have been the two top go-to choices for back strengthening exercises.

Nonetheless, both of these exercises have received an amount of positive feedback fairly. It is a bit confusing to choose whether which exercise outweighs the other. Will it be rack pulls or deadlifts?


Rack Pulls

If you are looking to work the back for forceful gains then the rack pull could be the way to go. Rack Pulls as strength building exercise is responsible for the back and hip extension since it targets the back chain muscles. It alleviates and prevents your arms from being ripped out of their sockets.

Over the years, bodybuilders or powerlifters have engaged themselves in rack pulls in order to enhance the muscularity and thickness of the back area. Rack Pulls are done with the use of heavy weights and executed in low repetitions. This exercise is not recommended as suitable for amateurs or beginners.


Here’s how to perform Rack Pull

  • The first thing that you have to do is to position a loaded barbell in a squat rack.
  • The height should just be levelled at the same height of your knees.
  • Use a shoulder-width grip or a mixed grip on your position yourself to grab and lift the barbell. As you reach for the barbell your knees should be slightly bent too.
  • Your feet should be at the hip-width position and should be located directly below the barbell. Also, your back should be slightly leaning forward and your hips are slightly pushed back to engage your hamstrings.
  • Then, slowly lift your chess as you contract your muscles going to a stand-up Make sure that your arms are straightened and fully extended and your shoulders should be locked all the way. Hold this position for about a second or two and go back to your previous position.
  • Repeat for desired or prescribed amount of sets and repetitions.


Muscles at work during Rack Pull are:


Rack Pull  is limited to

If you are a powerlifter or planning to compete in a powerlifting contest, then Rack Pull isn’t for you. This is true especially if you want to maximize the development of your power and strength. But does not suggest that you can’t include rack pull variations in your training, it only means that Rack Pull should not be the focus of your overall powerlifting training.




The deadlift is a compound weight training exercise that makes use of a barbell as its main equipment. The barbell intensifies the exercise by letting the bodybuilder exert an extraordinary amount of effort, power, and strength. Hence, further improving the muscular build-up one the body. Particularly, in the back area of the person.

Yet, as a matter of fact, deadlifts can also be performed using kettlebells and dumbbells. Either using one hand or both hands

Deadlift is a compound weight training exercise that makes use of a barbell as its main equipment. The barbell intensifies the exercise by letting the bodybuilder exert an extraordinary amount of effort, power, and strength.


As a matter of fact, deadlifts can also be performed using kettlebells and dumbbells. Either using one hand or both hands or even standing on a single leg or both legs. What is fun about the deadlift is that its variations are limited depending on the person’s imagination.


Deadlift is derived from the notion of the lifting of dead weight, which means, executing the exercises without using any momentum in the beginning. That is the reason why in doing deadlifts, the barbell starts on the floor. This is to put emphasis on the root word “dead” on the word deadlift, which means “dead weight”.


This particular exercise is classified into two: the conventional deadlift and the sumo-deadlift. The deadlifts, joining together with the squats and bench press, belongs to the top three powerlifting exercises ever known.


Here’s how to perform the Deadlifts 

  • Start off with the barbell placed on the floor.
  • Place your feet directly below the barbell at a hip-width posture.
  • Bend down slowly as you grip the bar with your hands shoulder-width apart. In this motion, both your legs are maintained straight. Next, bend your knees forward as you push your hip backwards.
  • Next, as you are about to lift the barbell up, contract your core muscles and lift your chest up. Make sure that your back is in a straight position as you begin to lift the barbell off from the ground.
  • Finish off with a standing position with your back fully straightened and arms extended on your sides. Make sure that both your hips and knees are locked to know that you have reached the accurate end position.
  • Return the barbell slowly with pushing your hips back first. Basically, you return to the starting position doing the reverse motion of what you had just done.


Muscles at work during Deadlift are:

  • Lower and Upper back
  • Posterior chain (hamstrings and glutes)
  • Biceps
  • Lats and Traps
  • Transverse abdominis


Deadlift is limited to

 Deadlift is known as a great overall mass builder but is it ideal for building the upper body? The problem with the deadlift is that you are extremely limited by the strength of your hamstrings and glutes.

Take note, your traps and upper back are capable of lifting hundreds of pounds more weight. The deadlift isn’t just dense enough to stimulate max hypertrophy (the enlargement of an organ or tissue) for the traps and upper back as well.


 See the difference

If you understood it closely, these two exercises are not that far off different from each other. Where in fact, they are relatively similar in terms of performance and execution. One visible, yet slight difference, is the placement of the weights or the barbell.

For the rack pulls, the barbell is placed on a power rack ensured with safety pins. While on the other hand, the deadlifts are basically rack pulls which starts off with the bare ground.


Another difference of both of these exercises is that level of intensity it requires. As for the rack pulls, since it is elevated at knee level, the range of motion and intensity is lesser. While the deadlifts are more challenging and intense because you start from the ground. So, there is more power, effort, energy, and strength required.

However, there is a slight mind-bottling mystery when it comes to the rack pulls. For the reason that since it requires shorter range in motion, the lesser the stress you feel on other parts of your body. Thus, you can increase the heaviness of the weights which would result in added intensity. It gives you more time and ways to focus on strengthening your back and your shoulder blades because of the reduced stresses on the glutes, legs and lower back.

Deadlifts and Rack Pull essentially have the same motion, at least at the tail end of each exercise. The deadlift is a lift that is seen in competitive powerlifting competitions, the rack pull is not. The deadlift also has a greater range of motion, from the floor and lifted up off the ground until the lifter locks out their hips with the motion. Rather than lifting from the floor the rack pull is simply lifted up from the rack, locked out like a typical deadlift and back onto the rack for a shorter range of motion.


What’s your verdict: Rack Pulls or Deadlifts?

It would be difficult to weigh in both exercises and just choose one. Since both strengthening exercises promise intense results in the back area of a person. As mentioned above, you can go all out if you opt to execute rack pulls. Since the advantage of this exercise is you can focus more on strengthening your back and shoulder blades. Provided that, the stress that occurs on the glutes, legs and lower back are significantly alleviated.

But then again, you can still achieve the same results as rack pulls when doing deadlifts. Since it is hard to parallel the level of strength and power you get to do while doing your rack pulls than that of the deadlifts because of the additional stress. Regardless, the advantage of deadlifts is that you do not only strengthen your back but you get to also develop your leg, glutes, and lower back muscles.


This is the best part of working out; there are so many different options out there to choose from. These two lifts exercises are a great example of a workout that may seem the same but offers different benefits. But which one is truly better for back gains?

Simple. The answer is that both should be in your routine. Deadlifts are a classic and essential lift that will offer not only a bigger back but some serious strength as well.

But during the days where you want to get your back to grow without having to put your body through as much pressure and stress, then, it’s a great idea to pitch some rack pulls in the mix.



Both are the best workout for the back muscle that can be beneficial if you choose to make them both valuable. Each exercise has their pros and cons. Remember, to get better in any kind of activity, make sure to exercise the skills that you hope to improve.


Rack pulls and deadlifts are both popularly used by bodybuilders, powerlifters and athletes to build muscle and increase power and strength. Neither exercise is better than the other since both offer different purposes and have its own benefits and hitches. Yet, your training goals, past injury and level of performance will make you more suited to one or the other, perhaps both.