4 Exercises Better Than the Deadlift
Think traditional barbell deadlifts are tops for adding strength and muscle? Here are four variations that can make big improvements to your physique and help you pack on pounds
3. Rack Pull
Whereas the first two moves on the list are almost completely different deadlifts, the rack pull is indeed a very close match, but just less of one. Let me explain. The rack pull is essentially a partial range of motion deadlift. The fraction can be anything you choose it to be. The rack pull is performed inside a power rack, where you have varying levels at which to position the safety bars. Typically, the safeties are placed at a level in which the bar hits just below your knees. Your stance, grip and form remain constant, making sure to stay safe, with the bar hugging your body throughout. You even begin each rep from a dead stop, exactly like the standard, allowing the bar to settle quickly between each rep.
For some, the rack pull is a great way to finish off a deadlift workout. After you’ve fatigued pulling from the floor, that doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have any more gas in the tank, so the rack pull allows you to continue the heavy lifts in partial fashion. Such intensity techniques (doing partials after full-range reps) can take your conventional deadlift to the next level.
If you don’t have the hip and ankle flexibility or the lower-back strength to complete the full range of motion necessary for the deadlift, the rack pull helps train for it. From week to week, you can drop the safety bars down a level until you’re working from the floor. And finally, sort of an intangible benefit of the rack pull is that it’s a confidence builder. For beginners or those coming off a layoff or injury, the partial rep of the rack pull calls into play all of the major muscles of the standard deadlift, and immediately the neuromuscular system begins to strengthen and support the mental desire to pull heavy weights off the floor. So whether as a stepping stone to the floor deadlift or as a standalone move in your routine to increase intensity, the rack pull can be invaluable.
START: Inside a power rack, place the barbell on the safeties just under knee level. Grasp the bar just outside your legs, making sure it’s flush against them.
EXECUTION: Keeping your abs tight, back flat, arms straight and chest up, press through the floor with your legs to raise the bar, dragging it up your quads until you’re in a standing position. Lower the bar along the same path, allowing it to settle on the safety bars, then repeat.