#2: Rack Pull (Partial Deadlift)

You do your pulldowns and pull-ups. You do your rows. So your back training is covered, right? Well, if you’re like most people, you’ll discover you’ve been missing something after you begin performing rack pulls. This lift builds a brutal upper back and traps!

To perform, place a bar in a power rack so that it sits just above knee level and load it up with every plate in the gym. (Okay, maybe not every plate, but you can go very heavy on this one.) Now perform just the “top” of a deadlift. Coach Christian Thibaudeau recommends that you hold for two seconds at lockout before lowering the bar back to the pins.

You may also want to take a tip from coach Mike Robertson and perform the rack pull with scapular retraction. In Mike’s version, you’ll set the pins in a power rack to a point about an inch below your kneecaps. From here, just do a top deadlift: fire your heels into the floor, thrust your hips forward, and lock out the bar with a glute squeeze.

Here’s the kicker: When you’ve locked the bar out, pull the shoulder blades together forcefully and maintain this retracted position for three seconds.

This is a phenomenal exercise for upper back thickness, forearm and grip development, and deadlift lockout strength. And while we normally don’t recommend that you overuse lifting straps or hooks, feel free to break them out on the last couple of sets of this exercise so you can really focus on the heavy load.

Side Bridge

Prone Bridge Sequence

Lift one leg or arm at a time

Reverse pull-through

Plate loaded front squats

Elbow touches

Spiderman with reach


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