The rack pull is a great strength training move that very few women do out of fear it’ll bulk their back.

Absolutely false; rack pulls will burn fat and do several wonderful things for a woman – without bulking up her back.

In the past five years, how many women have you seen doing rack pulls?

The rack pull is also known as the top deadlift.

It’s a deadlift that starts at a height higher than the floor: anywhere at the shin height of the exerciser.

The barbell is held in place on support bars at the “squat cage.”

Rack Pulls Are Easy to Do

• You stand in one spot; no stepping, lunging or balancing.

• No twisting or turning.

• Limited range of motion; no having to stretch far and wide.

• Risk of injury is low with proper form.

• Being overweight is NOT a disadvantage with this strength training move.

• Being “thin and weak” is NOT a disadvantage, either.

• Any klutz can do it.

Everkinetic, Creative Commons

The rack pull allows one to lift a lot of weight – more so than any other upper body exercise. This is an ego booster and tool of empowerment.

So why don’t more women do rack pulls? One reason is because they believe it will thicken up their back, make it wider, more masculine-looking.

“At first glance, heavy rack pulls might be super intimidating to a woman, triggering her fears of bulking up,” says Dani Singer, CPT, fitness director for Fit2Go Personal Training.

“However, the rack pull (a variation of the deadlift) is actually one of the best exercises for building the lean, strong and toned figure that most women desire.”

How can something so simple as far as mechanics produce such great results?

• Many muscles are involved; it’s a whole-body movement.

• This means a lot of bang for your buck.

• The arms get worked. So do the core and legs.

• Just five rack pull repetitions, done with maximal weight, will leave you short of breath and feeling like your entire body got an all-in-one workout.

“Done properly — hinging at the hips and avoiding any movement in the spine — heavy rack pulls can certainly add size to the glutes (butt), which is the main muscle worked with the movement,” says Singer.

However, this compound exercise will not give you a big butt, so you certainly do not have to worry about that.

Singer adds, “The back itself plays more of a stabilizing role here. So while a woman should notice her back becoming stronger and more toned, she shouldn’t worry about it becoming too thick or bulky.”

Women who seriously train with rack pulls typically have a lean, killer physique, no thick back.

Meanwhile, many women who slave away in the cardio section have hefty backs – oversized from excess fat.

That’s something to really think about if you’re worried the rack pull will widen or bulk up your back.

Dani Singer is a fitness expert for national publications such as Reader’s Digest and Muscle & Fitness, and teaches hundreds of thousands of trainers as an advisor to the Personal Trainer Development Center.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  


Top image: ©Lorra Garrick