Stop Doing Rack Pulls Like This! (SAVE A FRIEND)

Stop Doing Rack Pulls Like This! (SAVE A FRIEND)


What’s up, guys? Jeff Cavaliere, ATHLEANX.com. Today I’m going to cover an exercise that
I’ve been asked about for a long period of time. That is the rack pull. I’m going to hold off on defining where you’re
pulling from because I do think it makes a big difference. We talk about the risk and reward of an exercise. At least, I do. I believe I bring a unique perspective to
any exercise when I look at it. That’s because I have both the strength coach
background and physical therapy and I have to wear both hats. It’s impossible for me to separate the two
to evaluate the value of an exercise. When it comes to the rack pull, it’s a controversial
exercise. Some people don’t think it has any merit
and some people think it’s a great exercise. They will argue both ways. I think if we look at it from a different
perspective it might open up your mind and change the way you’re viewing it. So, when I talked about the risk and reward,
I think you have to define what it is we’re talking about. Are we talking about the exercise that’s done
above the level of the knee here by a few inches, or I’ve even seen it done mid-thigh,
where we’re loading up hundreds and hundreds of pounds on this exercise and really trying
to pull as much as possible? Either with the idea of building strength
or using it for hypertrophy. Particularly of the traps. Is that the goal? Or is it down alternatively with a lot less
weight, much lower? Either at the knee or slightly below the knee
with the purpose of it being an accessory movement to a much bigger, notable lift. Like the deadlift. If it’s the latter, I’m all on board here
because I’ve programmed the exercise as an accessory movement for the deadlift. What it does is allows us to work on an area
I believe people don’t finish a lot of times. They don’t finish the exercise. They don’t do the terminal range of motion
through extension and that’s a big miss if you don’t do that. More notably, it’s a hip hinge exercise. It gives us a chance to work a hip hinge. Particularly if someone has a difficulty pulling
from the floor. Maybe they have some biomechanical deficits
that don’t allow them to pull from the floor just yet. It doesn’t mean you wouldn’t want to train
them on a hinge. This is a way we could do that. But a lot of times we’re not doing the exercise
that way. We’re doing it to load up the exercise, and
that’s where the risks come in. That’s what I want to show you guys that I
believe is a bit of a problem with the exercise. Because we know that the easiest part of the
lift is the end of the lift – once we get past pulling from the floor, the amount of
weight that somebody can handle on this exercise is enormous. That’s why you see people load up tremendous
amounts of weight there. But that’s also a problem because you’re handling
weight you likely couldn’t have gotten in that position any other way. If you didn’t have the rack here to set the
weight up at that height and be able to pull your 2″ to 3″ range of motion, you probably
wouldn’t have been able to pull it in the first place. You certainly wouldn’t have been able to pull
it from the floor. So, what happens there is, you’re subjecting
your body to forces that they’re probably not equipped to handle. Therefore, it’s taken the brunt of it in a
way that you’re probably not even aware that it’s happening. That’s right here. Again, I bring the physical therapist side
to it because I have to. I’ve actually seen this happen to many people
before. We’re talking about this area right here. This is the thoracic outlet. This is an injury that’s kind of on the rise
of late. I don’t know if it’s because there’s more
recognition here, or if it’s because more people are trying to do these things and attempt
these things with repercussions. The thoracic outlet is dealing with the nerves,
arteries, and veins that run from the neck down through your skeleton, out toward your
arm, and down your arm. Notably, when we talk about the nerves we’re
talking about the brachial plexus, – this big, thick, yellow nerve bundle here – and
its positioning in terms of how it runs through the muscles of the neck and most importantly,
it runs down under the clavicle, under the pecs, and then out toward your arm. Then it runs all the way down your arm to
feed your arm and innervate your arm. What happens are a couple of things. Number one, we also have vessels here – the
subclavian artery and the subclavian vein that both run under here as well. They can also be equally impacted. So why is this a problem? Well, when you’re handling weight that you
can’t comfortably handle you get a lot of stress on the skeleton in both a distraction
downward on the arms, and also through this tilting upward and downward of the scapula. You have to understand that. The clavicle, which is the area that’s really
going to impact these nerves and vessels, is attached to the shoulder blade via its
connection at the AC joint. You can see that right here. So, if the shoulder blades are either really
protracting around the body here, or more importantly, up and down, up and down as they
would when you’re handling a ton of weight that you really can’t manage; then we have
a problem. What that’s doing is causing, as you can see,
the clavicle to come up and down. When it comes down, you’re getting more of
a pinch of the clavicle here like this, down on those three structures. You don’t want that. That’s placing an enormous amount of stress
on the nerves that are going to give you some of these symptoms down in the arm, or some
of the pain that you can feel here in the sternum, or some of that tingling sensation
that you can get down in the arm, or that numbness you can get down in the arm. Even through the pinky here. You have a problem with that. The next thing is the traction element as
well. If these nerves start up here and run all
the way down through the arm what would happen if I took this arm and brought it down even
further in relation to the skeleton? From here, down. Down. We’re taking these nerves and stretching them. All that traction, while it may be the main
benefit of the exercise in terms of its trap development, it’s causing that side effect
or repercussion of excessive strain on those nerves heading down to your arm. The thing about thoracic outlet is that it
doesn’t really happen like that. It happens over time. Repetition after repetition. When it does happen it’s one of those things
that you don’t necessarily know how to identify because you feel it in a whole bunch of different
areas. Sometimes just diffused shoulder pain. You think you did something to your shoulder
when it has nothing to do with your shoulder. It’s the related nerve pain that happens from
the compression that’s happening here, underneath the clavicle. So, if you were to lessen the weight and handle
something you normally could you’ve be able to keep your shoulder blades in a much better
position. You can see Jesse demonstrating both versions
here. With his shoulder blades held in a better
position here – retracted, as you would when you’re doing the deadlift. Guys, if you’re not staying tight on the deadlift,
if you’re letting your shoulders round, you’re going to do the exercise poorly. You can get away with it on the rack pull
done above the knee. You can’t get away with it on a deadlift. It’s probably going to show itself up in other
areas, too. Like the thoracic spine and down the lower
back. But you can’t get away with that here. The thing is, if Jesse keeps himself back,
we’re okay. But in order to keep himself back he’s got
to have to cut his ego down a bit and lower the weight. But if you’re just going to stack up the weight,
weight, weight and move in a couple of inches range of motion because you can handle that
weight in that range of motion, what are those side effects? Look at the positioning of the scapula here. They’re being protracted. They’re being lifted and thrown forward. They’re pretty much reenacting the job of
what a tight pec minor would do, which we know is another cause of thoracic outlet. Guys, I think sometimes we have to look a
little bit deeper. Again, you have to evaluate for yourself whether
there’s a value for you in this exercise. If you don’t have to worry about anything
done overhead, if you don’t have to care about the function of your arm, or whether
it’s numb or not; you can probably go ahead and load up the weights and try to build your
traps that way. But I think there are other options for you
to do that wouldn’t subject you to those things. As a matter of fact, maybe just working up
aggressively increasing your deadlift is the best way for you to get to the end point of
what it is you’re trying to do. You’ll build your traps, you’ll build your
overall strength, you’ll build more function, you’ll be pulling from the ground, and it’s
an all-around better option. Guys, I hope you’ve found this video helpful. If you’re looking for programs where we have
to evaluate what we do – because it all matters. We look at both sides because it all matters. They’re all over at ATHLEANX.com. We put the science back in strength. In the meantime, if you haven’t already done
so, please subscribe and turn on your notifications so you never miss a video when we put one
out. All right, guys. See you soon.

100 comments on “Stop Doing Rack Pulls Like This! (SAVE A FRIEND)

  1. ATHLEAN-X™ Post author

    NOTIFICATION SQUAD GIVEAWAY – Alright guys, I’m giving away a complete 30 Day Workout program to 100 lucky clickers within the first hour this video is published! Remember, this is NOT THE FIRST 100, but those randomly selected WITHIN the first hour the video is published. So don't b*tch if you're not one of them 🙂 Just try next time. Click the link to see if you’ve won. Good luck! 
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    If you don’t win, no worries. Just be sure you have your notifications turned on so you can get to my next video quickly and try again. Good luck and thanks for being a loyal subscriber…

    Reply
  2. Leigh Wise Post author

    Can you do a video on hyperextended elbow. Injured my elbow playing football (soccer). Would like to know how long to leave the gym for and how long to leave before going back to football. Great video as always 💪👍👍👍

    Reply
  3. BANTZ Post author

    Any chance of a video cover bulking/getting bigger as a teenager that struggles in weight gain ?

    Reply
  4. ben dover Post author

    I was lifting wrong for 10 years. Lots of injuries. Now Im checking the ego and starting from scratch. You are the best gym Sensai. Thankyou

    Reply
  5. RAYSANTANA Post author

    Can you talk about sandbag training I've made huge results only using it and bodyweight exercises

    Reply
  6. Adrian Williams Post author

    Hi Jeff. Does this mean you would also advise against shrugs? Can you talk about these at some point? Thank you.

    Reply
  7. zwizzy89 Post author

    Can this mimic a herniated disc between c4 – c5? And if so. What are the remedies or surgical solutions? Had issues for a year

    Reply
  8. James Quinn Post author

    Of course i get the notification for this video 3 days AFTER its uploaded oh well no matter haha awesome vid as always and 7.9M Subs man that's awesome that's like ⅓ of the population of Australia in subs hard to believe i subscribed when you were at like 3M subs

    Reply
  9. Iron Temple Post author

    Hi, @athlean-x is your workout program updated w/ these new workout tips or does it already include what you share with us via these videos? thnx

    Reply
  10. OVER 50 STRENGTH & Skill Post author

    This is sensible instruction. I've had this phenomena occur. It also effected my inner forearm at my elbow with hand tingling.

    Reply
  11. Filip Bachta Post author

    So is deadlift a back or leg workout because before he said deadlifts are for legs but now his recent videos deadlifts go on his back workouts!

    Reply
  12. mj3791 Post author

    Good video, but get off the fucking fence, spit it out lol. It's dangerous stupid shit excercise, that's what you're trying to say right?

    Reply
  13. rock_bottom7 Post author

    Used to love doing rack pulls. But now i get a great pain in my abdominals when i try to do them. Feels like a hernia but my doctor said it isn't one. Anyone got any advice?

    Reply
  14. Sivanesan Kalimuthu Post author

    Jeff, what's your view on cold drinks?

    Is it okay to drink cold drinks straight after workouts?

    please advice.

    Reply
  15. Anthony Pagliuca Post author

    Can you do a video about muscle proportionality…example how big arms should be compared to legs, chest back etc etc. Perhaps the different proportions in relation to the different fitness disciplines such as bodybuilding vs physique etc etc. Thanks in advance.

    Reply
  16. Justin Ritchie Post author

    Is there a way to UNDO thoracic outlet compression after you've already screwed yourself up?

    Reply
  17. ChickenBreast205 Post author

    Rackpulls are for pussies who can't deadlift heavy.. Thanks for great content!! Retarded comments tho.

    Reply
  18. hernan romero Post author

    I get all this pain you describe jeff when doing stiff legged deadlifts or romanian deadlifts, is that possibble or it is something completely different? I Would appreciate a lot your answer.

    Reply
  19. Joe Haefeker Post author

    You're well appreciated in this bodybuilding community with as bodybuilding professor like you!!!

    Reply
  20. Lego Bro Post author

    Hey Jeff can you do another 7 minute follow along ab work out? Those are very awesome videos to follow Along too

    Reply
  21. alessio vassalle Post author

    Hey Jeff, I have a video suggestion: A new conditioning workout. I have done the 11-11-11 challenge and it was tough. Maybe you could make an 8-8-8 challenge or 9-9-9 challenge. For example 9 burpees, 9 box jumps, 9 push ups, 9 burpees, 9 inverted rows, 9 tuck planks same side each side, 9 burpees, 9 pike push-ups, 9 burpees? It was a thought I have had for a bit. I think it would be great for AX-1

    Reply
  22. Hit DBZ Post author

    Hi Jeff, I got a pain on my low back specially when i rotate it on the right or on the left, could you find where it came from and make a video about it, i been to a doctor and he fix it, i had pain on the right side, and then now i have pain on the left side but not on the right anymore

    Reply
  23. Mohammad Yaghi Post author

    Hey. Can you help me know if sweating at my job or in my normal day may prevent my muscle gain ?

    Reply
  24. XV9Genesis Post author

    Thank you so much for videos like this. I am always afraid that I am going to hurt myself! This makes it more comfortable for me to lift safely and correctly. These are golden.

    Reply
  25. Manuranga Devendra Post author

    If any of u have ever done a heavy rack pull you'd know how great of an exercise it is. Sure it has some risks but so does every SINGLE exercise. If u r worried about injuries in the long term just sole benching and gym overall cuz anything u do can get u injured.

    Reply
  26. Douche Bag Post author

    What's your opinion on still doing Rack Pulls with a slightly lower weight, better shoulder packing, etc.?

    Reply
  27. Freedom Bathrooms Springwood Post author

    Hey Jeff
    You are right on the money with this. I got Carried away with the deadlifts doing higher reps than usual which resulted in a loss of form and ultimately into a strain.
    My therapist was puzzled and it was only through collaboration with him and my pt that we discovered what I had done.
    Bloody painful and massively disruptive to my training.
    Thanks for your invaluable insights

    Reply
  28. J K Post author

    So beginning to do weights at a gym, what if you notice that one side of your body is significantly weaker? How should you bring equilibrium to that side? In this my left arm-shoulder muscle, possibly lats?

    Reply
  29. Gabriel Craft Post author

    any plans to do a video on the risks of the standing side db or plate side crunch for abs/core?

    Reply
  30. naeem khan Post author

    Hi is it really important to do cardio to loose body fat or pushing weights and diet do all this explain it please thanks

    Reply
  31. Denise Eyde Post author

    Thank you so much for showing the nerves on Raymond and also the picture with the veins. It demonstrates why there can be discomfort for me.

    Reply
  32. Joe Pople Post author

    What about heavy below the knee? I finish with 405-455 and I have the pin set so the bar is about 4" below my knee. I wonder if I'm doing them right or wrong? (For reference I can DL 405 from the floor.)

    Reply
  33. Quan Le Post author

    Holy shit this is exactly what I've been suffering from for years now. The tingling sensation down the arm, the numbness at the pinky, and the pain in the sternum. They all check out. But I think the exercise that caused all that for me was the back squat rather than the rack pull. In training, nothing is more satisfying than thoroughly understanding the causes of your injuries to me. Thank you Jeff for this piece of precious information. You are a phenomenal personal trainer!

    Reply
  34. Hector Garza Post author

    Is this why my arms go numb when I place my head on the pillow and arm underneath? Use to not be a problem. Now it wakes me up all the time.

    Reply
  35. Siobhan Phoenix Post author

    I love anatomy nerds 🙂 Ever since the yoga teacher training I took with physiotherapists and occupational therapists, I love the study of anatomy and biomechanics! Fascinating!

    Reply
  36. Edwin Perez Post author

    Thanks for putting on this clinic, I’ve recently started to work in heavy rack pulls but your video gave me a lot of info on what to change about them. I might just give them up all together.

    Reply
  37. Brent Shea Post author

    Thank you! I had a serious blood clot due to TOS. This really helps me correct some things I was doing wrong.

    Reply
  38. Bob Coakley Post author

    I like the way you logically evaluate the exercise to determine the usefulness. www.soyouwanttobeafitnesstrainer.blogspot.com

    Reply
  39. Natanel "Nathan" Ben-David Post author

    Hey Jeff- I have this repeated pain on my lower left abdominal area ( Right along the adonis belt) when I preform a rack pull. Could It be a weak hip drive?

    Reply
  40. Ian Pierce Post author

    can you make a video addressing diagnosing and treating thoracic outlet syndrome? i think i might have it from a long history of violin and boxing combined exacerbated by weightlifting and bad posture

    Reply
  41. Junho Post author

    When you deadlift, squeezing back part might prevent nerve pain later. If you can't rock your back, lower the weight and make natural position.

    Reply
  42. Dingo Capo Post author

    please jeff i have adhdhdhhhddd please just show right and wrong way to perform exercise im out of adererhalllll

    Reply
  43. Steve Flener Post author

    @ATHLEAN-X™ Love the video. Was a big fan of above the knee rack pulls and was getting great gains but started to notice weird pains/aches in a lot of areas you pointed out on the skeleton. Especially in the clavicle area. I stopped doing them a month before I went into the police academy and so glad I did.

    Reply
  44. Tamuna Davitashvili Post author

    I'm a great fan of you, your knowledge, your so helpful videos. That's a real professionalism, to know and explain so good everything about right way of workout . I'm fitness trainer (beginner 🙂 ) and I just love your videos.

    Reply
  45. BENJAMIN DEWOLFE Post author

    What to do when your sources of fitness knowledge on YouTube contradict each other?

    Reply
  46. Patrick Taudul Post author

    Impressive back development on Jessie ! Tipping my hat to you, young man. You're doing great!

    Reply
  47. Gully .H Post author

    Although I agree with 99.9% of Jeff's points, I'm struggling to understand this. How is retracting your shoulders back and down putting less compression on your thoracic outlet? It doesnt seem that way. It seems the point of this video is to say do not overload the weight to the point where you can no longer stabilize the weight with your lats, as this will cause excessive strain on your back and shoulders.

    Reply
  48. Phil Gee Post author

    Great vid man… think I’ve got some of these pinching symptoms/ pain around the clavicle and probably need to evaluate my form again and drop the weight👌🏻 Thanks

    Reply
  49. Manmeet Jhajj Post author

    Are there any steps you can take to heal if youre already suffering from this injury? (Brachial plexus)

    Reply
  50. Luis Soto Post author

    I don't think that's how it works, if you are protracting the scapula you are giving the anterior portion of the shoulder girdle more room to breathe. It's the opposite movement where you pull the scapula back and down that jams the nerve bundles and subclavian vessels against the rib cage. Although its still not functional there's no way what you were saying in the video will have that effect on the thoracic outlet

    Reply
  51. fatdepressedveg knight Post author

    silver era Steve Stanko weightlifter favorite exercise high deadlift/pull and use a lot in Olympic teams

    as shown by Golden Era Bookworm

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRQJESD4eoE&t=208s

    Reply
  52. Bertim Timbert Post author

    I think that there is another Problem with the rackpulls: You initiate the movement with the lower back since there is almost no accelaration from leg Extension, hard Task for the lower back

    Reply
  53. Quentin Smith Post author

    When I do pec decs or chest flies, by the end of my set my forearms and hands get tingly. What’s the issue, and what the fix? I feel like I’m using good form, please inform me, not tryna fuck myself up

    Reply
  54. S B Post author

    Holy shit. Just very recently started workout again after recovering from multiple minor pain in various parts and muscles. Searched and this legend seemed trustworthy. First video. This. Now I know why my shoulders were kinda "folding" downwards. Correct posture feels much better to muscles too.

    Reply

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