You might have seen people doing deadlifts by acing the bar on the rack. It limits the range of motion compared to the regular deadlift. But it is suitable for those who want to focus on their back without too much engagement of legs. I am talking here about the rack pulls.

Rack pulls are generally done by bodybuilders and people who have difficulty doing deadlifts. It is an excellent exercise for your back.

However, there are even better alternatives to rack pulls. Rack pulls have a limited range of motion compared to deadlifts, and you can’t engage your back as well as with other back exercises. It might be suitable for the person beginning to learn deadlifts or for someone who is an experienced lifter and wants to target their back specifically.

Usually, if you are experienced, it becomes easy to engage your back during rack pulls compared to a new person or intermediate stage.

In this article, I have shared some of the best racks pull alternatives exercises that could be a better option for you. Some are essential and popular back exercises, and some might be unique. Most of these exercises require you to have dumbbells, barbells, and a landmine setup.

But before talking about the alternatives, let’s first see which muscles are worked during rack pull.

Muscles Worked During Rack Pull

The rack pull is a full-body compound exercise that activates many significant muscles simultaneously. Some muscles are lats, erector spinae, traps, glutes, hamstrings, quads, lower back, and forearm muscles.

Rack pull engages the leg muscles like quads, hamstrings, and glutes but not as effectively as deadlifts due to limited range of motion.

Now, let’s discuss the alternatives below.

Rack Pull Alternatives

1. Bent Over Row

YouTube player

Bent over row is one of the best alternatives to rack pulls. Bent over row is a compound movement that will help you build a bigger and stronger back.

You can do this exercise either with a barbell or with dumbbells. Both are great. But dumbbells will allow you to move in a more full range of motion.

Targeted muscles – lats, rhomboids, teres major, traps, abs, and biceps

How to do

1. Place your feet under the barbell. Bend down by moving your hips back and then lift the bar with your arms.

2. Now bend again by taking your hips back and stopping when the barbell reaches the knee level. Keep your chest up; this will be your starting position.

3. Start the exercise by pulling the weights towards your stomach while retracting your chest and shoulders. Your lower back should not round during the movement.

4. Gradually lower the bar back to the starting position and repeat.

Recommended reps- 10-12

As you go down to lift the barbell, Your hips should go back as if there is a chair behind you and you have to sit. Your chest should also be up as you go down. This keeps your back flat, allowing you to be in the correct position to perform the exercise.

2. Deadlift

YouTube player

The deadlift is the godfather of every lift. It activates almost all muscles of your body. The rack pull is just one part of the deadlift.

When you do rack pulls, you perform a top-half movement of the deadlift, which is good if you want to target your back. However, regular deadlift activates the back, traps, glutes, hamstrings, quads, and many other muscles. So, there is no better alternative than the regular deadlift.

Targeted muscles – lats, rhomboids, teres major, traps, abs, and biceps

How to do

1. Stand with both feet at about hip-width apart. Both feet should be under the bar.

2. Go down by moving your hips back and keeping your chest up. Grab the bar with an overhand or mixed grip. Look straight and be upright. This is your starting position.

3. Now, lift the barbell by pushing your legs to the ground. Pull with your back and go to the ground simultaneously. Keep your chest up as you move.

4. Extend your hips and legs at the top and stand straight while holding the bar.

5. Bring the bar down like before, then repeat the exercise.

The deadlift is all about form and technique. If your form is wrong, then there are higher chances of injuries. Many people do deadlifts with a rounded back and lift heavier weights. You should never do that. If your back is rounding, reduce the weights and do it again.

Most of the time, people learn the wrong technique of doing a deadlift right from the beginning, making it difficult to correct later. So make sure that you understand the technique first before going heavy.

3. T Bar Row

YouTube player

This is another compound movement that will increase the strength of your back and will give you thickness and size to your back. If you don’t want rack pulls, you can do T-bar rows.

Targeted muscles- Latissimus dorsi, traps, teres major, biceps

How to do

1. Take one barbell and place the one end at the corner of the floor or fix it inside a landmine base. Add the weights on the other side of the barbell.

2. Stand at a shoulder-width stance and grab the barbell. You can also use a close grip bar to perform seated cable rows. This will increase the range of motion.

3. With your shoulders back, lift the barbell and take it to your waist. Don’t bend your lower back during the movement.

4. Return to the starting position slowly and then repeat the movement.

Recommended reps- 10-12

Go heavy on this. Make sure to keep your back straight during each rep. You can do this exercise at the beginning stage of your workout as it is a heavy compound exercise.

If you find the T-bat row difficult or want to try other alternatives, check this article on T bar row alternatives.

4. Landmine Row

YouTube player

This exercise is another different way to train the lats. Here, you need a landmine setup. This is a unilateral exercise where you can focus on each side separately. If you have one side weaker than the other, you should do this exercise. It is a compound movement and will target the same muscles. So, another alternative option for you!

Targeted muscles – Lats, rhomboids, traps, teres major

How to do

1. Set a barbell in the landmine setup and stand just beside the bar.

2. Now bend down by taking your hips back and grabbing at the end part of a barbell from one hand. Your hips should be back, and your chest should be up. This will be your starting position.

3. Start lifting the barbell by flexing your lats. Your elbow should be in to make it an exact alternative for The T-bar row. You can also do it with your elbows, as shown in the video.

4. Return to the starting position and do subsequent reps in a controlled way.

Recommended reps- 10-12

Keep your back flat and do this exercise with proper form and technique. You should engage your lats as you pull the bar up.

5. Dead Row

YouTube player

The dead row is another great compound exercise you can do instead of rack pulls. A dead row is a combination of a deadlift and a row. This exercise will work the entire back muscle. So if you haven’t done this before, you should try it.

Targeted muscles- lats, rhomboids, abs, and lower back

How to do

1. Stand under the bar with both feet at about shoulder-width apart. Go down by moving your hips back and keeping your chest up.

2. Grab a bar at about shoulder-width apart. Look straight while keeping your back flat. This will be your starting position.

3. Lift the bar by pushing your feet to the ground. Bring it towards the knee level.

4. start pulling the bar towards the abdomen from the knee level. Squeeze your lats as you pull.

5. Bring the bar back to the knee level and then descend. Return to the starting position and then repeat.

Recommended reps – 8-10

You can go heavy on this, but ensure your lower back doesn’t arch. During this exercise, you should not feel too much stress on the lower back.

6. One Arm Row

YouTube player

One arm row is another great alternative exercise you can add in place of the rack pulls. One arm row is much easier and is an amazing exercise for your back.

This exercise is good at focusing on each side of your back separately. Whenever you do unilateral movements like this, you can prevent muscular imbalances. So, if one side of your back is weaker, consider doing this exercise.

How to do

1. Grab a dumbbell and place one hand on the bench while holding a dumbbell in the other hand. Keep one leg on the bench and the other on the floor at a side.

2. Roll your hips up and keep your shoulders retracted. This will make your back neutral. This will be your starting position.

3. Start the exercise by rowing the dumbbells up while keeping your elbows in. Your elbow should be at a 90°angle as you move the dumbbell up.

4. Stop at the top and squeeze your lats. Then, slowly return to the starting position and repeat.

Make sure to stretch your back at the bottom fully. This will increase the range of motion and be more effective for growth.

You can do this exercise with heavy dumbbells, but make sure that you don’t round your back during the movement.

7. Incline Dumbbell Row

YouTube player

Another great alternative to rack pull. Here, you cannot use too much momentum, which will put all the tension on your lats. So if you want to develop a good mind and muscle connection, this is the best exercise.

If you can’t feel the tension on the lats during the one-arm row, try this exercise. Here, you can build an amazing mind and muscle connection.

Targeted muscles- latissimus dorsi, traps, rhomboids, teres major, erector spinae.

How to do

1. Grab two pairs of dumbbells on both hands. Lay down on an incline bench with both feet supported down the bench.

2. Roll your shoulders back and lift the dumbbells. Bring the dumbbells close to your abs. Your elbows should be in to focus more on lat muscles.

3. Maintain a 90° angle between the elbow. Otherwise, your biceps will start dominating the exercise.

4. Pause at the top and slowly stretch your back at the bottom.

5. Your shoulders should go back before you move the weights up. This is key to targeting your back.

Recommended reps- 10-12


You can also do the same exercise with a barbell. Chest-supported barbell row. Your range of motion will be reduced when performing with a barbell instead of dumbbells, as the bar will touch the bench at the end.

But you should add some variations and changes to your workout program to get continuous results. So try some new exercises sometimes.

Form- The form and technique of the barbell chest-supported row are similar to the incline dumbbell row. Remember to hold the bar with a shoulder-width grip and everything else is the same.

If you don’t have a bench, then you can try other alternatives to incline dumbbell row

8. Wide Grip Incline Cable Rows

YouTube player

This is a different way of training your lats. A wide-grip incline row is a great exercise you can do with cables. This will target the mid part of the back and is a great variation you should try.

Targeted muscles- latissimus dorsi, teres major, rhomboids ( mostly upper back)

How to do

1. Place an incline bench in front of a cable machine and attach a wide bar to the cable machine.

2. Lie prone on an incline bench. Bar placement should be down so you can pull it up toward your abdomen.

3. Hold the bar with a grip on the shoulder and bring the bar towards the abdomen.

4. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat the movement.

Recommended Reps- 14-15

You don’t have to go heavy on this. Having a good mind and muscle connection during these exercises is very important. Otherwise, you will not get the best results.

You should do the exercise slowly because the positioning of this exercise makes it difficult to generate more power. So it’s basically to create a new stimulus to your lat muscles for growth.

It’s a little advanced exercise, so do it properly with the right form and technique.

9. Reverse Grip Cable Rows

YouTube player

This is good for building the thickness of your back. With the reverse grip, you will get a much better contraction. So try this one out.

With the reverse grip, your shoulder will be much safer, and you can feel more on your mid-back. Ensure you are not rounding your lower back when you go forward. The neck and back should be straight.

Targeted Muscles- lats, rhomboids, teres major

How to do

1. Sit on the bench with both feet on the ground or place a stepper just behind the cable machine to place the leg over it. Attach a pulley to the lower part of the machine.

2. Grab both ends of the straight bar with an underhand grip and sit straight. Keep your back tight and chest up. This will be your starting position.

3. Start the exercise by pulling the weights towards the upper abdominal region and squeezing your lats at the end. Breathe out as you pull.

4. Slowly bring your arms back to the starting position and repeat.

Recommended Reps- 12-15

Try to bring the bar towards the mid-stomach and squeeze the muscles harder at the end. Always perform the exercise with full concentration, as there is no reason to perform any exercise if you cannot use the right muscles.

10. Standing Lat Pushdown

YouTube player

Standing lat pushdown is a corrective exercise that will improve your stability and performance. This exercise is good for your lats and helps you improve your range of motion.

Targeted Muscles- lats and teres major

How to do

1. Attach a pulley at the upper end of the cable machine and hold the straight bar with a shoulder-width grip.

2. Start the exercise by pulling the bar while extending your elbows and bringing the weight down to the bottom.

3. Squeeze your lats at the bottom and slowly return to the starting position.

Recommended Reps – 12-15

Don’t bend your neck and stay upright. Shoulders always back as obvious. Go slow and ensure you are fully focused while performing this exercise.

Many times, people use their triceps rather than their backs. This happens because of a poor mind and muscle connection. That’s why do it slowly and feel the contraction on the right muscle.

Final Review

As you can see, many alternative rack pull options are available. Just like this, each exercise has its alternatives, and you should never stop your workout if you can’t do any exercise. Don’t stop if the gym is crowded or the machines are unavailable. You can continue with other alternatives.

If you do workouts at home and have basic equipment like dumbbells or barbells, you can do many of the exercises discussed above.

If you found this blog helpful, then do share it with your friends or share it on social media so that we can reach more people and grow our website. Also, if you know of other alternative exercises, share them with us in the comment section below.

Also Read

  1. 14 Best Stiff Leg Deadlift Alternatives (Easier and Effective)
  2. 10 Best One Arm Row Alternatives (That Works Same Muscles)
  3. 11 Best Behind The Neck Lat Pulldown Alternatives
Hey there! Some links on this page are affiliate links which means that, if you choose to make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I greatly appreciate your support!