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Spunky 01-14-2006 08:08 PM

Should I be doing rack pulls?
Hi peoples

I'm 27, female and weigh about 62kgs (sorry to speak in kilos to you all, I'm from Oz). I've been doing gym for nearly two years, doing weights and cardio. Nothing really tough. About four weeks ago I changed gyms. To start with they gave me a one day program, upgraded it and then changed to a split program.

My chest program now includes four sets of rack pulls. 5 at 80kg, 5 at 100kg, 3 at 130kg and 10 at either 80 or 100kg (I can't remember). I managed to do it the first time when the trainer was with me. The second time I was at gym early in the morning and I only got through my first set. I tried four times to lift the second one and then a different trainer came in and I told him how I couldn't lift it today. He was surprised I was doing rack pulls at all. It's now obvious that you're not supposed to do them at 7:30am. He asked me if I was a power lifter at all. I'm just some chick who does gym! He asked how long I'd been lifting weights. He didn't seem to think I should be doing them. He asked me what I was trying to achieve (fitness, strength, tone). He noted that I wasn't wearing a belt, and said that I would be stretching my abdominal wall. He suggested that one of the other trainers review my program, but he didn't book me in to do it or anything.

Just thought I'd see what opinions are out there. My trainer seems to expect me to get stronger every week. Thanks for your time.

bakkily 01-14-2006 09:13 PM

I have never heard of rack pulls before, but looked it up and it seems to me that they're like dead lifts, but you partly do it? To me is seems that you should wear a belt if trying to go heavy at your end sets. So you don't pull your back, and hurt, or damage those muscles. I lift at home, and don't have a belt, so I try not to go too heavy. Most gyms should have them though.

Spunky 01-14-2006 10:01 PM

Thanks :)

Yeah, it's pretty much like a deadlift, but the bar starts at your knee height, bend your knees, then you stand up to lift it.

I don't know if my gym supplies belts, I guess I'll ask them. Most of the guys that use the heavy weights room seem to use them.

I'm not looking forward to purchasing yet another gym accessory after investing in some good shoes, and a pair of gloves after the bar gave me blisters and tore skin off my hands from the first set :(

bakkily 01-14-2006 10:06 PM

Okay, are you wanting to bulge up on muscle in your back, are you intaking protein? if so, how much? I have a sister who loves to lift weights like me, but does it to look more sexy, tone her self, but she does'nt like lifting heavy, because it tears her hands up, my hands are torn up, like if I am a red neck here in Arizona that works all damn day. Lol.

Like when I work out on my back, when I do my bent over rows, my hands rip apart easily, I eased into it. And I hate lifting gloves, they bug me alot. But here in the United States, at a sports authority or something, a belt cost 20 bucks or so I think. But over in Australia, I am not so sure.

Did you get lifting shoes, so you can do squats, ect? When I work out, I like to just wear no shoes, easier for me. But at school, the gym there, I wear shoes, don't think people like the smell of stinky feet.

Spunky 01-14-2006 10:32 PM

No, I don't want bulgy back muscles!! Haha!! My diet is not really strict. I probably should eat less Fruit Tingles and more steak :) I don't "count" anything that I eat.

I think my gloves will help keep my hands intact, but I need to get used to them. I went to Athletes Foot and got Nike runners. They checked out my feet and everything and recommended them. I do cardio and classes at gym too. I didn't know there was such a thing as lifting shoes. But they might not have suited me on the treadmill. I don't do squats with a bar, I use a squat press.

bakkily 01-14-2006 10:34 PM

Oh ok...I'd say talk to a trainer on what you should do exactly...ect.

Spunky 01-14-2006 10:40 PM

Cool, yeah I will. Just not sure they all agree!

EricT 01-15-2006 09:51 AM

I hate to say it, but you'll probably get more useful advice here than from the "trainers" at your gym. You'll have to let us know exactly what your specific goals are.

In general, I would say that if there is a danger of "strethching your abdominal wall", which I take to mean injuring it, then you are using too much weight. As far as belts, imo they are far people who are trying to find their max lift or maybe are getting past an injury. If you need a belt in your training, then again, you are using too much weight. The very muscles the belt is assisting are the muscles you are supposed to be strenghening. So, my advice, forget the belt.

As far as rack pulls, I don't know why not to do regular dead lifts. A good exercise for the entire body, which won't necessarily give you bulging back muscles. Depends on the parameters you use.

I could be wrong, but I don't think the majority of trainees walk around with skin torn off their hands. I also don't think the majority wear gloves (not that there is anything wrong with it). If you get blisters it is because of the friction of your skin rubbing on the bar. If your grip is strong and secure then no blisters.

The answer is to work your forearms and strenghthen your grip and perhaps to use a weight you can hold onto. There is a time when it is sometimes necessary for an advanced weight trainer to use lifting straps, etc. when overall lifting ability has outstripped their grip. The muscles that govern gripping strength are very small compared to the back muscles, after all. I don't think, however, that that time is when first entering a weight training routine.

Work on holding on the the weight securely. You'll get callouses instead of blisters. This all goes into the classic mistake of starting too heavy.

Frontline 01-15-2006 12:24 PM


then a different trainer came in and I told him how I couldn't lift it today. He was surprised I was doing rack pulls at all. It's now obvious that you're not supposed to do them at 7:30am. He asked me if I was a power lifter at all. I'm just some chick who does gym! He asked how long I'd been lifting weights. He didn't seem to think I should be doing them.
I would have been just as surprised that someone has you doing rack pulls. In general, women are more concerned with getting a tone and sexy shape and rack pulls really are not commonly assigned for women's training routines. From your comments above it appears as though you want a standard training routine for women.

The reason he asked you if you are a powerlifter is because rack pulls are commonly part of powerlifting programs. In general they help lifters increase their overall deadlift poundage by targeting specific muscles (lower back, hams, glutes) without using your legs as much. So when you go back and do your regular deadlifts you should be able to do more off the floor.

If I were you I would ask this trainer why he has you doing rack pulls and elaborate on exactly what you want out of your routine. Some of these personal trainers are so used to creating programs for men who want to lift as much as possible, that they really have no idea how to write a program to train women. Also, why not try to find a personal trainer that is a woman or has a physique that you admire. They should be able to better understand your needs.

Kane 01-15-2006 04:46 PM

Eric and Sleazy are absoloutely right, I just want to add a couple things I've noticed::D
I used gloves for about a year and found it actually helped develop my grip strength. The gloves make your hands "bigger" because of padding and what not, and I find you actually have to grip a little harder to close your hands enough to secure the bar IMO. But you shouldn't get blisters from the bar, callouses yes, blisters no.

As far as the rack-pulls go, I know alot of girls that do stiff legged deads to work their core. They don't use near that kind of weight though, 60lbs or so max. IMO I don't see how rack-pulls can be beneficial to girls unless they are doing some sort of training for sports etc., you're better to stick with hyperextensions, and stiff legged deads to work your lower back and DB rows and Lat-pulldown to work upper back.

ps. I bet any one of us could write the personal trainers exam and pass with flying colors ;)

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