The Human Rack Lift


Human Rack Lift
The Human Rack Pull.
Many of you reading this might be thinking "What in the world is a Human Rack Lift"? This is a very fair question and I will do my best to answer it for you. But first we must take a few steps back to my beginning and it all starts in The Rack.

Around 2002 I became very familiar with a piece of equipement that is often found way in the back of most commercial gyms. On the rare occasion you find the piece being used it will usually be some young noob performing barbell curls with 10# on each side.

For a true Iron-head like myself I find this very disturbing and fight the urge of picking the noob up and moving him down to the curl machines where he belongs.

This piece is called the Power Rack and it is all you need to get as BIG and STRONG as you yearn for.

On this rack you can perform Squats, Chin-ups, Shrugs, Heavy Floor Presses, Shoulder work, Heavy Rowing, Dips, Everything you need to forge yourself into a piece of Steel.

And then there is the exercise that has become synonomous with myself:

The Partial Rack Pull.

There are different ways to do this exercise but the version I prefer and that I'm known for is pulling the bar at a height just above the knees.

To do this take a measuring tape and measure 24" from the floor to the bar. This is the height that I pulled 1,500# from @ a 202# bodyweight in Florida at the Strongerman compound. If the height is correct when you step up to the bar it will sit right above your knees.

I use lifting straps when going this heavy from APT prowrist straps.

This is not an instructional on how to rack pull but rather, how I came to picking up humans instead of weight. To learn about rack pulling you can find some great articles on the web or go to my website www.mikethemachine.com and watch my promo video.

So just how did I start lifting Human beings?

When I speak and perform I would always finish my program with a 1,000# rack pull. It was actually 1,043# when all was said and done.

The problem with this was that as I became a better speaker and more bookings came in I was faced a problem. How in the heck am I going to transport 24-45# plates to different places?

I had to do something as this was a very original feat and the crowds loved it. My manager the great Dennis Rogers suggested why don't you lift people?

I was like Yes, Great idea! But how? So we started throwing around some ideas. I called my friend Mark Strickland and told him about the whole idea. Mark being the creative genius that he is wrote up some plans that day.

The next morning he called me and said he wants to show me something. That morning he gave me this paper with my exact vision of what I wanted. After much thanks and praise to Mark I then had to think ok, who can make this for me?

That is when I called my brother in iron Ryan Pitts from www.strongergrip.com I explained on the phone what the idea was and then sent him out the plans.

PRESTO!!! A few months later I had my Human Rack piece in my hands and ready to go.

Now I had a way to still do my 1,000# lift and needed no extra weight, I could use people from the audience to pick up.


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Thus The Human Rack Pull became a reality. You can see in the video below the very first Human lift I had ever done.

It took some getting used to because of the swinging of the people and the difference in the weight of the people. The lift is still pretty similiar to a barbell rack pull with plates in reference to the mechanics but the swinging threw me off a bit.

I still practice this lift by picking up plates but I also incorporate the human lifting as much as I can.

When training I always go in with the goal of pulling much more weight than I will pull in my shows. This will ensure me of a successful pull everytime during a show.

Failure in a show is a definite No No! and must be avoided at all costs. As I get used to the motion and mechanics of my lift I'm sure much bigger poundages will be achieved.

I hope you enjoyed this piece on a unique way of picking up people in the rack pull. This is not something that is new, as many great strongmen of the past have also done human lifting.

But this one is a different way that is unique to me. I owe much thanks to all that have inspired me along the way from the past greats to those that are the future.


Keep The Faith,

Coach Machine


Mike 'The Machine' Bruce

Mike 'The Machine' Bruce is a professional performing Strongman and motivational speaker. Find out more over at his online home.



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This site - Straight to the Bar - has been around for an incredible 7 years (the first post was on Jan 17th, 2004), and to say I'm grateful is a gross understatement.

Thank you.

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Of course, if you enjoyed these, I'd highly recommend grabbing the Strength & Fitness Newsletter. Delivered weekly, and absolutely free.

(there's also a Daily Update, if you're looking for an even larger dose of training-related goodness.)

NB : If you'd like to write a guest post for Straight to the Bar - I love hearing how other people are training - get in touch. If you've got a fitness competition or seminar coming up, add it to the calendar.

Look forward to hearing from you.


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