7 Pull Up Alternatives
The pull up is not an exercise that everyone likes or easily perform. It requires a certain amount of upper body strength and practice to perform it correctly. If you are unable to perform it, don’t worry you are not the only one who can’t do it.
Pull up is one of the best exercises to widen your lats and develop the entire shoulder girdle, but it is not the only one. I was unable to do the pull up during the first few months and there are millions of people who can’t do it.
I tried different exercises and finds out some great pull up alternatives to train the same muscles as the pull up. These exercises really helped me to strengthen my back.
The most common question people ask is that is there any exercise that you can do at home that will target the same muscles as pull ups?
And, the answer is yes. Here, I will list down the 7 best pull up alternatives that you can perform at the gym or even at your home. So, whether you are unable to do pull ups and looking for an alternative to it or you are looking for an alternative exercise to pull ups that you can do at home – this article will help you.
What Muscles Does A Pull Up Work
The pull up is the compound exercise that works multiple muscle groups at the same time. It is one of the most effective exercises for strengthening the back muscles. The primary muscle it targets in the back is “latissimus dorsi”, also known as lats. It makes your lats wider to give you the V-shaped back that every guy wants.
The pull up also targets other muscles like biceps, triceps, and shoulder. You will work the forearms and shoulders by performing the pull up. It may improve your grip strength, which is very essential if you lift weights.
When you do a pull up, you lift your entire body weight, which will improve your overall body strength. But, this is what makes it difficult.
But, don’t worry you can try these pull up alternatives at home or at the gym that will hit the same muscles as the pull up.
Top 7 Pull Up Alternatives
1. Bodyweight Rows
Equipment Needed: Table
This is the first alternative to the pull up that works the lats in a similar range of motion as real pull-ups, but here you get the support of your feet. This makes it a bit easier than doing the pull ups on a bar.
This exercise can be done anywhere, you just need a well-built table that can hold your body weight. You can even perform this exercise at your gym by using a smith machine. There are 2 different variations to perform this exercise, one is for a beginner and the other one is for an intermediate.
- Start by sitting underneath the front end of the table.
- Grab the edge of the table with slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. If you are using a smith machine, grab the bar with an overhand grip, over shoulder-width apart.
- Keeping your body straight and fully extended, lift your body up towards the ceiling so that only your feet touch the floor.
- At the top, hold for a second or two, then come back down to the starting position and repeat.
Note: If you are a beginner, you can bend your knees and bring your feet closer to your hips to make this exercise a bit easier. The more closer your feet are to your hips, the more easier this exercise will be for you.
2. Half Kneeling Lat Pull Down
Equipment Needed: Resistance Band
This is the perfect exercise to create a full sweep in your lats. This exercise may help you widen the upper lats. It allows you to do extra reps as you don’t need to lift your body weight here.
- Loop a band around a pull-up bar or any other fixed object to hang it.
- Go to the kneel down position with one knee and plant the other foot in front of you at an angle of 90 degrees.
- Keeping the back straight, grab each side of the resistance band.
- Pull the band down until your shoulder blades fully squeezed together.
- Hold the contraction for one or two seconds before releasing back the band to its starting position.
- Repeat the number of repetitions.
- Always alternate the grounded knee on every set.
3. Barbell Bent Over Row
Equipment Needed: Barbell
This is one of the best pull up alternatives, but it requires a barbell, which most of you already be having and if not, either purchase one or look other alternative exercises discussed in this article.
The purpose of this exercise is to thicken and widen the upper back.
- Start by standing upright with your feet a few inches apart.
- Take hold of a barbell with a wide overhand grip, not too wide, just slightly wider than the shoulder-width apart.
- Bend your knees slightly and lean forward from the waist while keeping the head up and back straight until the chest is about parallel to the floor.
- Lift the barbell upward using the muscles of the back until it touches your abdominals.
- Wait for a second, then lower it down back to the starting position and repeat.
Note: You need to keep your back always straight while doing this exercise and do not use your arms strength to lift the barbell.
4. Dumbbell Bent Over Row
Equipment Needed: Dumbbell
This exercise is similar to the Barbell Bent Over Row, but it is not as easy as it looks. It is one of the best pull up alternatives with dumbbells that you can do at your home.
The dumbbell bent-over row compels each side of your upper back to work on its own capacity. In this way, you can train your muscles in isolation and you can also use heavy weights to train them. I recommend using lightweight dumbbells if you are doing it for the first time.
- Start by holding a dumbbell in each hand.
- Bend your knees slightly, then lean forward from the waist while keeping your head up and back straight until the chest is about parallel to the floor.
- Lift up both the dumbbells together to your sides as far as possible. Use the muscles of your back to lift the weight.
- Then slowly lower down the dumbbell back to its starting position.
- Repeat the desired number of repetitions.
5. TRX Pull Up
Equipment Needed: TRX cable
This exercise allows you to hit the same muscles as the pull up. The main purpose of this exercise is to widen and lengthens the appearance of the upper lats. It should be done in a controlled and stable manner to get the maximum benefits.
- Attach a pair of TRX cables to a pull up bar and set the height of it at a level where you can easily sit beneath them.
- Hold the TRX handle with both hands, one in each hand.
- Position yourself underneath the cables on extended arms so that only your hips touch the floor.
- Bend your knees and bring your feet closer to your hips while keeping your feet flat on the floor.
- Lift yourself up as high as you can, and retract your shoulder blades at the top to fully squeeze the scapula.
- Slowly lower yourself down until you touch the floor from your hips and repeat.
6. Barbell Pullover
Equipment Needed: Barbell and a flat bench
This is one of the best and effective alternatives to pull up. Most people do this exercise wrong, but if you do it correctly, you will going to love this exercise.
This exercise works the lower lats and you will feel the deep stretch in your lats while performing this exercise.
- Lie down on a bench facing towards the ceiling.
- Place a barbell on the floor behind your head.
- Get your hands back and grab the bar.
- Keeping your arms bent, raise the bar, and bring it on your chest.
- Lower the bar back as far as possible to the starting position while fully stretching the lats. Don’t touch the bar on the floor while lowering the bar.
- Repeat the desire number of repetitions and sets.
7. Elbow Push Ups
Equipment Needed: None
This exercise is one of my favorite exercises and it is a very unique alternative to pull up. The good thing is that you don’t need any equipment to do this exercise, you can do it at your home or at your gym. This exercise does not completely replace the pull up, but it really strengthens the supporting muscles used during pull ups.
A beginner may find it challenging, but once you are able to do it, you will going to love this exercise.
- Start by getting into a plank position with your elbows on the floor. Make sure your elbows are underneath your shoulders.
- Keeping your body rigid and core tight, push up using your arms to be on the extended arms.
- Lower down onto your elbows and repeat.
There is so much information available online about pull up alternatives, but no website provides all the information relating to the pull ups in one place. You actually need to look at it on different websites. This is the reason why I have created this complete pull up alternatives guide that provides you all the information you need to know about pull ups.
Here, I have listed down 7 best pull up alternatives that you can add to your workouts regime to have the same benefits as the pull up. You can do these exercises even at your home.
If you want to ask anything, contact us from here.
Are Pull Ups Effective?
It is one of the most effective exercises for your back. The main purpose of pull Ups is to thicken your lats. It helps you attain that V-shaped back, but it is surely not the only one.
There are other alternatives to pull ups that will give you the same benefits as the pull up. I have listed above the 7 best alternatives that you can do at your home comfort and you don’t need any machines to do all these exercises.
What to do if You Can’t do Pull Ups?
I have seen people struggling during pull ups and it is quite normal. You are not alone in this, there are a lot of people who find it difficult too. You need to lift your entire body weight during pull ups, which is not at all easy for a beginner who has just started working out to lift this much weight.
It is the exercise that requires proper technique and strength. No one is born stronger, you can build this technique and strength. You can add the above listed 7 alternatives in your workout regime to build some strength.
If you have a pull up bar at your home or gym, then start doing it. At first, you will find it difficult to do, but you need to keep doing it. I recommend you do what I used to do: do as many reps as you can at a time (maybe only 2 or 3) until a total of 20 repetitions is achieved.
This strategy has worked for me and I hope it will work for you as well.
Is it Okay to Do Pull Ups Every Day?
I don’t recommend you to do pull ups every day. Your body needs a good amount of rest to grow. But, if you are someone who loves doing the pull ups, then you can do it on alternate days.
Suggested Read: 10 Leg Curl Alternatives