11 Best Effective Pull Up Alternatives for Beginners and Pros

Pull-ups are a great exercise that work well on multiple muscles at some time including your back, lateral, trapezoid muscles, also increase your heart rate. Both negative pull ups and regular pull ups are great ways to strengthen upper body muscles and get in shape.

However, this exercise can be difficult for some people to perform in correct form, so there are many different pull up alternatives that work well to strengthen your muscles.

So, in this article we are going to discuss 11 best pull up alternatives, whether you can do at home without a pull up bar or you can do at the gym to build your strength.

Stick with this article till the end to know our favorite pull up variations. These alternative exercises increase your strength and target those pull up muscles.

What Muscles Do Pull Ups Target

It is best to understand what the pull up consists of and what muscles the pull ups target. Well, the pull up is a compound exercise that works great on the upper body muscles.

The pull ups involve lifting your bodyweight with pronated grip. So, the main muscles work well while performing pull ups including:

  • Lateral muscle (your back)
  • Biceps, triceps, and forearms (your arms)
  • Abdominal Muscles
  • Traps and rhomboids (your upper back)

The pull ups are great exercises for increasing functional strength and creating a “V” shape body that many people aspire to have.

So, in this article we are going to show you the great and effective alternatives to pull ups, that may target very similar muscle groups.

11 Best Pull Up Alternative

If you are not confident enough to challenge the pull Up exercise and looking for a beginner level alternative to pull ups. Or if you are looking for home alternatives to pullups or in the gym, then here are 11 pull up alternatives that you can try and target muscles.  

01. Table Inverted Bodyweight Row

This exercise is top of this list because of its very effectiveness and versatility. The table inverted bodyweight row targets your lateral muscles (back), biceps, and forearms.

This exercise can be done on a bar in the gym and also in home with no equipment. Just you need to have a good table so you can perform properly.

How to do it:

  • Take a table with good quality, lay down on your back on the floor, with your face looking up.
  • Get a good grip on the table, with your palms facing away from you.
  • Bend the elbows and pull yourself up towards the table until you reach the underside of the table.
  • Hold for a second at the top and then, slowly lower yourself back down.
  • Repeat 12 to 14 reps for each set.

02. Standing Towel Row

Standing Towel Row

The standing towel row is a creative pull up alternative exercise that is easy and every one can do in their home. This exercise trains your lateral muscles (back), shoulder, and biceps. To perform this exercise all you will need is a towel and something like a pole or bedpost.

How to do it:

  • Warp the towel around a pole and hold each end with each hand.
  • Keep your feet at the bottom of the pole, get into a comfortable position and lean back until your feet are straight and make sure your arms are also straight.
  • Bend your elbows and slowly, pull yourself toward the pole, keeping your body straight.
  • Stop once your hands touch the chest.
  • Then, slowly lower yourself to the starting position.  

03. Kneeling Resistance Band Lat Pull Down

 Working out the back muscles is the most difficult area to target during a home workout but pull ups alternative exercise using resistance bands can easily target these difficult muscles. This exercise works great on your back, biceps and promotes shoulder stability.

How to do it:

  • Attach the resistance band to an anchor point and hold the both ends in both hands. Your palms facing upwards.
  • Keep your knees on the floor and slowly, pull your arms down to shoulder level.
  • Hold for a second and then, slowly return back to the starting point.
  • Repeat 12 to 14 reps for each set.

04. Pull Up Negatives

This exercise is one of the best alternatives to pull ups, and trains your lats back muscles and biceps. We recommended this exercise for intermediate.

How to do it:

  • Place a bench or chair next to the pull up bar so you can get a good grip at the top of the pull up bar without jumping up.
  • Get a good overhead grip, with your arms over shoulder-width apart.
  • Start this exercise with your chest at the bar level.
  • Slowly, lower yourself down until your arms fully extend.
  • Repeat,8 to 10 reps and take 30 second’s rest.

05. Archer Pull Up

Archer Pull Up

The archer pull up is a great compound body weight alternative to traditional pull up. It targets the forearms and back muscles like no other. While performing this exercise look straight ahead.

How to do it:

  • Grab the bar with pronated Grip shoulder -wider apart.
  • Lift yourself upward by driving your elbows towards the floor.
  • Place your chin towards one of your arms until the bar level.
  • Slowly, lower yourself back to the starting position.
  • repeat the same steps for the opposite arm.

06. Wide Grip Seated Row

Wide Grip Seated Row

The wide grip seated cable row is the best alternative to pull up, and it hits your lats harder and improves your back strength. To perform this exercise, you need a standard seated cable row machine with wider grip.

How to do it:

  • Sit on the seated row machine and attach a straight bar handle to the machine.
  • Slightly bend your knees and slightly lean back through the hips, maintaining a neutral spine.
  • Hold the bar with an underhand grip, with your both hands over your shoulder-wider apart.
  • Pull the bar back towards your stomach by driving your elbows back, squeezing your shoulder and hold for a second.
  • Then, slowly return back the bar to the starting position.

07. Dumbbell Bent-Over Row

Dumbbell Bent-Over Row

This exercise is a bit difficult to pull off the dumbbell correctly, if you do it with correct form, you will train some muscles as you would with a pull up. This exercise targets your trads and rhomboids (upper back muscles), biceps and forearms. To perform this exercise, you need to have a flat bench and dumbbell, this movement can be done at home.

How to do it:

  • Take a flat bench and keep your non-lifting hand and the same knee on the bench.
  • Make sure to keep your back straight and your stomach parallel to the bench.
  • Hold a dumbbell with your lifting hand and your palm should face you.
  • Exhale, lift the dumbbell up until your elbows create a 90-degreeangle.
  • Inhale, slowly lower the dumbbell to the starting point.
  • Repeat, 10 to 12 reps for each set.

08. Dumbbell Lat Pulldown

This exercise is like an overhead press and you can do this exercise at home. To perform this exercise, you need to have a pair of dumbbells. This exercise trains your biceps, shoulder and back. This is great to keep in your training list.

How to do it:

  • Stand straight with your face looking straight ahead.
  • Hold the dumbbells at each hand.
  • Lift the dumbbells over your head, keeping your elbows slightly bent.
  • Slowly, bring the dumbbells back down to the hips level.
  • Now, you repeat it faster.
  • Repeat, 12 to 16 reps each set.

09. Inverted Row

This alternative works great all your pull muscles – your back, traps, shoulder, abdominal muscles and biceps. This exercise is very similar to the to table bodyweight row, and this exercise provides many progressions so you can make it harder or easier.

How to do it:

  • Set a barbell at waist weight in a rack machine or smith machine.
  • Lie on your back on the floor, just under the bar.
  • Grip the bar tightly with both hands, with an overhead grip, over shoulder-width apart.
  • Your heels should be on the floor and your body in a straight line, your arms fully extended.
  • Pull up your chest towards the bar until your chest touches the bar.
  • Hold for a second at the top of the movement and then, slowly lower yourself to the starting position.

10. TRX Table Top Row

This exercise is similar to inverted row, but this exercise provides you many benefits and also gives more options for grip. This exercise hits your back, shoulder and biceps. We will recommend this exercise for intermediate people because for beginners it is a bit harder to perform.

How to do it:

  • Attach a pair of TRX cable to the pull up bar, hold each end with each hand, palms face the ground.
  • Position yourself underneath the cables by holding the TRX cable, your arms fully extended.
  • Make sure your knees bend at creating a 90-degree angle, your body parallel to the floor and your feet plant on the floor.
  • Bend your elbows, slowly lift yourself upwards until your scapular is fully squeezed together.
  • Hold for a second, slowly lower yourself down to the starting position.
  • Repeat, 12 to 16 reps each set.

11. Supine Lat Pull Downs

The supine Lat pull downs are also great pull ups alternatives, that will work great on your biceps, shoulder and on your lats.

How to do it:

  • Sit on the Lat pull-down machine with your knees tucked under the knee pads and your feet plant on the floor.
  • Hold the bar with both hands, with an underhand grip, shoulder-wider apart.
  • Engage your lats and bend your elbows, slowly pull the bar down towards your chest.
  • Then, slowly return back to the starting point.
  • Repeat, 12 to 16 reps for each set.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you Do Pull Ups on a Door?

Pull ups can be done using a door, this kind of variation for those people who are away from the gym, or don’t have space for a pull up bar at home. This exercise is very effective and challenging to your upper body, so try to add in your workout routine.

Are Inverted Rows as Good as Pull-Ups?

The short answer is YES, the inverted rows are good for you. This exercise works well on the major muscles of your back such as lats and middle back muscles. Because they are easier to exercise in natural pulling.


As you can see, there are a number of alternative exercises to pull ups. Whether you are bored of doing pull ups or you can’t do the pull ups, you just add this exercise in your workout routine and they will give you the same benefits as the pull ups.

The pull up alternatives and variations are very functional exercises, which you should add in your workout routine, they can build your pull strength, improve your posture and also to reduce back pain.

Hopefully, you like this article if you have any questions and any suggestion kindly put them in the comment box below. 

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