10 Effective Pull Up Alternative’s You Must Try in 2021

Are Pull Ups Not Your Thing? Here are 10 Pull Up Alternatives You Will Love!

Pull-ups are highly effective and efficient. They do not focus on one part of your body but various muscles in your body.  Most people opt for pull-ups to give their back definition and increase their overall body strength. With pull ups you’re required to pull up your body weight with your bare hands. For instance, if you’re 60kgs, you’re going to pull 60kgs with the bare strength of your biceps and your back. It is one of the most arduous exercises to perform. In order to master the art of pull ups, one needs to extensively train for it. 

Some alternatives to pull ups would help you finally perform a pull up. They will slowly prepare your body to be able to manage your weight. It is no secret that there are several exercises that work as best alternatives. Such exercises manage to either create variation or make your workout fun. Someone who regularly does pull ups, would want to try variations that are gripping. Consequently, most people look for substitutes or alternatives for the same. There are many alternatives to pull ups for beginners to advanced level of fitness enthusiasts. All of which target the same muscles and have proven to be as effective. 

What Muscles Do Pull Ups Target?

Pull Ups can classify as the squats for your upper body. They target muscles in your upper back. In addition, other muscles in your upper body act as accessory muscles. The primary muscles that are worked include your latissimus dorsi, biceps and your rhomboids. The latissimus dorsi includes muscles that take up most of your back. Pull Ups target the entire abdominal area, rear deltoids and your forearms as well. Furthermore, they increase grip strength since a strong grip is significant to perform a pull up.  

Pull Ups help you improve your fitness level. They help improve your health since they qualify as strength training. Strength training can help your body reduce visceral fat. This helps fight certain health problems like diabetes.  

However, pull-ups can be an extreme challenge to perform. They may not give you the desired outcome and even injure you if not done in the right manner.  

Having said that, there are several alternatives to pull-ups that are less difficult. Such movements are efficacious because they train your body to be ready for pull-ups. They help build the required strength for pull-ups.

Here are 10 alternatives that target the same muscles and are as effective as pull ups!

1. Wide Grip Lat Pull Down:

Wide Grip Lat Pull Down, a great pull up alternative

This Wide Grip Lat Pull Down is one of the most commonly performed exercises and a doable pull up alternative focusing more on the back than the arms.


  • Choose your weight.
  • Sit on the lat pull-down machine and adjust your thigh grip.
  • Grab the bar and keep your hands more than shoulder width apart.
  • Keep your head straight to prevent unnecessary strain on the neck.
  • Exhale, stick your chest out and pull the bar to the upper part of your chest.
  • Inhale and slowly release the bar to its starting position.
  • Reps:12-15, Sets: 3

TIP: Don’t move your body too much, try as much to keep your body aligned!

2. Straight Arm Pull Down:

10 Effective Pull Up Alternative's You Must Try in 2021
Straight arm pull down

The Straight Arm Pull Down suggests that you have your hands straight at all times. It focuses mainly on your lats, upper back, triceps, chest and core.


  • Stand across an adjustable cable machine.
  • Adjust the cable, Grab the bar with an overhand grip, keep your grip and feet shoulder width apart.
  • Bend your knees a little, and keep your back straight.
  • Exhale and slowly pull the bar to your thighs while keeping your hands straight.
  • Inhale and slowly return back to the starting position.
  • Reps: 12-15, Sets: 3

TIP: Keep your arms tight and straight!

3. Renegade Row:

Renegade row

The Renegade Row like pull ups, targets multiple muscles of the body like lats, traps, triceps and rhomboids. It also does not need heavy equipment and can be done by fitness enthusiasts of any level.

  • Keep your dumbbells or kettlebells on the floor in a way that both the handles are parallel to each other and shoulder width apart.
  • Start with a table top position and place your hands on the dumbbells.
  • Step your feet behind to enter into a high plank.
  • Keep your position intact, check whether your body is in a straight line, your knees- hop distance apart and your hands- shoulder width apart.
  • Inhale while shifting your weight on your left side, exhale while you pull up your dumbbell towards your chest and keep your elbow close to your body.
  • Release the dumbbell slowly, shift your weight to the right side and repeat the same on your left side. This would complete one full repetition.
  • Reps: 10-12 Sets: 3

TIP: Keep your core tight!

4. Wide Grip Seated Row:

10 Effective Pull Up Alternative's You Must Try in 2021
wide grip seated row

This pull up alternative helps build upper body strength. It mainly focuses on your upper arms, back, rhomboids and your back shoulder. This is done on a seated cable machine with a straight bar attached to it.


  • Start with sitting upright on the bench and place your feet on the footpad.
  • Hold the bar slightly shoulder width apart and with the help of the footpad, push yourself back keeping your knees bent.  
  • Keep your core tight and your shoulders back.
  • Inhale and pull the bar towards your chest, elbows bent, make sure to keep your back arched.
  • Exhale and slowly return to the starting position
  • Reps: 12-15, Sets: 3

TIP: Don’t lean your back behind, keep it arched and upright at all times.

5. Pull Up Negatives:

Pull Up negative

Pull Ups negatives are extremely beneficial. They work your upper back, shoulders, arms and also your core. It also helps strengthen your grip. 


  • Stand on a steady surface, a stool or an exercise box.
  • Start with your chin above the bar and hold the bar tight.
  • Take your feet of the surface and slowly bring yourself down to a dead hang position.
  • While bringing yourself down, keep your core tight and control your movement.
  • Stop when your hands are above your head, step on the surface and repeat.
  • Reps: 10 seconds, Sets: 8

TIP: Perform negative pull ups when your body is not fatigued, preferably at the start of your workout.

6. Snatch Bar Grip Hold:

Snatch bar grip hold

A Snatch Grip Bar Hold is the advanced version of the usual deadlift.  It works multiple muscles at once. Although it mainly focuses on your hamstrings, glutes and lats, it also works the trapezius, core and upper back.


  • Pick a barbell as per your comfort, add weights that would suit you best but also challenge you to an extent. 
  • Stand behind the bar with your feet hip width apart.
  • Squat down to pick up the barbell with your hands a little more than shoulder width apart.
  • Grip the barbell tight, rise and pick it up with your back upright and your hands extended.
  • Lower the barbell slowly as you move back into a squat.
  • Reps: 8-12, Sets:2

TIP: Keep your back upright at all times, you may injure your lower back if you bend it.

7. Inverted Rows:

Inverted Rows
Inverted Rows, possible pull up alternative

Inverted Rows are extremely effective and target the back, biceps and traps. It also targets your core and helps build overall body strength. The more horizontal your body is, the harder it gets. The more inclined your body is, the easier it can get.


  • Rack a barbell at waist line or use a smith machine.
  • Lie down flat or inclined on the surface.
  • Grip the bar, keep your hands shoulder-width apart.
  • Keep your heels on the ground and your body in a straight line with your arms fully extended.
  • Inhale and pull yourself to the bar with your chest tight and your elbows flexed.
  • Slowly exhale while coming back to your initial position.
  • Reps: 10-12, Sets: 3

TIP: Squeeze your glutes and your shoulder blades. 

8. TRX Table Top Row:

10 Effective Pull Up Alternative's You Must Try in 2021

The TRX Table Top Row is similar to the inverted row but is a little more advanced. This pull up alternative is mainly for fitness enthusiasts on the intermediate level. Although it primarily targets the glutes, it also works the back. 


  • Attach a pair of TRX cables to a bar and hold one with each hand.
  • Lean back into a tabletop position and keep your arms extended.
  • Pull yourself up while engaging your glutes, hamstrings and core.
  • Lower yourself slowly without compromising your position.
  • Reps: 12-15, Sets: 3

TIP: Maintain a bridge throughout a set and push through your heels.

9. Half Kneeling Band Pull Downs:  

Half Kneeling Band Pull Down

The Half Kneeling Band Pull Downs is an exercise suitable for any level fitness enthusiasts. It is an exemplary exercise to develop your upper back, mainly the latissimus dorsi. 


  • Loop a resistance band around a bar.
  • Kneel on one leg while keeping the other bent at 90 degrees.
  • Grab each side of the resistance band with both your hands shoulder width apart.
  • Inhale, pull your hands down to your chest and squeeze your shoulder blades.
  • Exhale and go back to your starting position while slightly stretching your rear delts.
  • Reps: 12-15, Sets- 3

TIP: Use your core to keep your body stable.

10. Half Kneeling Single Arm Cable Lat Pull Down:

Half kneeling single arm cable lat pull down

The Half Kneeling Single Arm Cable Lat Pull Down is another variation of the Lat Pull Down. It strengthens the latissimus dorsi, upper back and biceps. It also activates and strengthens your core and glutes.


  • Attach a single handle to the cable tower.
  • Go into a half kneeling position with your front knee at 90 degrees.
  • Inhale, twist the cable to 90 degrees and pull it down to your chest.
  • Exhale and move back to the starting position until your arm is fully extended.
  • Reps: 12-15 (each arm), Sets: 3

TIP: Start with your weaker arm.


You don’t have to know how to do the pull up to perform these alternatives. It is possible that some days you may just not want to do the pull up. Better so, you may want to try out other variations. These substitute exercises will make your workout fun and interesting. It will target the same muscles, help you strengthen and build your upper body. 

Try these out! Happy Training.

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