Build the strength of your upper body and back muscles — less the challenge of pull-ups!
Let’s face it: unless you’re experienced, pull-ups are among the exercises many try to avoid. It requires great upper body strength that it almost seems impossible for a beginner to pull himself up.
So why do fitness enthusiasts want to do pull-ups despite the challenge? Simple: pull-ups target various muscles groups at the same time and raises your heart rate like a cardio would. This exercise also builds a strong back and arms, improves posture, eases back pain, and shapes the torso.
If you’ve always wanted to add this exercise to your routine but don’t know how to start, I have some good news for you! In this post, let me share some easier alternatives to pull-ups that offer the same benefits!
Ready? Here we go…
1. Dumbbell Lat Squeeze
The lats, short for Latissimus Dorsi, is the largest muscle of the upper body that starts from the spine to the side of the torso to the upper arm. It is a key muscle to develop if you want a strong back. Another exercise that targets the lats and strengthens the arms and back is dumbbell lat squeeze.
- Stand with feet hip-distance apart, knees a little bent, and hands holding a set of 3 to 5 pounds dumbbells.
- With upper arms close to the torso, bring your hands out to the sides until forearms are parallel to the ground.
- Return elbows and forearms to the starting position to complete a rep.
- Perform 30 reps.
2. Plank Row
A multipurpose exercise that strengthens your arms (biceps and triceps), shoulders, and back, the plank row is a great alternative to pull-ups. It is also known as renegade row and increases the stability of your spine and shoulders.
- With a pair of 10 to 20 pounds dumbbells on the ground, get into the pushup position, grabbing the weights. Make sure your wrists are directly under the shoulders and your feet wider than the hips.
- Engaging your core and legs, bring the left weight up to shoulder height, with the elbow pointing to the ceiling.
- Lower the weight and repeat on the other side.
- Perform 10 reps on each side.
3. Bent-over Barbell Row
A weight training exercise, the bent-over barbell row targets various back muscles for a leaner, stronger back. It also works the muscles of the arms, glutes, and legs.
- Stand with feet hip-distance apart, knees a little bent.
- Push your hips back and lean your torso forward so bringing it parallel to the floor. Make sure to engage your core and glutes throughout the move.
- Grasp the squat bar slightly wider than the shoulders, then bend elbows, bringing the bar up toward your chest. Keep your gaze down.
- Take a pause, then gently lower the bar down until arms are straight.
- Repeat the movement, and perform 10 reps.
4. Band Pulldown
A wonderful upper body exercise, the band pulldown uses resistance bands to help you develop a big and strong back. It strengthens the upper body and is an excellent and easier substitute for pull-ups.
- Stand with feet hip-distance apart, knees a little bent, and thorax lifted.
- Grab the handles of the resistance band, palms faced down. Step back to create tension in the band.
- Start to pull the band downward with straight arms until the level of your hips.
- Return to starting and repeat. Perform 20 reps.
5. Resistance Band Hold
This simple exercise gives your shoulders a wonderful stretch, while also building strength on the back and arms.
- Hold a resistance band on both ends with as little space between them as you can.
- Pull the band to shoulder width with your palms facing forward. Keep your chest lifted and shoulder blades down and back.
- Engaging your core, hold the position for 30 seconds.
6. Elbow Push-up
Alright, forget pull-ups, because the brother is here! The elbow push-up is also a wonderful alternative to pull-ups as it activates your lats and strengthens your arm and back, and tones your core.
- Lie on a mat on a low plank position with elbows directly under the shoulders.
- Push through your palms to lift your forearms off the ground and straighten your arms, forming a slanted line.
- Your body will automatically be lifted as well. Contract your entire body throughout the exercise.
- Return to the starting position by bending your elbows toward the floor.
- Hold like a plank for 30 seconds or perform 20 reps.
If you’re like me who finds pull-ups too challenging to handle or just want any other exercises with the same benefits for a change, then these exercises are perfect for you! These simple yet equally effective and amazing moves are your best bet to a stronger, leaner back!
Would you ditch pull-ups for these exercises? Share your thoughts below and this post to your fitness buddies!