The upper back is one of the most fundamental groups of muscles that deserve a huge focus in any lifter or sports athlete and even in non-athletic populations.
Luckily, there is a wide selection of upper back strengthening exercises to choose from.
The best 18 upper body pull exercises are:
- Barbell row
- T-bar row
- Pendlay row
- Single-arm dumbbell row
- Dumbbell chest-supported row
- Seated cable row
- Banded row
- Inverted row
- TRX Pull-up
- Under the bar pull-ups
- Lat pulldown
- Banded single-arm pulldown
- Vertical single-arm banded row
- Single-arm cable diagonal row
- Hammer Strength diagonal row
- Rope pulldown
Here, I have provided a variety of upper body pull exercises that can be paired together with the goal of pulling in multiple planes of motion (horizontal, vertical, and diagonal).
These are all exercises I have personally observed to be effective at some point in my coaching and lifting career.
Without further ado, let's begin!
What Makes a Good Upper Body Pull Exercise?
Upper body pull exercises consist of three planes of motion:
- Vertical pulls involve reaching overhead to pull down,
- Horizontal pulls involve reaching forward to row back, and
- Diagonal rows involve pulling from a diagonal angle
A good upper body pull exercise will require you to pull a load in one of these three planes of motion while targeting specific muscle groups, as I’ll explain below.
Furthermore, a complete upper body pull exercise routine will implement at least one each of a vertical, horizontal, and diagonal row.
What Muscles Are Worked in Upper Body Pull Exercises?
The muscles used in upper body pull exercises are:
- Latissimus dorsi (lats)
- Rhomboids (rhomboids major and minor)
- Trapezius (traps)
- Teres major (a small muscle near the shoulder blade)
- Biceps brachii
Upper body pull exercises will emphasize a different set of back muscles depending on the plane of motion.
Vertical rowing motions will involve the lats, biceps, and teres major, while horizontal rowing motions will focus on the thickness of the back, which will target the traps, rhomboids, and lats. Diagonal rowing movements will involve more isolated activation of the teres major and lats.
18 Upper Body Pull Exercises
1. Barbell Row
The barbell row (or bent-over row) is one of my favorite fundamental upper body pull exercises, especially for beginners who need to build thickness and width in their back.
- Assume the starting position by standing in front of the barbell with the feet hip-width apart.
- Grip the bar with your hands shoulder-width apart. You can widen them slightly if you prefer.
- To get into position, sit back until your torso is somewhat parallel to the ground.
- At the start of the row, keep your shoulders over the bar and elbows straight.
- Drive the bar towards the upper abdomen/lower chest.
- During the lowering phase, guide the bar into complete elbow extension to lock out.
- Barbell rows are great for general strength and developing total upper and lower body musculature. Since the barbell row is supported by the lower body, total body musculature is utilized to stabilize the lower body and build upper body strength.
- Barbell rows can be loaded to a high degree. Unlike dumbbell rows, the barbell row is plate loaded and utilizes total body strength. This allows for greater freedom in increasing load and a greater threshold for strength development.
- Barbell rows can place pressure on the lower back. Those with lower back injuries might find it difficult to perform barbell rows since you have to maintain a bent-over position for an extended time.
- Barbell rows are a compound movement. While the barbell rows are great for bringing up total upper body musculature, they don’t isolate the back as well as a seated cable row or chest-supported row.
2. T-Bar Row
Similar to the barbell row, the t-bar row can promote thickness and density of the back. However, the t-bar row has greater simplicity due to its fixed anchor point, making it more effective as an upper body pull isolation exercise.
- Fix one end of a barbell into a corner of the gym or secure it to a landmine attachment.
- Secure a double-D handle to the base of the shaft of the barbell.
- Start with your feet hip-width apart in front of the base of the head of the barbell.
- To build tension, act as though you are closing your armpits when grabbing the handlebar.
- Stand up while holding the weight in your hands with your elbows fully extended and your hips back.
- For the starting position, ensure you have a neutral spine with the torso parallel to the floor.
- Aiming for your lower chest, sweep the elbows back.
- To finish the repetition, extend the elbows in a controlled fashion to return to the starting position.
- T-bar rows are great for building thickness in the upper back. With a close grip, t-bar rows target the mid-back muscles, which give the back greater depth when grown.
- T-bar rows target the lats directly. As a rowing movement, the close grip and positioning of the t-bar row allow for greater isolation of the lats.
- T-bar rows are limited in range of motion. T-bar rows are plate loaded, limiting the range of motion allowed during this exercise. Limited range of motion allows for less time under tension and movement of the joints.
- T-bar rows require a landmine setup. Not all gyms have a landmine setup. Fortunately, you can place the bar set-up in the corner of a rack or room to effectively fix the equipment in place.
Curious about the differences between t-bar rows and barbell rows? Check out T-Bar Row vs Barbell Row: Differences, Pros, Cons.
3. Pendlay Row
Unlike the barbell row or t-bar row, the Pendlay row is great for developing power and rate of force development, making it perfect for developing speed and explosive strength.
- Ensure your feet are hip-width apart as you stand in front of the bar.
- Drive your traps down, retract your shoulder blades, and exaggerate a forward chest position.
- Sit back with the hips until the entire torso is completely parallel to the floor.
- As you grab the bar, make sure your grip width is similar to how you would do a bench press.
- From this position, generate tension in the lats and erectors by “closing your armpits” and “breaking the bar.”
- While maintaining tension, initiate a forceful pull directed towards the upper abdominal/lower chest region.
- In a controlled fashion, return the bar to the ground, loosen your grip on the bar, and release the tightness in your shoulders and traps.
- Tighten your grip on the bar again, then rebuild the shoulder and trap tension prior to initiating the next rep.
- Pendlay rows are great for power development. Typically, rowing movements are implemented for the purpose of cultivating mass or strength. Pendlay rows involve a forceful pull with tremendous carry-over to exercises like bench presses, power cleans, and deadlifts.
- Pendlay rows have greater loading potential. Since it requires a little bit of a heave, you can potentially lift greater loads with this movement.
- Pendlay rows involve only a concentric movement. Since there is only one primary phase during this movement (the concentric or upward phase), there is less time under tension, which results in less hypertrophy or muscle growth.
- Pendlay rows are technically more complex. Pendlay rows are most effective when you are able to produce full body tension. A barbell row is a great alternative for novices or anyone who needs to improve their rowing ability prior to performing the Pendlay row.
I provide several alternatives that are suitable for lifters of varying experience levels in 11 Highly Effective Pendlay Row Alternatives (With Pictures).
4. Single Arm Dumbbell Row
For me, as a bodybuilder and powerlifter, single-arm dumbbell rows have always been a staple upper body pull exercise in developing the musculature of one side at a time.
- Position yourself off to one side of a bench and hold a dumbbell on the side further from the bench.
- Have one knee planted into the bench, one foot planted off to the side, and an open hand placed at the head of the bench.
- Starting with the elbow on the side that’s holding the dumbbell completely extended, drive that same elbow back until it is at 90 degrees and in line with the back of your torso.
- Return the rowing arm to the fully extended position to complete the repetition.
- Single-arm dumbbell rows are great for developing one lat at a time. A majority of lifters will develop imbalances over the course of their fitness career. Implementing unilateral or single-arm exercises is crucial for closing the strength and muscle gap between each side of your body.
- Single-arm dumbbell rows can allow for greater range of motion. Throughout the entire execution of this exercise, you can get a better stretch and flex, which can result in more robust muscle hypertrophy.
- Single-arm dumbbell rows are limited by grip strength. Holding a dumbbell in one hand is more difficult than holding a barbell with two hands. However, you can use straps to increase the strength potential of this movement.
- Single-arm dumbbell rows can place pressure on the low back. If you have a history of low back discomfort or pain, implementing the single-arm dumbbell row can exacerbate underlying issues. Instead, you can incorporate exercises like the chest-supported row or seated row, which take pressure off the low back and allow for greater lat isolation.
5. Dumbbell Chest Supported Row
Contrary to previous exercises, dumbbell chest-supported rows aren’t supported by the entire back, glutes, and hips and are a great low-stress upper body pull exercise that isolates the lats.
- Lay face down on a 45-degree incline bench with your chest firmly planted into the head of the bench.
- Holding onto two dumbbells, row towards your lower chest/abdomen.
- Cue the squeezing of the armpits and shoulder blades together at the top to get a maximal contraction.
- Extend the elbows and return the dumbbells to the starting position.
- Dumbbell chest-supported rows take pressure off the low back. By laying on the bench, the chest-supported row allows for greater isolation of the back without loading the rest of the body.
- Dumbbell chest-supported rows are easier to recover from. When you are in an in-season sport or deep into powerlifting or Olympic lifting meet prep, implementing an exercise that is easier on the body, such as a chest-supported row, is great for promoting recovery and maintaining strength.
- Dumbbell chest-supported rows cannot be loaded to a high degree. The inherent positioning that accompanies the dumbbell chest-supported row disallows for higher intensities. Instead, you can implement slower repetitions or pauses to make this exercise more challenging at the upper threshold of your strength.
- Dumbbell chest-supported rows are less fun than their counterparts. Movements such as barbell rows or t-bar rows can be more fulfilling due to the higher threshold of untapped progression you can make. Implementing dumbbell chest-supported rows as a beginner can make training less fun and make progression less visible.
6. Single-Arm Cable Row
The single-arm cable row is a great single-arm rowing movement for decreasing imbalances and strengthening each side individually.
I highly recommend incorporating some single-arm work into your training alongside a mix of two-arm work for a well-balanced training protocol. Later on in this article, I will provide several sample workouts that implement a proper balance of single- and two-armed movements you can use.
- Set the cable stack to align with your upper abdomen/lower chest.
- Grab the handle low in your hand.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Have a big open chest with a neutral spine.
- Row the handle towards your lower chest/upper abdomen.
- Straighten the elbow to complete the repetition.
- Single-arm cable rows allow for greater range of motion. Greater range of motion during a single-arm cable row promotes time under tension, which can lead to greater muscular gains.
- Single-arm cable rows minimize asymmetries. Over time, deficiencies occur as a result of training both arms at the same time. By strengthening each side independently, each side of the back will achieve equal strength levels.
- Single-arm cable rows cannot be done at higher intensities. This exercise is limited by your ability to row with a single arm. Pair this exercise with a bilateral or two-arm exercise to completely strengthen the back.
- Single-arm cable rows are extremely simple. Compared to other exercises, the single-arm cable row is simpler and can become boring. You can exchange single-arm cable rows with single-arm dumbbell rows and single-arm landmine rows to keep training engaging.
7. Seated Cable Row
The seated cable row is a fundamental exercise that is very light on the body, which makes it a great upper back pull exercise for promoting recovery in training.
During a peak or time when life stress is high, it’s great to implement movements such as the seated row to further supplement a routine.
- Have an upright posture, retracted shoulder blades, and a slight bend in your knees.
- Begin the exercise by sweeping the elbows back while aiming the handles towards the lower abdomen.
- Extend the elbows to return to the starting position.
- Seated cable rows are easier to recover from. Similar to the chest-supported row, it is smart to implement the seated cable row during periods of high stress, such as peaking for competition or external factors like work.
- Seated cable rows are simple and easy to do. Seated cable rows are easy to perform and can benefit any experience level, from novice to elite.
- Seated cable rows don’t have a lot of room for improvement. This movement is extremely simple and isolates the lats to a high degree, consequently not allowing for greater loading and resulting in a slower rate of progression.
- Seated cable rows aren’t as fun as other upper body pull exercises. Exercises like t-bar rows and barbell rows are more fun, in my opinion, and fun can be fundamental to progression at the gym.
Looking for other exercises to do in place of seated cable rows? Check out the 15 best seated row alternatives.
8. Banded Row
Banded rows require minimal equipment, making them the best upper body pull exercise for on the road or at home.
- Press the band together and stand on top of the center of the band.
- Grab both ends of the band as if they are handles.
- To get into the starting position, sit your hips back until your torso is parallel to the ground.
- Make sure your chest is over your feet, and you emphasize sweeping the elbows back while aiming for the lower abdomen/navel.
- During the lowering of the movement, guide the band into the full elbow extension to lock out.
- Banded rows are slow to fatigue and can be great for performing higher rep sets. By nature, banded rows are more effective at higher repetitions and are great when you want to improve strength endurance.
- Banded rows require minimal equipment and can be performed anywhere. Banded rows only require bands and an anchor point, allowing you to implement them at home or on the road.
- Banded rows require more sets and reps. As previously mentioned, banded rows are a lighter stimulus that won’t result in as much loading and progression as something like barbell rows or cable rows. For this reason, it’ll require more reps and sets to achieve a valuable stimulus.
- Loading and progression for banded rows aren’t as precise as dumbbells or plates. Banded exercises are limited as far as progression goes. You can double up bands or implement the next heavier band to increase intensity.
9. Inverted Row
Inverted rows are a non-taxing upper body pull exercise that is great for correcting posture and developing core strength and muscular endurance.
- Adjust the J cups of a squat rack, so a barbell is just a bit longer than arm's length of distance from the ground when you rack it.
- To change the difficulty of this exercise, you can position the barbell lower or higher on the rack.
- Maintain a supine body position (face up) during the course of this exercise.
- Take an overhand grip on the bar with your hands placed similar to how they would be on the bench press.
- Maintaining a rigid spine, pull your lower chest towards the bar until it makes contact.
- During the lowering of the movement, guide yourself away from the bar until your elbows are at full extension.
- Inverted rows are great for posture correction. Implementing an inverted row requires you to maintain a neutral spine with the head, ribs, and hip joints stacked on top of each other. Whereas exercises such as barbell or t-bar rows can result in improper posture since the weight is supported by the entire body.
- Inverted rows can be progressed or regressed based on ability or goal. You can elevate your feet to increase difficulty or bring them closer to the body to promote ease of execution within this exercise.
- Inverted rows have limited loading parameters. The main way to increase difficulty of this exercise is by adding reps or sets. Regarding loading, you can place a plate on your stomach or wear a weighted vest to increase the intensity.
- Inverted rows, regardless of modification, can be difficult for beginners. Since you have to row the weight of your body, the load and difficulty cannot be decreased much more than that. Alternatively, a seated cable row or chest-supported row can be decreased to lower loads that are easier to perform.
If inverted rows are too difficult for you, you can also try one of these inverted row alternatives.
10. TRX Pull-Up
TRX pull-ups are a great upper body pull exercise for beginners or if you are limited on equipment.
- Set up the TRX handles so they can allow you to be completely off the ground during the upper phase of the pull-up.
- Grab the two handles while fully seated on the ground with extended legs.
- At the beginning phase of the TRX pull-up, you should be in a tall upright position and completely off the ground.
- To begin the movement, drive the elbows towards the floor while pulling yourself up to the point where your hands align with your chin.
- Slowly extend the elbows and shoulders to return to the starting position.
- TRX handles are easily set up and carried around, allowing TRX pull-ups to be performed in various settings. The TRX handles can be anchored to various points in any location, making this exercise perfect for at-home routines or on the road.
- Individuals in various populations and of various ability levels can perform TRX pull-ups. In a rehab clinic, TRX rows or pull-ups are great for those experiencing shoulder discomfort and untrained individuals. Untrained individuals can stand more upright to make this exercise easier. Trained individuals can walk forward to be more parallel to the ground to further increase the difficulty of this exercise.
- TRX pull-ups are easier to perform than pull-ups. TRX pull-ups cannot replace actual pull-ups due to their positioning close to the ground. Exchanging these TRX pull-ups for either lat pulldowns or conventional pull-ups can allow you to continue progression within your training.
- TRX pull-ups are difficult to load. Due to the nature and positioning of the TRX pull-ups, they cannot be loaded or increased in intensity. The only way to increase intensity is to wear a weight vest, while pull-ups can be loaded via a weight belt or a dumbbell.
TRX systems are expensive. If you want to buy one but don’t want to spend a lot of money, check out these affordable TRX alternatives.
11. Under the Bar Pull Ups
Under the bar pull-ups are a regressed variation of the pull-up exercise that you can do until you’ve developed the strength to progress to a full pull-up.
- Set up the bar height to allow for your body to be suspended when holding the bar in an upright position with completely extended arms.
- Throughout this exercise, maintain a big chest with depressed and retracted shoulder blades.
- Pull your upper body up until the chin is at or above parallel with the bar.
- Lower your body back to the starting position to complete the repetition.
- Under the bar pull-ups are a regressed version of pull-ups. Pull-ups are often difficult to perform, and individuals need a more regressed starting point. Under the bar pull-ups can be a great starting point if you are trying to learn how to do pull-ups.
- Under the bar pull-ups can be done for a high number of reps. Implementing burnout sets with pull-ups under the bar can be great for setting goal rep counts, tracking progress, and promoting muscle growth.
- Under the bar pull-ups are easy to perform. Unlike regular pull-ups, under the bar pull-ups can be strengthened only so much before you plateau in strength and experience limited progress. When this happens, you should progress under the bar pull-ups to regular pull-ups or lat pulldowns.
- Under the bar pull-ups are difficult to load. Instead of adding weight, you can increase the difficulty of under the bar pull-ups by implementing tempos or paused reps.
12. Lat Pulldown
The lat pulldown is a great upper body pull exercise that has a low barrier to entry, which makes it great for novices. You can load it to a high degree, which also makes it great for intermediate and elite athletes.
- Set up the leg locks on a lat pulldown machine to keep you in place.
- Reaching towards the bar, make sure it sits low in your hands, and your thumbs are wrapped around it for support.
- Make sure your grip is just outside of shoulder width apart.
- Maintain a nice upright posture, with an arched back and big chest.
- Use your hands to lower the bar until it is parallel with the chin.
- Control the bar back to the starting position to complete the repetition.
- The lat pulldown is great to perform and implement year-round. You can do the lat pulldown either for heavy weight and low repetitions or lighter weight and high repetitions. This allows you to shift your loading parameters with the lat pulldown to match your existing goals.
- The lat pulldown has a variety of handles to change the nature of the exercise. The back muscles are composed of the traps, lats, rhomboids, rear deltoids, and erectors, and you can target these to different degrees based on which cable attachment you use on the lat pulldown machine.
- The lat pulldown requires a lat pulldown machine. The lat pulldown is difficult to replicate if you don’t have the right equipment. Alternatively, you can perform pull-ups or banded vertical rows to achieve a similar stimulus or add other lat pulldown alternatives to your training.
- The lat pulldown is commonly performed incorrectly. The lat pulldown is popularly used in the weight room, and most gym-goers have difficulty properly performing this exercise. Ensure that you take your time with lighter weights, watch videos of how to do it correctly, and then progress loading once you feel as though you’ve perfected your technique.
Pull-ups (assisted or unassisted) are a fundamental vertical upper body pull exercise to implement into your current programming.
- You can make pull-ups easier by taking a narrower grip on the pull-up bar or more challenging by taking a wider grip.
- Maintain a nice upright posture, with an arched back and a big chest.
- Use your hands to pull your body up until the bar is below the chin.
- Control your body back into the starting position to complete the repetition.
- Pull-ups can be progressed or regressed in a variety of ways. Beginners can regress to band-assisted variations, and advanced lifters can do weighted pull-ups with a weight belt.
- Pull-ups are a fundamental movement for back development. Implementing a vertical row exercise like pull-ups is pivotal for strengthening and developing the back. Pull-ups and lat pulldowns are most commonly utilized with this goal in mind.
- Pull-ups are inherently difficult. Plenty of programs are built around preparing you to do a pull-up. This is because most individuals cannot perform a bodyweight pull-up. Alternatively, under the bar pull-ups and lat pulldowns can be performed by most individuals.
- Pull-ups can be painful on the shoulders. When done incorrectly, you can over-produce tension in your traps and shoulders, leading to increased discomfort and pain in the shoulder area.
Pendlay rows involve only a
Chin-ups engage the upper back muscles while targeting the biceps and mid-back to a higher degree, which makes it a great upper body pull exercise.
- Grab a pull-up bar with your hands shoulder-width apart and palms facing you.
- Maintain a nice upright posture, with an arched back and big chest.
- Pull your body up until the bar is below the chin.
- Control your body back to the starting position to complete the repetition.
- Chin-ups are easier to perform than traditional pull-ups. Due to positioning, you can perform chin-ups for greater repetitions or loading. This is great for beginners or simply aiming for further progressive overload.
- Chin-ups target the biceps as a secondary muscle group. Biceps are a stubborn muscle group for most to grow. Implementing chin-ups in some capacity allows you to load and target the biceps in a novel way.
- Chin-ups don’t isolate the lats as well as pull-ups. If your goal is to build your back, pull-ups are your best bet. However, you can implement chin-ups as an easier option for performing greater repetitions with heavier loads.
- Chin-ups are still difficult compared to other vertical rowing options. Lat pulldowns and banded vertical rows are much easier to execute, as they don’t require you to lift the entire weight of your body.
15. Single-Arm Banded Pulldown
Single-arm banded pulldowns are a single-arm exercise that is great for diminishing imbalances or developing greater lat range of motion on each side.
- Set up a band to be just above you on the side of a squat rack or on a pull-up bar.
- Grab the resistance band at its lowest point and hold it tight in your hand.
- Row the band with the elbow sweeping down until your hand is parallel with the chin.
- Straighten your arm back to the starting position to complete the repetition.
- Single-arm banded pulldowns allow you to perform higher repetitions. Implementing banded row variations like the vertical single-arm banded pulldown allows you to achieve higher repetitions with the goal of strength endurance.
- You can perform single-arm banded pulldowns in a variety of settings. To perform this exercise, you can anchor a band to multiple settings in the weight room, at home, or at a hotel.
- Single-arm banded pulldowns are a lighter stimulus. To make this exercise effective, you must implement multiple sets for higher reps or progress by doubling bands or increasing banded resistance.
- Single-arm banded pulldown requires access to bands. Even though bands are portable, you still need access to them. Fortunately, if you purchase a set of bands, you can use them for various complete workouts on the road or at home.
16. Single-Arm Cable Diagonal Row
The single-arm cable diagonal row is great for targeting the lower lats and creating a complete upper back.
- Set up the cable stack to be just above you.
- Grab the handle and hold it tight in your hand.
- Row the handle down until your hand is in line with your upper chest.
- Extend that same arm back into the starting position to complete the repetition.
- The single-arm cable diagonal row targets the lower lats. While horizontal and vertical rows can target a majority of the back muscle groups, neither target the lower lats quite like a single-arm cable diagonal row.
- The single-arm cable diagonal row allows for greater range of motion. By punching forward on the lockout and further pulling back in the middle of a rep, you can stretch and flex your back to a greater degree.
- The single-arm cable diagonal row cannot be loaded to a high degree. Being able to progress in load is extremely important for longevity in training. Once mastered, single-arm diagonal cable rows can be progressed to the Hammer Strength diagonal row.
- The single-arm cable diagonal row requires a cable pulley system. Alternative to the single-arm cable diagonal row, you can do a banded variation for higher repetitions for a similar stimulus.
17. Hammer Strength Diagonal Row
Unlike the single-arm cable diagonal row, the Hammer Strength diagonal row can be loaded to a higher degree, which makes it great for developing diagonal rowing strength.
- Set up the seat, so the chest is in line with the upper part of the seat.
- Row back while keeping the upper arm close to the torso and sweeping the elbows down and back.
- Extend the elbows and arms to complete the repetition.
- The Hammer Strength diagonal row is plate loaded. Unlike the single-arm cable row, the Hammer Strength diagonal row can be loaded with greater precision and to a higher degree. Heavier loads can provide a novel stimulus to the lower lats, further promoting muscle size and depth.
- The Hammer Strength diagonal row feels good to do. Compared to other diagonal row options, the Hammer Strength diagonal row is my favorite. This is due to the simplicity and loading that allow me to achieve the most effective stimulus on the lower lats.
- The Hammer Strength diagonal row requires specialty equipment. I’ve been to plenty of weight rooms, and the Hammer Strength diagonal row is not always included in the equipment selection. If you don’t have the right machine in your gym, you can implement single-arm cable diagonal rows or rope pulldowns.
- The Hammer Strength diagonal row can be easy to cheat. The goal of a Hammer Strength diagonal row is to target the lower lats. When cheated, it can be less effective by targeting secondary muscle groups like the traps or rear delts.
18. Rope Pulldown
Implementing a rope pulldown is great for building muscle and placing constant time under tension on the lower lats.
- Set up the cable stack to be at its highest point.
- Hold the lowest point of each side of the rope with both hands.
- In a chopping motion, pull the two handles of the rope through the upper thighs.
- To complete the repetition, return to the starting position.
- Rope pulldowns allow for greater range of motion during the rowing motion. Pulling through the thighs promotes greater range of motion during the rope pulldown activity. This is great for achieving maximal time under tension and increasing the stretch/flex that occurs at each phase of this movement.
- Rope pulldowns are easy to implement into an existing program. Rope pulldowns are a low-risk and low-cost exercise that is easy to perform, making it rewarding to implement into the tail end of a program.
- Rope pulldowns are strictly used for muscle building. If your goal is general strength, you are better off programming Hammer Strength diagonal rows.
- Rope pulldowns require a cable stack and rope attachment. If you don't have access to a cable stack, a strong alternative is dumbbell pullovers or banded pulldowns.
Sample Upper Body Pull Workout
Sample Workout For Strength/Hypertrophy
- T-bar row: 3 x 6-8
- Lat Pulldown: 3 x 6-8
- Rope Pulldown: 3 x 12
Sample Workout For Strength
- Barbell row: 5 x 3
- Weighted pull-ups: 5 x 3
- Hammer Strength diagonal row: 3 x 6
Sample Workout For Hypertrophy
- Seated cable row: 3 x 10
- Lat pulldown: 3 x 10
- Single-arm cable diagonal row: 3 x 10 each side
For an effective upper body pull workout, I recommend implementing at least one exercise at a horizontal angle, one at a vertical angle, and one at a diagonal angle.
Furthemore, implementing exercises that move at all angles allows you to target all your back muscles.
My favorite exercise combo is the t-bar row, lat pulldown, and Hammer Strength diagonal row for the goal of strength and hypertrophy.
About The Author
Javad Bakhshinejad was born and raised in the Washington Area. Currently, he is a student at Seattle University where he’s been pursuing an MS in Kinesiology, and has been a Strength Coach in the athletic department. He was a competitive bodybuilder for 8 years where he later transitioned to competitive powerlifting for 4 years. Currently, He has his own personal coaching business, where he works with powerlifters and bodybuilders.