Looking to take your pull day to the next level? You’re in luck as we’ve listed some of the best pull day exercises that you need to build pulling strength and muscle gain!
The best thing is that these pulling exercises can even promote fat loss by helping you to burn calories – especially if performed with intensity or little to no rest between sets.
So whether you’re just starting a new push-pull split or just want to mix up your pull day workouts, here are the 10 best pull day exercises for muscle gain and fat loss!
1. Pull Ups
Need we say it? Pull ups are considered the king of pull exercises. They’re the compound bodyweight equivalent of push ups, requiring nothing but a stable bar to hang from.
For optimal pull up form, make sure to protract (push out) your chest, drop your shoulders, and pull the bar to your chestline while bringing your elbows back to fully engage the lats, rear delts, rhomboids, and traps.
For bonus points, keep your legs straight and your feet together!
What’s more, there are a ton of pull up variations you can do to target different back muscles and increase strength.
These include wide grip pull ups, narrow grip pull ups, archer pull ups, explosive pull ups, high pull ups, slow pull ups, and lots more.
2. Assisted Pull Ups
Pull ups aren’t easy, but what’s where assisted pull ups come in.
Assisted pull ups target the same muscles as pull ups, but are performed with lower resistance to make the exercise easier for beginners – or even people doing drop sets or training one-arm pull ups!
Assisted pull ups can be done with an assisted pull up machine by placing your knees on the platform and pulling yourself to the bar.
The higher you set the weight on the machine, the easier the pull ups will be.
Assisted pull ups can also be done with resistance bands. Simply tie the band to the pull up bar and place your foot inside the band.
The elasticity of the band will help you perform pull ups with reduced weight. The thicker the resistance band, the easier the exercise will be.
3. Australian Pull Ups
Australian pull ups are another effective pull day exercise that replicates the same movement of pull ups but with a lower bar.
In this case, you keep your feet on the ground while pulling your chest to the bar.
For best form, the same general rules apply: protract (push out) your chest, keep your shoulders lowered, and pull the chest to your bar.
Bring your elbows back to fully engage your back muscles, and make sure to keep your feet locked in place.
As Australian pull ups are a lot easier than regular pull ups, they’re also an effective pull up progression to help you build strength and muscle for both assisted pull ups and regular pull ups.
You can also perform this exercise using a stable table!
4. Lat Pulldowns
Lat pulldowns are one of the best pulling exercises you can do as they can help you increase your strength for full pull ups, as well as build serious muscle mass due to the ability to increase the resistance!
For correct form when doing lat pulldowns, make sure to protract your chest and depress your shoulders.
Pull the bar to your chestline and bring your elbows back to fully contract your back muscles.
Since lat pulldowns replicate the same movement pattern as pull ups, they also engage the same muscles: lats, rear delts, rhomboids, traps, and lower back muscles.
5. Chin Ups
Chin ups are similar to pull ups, except that they engage the biceps more by using a supinated grip.
This means holding the bar with your fingers facing you, instead of your fingers facing away from you (pronated grip).
For best chin up form, make sure to depress your shoulders and protract your chest, then pull the bar to your chest while engaging your bicep muscles.
Keep your core tight for stability and pull your elbows to fully contract your back muscles.
Like pull ups, chin ups offer a host of variations! One of the best variations is the wide grip chin up, which activates the inner bicep (short head).
Assisted pull up machines and resistance bands can also be used to improve chin up strength.
6. Bicep Curls
Bicep curls are an isolation pulling exercise that, if you think about it, replicate the same movement as chin ups but using dumbbells, a barbell, or a cable machine for resistance, instead of your bodyweight.
For best bicep curl form, make sure to depress your shoulders and keep your elbows in a fixed position as you bring the bar or dumbbell towards your shoulders.
Squeeze at the top of each rep to fully engage the bicep muscles.
The best thing about bicep curls is that there are many variations. You can perform them seated, standing, and even change the movement pattern to target different areas of your biceps.
Wide bicep curls, for example, will activate the short head muscle of the biceps.
Rows are one of the most popular back exercises – and for good reason!
They’re much more beginner-friendly than pull ups, and can be done using dumbbells, a barbell, or even a resistance band tied to a stable object or lodged in a door.
Barbell rows are performed standing while dumbbell rows can be done standing or bent over a bench. Dumbbell rows can even be done on the floor, performed with alternating reps.
For best form, bend your lower back slightly and make sure to bring your elbows back to fully engage your back muscles.
Ideally, use a weight that you can row comfortably without having to use momentum to perform each rep.
Deadlifts are considered the ultimate compound exercise. They activate more muscles than any other exercise, so they’re definitely worth including in your pull day workout.
Deadlifts involve lifting a weighted barbell off the floor from a bent-knee position and standing upright to complete one rep.
For optimal deadlift form, line up the bar with the middle of your feet, keeping your feet hip-width apart.
Perform a squat with your armpits in line with the bar, then lift the bar, push your feet into the ground, and stand up straight with the bar level to your hips.
Deadlifts work the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, core, lower back, rhomboids, traps, and forearm muscles. They also increase grip strength and can even improve joint strength in the knees.
Hyperextensions are one of the best exercises for your lower back and core.
The exercise is performed on a hyperextension machine (or hyperextension bench), and involves locking your feet in place as you pull your upper body from a bent position to a straight position.
For best hyperextension form, make sure to engage your core as you raise your upper body until it forms a straight line with your legs.
Squeeze your core, glutes, and lower back to make the exercise more effective.
A variation of the hyperextension is the reverse hyperextension. Reverse hyperextensions are similar, except that you are lifting your lower body instead of your upper body.
As a result, reverse hyperextensions engages the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings.
10. T-Bar Row
Last but not least: the T-bar row. T-bar rows are an effective type of rowing exercise that’s done using a T-bar machine.
They can also be performed with a barbell that has weight plates placed on one side!
For correct T-bar row form, make sure to bend your knees and lower back.
Keep your shoulders depressed as you pull the bar to your lower chest, bringing your elbows back to fully activate your back muscles.
T-bar rows engage the lats, rhomboids, lower back muscles, core, and quads.
Just make sure to use full range of motion and control the movement without using any momentum to pull the bar up.
And that wraps up our list of the 10 best pull day exercises for increasing pulling strength and building muscle – especially the back muscles and biceps.
These exercises can also promote fat loss by helping you to burn more calories.
Just remember to use correct form to increase the effectiveness of the exercise and avoid injury.
And for best results, make sure to include two pull days in your weekly workout routine with at least 72 hours of rest between each pull day!