How to Do Pull Ups Without a Bar to Strengthen Back Muscles

How to do pull-ups at home without a bar? Well, I’m going to show you a few options you can choose from that aren’t exactly the same as if you were using a pull-up bar, but still much better than nothing.

Actually, these are excellent progressive exercises that help to build strength. Therefore, perfect for beginners. On the other hand, if you do high reps, then these practices help to gain muscle and develop endurance.

Anyway, even if you don’t use real exercise equipment, these activities are very similar that you can do with a bar.

Note: Keep in mind that you will need to use the things in your house. Hence, you may damage something. Also, you must be careful when performing these variations since they aren’t as safe as if you were using the workout equipment. This is particularly true if you are heavier than average.

Recommended: Check out the best pull up bars for home.

What can I do instead of pull-ups?

1. Table Bodyweight Row (Australian pull up alternative)

pulling exercises at home with table


Table inverted rows are almost the same as if you are using a bar (or barbell row). However, because of the grip, it’s harder to perform.

The best form is if you straighten your legs so that you can get more resistance. But, if you find it hard, you can bend your knees.

At the starting position, hang, then with a controlled technique, pull your upper body up until your chest touches the kitchen table, and you can look over it. Then slowly lower yourself backward until your arms are extended.

The lower you go, and the higher you pull yourself, the lengthier the range of motion is. And that is beneficial for strength development.

Note: Did you know that pull-up is called the king of the upper body exercises? This compound training makes your back, shoulders, and biceps really strong.

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2. Chair rows

chair rows

This is almost the same as the previous inverted rows, but you can grip more tightly so you can focus on your lats. For example, you can use a broomstick as a bar. Typical chairs will do since they are high enough to get the required range of motion. Grab the bar with shoulder width and pull your body till your chest touches the bar. With underhand grip (your palms facing away from you), you can imitate the chin ups. People at a higher fitness level, they can try the single hand variation.

3. Door pull-ups

pull up replacement exercise

Well, that is the one that may destroy your door, but if you are light, you may try it. The top of the door is an excellent alternative to a pull-up bar. This way, you can have a regular pull up. Place foam or a piece of clothes under your hands for more comfort.

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4. Door pulls in with a towel

pull-up alternative

Another not so door friendly exercise, but really efficient. Wrap a towel or a band around the handle or the doorknob.

Grab the end of the towel in front of you. You can bend your knees so that you can focus on your lats. Now slowly lean back until your arms are straight. Then, pull yourself back to the starting position until your chest touches the door, and your shoulder blades are as close as possible. Keep your back straight and your elbows close to your torso during the whole movement.

You can increase the resistance by using a longer towel so that you can go further and deeper. With that, more power is required to get back to the starting position. Or, you can even do the single-arm version, which is pretty tough.

5. Pull forwards on floor

alternative exercise for pull ups

What a creative pull up substitute! But it works only if the floor or the ground isn’t so smooth and slippy.

Place a towel under your ribs. Stretch your arms with such a width as if you were doing pull-ups. And, with the power of your back muscles, pull yourself forward. If you do this fun activity for a few meters, you will see it isn’t that easy. You can also put some weight on your back, such as your kid. 🙂

6. Pull up alternatives with dumbbells

If you have a pair of adjustable dumbbells that gives enough resistance to develop, then you are good to go. Single or double arm dumbbell rows are among the best back exercises without a pull-up bar.

From the following video, you can learn multiple back workouts at home with dumbbells.

7. Suspension training – My favorite pull-up bar alternative

A suspension trainer is a compact and easy to install exercise equipment that you can use to train your back muscles. The drills are mainly bodyweight rows, similar to the door pull-ins. However, you can adjust the straps as you want and use the comfortable handles instead.

Watch the following video to learn body weight exercises.


What muscles do pull-ups work?

Well, it’s called the king of the upper body exercises and for a good reason. It works multiple muscle groups at once, improves the strength and size drastically.

It’s the best exercise to target lats (latissimus dorsi), but also for biceps, upper back, shoulders, core, erector spinae, and forearm muscles. But, many other stabilizer muscle groups are also engaged, such as pecs, external oblique, traps, etc.

Any tips for DIY pull-up bar?

Well, I have to tell you that I’m bad at such sings, so I do not want to give you any advice by myself. But, here is a good tutorial on how to make a chin-up bar for home.

How to do assisted pull up at home?

At the gym, you can find the assisted pull up machine, which helps to progress. You set the amount of support for your level, and it lifts you a little bit up.

An excellent at-home alternative is the exercise band. You fix the two ends to bar and step on it. You can use weaker or stronger resistance bands depending on your needs.

More topics:

To conclude

As you see, there are many ways to do pull-ups without a bar. Of course, these strength training exercises can’t substitute the doing regular pull-ups, but help to build muscle. I suggest you get a doorway pull up bar, which is easy to install and affordable but much more comfortable to workout with.

If you have more fitness ideas on how to do pull-ups without a bar, share with us below.

Last update on 2021-04-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


James Wright

James (36) has been working out since he was 15 years old. He has a home gym where he pumps iron, does bodyweight workouts and boxing. He likes sharing his experiences with others who want to build a better physique.

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