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

    Interested in learning how to do pull-ups without a bar from home?

    Well, I will show you a few options you can choose from that aren’t the same as if you were using a pull-up bar, but still much better than nothing. 

    How to Do Pull Ups Without a Bar

    These are excellent progressive exercises that help to build strength. Therefore, perfect for beginners.

    On the other hand, if you do high reps, these practices help you gain muscle and develop endurance.

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

    Keep in mind that you will need to use the things in your house. Hence, you may damage something.

    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

    Credit: darebee.com

    Table inverted rows are almost the same as 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 to 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.

    pull up techniques

    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. 

    Did you know that pull-up is the king of the upper body exercises?

    This compound training makes your back, shoulders, and biceps strong.

    See some of our pull-up bars below if you want to do regular workouts at home.

    Preview
    Overall Best
    RELIFE REBUILD YOUR LIFE Power Tower Workout Dip Station for Home Gym Strength Training Fitness Equipment Newer Version
    Best Alternative
    Sportsroyals Power Tower Pull Up Dip Station Adjustable Multi-Function Home Gym Strength Training Fitness Equipment Newer Version
    Best Budget
    MAGIC FIT Power Tower Dip/Pull Up Station Multi-Function Workout Equipment for Home Gym Training Fitness Exercise 8 Levels Adjustable Height
    Product Name
    Relife Rebuild Your Life Workout Dip Station
    Sportsroyals Power Tower Pull Up Dip Station
    MAGIC FIT Power Tower Dip/Pull Up Station
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    Preview
    RELIFE REBUILD YOUR LIFE Power Tower Workout Dip Station for Home Gym Strength Training Fitness Equipment Newer Version
    Product Name
    Relife Rebuild Your Life Workout Dip Station
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    Ergonomic Design
    Height Adjustment
    9 Levels
    Backrest Adjustment
    4 Positions
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    Sturdy Construction
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    Best Alternative
    Preview
    Sportsroyals Power Tower Pull Up Dip Station Adjustable Multi-Function Home Gym Strength Training Fitness Equipment Newer Version
    Product Name
    Sportsroyals Power Tower Pull Up Dip Station
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    6 Levels
    Backrest Adjustment
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    Preview
    MAGIC FIT Power Tower Dip/Pull Up Station Multi-Function Workout Equipment for Home Gym Training Fitness Exercise 8 Levels Adjustable Height
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    MAGIC FIT Power Tower Dip/Pull Up Station
    Multi-function
    Ergonomic Design
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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 to 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 the shoulder width and pull your body till your chest touches the bar.

    You can imitate the chin-ups with an underhand grip (your palms facing away from you). People at a higher fitness level 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.

    You can also buy a doorway pull-up bar if you weigh under 440 pounds. They are very affordable and help you do pull-ups with ease at home.

    Preview
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    AmazeFan Pull Up Bar Doorway with Ergonomic Grip - Fitness Chin-Up Frame for Home Gym Exercise - 2 Professional Quality Wrist Straps + Workout Guide - No Installation Needed(Fits Almost All Doors)
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    KOMSURF Pull up Bar Doorway, Door Pullup Chin up Bar Home, Multifunctional Portable Dip bar Fitness, Exercise Equipment Body Gym System No Screws Trainer
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    CEAYUN Pull up Bar for Doorway, Portable Pullup Chin up Bar Home, No Screws Multifunctional Dip bar Fitness, Door Exercise Equipment Body Gym System Trainer
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    Preview
    AmazeFan Pull Up Bar Doorway with Ergonomic Grip - Fitness Chin-Up Frame for Home Gym Exercise - 2 Professional Quality Wrist Straps + Workout Guide - No Installation Needed(Fits Almost All Doors)
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    AmazeFan Pull Up Bar Doorway
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    Door Frame Protection
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    Preview
    KOMSURF Pull up Bar Doorway, Door Pullup Chin up Bar Home, Multifunctional Portable Dip bar Fitness, Exercise Equipment Body Gym System No Screws Trainer
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    KOMSURF Pull Up Bar for Doorway
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    Preview
    CEAYUN Pull up Bar for Doorway, Portable Pullup Chin up Bar Home, No Screws Multifunctional Dip bar Fitness, Door Exercise Equipment Body Gym System Trainer
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    CEAYUN Pull up Bar for Doorway
    No Assembly Needed
    Multipurpose
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    Maximum Weight
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    Interested?

     

    4. Door Pulls in With a Towel

    pull-up alternative

    Another not-so-door-friendly exercise, but 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 to go further and deeper.

    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 the 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

    Pull up Alternatives With Dumbbells

    You are good to go if you have a pair of adjustable dumbbells that give enough resistance to build.

    Single or double arm dumbbell rows are the best back exercises without a pull-up bar.

    You can learn multiple back workouts at home with dumbbells from the following video. 

    Also, see our recommended adjustable dumbells below if you do not have dumbbells. They are high quality and will last you a long time.

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    Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells (pair)
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    Lifepro Adjustable Dumbbell - 5-in-1, 25lb dumbell Adjustable Free Weights Plates and Rack - Hand Weights for Women and Men - Adjustable Weights, 5lb, 10lb, 15lb, 20lb, 25lb (25 Pounds - Pair)
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    Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells (pair)
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    Lifepro Adjustable Dumbbell - 5-in-1, 25lb dumbell Adjustable Free Weights Plates and Rack - Hand Weights for Women and Men - Adjustable Weights, 5lb, 10lb, 15lb, 20lb, 25lb (25 Pounds - Pair)
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    Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbells - 50 lb Dumbbell Weights (Pair)
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    Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbells
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    7. Suspension Training – My Favorite Pull-up Bar Alternative

    Pull up suspension training

    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 and use comfortable handles instead.

    Watch the following video to learn bodyweight exercises.


     

    8. Renegade Rows

    The renegade row, also known as a plank row, is an exercise that is a combination of two classic movements, namely the dumbbell row and the plank.

    Renegade Rows

    If you are a workout enthusiast, you are acquainted with these two workout routines.

    This exercise is designed to target the upper back, and like a plank, it is designed to target the core.

    The beauty of this exercise is that it also develops anti-rotational core strength and targets both groups of muscles during the dumbbell row and the plank.  

    This can help with balance and coordination.

    While this exercise is accessible for many people, it requires a baseline level of core strength to perform it correctly with good form.

    You have to be able to hold a plank for the full duration of the exercise while alternating a dumbbell row with either arm.

    Exercise goals

    This means that you must have the strength to hold your body in a plank position supported only by one arm at a time.

    The plank part of this exercise requires the engagement of the deep stabilizing muscles of the abdominals, spine, shoulders, and hips.

    The rowing part of the exercise, on the other hand, targets the upper back and arms, including the larger muscles of the upper back.

    So, in essence, the renegade rows work the following muscles: Traps, Lats, Obliques, Rectus abdominus, Biceps, Triceps, Forearms, Rhomboids, Anterior deltoids, Erector Spinae, Serratus.

    Renagade

    To do this exercise, you’ll require dumbbells. The steps are:

    • Get into a press-up position with a dumbbell in each arm. Position your arms such that your shoulders are over your wrists.
    • Make sure your feet are shoulder-width apart. Your body should be straight from heels to head.
    • Tighten your core muscles and ensure your body doesn’t twist during the exercise.
    • Keeping the dumbbell close to your body, row the weight up your body towards your ribcage until your elbow is pointing upwards.
    • Keep your body still, and don’t twist your torso as you row.
    • Return your arm to the ground.
    • Repeat the movement with the opposite arm.
    This workout is a great pull-up alternative because holding yourself in a push-up position on the dumbbells strengthens your chest, triceps, and shoulders.

    While it doesn’t entirely replace pull-ups, it works with supporting muscles used during pull-ups, and it helps you learn how to stabilize your core.

    You can check out how it’s done below:


     

    9.   Barbell Bent-Over Row

    Barbell bent-over rows are a great alternative for pull-ups.

    If you’d like to build a bigger, stronger back without having to do pull-ups, then this is the perfect activity for you.

    This exercise is considered to be one of the original big muscle moves.

    Barbell Bent-Over Row

    This compound exercise requires you to pick the barbell off the floor while bending forward and lifting it towards your sternum.

    Your knees should be bent for this exercise, your back stays straight, and your neck in line with the spine. Your grip should be slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.

    Keeping the form in this exercise is important because the bent-over position can potentially cause a little discomfort or even risk injury. Slow and controlled moves with the right amount of weight are recommended. 

    Start exercising now for better health

    If you’d like to maximize muscle growth, increase pulling strength in the upper body, and improve your physique, this is one of the best exercises.

    The main muscles that are worked by this exercise are the Lats (Latissimus dorsi, which run down the sides of your upper back), Traps (Trapezius), Delts (Deltoids), and Rhomboids (upper middle back).

    The glutes and legs are also used to stabilize the body in this exercise.

    When doing bent-over rows, you can either have your hands in a supinated (palms facing up) or pronated (palms facing down) position.

    Barbell Bent-Over Row tips woman

    A supinated grip incorporates more of your biceps into the movement.

    This means holding the barbell at a narrower angle and lifting slightly heavier. A pronated grip will work your rhomboids harder.

    It will also enable you to use a wider angle to place further emphasis on the lats and also help develop your back muscles. The grip you choose is entirely up to you.

    You should consider choosing a comfortable and suitable method for your goals.

    You can check out how it’s done below:


     

    10.   Lat Pulldowns

    You’ve probably seen the lat pulldown machine at your gym but never really understood how it works.

    Lat Pulldowns

    The lat pulldown is a compound movement that works the latissimus dorsi muscles, or lats for short, and your biceps, which also play an assisting role.

    It sounds simple in theory, but it’s a bit complicated. You keep your chest out and pull down to your upper chest while using a wide grip.

    This exercise is done on a machine, so you don’t have many risks associated with free weights. However, you need to make sure that you perform it correctly to get the best results.

    In this exercise, focus on squeezing your back muscles for maximum contraction. Your upper body should remain stationary throughout the workout. 

    Your elbows should also point down towards the floor, and you ought to use a thumb-less grip to take out some of the bicep work.

    Lat pull downs tips

    Some of the benefits of this exercise are:

    • Aesthetics – This exercise is deemed as the back builder. The lats take up most of your back, so you can work these muscles out to achieve a V-taper look.
    • Strength – This exercise allows you to strengthen your back. The movement uses
    • Engages Multiple Muscles – This exercise engages other muscles like the posterior deltoids (rear delts), rhomboids, and trapezius.
    • Biceps – The biceps also play a part.

    You can check out how it’s done below:


     

    FAQ On How to Do Pull-ups Without a Bar 🤼‍♀️

    FAQ On How to Do Pull-ups

    What Muscles Do Pull-ups Work On?

    Well, it’s called the king of the upper body exercises, and for a good reason.

    It works out multiple muscle groups at once. This improves 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?

    I have to tell you that I’m bad at advising people; however, I know that consistency is the key to success at whatever you do.

    I would advise if you have the budget to get a piece of equipment to use at home so you can stay motivated.

    See our top recommended assisted pull-up machines below if you want to learn more.

    Preview
    Overall Best
    RELIFE REBUILD YOUR LIFE Power Tower Workout Dip Station for Home Gym Strength Training Fitness Equipment Newer Version
    Best Alternative
    Sportsroyals Power Tower Pull Up Dip Station Adjustable Multi-Function Home Gym Strength Training Fitness Equipment Newer Version
    Best Budget
    MAGIC FIT Power Tower Dip/Pull Up Station Multi-Function Workout Equipment for Home Gym Training Fitness Exercise 8 Levels Adjustable Height
    Product Name
    Relife Rebuild Your Life Workout Dip Station
    Sportsroyals Power Tower Pull Up Dip Station
    MAGIC FIT Power Tower Dip/Pull Up Station
    Multi-function
    Ergonomic Design
    Height Adjustment
    9 Levels
    6 Levels
    8 Levels
    Backrest Adjustment
    4 Positions
    7 Positions
    4 Positions
    Construction
    Sturdy Construction
    Heavy-duty Construction
    Sturdy Construction
    Overall Best
    Preview
    RELIFE REBUILD YOUR LIFE Power Tower Workout Dip Station for Home Gym Strength Training Fitness Equipment Newer Version
    Product Name
    Relife Rebuild Your Life Workout Dip Station
    Multi-function
    Ergonomic Design
    Height Adjustment
    9 Levels
    Backrest Adjustment
    4 Positions
    Construction
    Sturdy Construction
    Interested?
    Best Alternative
    Preview
    Sportsroyals Power Tower Pull Up Dip Station Adjustable Multi-Function Home Gym Strength Training Fitness Equipment Newer Version
    Product Name
    Sportsroyals Power Tower Pull Up Dip Station
    Multi-function
    Ergonomic Design
    Height Adjustment
    6 Levels
    Backrest Adjustment
    7 Positions
    Construction
    Heavy-duty Construction
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    Best Budget
    Preview
    MAGIC FIT Power Tower Dip/Pull Up Station Multi-Function Workout Equipment for Home Gym Training Fitness Exercise 8 Levels Adjustable Height
    Product Name
    MAGIC FIT Power Tower Dip/Pull Up Station
    Multi-function
    Ergonomic Design
    Height Adjustment
    8 Levels
    Backrest Adjustment
    4 Positions
    Construction
    Sturdy Construction
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    How to Do Assisted Pull-up at Home?

    You can find the assisted pull-up machine at the gym or purchase it for home use.

    It will allow you to set the support for your level, which lifts you and makes the movements easier.

    Another excellent at-home alternative is the exercise band.

    You fix the two ends of the resistance band to the bar and step on it.

    Now you can use weaker or stronger resistance bands depending on your needs. 

    You can see our top recommended resistance bands below.

    You will get multiple bands with different resistance levels in each pack. They are great buys as they help with various exercises.

    Preview
    Overall Best
    INTENT SPORTS Pull Up Assist Bands - Assistance and Resistance Bands for Pull-Up, Fitness, Body Stretching, Mobility Work, Weightlifting, Powerlifting, Heavy Duty, Single/Set, Exercise Videos, eBook
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    SYNTECSO 330 Lbs Pull Up Assistance Bands, Pull-up Assist Bands with Elastic Rope Pull Up Resistance Bands Arm Exercise Equipment
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    Pull Up Assistance Resistance Bands, Upgrade Exercise Bands for Working Out with Handles Set and Door Anchor, Pull Up Assist Workout Bands Best for Powerlifting, Gyms, Mobility Home Fitness(Color)
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    Preview
    INTENT SPORTS Pull Up Assist Bands - Assistance and Resistance Bands for Pull-Up, Fitness, Body Stretching, Mobility Work, Weightlifting, Powerlifting, Heavy Duty, Single/Set, Exercise Videos, eBook
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    INTENT SPORTS Pull Up Assist Bands
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    Best Alternative
    Preview
    SYNTECSO 330 Lbs Pull Up Assistance Bands, Pull-up Assist Bands with Elastic Rope Pull Up Resistance Bands Arm Exercise Equipment
    Product Name
    SYNTECSO Pull Up Assistance Bands
    Free Exercise Videos
    Adjustable Resistance
    Easy To Use
    Adjustable Length
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    Not Stated
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    Preview
    Pull Up Assistance Resistance Bands, Upgrade Exercise Bands for Working Out with Handles Set and Door Anchor, Pull Up Assist Workout Bands Best for Powerlifting, Gyms, Mobility Home Fitness(Color)
    Product Name
    COFOF Pull Up Assistance Bands
    Free Exercise Videos
    Adjustable Resistance
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    Free foam handles, door anchor, and protective cover.
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    More Topics:

    Final Thoughts👀

    Weight Loss Tips from pros

    As you see, there are many ways you can learn how to do pull-ups without a bar.

    Of course, these strength training exercises can’t substitute doing regular pull-ups but they help build muscle.

    I suggest you get a doorway pull-up bar, which is easy to install and affordable but much more comfortable to work out with.

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

    Last update on 2022-10-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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    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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