a close up picture of a pull up machine in a gym

Smash Your Pull Day Workout

Are you familiar with the best push day or best pull day workout paradigm? It's a training methodology that segments your exercise regimen into push and pull movements, strategically designed to cultivate maximum hypertrophy. If you're aspiring to train like the world's elite bodybuilders, then the push/pull method warrants your attention. In this journey to greater strength and muscle growth, we're unveiling our top ten pulling exercises. These exercises revolve around the act of pulling, engaging various muscle groups, including the biceps, back, and forearms. Let's embark on a quest to harness these ten pull exercises for an explosive leap in muscle development.

1. DEADLIFTS: The Supreme Titan

Our first contender is the king of all exercises – the deadlift. Singing praises for deadlifts is a never-ending ode. It's not just one of the most potent pull exercises; it stands tall among all exercises. The benefits are manifold, from building muscle mass and power to elevating your heart rate. Deadlifts engage a multitude of muscles in both the upper and lower body, forming a powerhouse posterior chain that includes the upper back, shoulder muscles, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. If emulating top-tier bodybuilders is your aspiration, then deadlifts are non-negotiable. Here's how to execute them with pristine form:

  • Position your weighted barbell on the floor, right in front of you.
  • Approach the bar, standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, aligning the middle of your feet directly under the bar.
  • Send your hips backward, slightly bending your knees to hinge your upper body forward.
  • Grip the bar with both hands in an overhand manner, ensuring your back remains flat without arching.
  • As you exhale, power your hips forward, rising to an erect position while pulling the bar towards your hips.
  • Squeeze the muscles on your posterior side, then inhale, slowly returning the barbell to its initial position.
  • Repeat! Maintain a fluid motion, transitioning seamlessly into the next repetition. Aim for two to three sets of six to ten reps.

Note: Amplify your protein intake and consequently, your gains, with the delectable indulgence of tender beef jerky crafted from real smokehouse brisket. Choose your flavor and seize the opportunity for muscle-building nourishment!

2. LAT PULLDOWNS: Sculpting the Back

Next in line, we unleash the lat pulldowns, a quintessential exercise for invigorating your shoulder and back muscles. This classic cable maneuver ranks high among the best options to target the latissimus dorsi, colloquially known as the lats. The lats are expansive muscles stretching across the mid and lower back, making them pivotal in your quest for a formidable back. Before embarking on lat pulldowns, meticulous setup is paramount. Follow these steps:

  • Sit on the designated seat, securing your thighs under the thigh pad and reaching up to grip the handlebar.
  • Your goal is to attain an overhand grip with nearly straight arms while maintaining a flat seated position.
  • Adjust the cable length to ensure the bar aligns correctly.
  • Once these prerequisites are met, you're primed to commence. Here's the correct technique:
  • Sit on the seat, locking your thighs under the thigh pad, and reach for the pulldown bar.
  • Exhale as you squeeze your shoulder blades together, pulling the bar down towards your chin or until your elbows reach their furthest extent.
  • Conclude by engaging your back muscles and slowly releasing the bar to the starting position.

Remember these form tips during execution:

  • Keep your back straight throughout the motion, avoiding any leaning back.
  • Lead the pull with your elbows.
  • Avoid relying on momentum to jerk the bar up and down.

3. BENT-OVER ROWS: The Dual Force

Bent-over rows introduce a dynamic variation to the traditional standing barbell row. They are a dual-purpose exercise, stimulating both the lats and biceps. If your aspirations involve bolstering your pulling prowess, consider bent-over rows as your newfound ally. These can be performed with either a barbell or dumbbells, and for this illustration, we'll adhere to the barbell method. Here's how to execute bent-over rows with impeccable form:

  • Position a loaded barbell on the floor in front of you.
  • Approach the barbell, placing your feet beneath it.
  • Hinge your upper body forward, sending your hips backward, and slightly bending your knees.
  • Employ an overhand grip, ensuring your hands are slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Exhale, pull the barbell toward your lower chest, retracting your elbows backward while squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  • As you reach the top of the movement, squeeze your muscles, then inhale, gradually releasing the bend in your elbows to straighten your arms.
  • Repeat! There's no need to return the barbell to the floor for each repetition. Instead, maintain the fluidity by allowing the barbell to pass by your shins and repeating the motion.

Note: The paramount form tip for bicep curls is to retain locked elbows at your sides throughout the exercise. Allowing your elbows to splay outwards can distribute the workload away from your biceps.

4. PULL-UPS: Bodyweight Brilliance

Pull-ups reign supreme among bodyweight exercises for good reason. They are a pinnacle of upper-body strength workouts, engaging an array of major muscle groups, including the lats, biceps, deltoids, and rhomboids. It's crucial to distinguish pull-ups from chin-ups; the former entails an overhand grip and places greater emphasis on the back muscles. Here's a guide on performing pull-ups with impeccable form:

  • Position yourself directly beneath a pull-up bar.
  • Leap upward, gripping the bar with a wide, overhand hold, ensuring your hands are more than shoulder-width apart.
  • Exhale, draw your shoulders down and back, lifting your chin above the bar while allowing your elbows to descend, raising your upper body.
  • At the pinnacle of the motion, contract your muscles, then inhale, releasing and descending back to a dead hang.
  • Repeat! Aim for two to three sets, performing six to ten repetitions in each set.

5. DUMBBELL PULLOVER: Engaging the Chest

The dumbbell pullover is a unique pull exercise with the distinctive trait of targeting the chest muscles, specifically the pectorals. In addition to its chest-centric focus, this exercise boasts the advantage of posture improvement, making it an invaluable inclusion in your workout routine. It gracefully extends your arms overhead, elongating your spine, resulting in an inherently improved posture. The benefits extend to reducing the risk of debilitating back injuries. Execute the dumbbell pullover correctly with these steps:

  • Assume a seated position on a flat bench, grasping one dumbbell in each hand.
  • Lay back on the bench while holding the dumbbells straight above your chest, maintaining a neutral back position and a slight elbow bend.
  • Exhale and gradually raise the dumbbells above your head, keeping your arms extended.
  • Squeeze your chest and back muscles at the pinnacle of the lift, then inhale, slowly guiding the dumbbells from overhead back to chest level.
  • Repeat! Aim for ten to twelve repetitions per set, or as many as your form permits.
  • Ensuring your lower back remains pressed into the flat bench during the overhead lift is crucial. Avoid arching your back to prevent potential back injuries.


Single-arm dumbbell rows emerge as a formidable exercise for comprehensive back engagement. This exercise targets an array of back muscles, encompassing the latissimus dorsi, trapezius, rhomboids, and teres major and minor. Implement this exercise accurately for optimal results:

  • Hold a dumbbell in your right hand and position your left knee on a flat bench.
  • Lean forward, placing your left palm flat on the bench beneath your left shoulder.
  • Ensure your hand aligns directly under your left shoulder.
  • Exhale, retract your shoulders downward and backward, pulling your right elbow rearward to raise the dumbbell by your chest. Maintain a stationary upper body; avoid rotation during the lift.
  • At the zenith of the pull, contract your back muscles, then inhale, gradually lowering your arm back to the starting position.
  • Repeat! Aim for nine to eleven additional repetitions, maintaining impeccable form throughout.

Balance Your Pull Day with Push Exercises

While the spotlight shines on these top pull exercises, it's imperative to maintain equilibrium by incorporating push exercises into your regimen. Neglecting the push muscle group can be detrimental to your overall progress, as it encompasses the triceps, shoulders, and chest muscles. Incorporate a selection of push exercises, such as chest presses, push-ups, bench presses, rear delt raises, lateral raises, and overhead shoulder presses, to ensure comprehensive upper body development. Additionally, don't overlook the importance of leg day, which targets primary leg muscles like the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings through exercises like lunges, squats, and leg raises.

Final Musings

Whether you're considering the push/pull training methodology or simply seeking enhanced muscle and strength, these pull exercises deserve your attention. Each one is strategically designed to stimulate hypertrophy in various pulling muscles. Embark on your journey towards heightened muscle strength and broader musculature with our top ten pull exercises as your guiding stars!

James Freeman


Meet James Freeman, a California native whose passion for fitness emerged during challenging times, reshaping his life. With over two decades of coaching experience, he's not just a coach; he's a real-life example, shedding over 100 pounds in a journey to a healthier lifestyle. Beyond his coaching career, James is passionate about inspiring at-risk youth and promoting wellness in schools. In his downtime, he enjoys swimming and cycling, connecting with nature. Join him on his Instagram and LinkedIn profiles for insights into his empowering fitness journey.