Are you looking to build a stronger back, toned arms, and a defined upper body from the comfort of your own home? If you answered yes, then these pull day exercises at home are perfect for your next workout. Pull day exercises target the muscles in your back, biceps, and shoulders, helping you achieve a balanced and lean physique. Having an effective workout at home is much easier than you think and it’s the only way I get a chance to work out. I’m a mom of two toddler boys, and if I can do it, you can too!
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What are pull day exercises?
Pull day exercises are an important part of any well-rounded workout routine, focusing on the muscles involved in pulling movements. These exercises mainly target the muscles of the back, biceps, and shoulders, helping to strengthen and sculpt your upper body. Whether you are using bodyweight, dumbbells, resistance bands, or other equipment, these exercises challenge and engage muscles in pulling actions, promoting muscle growth, strength, and definition.
Simple pull day exercises at home for a lean physique.
You don’t have to have any fancy equipment to get in a good day’s pull exercises at home. One thing I can suggest investing in is a good quality pull up bar that won’t leave you lying on the floor. Adding a few equipment pieces to your collection at home makes doing a home workout so much easier. Remember to always listen to your body and take it one day at a time. Each time you try again you get stronger, don’t be too hard on yourself if you are just starting.
1. Pull Ups.
I know, most people would run away when they hear the word pull ups. I used to be one of those people, but now I actually quite enjoy them. Pull-ups are undoubtedly one of the most effective and challenging pull day exercises, targeting multiple muscle groups at the same time. This compound movement mainly works the lats and the muscles of the upper back, as well as the biceps and shoulders. While they are tough, they are extremely effective in building strength and lean muscle. Fear not, there are a few variations you can try that differ in difficulty.
To do a classic pull up, grip a bar overhead with an overhand grip and lift your entire body off of the ground until your chin is over the top of the bar. Lower your body down again in a controlled motion.
Pull up variations:
- Wide-grip pull ups: Gripping the bar with hands positioned wider than shoulder-width apart emphasizes the outer back muscles.
- Close-grip pull ups: Bringing your hands closer together targets the inner back muscles and places more emphasis on the biceps.
- Assisted pull ups: Using a resistance band or assisted pull up machine reduces the amount of bodyweight you need to lift, making pull-ups more accessible for beginners.
- Chin-ups: Similar to pull ups but with an underhand grip, chin-ups emphasize the biceps while still engaging the back muscles.
- L-sit pull ups: Lifting your legs into an L-shaped position while performing pull-ups increases core engagement and challenges stability.
- Commando pull ups: Alternating hand positions on the bar, with one hand facing forward and the other facing backward, engages different muscle groups and adds variety to your routine.
- Negative pull ups: Start in the pull up end position with your chin over the bar and in a controlled movement go back down to the floor. This is the most beginner friendly pull up. (You can jump or step into the starting position.)
RELATED: What Muscles Do Pull Ups Work?
2. Renegade Row.
Anyone that knows me, knows that I love a plank. So, obviously I had to work some variation of a plank into pull day exercises you can do at home. The renegade row targets the back muscles and engages the core and stabilizes muscles. Try adding a few different variations into your routine to make it more challenging once you’re ready. Investing in a good set of dumbbells is a great way to add a challenge into your workout.
To do a renegade row, start in a plank position with a dumbbell in each hand. Keeping your body in a straight line and core engaged, row one dumbbell up towards your hip while balancing on the other arm. Alternate sides for each repetition, focusing on maintaining stability and control throughout the movement.
Renegade row variations:
- Single-arm renegade rows: Perform the exercise using only one dumbbell at a time, alternating arms for each repetition.
- Renegade row with push up: Add a push-up between each row to increase the intensity and target the chest, shoulders, and triceps.
- Renegade row with rotation: After rowing the dumbbell, rotate your torso and extend the arm towards the ceiling, engaging the obliques and adding a rotational component to the exercise.
3. Bicep Curls.
Bicep curls are the perfect exercise to tone and grow muscle mass in your upper arms. Bicep curls can be done with a variety of equipment, including dumbbells, barbells, or resistance bands, making them adaptable for all fitness levels.
To do a bicep curl, stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing forward. Keeping your elbows close to your sides, exhale as you curl the weights towards your shoulders, contracting the biceps at the top of the movement. Inhale as you lower the weights back down to the starting position with control.
Bicep curl variations:
- Hammer curls: Do your bicep curls with your palms facing each other to target the brachialis muscle and add variety to your routine.
- Concentration curls: Sit on a bench and rest your elbow on your thigh, then perform single-arm bicep curls to isolate and fully engage the biceps.
- Reverse curls: Grip the weight with palms facing down to emphasize the brachioradialis muscle and strengthen the forearms in addition to the biceps.
4. Resistance Band Pull Apart.
Resistance band pull-aparts are a versatile and effective pull day exercise that targets the muscles of the upper back, shoulders, and rear delts. This exercise helps improve posture, strengthen the muscles of the upper back, and alleviate tension commonly associated with prolonged sitting. I love doing this exercise in my aerial silk classes to help with arm and grip strength.
To do resistance band pull aparts, stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hold a resistance band in front of you with both hands, arms extended at shoulder height. Keeping your arms straight, exhale as you pull the band apart by bringing your shoulder blades together until your hands are at shoulder width, squeezing the muscles in your upper back. Inhale as you return to the starting position with control.
Resistance band pull apart variations:
- Overhead resistance band pull aparts: Start with the resistance band overhead, then pull the band apart by bringing your arms down and out to the sides, engaging the upper back and rear delts.
- Underhand grip resistance band pull aparts: Grip the resistance band with palms facing up to target the lower traps and engage the muscles of the mid-back from a different angle.
- Banded face pulls: Attach the resistance band to a sturdy anchor point at chest height, then pull the band towards your face, externally rotating your shoulders and squeezing your shoulder blades together for a deeper contraction in the rear delts and upper back.
5. Bent-Over Reverse Fly.
Bent-over reverse flyes are a fantastic pull day exercise that targets the muscles of the upper back, rear delts, and shoulders, helping to improve posture and strengthen the muscles responsible for scapular retraction. Make sure to keep proper posture in order to avoid excessive strain on the lower back.
To do bent-over reverse flyes, stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hold a pair of light dumbbells in each hand. Hinge at the hips until your torso is nearly parallel to the floor, keeping your back straight and core engaged. With a slight bend in your elbows, exhale as you raise the dumbbells out to the sides until your arms are parallel to the floor, squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement. Inhale as you lower the dumbbells back down with control.
Bent-over reverse flyes variations:
- Seated bent-over reverse flyes: Do the exercise while seated on a bench to reduce lower back strain and isolate the upper back muscles.
- Single-arm bent-over Reverse flyes: Do the exercise with one arm at a time to focus on each side independently and improve muscle balance.
- Incline bent-over reverse flyes: Do the exercise on an incline bench set to a low angle to target the upper portion of the back and rear delts.
6. Dumbbell Row.
Dumbbell rows are a staple pull day exercise that effectively target the muscles of the upper back, lats, and biceps while also engaging the core for stability.
To do dumbbell rows, start by placing one knee and the same-side hand on a bench, keeping your back flat and parallel to the ground. With the opposite hand, hold a dumbbell and let it hang down towards the floor. Exhale as you pull the dumbbell towards your hip, keeping your elbow close to your body and squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement. Inhale as you lower the dumbbell back down with control.
Dumbbell row variations:
- Single-arm dumbbell rows: Do the exercise with one arm at a time to focus on each side independently and correct muscle imbalances.
- Supported dumbbell rows: Lie face down on an incline bench with a dumbbell in each hand and row the weights towards your hips, allowing for a greater range of motion and increased muscle activation.
Deadlifts are a great pull day exercise that targets multiple muscle groups, including the hamstrings, glutes, lower back, and forearms. Make sure to maintain proper form to avoid any injuries to the lower back. Remember to always listen to your body and use appropriate weights for your fitness level.
To do traditional deadlifts, start by standing with feet hip-width apart and a barbell on the floor in front of you. Bend at the hips and knees to grip the barbell or weights with hands shoulder-width apart, keeping your back flat and chest lifted. With a tight core and engaged glutes, exhale as you drive through the heels to stand up, lifting the barbell until hips and knees are fully extended. Inhale as you lower the barbell back down with control, maintaining a neutral spine throughout the movement.
- Romanian deadlifts: Keep legs straighter and focus on hinging at the hips, targeting the hamstrings and glutes.
- Sumo deadlifts: Widen your stance and grip the barbell with hands inside your legs, emphasizing the inner thighs and reducing stress on the lower back.
- Single-leg deadlifts: Stand on one leg while holding a dumbbell or kettlebell in the opposite hand and hinge at the hips to lower the weight towards the ground, challenging balance and stability.
8. Dumbbell Shrugs.
Dumbbell shrugs are a simple pull day exercise that mainly targets the traps, helping to build size and strength in the upper back and shoulders. Keep your back straight and your core engaged to make sure the right muscles get worked and to avoid a possible injury.
To do dumbbell shrugs, stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides, palms facing inward. Keeping your arms straight and shoulders relaxed, exhale as you shrug your shoulders up towards your ears, squeezing the trapezius muscles at the top of the movement. Inhale as you lower the dumbbells back down with control.
Dumbbell shrug variations:
- Barbell shrugs: Hold a barbell in front of your thighs with an overhand grip and perform shrugs in the same way.
- Behind-the-back shrugs: Hold a dumbbell in each hand behind your back with palms facing outward and do shrugs, targeting the rear deltoids and upper back muscles.
9. Zottman Curl.
I love adding Zottman Curls into my workout because of how many different exercises are fitted into one. Zottman curls target biceps, forearms, and brachialis muscles.
To do a Zottman curl, start by standing with feet shoulder-width apart and holding a dumbbell in each hand at your sides, palms facing up. Exhale as you curl the dumbbells towards your shoulders, keeping your elbows close to your sides. At the top of the movement, rotate your wrists so that your palms are facing down. Inhale as you lower the dumbbells back down to the starting position, then rotate your wrists back to the starting position with palms facing up.
Adding a few pull day exercises into your home workout routine is a great way to get perfectly toned arms. Remember to focus on proper form, gradually increase the intensity and resistance as you progress, and always listen to your body to prevent injury. With dedication and consistency, you’ll be on your way to a stronger and more defined upper body in no time.
Your Wellness Warrior!