Lat Pulldown Alternative Exercises

Lat pulldown is the original go-to exercise for people who want to develop a wider back. The workout can build your V-shaped back and bring out your latissimus dorsi, a muscle in the upper body.

While lat pulldown exercises help build healthy, lean muscle, some people can’t have access to a lat pulldown machine. Others find it expensive.

So, here are some lat pulldown alternatives that will still help you target lats, forearms,  deltoids, biceps, core, and lower and upper back even without the lat pulldown machine.

Keep reading to learn five lat pulldown alternative exercises and our top lat pulldown gears recommendations to help you get started.

5 Beginner Lat Pulldown Alternative Exercises:

1. Bent-Over Barbell Rows

Target Muscle Groups: Upper-back Muscles, Mid-back Muscles, Biceps

Gears You Need: (barbell + weights)

We suggest you choose a bar with a normal whip but is stiff enough for lifting. As for how heavy the weights are, it depends on your ideal weight and fitness goal. 

The most widely used tool to know your weight range would be using the Body Mass Index.

How To Do It

  1. Grab a barbell in an overhand grip, shoulder-width apart, and hands slightly wider. To stay in a good form, make sure that your legs are slightly bent while keeping your back straight. Next, bend your upper body, like you are perpendicular to the floor. It would be good if you push your hips back as it encourages you to maintain the spine in a neutral position throughout the workout.
  1. While slightly bending, row the barbell/weights upwards or the lower part of your chest. This exercise targets your upper-back and mid-back muscles as well as your biceps. Pause a little bit, then return to your start position.

Visual Example

Check out this visual example of how to do a bent-over barbell row.

2. Dumbbell Bent-Over Rows

Target Muscle Groups: Back, Shoulders

Gears You Need: (utility bench + dumbbells or kettlebells)

There is an affordable utility bench you can purchase. We prefer the foldable incline and one that has a stable structure so it will last a long time.

However, if you already have a utility bench, then just find dumbbells or kettlebells of your preference.

How To Do It

  1. While holding a dumbbell or kettlebell in each hand, bend over (about 45-degree). Make sure to keep your straight back throughout the workout. Breathe in, and brace your abdominals.
  2. For the next step, lift the weights and exhale. Your arms should not go higher than parallel with your shoulders. Try to keep your wrists from extra movement to the side or down. Also, avoid squatting down and up after your initial pose.
  1. When you lower the weights, it has to be in a controlled manner.
  2. Stay in a bent-over position until the dumbbell bent-over row reps are complete.

Visual Example

Check out this visual example on how to do dumbbell bent-over rows.

Lat pulldown

3. Resistance Band Lat Pulldowns

Target Muscle Groups: Latissimus Dorsi

Gears You Need: (resistance band)

Choose a resistance band that is made of high-quality materials and enough length so you can also use it for other exercises.

How To Do It

  1. Form is important when performing this lat pulldown alternative. First, wrap the band around a stable part of your house (for example door) or in a pullup bar.
  2. Stand with one foot in front of the other. That way, your stance will not be staggered. This will serve as your starting position.
  3. Grab the end of the band using one hand or both. You can then extend your arms towards the ceiling. For this position, your torso needs to be slightly leaning forward and is upright.

Visual Example

Check out this visual example on how to do resistance band lat pulldowns.

4. Single Arm Bench Rows

Target Muscle Groups: Back, Arms, Shoulders

Gears You Need: (bench, dumbbells)

You can go for adjustable dumbbells that allow you to do a versatile workout.

How To Do It

  1. Hold a dumbbell in your right hand. Bend over to place your left hand and left knee on a bench. This position supports your body weight.
  2. Gently contract your core or abdominal muscles to stabilize your spine and stiffen your torso. Your head needs to be aligned with your spine and the back flat.
  3. While holding the dumbbell, extend your right arm towards the floor. But make sure not to allow your shoulder to move towards the floor and your torso to rotate.
  4. For the upward movement, slowly pull the dumbbell up and exhale. Bend your elbow and pull your upper arm in a backward position. Avoid changing the position of your spine or rotating your body.
  5. Next is the downward movement. Gently lower the dumbbell while still maintaining a retracted shoulder position and a flat back.

Visual Example

Check out this visual example of how to do single-arm bench rows.

5. Chin-Ups and Pull-Ups

Target Muscle Groups: Back, Arms, Shoulders

Gears You Need: (pull-up bar)

When choosing a pull-up bar, choose one that has a safe weight limit and with enough width to a place (usually a door) where you are planning to install it.

How To Do It

  1. Grab the pull-up bar using both hands. Your arms should be shoulder-width apart and your palms facing you.
  2. Next, pull yourself up until your elbows are fully bent or your chin is above the bar. Pause for a bit and then lower yourself back down in a controlled motion.

Visual Example

Check out this visual example on how to do chin-ups and pull-ups.

Lat Pulldown Alternatives You Can Do At Home!


You may choose any lat pulldown alternative we provided above and focus specifically on that routine. Nevertheless, all the alternative exercises mentioned above are worth the try.

They’re proven to be good for muscle strengthening, especially the latissimus dorsi. Did you also know that these exercises help alleviate tension and pain? 

These workouts can benefit people who work on a computer all day that causes tension to their shoulder and back muscles due to underuse of their latissimus dorsi and other nearby muscles.

The regular strengthening exercises we suggested can help improve your posture and the overall health of your muscle tissue too!

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